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Debate heats up over proposed Commercial Drive development

Click to play video 'Neighbours opposed to new Commercial Drive development' Neighbours opposed to new Commercial Drive development
WATCH: People in one East Vancouver neighbourhood are up in arms over a proposed development just off Commercial Drive. Nadia Stewart explains why area residents are putting up such a fight.

A 12-storey development proposed for the heart of the Commercial Drive area now has a design, but it’s still running into the same complaints from local residents.

“I was really quite taken aback, shocked, at the massiveness of it,” said Barbara Cameron, unofficial spokesperson for the NO TOWER Coalition.

“Not one tower, but three interconnected towers…it would be an extremely negative imposition on the neighbourhood.”

The Kettle Friendship Society, which has served meals and helped the mentally ill in the neighbourhood for decades, owns the land.

“We’ve outgrown it,” says Maria Holman, chair of the Kettle Society board, of its current space.

“We realized that working with Boffo as our partner, we could redevelop the site and come up with a great new facility for the Kettle that gives us the facilities we need, while giving benefits to the community.”

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The partnership would see the Kettle Society team up with Boffo Properties to build the new complex. It would have 200 market units, subsidizing 30 social housing units run by the society, along with expanded space for them.

But the NO TOWER Coalition argues the Kettle Society can pursue expanded space without a tower being built.

“We have never said we don’t support the Kettle…but we don’t think this is an appropriate way for them to get what they need,” says Cameron.

“The Commercial Drive neighbourhood is a low-rise, walkable, people-friendly neighbourhood. To put in a massive tower…is going to change the nature of [Commercial] Drive, fundamentally and forever, in a very bad way.”

The Kettle Society’s land has not been approved for rezoning yet. And the NO TOWER coalition says more than 3,500 people have signed a petition against the proposal, which means it could be a very contentious issue on Commercial Drive for some time.

“We’ve released the drawings so people can see what the buildings would look like, and we’re developing this while keeping the community’s needs and wishes in mind. We’re asking for feedback, and we’re getting feedback, most of it positive,” said Holman.

“This is where we want to be. We own the building we’re in now. Why would we want to develop somewhere else?”

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