More than 200 at city’s West End consultation on development, rental program

It was standing room only — more than 200 residents by my count — in the Empire Landmark ballroom on Robson last night to hear city staff walk through the facts about Vancouver’s rental housing crisis and the reasons for the Short Term Incentives for Rental program that is a key part of a proposed new rental tower at 1401 Comox.

While a new high rise rental tower might not seem out of character in the West End, that’s not how many residents see it. A major campaign has unfolded under the direction of a new organization called West End Neighbours to impose a moratorium on development until a new community plan is in place.

The issue was aptly summarized earlier this week on CTV by reporter David Kincaid.

After hearing the residents last night, and visiting the site with some of those who have gathered 4,700 signatures on a petition against the project at 1401 Comox, I became even more convinced that the issue is much more about development in general than it is about the STIR program.

By contrast, next week’s council meeting will consider another STIR project at 1142 Granville St. that will produce more than 100 new rental units if approved at public hearing. A mailing of 3,000 advisory letters produced a total of four replies on both sides of the question.