Please sign the petition now.

Vote NO to the 1099 Richards development permit and the 508 Helmcken rezoning as proposed, and ask the City to set a meeting with the neighbourhood to start looking for real solutions.

Sign the Petition



It’s shameful and downright arrogant that on the same day that Mayor Robertson admitted he had failed on his promise to end homelessness, the City of Vancouver was hosting a Public Hearing on proposed changes to the Downtown Official Development Plan (DODP) that dismantled the very concept of social housing, a change that risks increasing homelessness in Vancouver and reducing affordability in Vancouver.

On March 26, 2015, Vision Vancouver Councillors all voted in favour of changing the definition of social housing to be rental housing “in which at least 30% of the dwelling units are occupied by households with incomes below housing income limits”, increasing the lowest category of rent to $912 a month as set out by BC Housing.  This change hinders social housing development and allows for abuse of this broad definition.  More concerning is that regardless of the remaining rents of 70% of all other units, all units will count as social housing.  To break that down, if we have 100 units in which 30 is social housing and 70 is market rate, then the building is said to contain 100 social housing units.

In the now infamous case of Jubilee House at 508 Helmcken, the neighbourhood was told the density was to allow for more social housing to be built at 1099 Richards, when in fact, it was only replacing the existing 87 units.  The other 75 units are low end of market rate.  Meanwhile, the developer was granted a bonus density for an additional 488 market units.  Of the 650 units in this land-swap project, only 87 will be social housing.  This is a clear example of how these changes fail social housing and allows for abuse.

The City argues that the 30% in the definition is an incentive to build social housing.  Section 3.1 already allowed the Development Permit Board (DPB) to permit an increase in floor space ratio (FSR) up to the allowable maximum if the building has 30% social housing.  There is no need to have it in the actual definition of social housing, as it serves only to falsely count market rental units as social housing.  More concerning,  Section 3.13 goes on to allow the DPB to permit an unlimited increase in density beyond allowable maximum FSR, thus bypassing the rezoning process and eliminating the requirement for an Open House, a Public Hearing and any other opportunity for public input.  It places sole discretion for the allowable density in the hands of unelected officials.

Caught breaking the law, the City’s response is to change the law and remove the need for public input.  Residents have received their notices regarding the separate 1099 Richards DPB meeting on April 7, 2015 and the 508 Helmcken rezoning Public Hearing on April 14, 2015.  The City is rushing to push these through before the appeal court dates.  Please email the Mayor and City Council and demand that they respect citizens’ rights to be heard and considered.

1099 Richards DPB meeting – April 7, 2015

508 Helmcken Rezoning Public Hearing – April 14, 2015

Please sign opposing the 1099 Rirchards development permit and 508 Helmcken rezoning as proposed.

Here are the reasons the proposed developments do not work:

1099 Richards

  • The proposed building is also too big and too dense for the site, and would be a non-conforming third tower on the block.
  • It exceeds the FSR 5.0 limit set out by the Downtown Official Development Plan (DODP) for social housing in our neighbourhood.

508 Helmcken

  • The proposed 36 storey tower is too tall and too dense for the site, and it violates numerous provisions of the Downtown Official Development Plan (DODP)

The combined impact of these two buildings is a way too large for the neighbourhood and must be considered together as per the court ruling.  Any leniency granted because they are “social housing” should be the absolute minimum as they don’t add true social housing as defined by CMHC and accepted Canada-wide.

We ask that the City keep its promise and duty to fair public consultation and work the community to find a solution that works for neighbours and keeps the Jubilee House residents in their neighbourhood.  Vote NO to the 1099 Richards development permit and the 508 Helmcken rezoning, and set a meeting with the neighbourhood to start looking for real solutions.