NO MEGATOWERS AT SAFEWAY

Affordable Housing YES! Megatowers No!

With the tallest tower at its very top now proposed to be equivalent to 40 residential storeys from ground to tip top, this upscale and luxury development from a Real Estate Investment Trust trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange will do nothing to bring the affordable housing Vancouver desperately needs.

Ways to Take Action

Speak at the Public Hearing!

A public hearing before Vancouver City Council starts July 7th at 6pm. As the hearings are in July, we really need people to show up!  Sign up starts 8:30 AM June 24.

This will make the most difference of anything you can do. Watch this link for signing up. In the meantime – write to Council! 

Email the Mayor and City Council

Send this email to Mayor Stewart Kennedy and Council members. You can modify it to reflect your unique take. If your browser won’t open it, a sample letter is at the bottom of this website for you to cut and paste.

Sign the Petition!

Let decision makers know how you feel!

The proposed towers go against years of community planning.

This community needs affordable, low income, co-operative non-profit and social housing. Not upscale and luxury suites and increased gentrification. 
The development would be exempt from a requirement that 20% of the 653 suites be set aside for  low income and social housing.  Only 12% of the suites are for “below-market” housing.  That’s it. Below market housing is simply the average cost of existing rental stock in Vancouver, as opposed to the cost of newly built rentals. About 16% discount.  Absolutely no low income, co-operative or social housing is proposed.  There are 215 luxury condos. This development would boost nearby land values and trigger the tear down of existing affordable rentals in the vicinity
The Grandview-Woodland Citizens’ Assembly, which the City of Vancouver convened, recommended buildings of no more than 12 storeys at the Safeway site.  The Grandview Woodland Community Plan, subsequently passed by Council, approved buildings ranging in height from 12 to 24 storeys at the site. 
A massive development is proposed at the Safeway site at 1780 East Broadway. The tallest tower would rise to a maximum of 355 feet. The developers say the towers will be 29, 28 and 24 storeys on TOP of a retail and office base.  However, when the  base and roof top enclosures are taken into account, the skyscrapers would rise to the equivalent of 40, 36 and 31, residential storeys above ground.
The City’s Grandview-Woodland Community Plan calls for a generous, sunny, welcoming, centrally-located civic plaza at the Safeway site. The plan says it will be a new “social heart” for the community.  The plaza at Safeway is to be the “primary gathering and social place at the south end of The Drive”. 
There is no generous, sunny, centrally located welcoming civic plaza as the Community Plan promises, only a shadowed walkway running beside the noisy skytrain.  The plaza proposal now contains stairs….that run up underneath a commercial building to a hard to access courtyard. 
We want to support and encourage our local, independent businesses that make Commercial Drive thrive – and which give it its unique, diverse shopping character. 

The existing Safeway store would increase in size dramatically – a sprawling megastore out of keeping with Commercial Drive, and which will have the effect of pulling customers away from local merchants, threatening the viability of independent shops on The Drive. 
We need a design that is relevant to our times—socially, architecturally, ecologically. A design that employs the latest in green technology, building materials, construction, energy, and living. Midrise buildings allow developers to hire local trades, to use renewable resources less detrimental than concrete.  
This concrete mega-complex will shoot up nearby property values, taxes and rents on local independent small  businesses, forcing many – already struggling – to close or move away. It will have a devastating effect on the diversity and eclectic nature of Commercial Drive. 
We are in a climate emergency. The City wants Grandview Cut’s thick green undergrowth, habitat and biodiversity preserved, protected and enhanced. 
The Vancouver Park Board has identified the Cut as a priority habitat earmarked for protection and restoration.  Increasing the quantity, quality and resilience of greenspaces in Vancouver is a goal of the Greenest City Action Plan. Thick undergrowth, trees and brush in the Grandview Cut will be slashed away to make room for concrete reinforcement, two ramps, an entranceway and bridge for loading trucks and vehicles. 
Avert traffic congestion on East Broadway, a designated emergency corridor. Keep Grandview Woodland livable and reduce vehicle use.
By their own predictions, the developers admit traffic will increase at least 18% around the megatowers. There will be only enough underground parking for one third of suites;  residents will be charged extra to get a spot. Only 12 spaces are permanently set aside for car shares; 9 more are assigned, but they expire after three years. While the reduced number of parking spaces makes sense to encourage transit use, the concern is megatower residents, unwilling to give up their cars or pay the parking premium, will clog surrounding residential streets with their parked vehicles.
This community needs local affordable daycare space. The Grandview Woodland Community Plan calls for 430 new spaces in the area.
There is no community daycare component in the latest plan put forward by the developers. They have removed it from their proposal.
Typically for a development of this size the City and developer would set an amount of money to be paid to the City by the developer to be put towards services to benefit Vancouverites. These are called “Community Amenity Contributions”:  CACs.
No community amenity contribution is required for this proposal. City staff considers the rental component of this project is enough – no financial donation to benefit the public required. 

A Dream for developers; a Nightmare for East Vancouver

The developer’s image conveniently leaves off the mountains and cuts off the skytrain guideway. To get this perspective you’d have to be standing on East 13th – not East 10th. These will be the tallest buildings in the area, setting a precedent for future developments in the Grandview-Woodlands neighbourhood. There is no low income or social housing proposed.

