Proposed Short Term Incentives Program (STIR) waterfront rental rezoning project under review this week

While voters’ attention is focused on the municipal election this week, and with affordable housing as a primary issue, a proposal to rezone the West End’s waterfront heritage site Beach Towers is once again before two City-appointed advisory committees.

Under the controversial STIR program (Short Term Incentives for Rental), additional buildings at Beach Towers would be subsidized luxury rental, allowing the developer to avoid more than $1.19 million in development cost levies, as well as qualifying for reductions in property taxes.

Despite STIR’s mandate to “seek affordability through finishing, size, location” this proposal requests 133 waterfront apartments, including a number of high-end Beach Avenue townhomes.

Beach Towers is a class-A heritage site and a prime example of post 1960s modernist architecture with over 1000 residents currently living in the four towers. If rezoning is approved under STIR, we would be subsidizing luxury waterfront rental and condoning misapplied density. This isn’t the type of ‘affordable’ housing Vancouver needs”, said Sarah Isaacs, West End resident.

Both the Vancouver Heritage Commission and Urban Design Panel are being quickly assembled this week to review the third iteration of the proposal to rezone and add density to this heritage site. Despite previous rejections by the Vancouver Heritage Committee and Urban Design Panel, a new proposal submitted on November 4, 2011 made no significant revisions and requested an even greater increase in density.

The information about the rezoning project is located on the city website here.

The information for the Urban Design Panel is here.

You can find the information about the Vancouver Heritage Committee here.

The public is urged to attend the following meetings, as recommendations from these committees will influence Council’s decision on whether to approve rezoning at the Beach Towers site:

Vancouver Heritage Committee
Monday, November 14th
12:40 pm at City Hall

Urban Design Panel
Wednesday, November 16th
4:00 pm at City Hall

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