VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – For the first time in a decade, Vancouver’s West End is getting an entire apartment building comprised of rental units.

The tower, which will be built on the corner of Comox and Broughton, features 186 new rental apartments.

“The city is strongly committed to the creation of new rental housing in Vancouver, and that challenge is especially urgent at a time when vacancy rates are lower than one per cent, our rental stock has been declining for decades, and over half of our city rents,” Mayor Gregor Robertson says in a statement. “This project is another important step to ensure renters of all ages can afford to live in Vancouver, contributing both to our communities and our local economy.”

Robertson says a one bedroom unit will be more than $800 cheaper than a one bedroom condo in the same neighbourhood.

Randy Helton with the group West End Neighbours questions Robertson’s math.

“The only justification for this project was to create rental housing and it will create rental housing at the highest price the market will bare with huge incentives for the developer,” Helton says. “There are many other ways to create rentals in the West End.”

The project was first proposed three years ago, but was temporarily shelved because people living nearby complained it was too big and didn’t fit with neighbourhood planning. The developer agreed to reduce the height by five metres and add more green space before council gave its approval on Wednesday.

“Over three years, tens of thousands of hours of community time was spent by community groups and individuals to give feedback to the city about the zoning. Thirteen-thousand people signed a petition calling for a stop to these kinds of spot re-zonings and basically, City Hall ignored it,” adds Helton.

The tower includes six subsidized units for seniors on fixed incomes.