A battle is brewing in Vancouver between a hospice society and a townhouse developer as a proposal has been presented to city council to rezone the single-family home next door to the hospice into a 3.5-storey development with 21 stacked rental townhouse units and 32 parking spaces.
The Vancouver Hospice Society is concerned that the application, which is being considered under the City of Vancouver’s Affordable Housing Choices Interim Rezoning Policy, will negatively impact terminally ill patients and could temporarily shutter its facility.
“It’s a peaceful oasis for families to gather during the final few precious moments of a loved one’s life,” Vancouver Hospice Society executive director Simin Tabrizi said.
When the hospice, located on Granville Street, was built six years ago, it had to make sure the facility fit in with the residential neighbourhood. Tabrizi says the hospice worked hard to develop a peaceful environment.
“With this development going up, we will have people on balconies, we will have children playing and noise,” she explained.
However, Brent Toderian, a planning consultant retained by the townhouse developer, says the hospice and the townhouse project can coexist if designed well.
“The ironic danger of council validating the unfounded fear that hospices in gentle density can’t coexist is that Nimbys may actually use that argument to fight against future hospices,” he said.
The rezoning proposal would take advantage of an interim policy aimed at filling a much-needed gap for purpose-built rentals.
“The city created this interim policy because it needs rental housing,” Toderian said.
“And it matches the city’s objectives around the climate emergency, diverse and affordable housing, walking, biking, and public transit support and less car dependency.”
However, Tabrizi doubts that the proposed development fits the interim policy, which aims “to better meet the new Housing Vancouver targets
for purpose-built rental housing.”
“When you look at this situation, there is a policy to build affordable rental housing,” she said. “Any housing that is developed at this site will not be affordable.”
If the project is approved, the eight-bed hospice would likely close its doors during the expected two-year construction phase.
A public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday night.