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Vancouver's Development Permit Board okays controversial project

The Woodwards building, seen here July 25, 2005 was hoped to be the first step towards revitalization of the downtown east side.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail/John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

Vancouver's Development Permit Board has approved Sequel 138, a proposed six-storey development on East Hastings street in the city's Downtown Eastside over the objections of some community groups.

At a regular meeting Monday, the board approved the project, which had earlier been given a green light by an urban design panel. At the meeting, speakers from community groups including VANDU - the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users - said the building was part of sweeping neighbourhood gentrification that will push out low-income residents of the area.. VANDU has also stated that the project is likely to disrupt the existing drug market, because of stepped-up policing and pressure from new residents to push open drug use out of sight - in the process, further squeezing some of the city's poorest and most vulnerable citizens.

The project is across the street from Insite, the city's supervised injection site.

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Plans for the project, called Sequel 138, call for commercial uses on the ground floor and 97 residential units - including 18 social housing units - on a site that was formerly home to a 1907 vaudeville theatre. The theatre was demolished last year after a previous plan to restore the heritage building fell apart over delays and financing issues.

Neighbourhood groups opposing the project have argued the city should purchase the site for social housing.

City officials say the project will bring new residents and greater diversity to the neighbourhood.

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About the Author
National correspondent

Based in Vancouver, Wendy Stueck has covered technology and business and now reports on British Columbia issues including natural resources, aboriginal issues and urban affairs. More

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