West End residents to chime in on proposed 57-storey First Baptist Church redevelopment

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

Jessica Kerr
Vancouver Courier

Vancouver residents still have the chance to have their say on a proposed 57-storey skyscraper in the city’s West End.

The public hearing for the proposal, a partnership between Westbank Corp and First Baptist Church, and designed by late architect Bing Thom, continues at city hall this Tuesday. The hearing started on July 18 and had to be extended to July 25 due to the large number of speakers.

The redevelopment of the site next to First Baptist on Burrard and Nelson streets would also include seismic upgrades and restoration for the 107-year-old church. The proposal is for two towers — a smaller seven-storey residential building that would include 61 units of social housing and the 57-storey tower with 331 market strata units. City staff has recommended approval of the application with a number of conditions.

At 57 storeys, the proposed tower would be amongst the highest in the city. The Wall Centre across the street is currently Vancouver’s third highest building with 48 storeys.

As of July 18, the city had received 152 pieces of correspondence on the proposal — 74 in support, 77 opposed and one with questions.

Mike Jensen moved to a smaller building on Barclay two years ago. He said his main concern with the proposal is the position of the tower, which, he said, will be squarely in line with his building, blocking light and any views.

“We’re going to be completely entombed,” he said.

Jensen added that the development would not address the city’s lack of affordable housing — it’s all about extreme luxury, he said.

Those who wrote to the city in favour of the application cited benefits to the church as well as the city as a whole with the inclusion of below-market rental housing, new childcare spaces and the expansion of programs offered by the church. 

The public hearing starts at 6 p.m. in council chambers at city hall.

© 2017 Vancouver Courier

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