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Chinatown advocate says Vancouver could "lose its soul"

Last Updated Jan 16, 2017 at 10:07 am PDT

Melody Ma stands by the entrance to the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver. (Stephanie Froese, NEWS 1130 Photo)

The 105 Keefer proposal includes 83 underground vehicle parking spaces and 209 bicycle parking spaces

The 12-storey mixed-use building that includes commercial uses on the first floor

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — For Melody Ma, Vancouver’s Chinatown is a place of fond memories.

She recalls walking down the street to Chinese school, going to one of the benevolent societies’ buildings to see her grandma play Mahjong, and going to Hon’s Wun Tun House for dinner.

Chinatown Vancouver

“The other day I was actually at Hon’s and I was remembering my grade five teacher at Strathcona said, ‘if any of you can beat me at a math race, I’ll treat you to Hon’s.”

“I hope that five, 10, 20 years from now, other grade five kids have the same opportunity, whether it’s Chinatown, students, or anybody in greater Vancouver.”

Ma is referring to the opportunity to be a part of a unique community, something she’s hoping can be saved from threat of gentrification.

“It’s disheartening, seeing Vancouver lose its soul. We need some sort of soul to make sure it’s an interesting place for residents to be a part of.”

Opposition to Chinatown rezoning development continues

Ma is part of a few dozen people who rallied at the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver Tuesday night against a proposed mixed-use condo development at 105 Keefer Street.

The developer, the Beedie Group, has submitted a third revised rezoning proposal to the City of Vancouver for review.

The latest plan lowers the building height by 5 ft. to 115 ft. and reduces the number of stories from 13 to 12. The residential market unit count is also reduced by nine to 110 units.

The proposal still includes 25 seniors social housing units and a seniors cultural space.

The new plan adds public pedestrian passages and a courtyard.

Those opposed to the development are concerned the proposal is not the right fit for the community and will aid in pricing people out of the neighbourhood.

People are encouraged to give feedback on the Keefer Street proposal on the City of Vancouver website by February 27th.

If you’re not part of the nighbourhood, why care?

“I’m a born, bred Vancouverite and it’s not just a Chinatown issue that we’re seeing. We’re seeing this across Vancouver,” Ma says.

“We’re seeing character neighbourhoods, even West 4th, Commercial Drive … this unnatural development pressure coming in, and not allowing businesses to play their natural course.”

Ma says what happens in Chinatown will set a precedent for other Vancouver neighbourhoods.