The Safeway site is owned by a Real Estate Investment Trust with properties worth $5.4 billion

This site is owned by the Crombie REIT – a real estate investment trust. It is 41.5% owned by Empire Ltd. – the parent company to Sobeys, which in turn owns Safeway and other grocery chains. The rest of the shares are held by investors – it is on the Toronto Stock Exchange. In Crombie REIT’s last published annual report it says it owns 295 properties across Canada. It says its  properties are worth about $5.4 billion.

We encourage you to tell the city what you think by filling out this short survey.

Soaring Towers Will Set a Precedent for Future Developments in the Area

The diagram above illustrates the dramatic height proposed for this development.

Elevation: Ground to very tip top (to top of enclosures sitting on the roofs)

Tower A
108.3 meters = 355 feet = 40 residential storeys

Tower B
97 meters = 318 feet = 36 residential storeys

Tower C
84.4 meters= 277 feet = 31 residential storeys.

Note:  The developer’s drawings contain even higher heights than above, by 1-2 storeys, due to enclosures on the roofs. However, as of June 2022, City staff want a lower roof profile, with total height limits as set out above. A standard residential storey is 2.72 meters.

There are Better Designs

The Citizens’ Assembly recommended 12 storeys. Above is an example of the concept design from the Assembly’s report.

Above is the design concept that was shown to City Council when it passed the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan.  The plan calls for building heights to range between 12-24 storeys above retail. We definitely support affordable densification, especially as the Safeway site is near a transit hub. However, the proposed luxury skyscrapers will do nothing to bring affordable housing to the neighbourhood; in fact they will have the opposite effect. In addition, they are so out of scale they will spoil the Commercial Drive character and feel.

Who We Are

No Megatowers at Safeway is a citizens’ group opposed to the lack of affordability, and design of these behemoth upscale and luxury towers. We definitely support affordable density near a transit hub; we desperately need affordable housing.  This development will not provide it. There is no low income, cooperative, non-profit or social housing proposed; only 12% of the suites are for below-market housing. This would only give on average a 16% rent discount. That’s it. Luxury suites will be sold. We are in a climate emergency. This area needs parks, greenspace. This development will permanently concrete over a significant portion of the thick undergrowth in the Grandview Cut to construct a vehicle bridge and structural reinforcing. Trees, undergrowth and habitat will be permanently  lost. The Grandview Woodland Community Plan calls for a generous public plaza as a social heart gathering place for the neighbourhood. This application’s public plaza consists of a minimal walkway along the noisy darkened skytrain line at the entrance to a giant new Safeway.

We need a design that is relevant to our times—socially, architecturally, ecologically. Not massive concrete towers.

Contact us at fightthefortress@gmail.com

Sample letter:

Subject: No Megatowers At Safeway

Dear Mayor Stewart and Councillors,

I am opposed to the proposed development at the Safeway site at Broadway and Commercial.

I am in favour of affordable housing at that location, and definitely support increased density near this transit hub.

I am against this current proposal for the following reasons:

1. This will be an upscale and luxury development. It contains no low income, social, non-profit or co-operative housing. Zero. We desperately need affordable housing in Vancouver – this proposal will not bring it.

2. Only 12% of the suites would be “below-market”. City staff say this represents on average only a 16% discount on rent.

3. Not only is the developer exempted from a requirement to provide 20% affordable housing, but no “community amenity contributions” are required.

4. It will create a “land lift” in the area, resulting in nearby affordable housing and apartment walk-ups being torn down. Nothing good for tenants – we will be evicted; the new developments too expensive for us.

5. There is no community daycare included.

6. This is a proposal from the Crombie REIT – Real Estate Investment Trust, which trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Its interest is to maximize returns for its investors, not to provide affordable housing for tenants or to contribute to the community.

7. The three towers are massive and out of scale with the eclectic Commercial Drive. When you include the commercial base, and rooftop enclosures, they would soar to the equivalent of 40, 36 and 31 residential storeys above ground.

8. The proposed towers go against years of community planning for that site. The city funded Grandview-Woodland Citizens’ Assembly recommended 12 storeys at that site. The Grandview Woodland Community Plan endorsed heights ranging between 12-24 storeys.

7. There is no centrally located, generous public plaza as promised in the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan. All there is a noisy walkway under the shadow of the skytrain line with stairs that run up underneath a commercial building to a hard-to-access courtyard.

8. The proposed skyscrapers will darken the neighbourhood, block mountain views and gentrify this low and mixed income neighbourhood.

9. The Safeway would be substantially enlarged – a big box style store that would draw customers away from independent local merchants. Property values, taxes and rents will surge, triggering a turnover from the small independent merchants to bigger, homogenous retail chains.

10. We are in a climate emergency. We need a design that shows imagination, that is relevant to our time – socially, architecturally, ecologically – a design that employs the latest in green technology, building materials, construction, energy, and living.

I ask that you vote no to it.

Send to:

Kennedy.Stewart@vancouver.ca, CLRbligh@vancouver.ca,  CLRboyle@vancouver.ca,  CLRcarr@vancouver.ca, CLRdegenova@vancouver.ca, CLRdominato@vancouver.ca,  CLRfry@vancouver.ca, CLRhardwick@vancouver.ca, CLRkirby-yung@vancouver.ca,  CLRswanson@vancouver.ca, CLRwiebe@vancouver.ca