Demolition imminent: WEN Walk 2 pm & rally 2:30 (Sat) for St John’s Church (Comox & Broughton)

Demolition work has begun inside St John’s Church this past week, and demolition of the exterior may happen next week. This site is symbolic of many of the rezoning issues in the West End. [Note: See media release at bottom of page. Link to more details on this story is here.]

Everyone is encouraged to either come straight to the site (1401 Comox) at 2:30 pm on Saturday, April 16, or join the weekly WEN Walk at 2 pm (Bidwell and Davie) and walk up together.

There will be several speakers, an update on the situation and several other issues in the West End, and an opportunity to ask questions.

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MEDIA RELEASE
West End neighbourhood rally at 1401 Comox church before Westbank Peterson demolition. WEN asks City to respect current zoning, calls for a full community plan

(Vancouver, April 15, 2011) West End Neighbours (WEN) is calling the community together for an information rally on Saturday, to raise awareness about the possible demolition of St. John’s Church at 1401 Comox, reassert requests that the City respect current zoning, and call for a comprehensive community plan instead of spot rezonings.

What:          Neighbourhood rally on imminent church demolition and rezoning issues in West End
When
:          2:30 pm, Saturday, April 16, 2011 (about 30 minutes)
Where
:        1401 Comox Street (corner of Comox and Broughton, West End)
For media
:  Will be speeches, placards, visuals

SITUATION:

The City has issued a demolition permit for St. John’s Church at 1401 Comox in the West End. The site is the target of a rezoning application (currently on hold) for a 22-storey tower, an application made possible only because of the Short Term Incentives for Rental Housing (STIR) program. Church site owners Westbank and Peterson have not made any recent public announcements to the community about their plans for demolition, but have already begun demolition work inside the building, and demolition of the exterior appears set to begin next week. In other words, the demolition of the building is imminent. This may be the last community gathering ever held at St John’s Church, which has been a central part of the West End community for over a hundred years. (The current church building itself is thirty years old.)

This site is symbolic of many of the rezoning and development issues in the West End. West End Neighbours (WEN) is taking this opportunity to share information with the community about the situation with not only the church but also the entire neighbourhood. Several attempts have been made since 2009 to have the church and its site preserved for community purposes, including recent discussions about making the church an annex for the local community centre. Mayor Gregor Robertson has not responded to any correspondence on these proposals.

FAST FACTS:

  • The City has only issued the demolition permit.
  • The issuance of the demolition permit does NOT guarantee that the rezoning application will succeed or that a 22 storey tower will be built here. Without a public hearing the rezoning cannot be approved. No public hearing has yet been scheduled.
  • Public opposition to rezoning this site for a 22 storey tower remains as strong as ever.   WEN continues to challenge the very basis of the STIR program, which was approved in 2009 without public consultation and was created based on input from an invitation-only meeting attended mainly by developers, including Westbank and Henriquez Partners (architect in this project). STIR gives large incentives and benefits to build market-priced rental apartments.
  • Over 11,000 people have signed the West End petition “no rezoning without a comprehensive plan,” (for the West End) which continues to be the basis of WEN activities at the moment.

West End Neighbours (WEN) is a network of thousands of residents calling for a new comprehensive plan to ensure the future livability of the West End and a halt to spot rezonings.

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