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Vancouver delays DTES tower proposal

A controversial proposal to allow 12 to 15 storey buildings in the Downtown Eastside was suddenly yanked from city council’s Thursday planning committee agenda and delayed to gauge public opinion.

Dozens of people were hoping to speak against a policy to enable condominium towers in the historic area. Mayor Gregor Robertson successfully tabled an emergency motion before noon to strike a neighbourhood committee and set a Dec. 31 deadline for a report on the impact of taller buildings.

“The community has been loud and clear for the last number of days and weeks even,” Robertson said. “It’s an important step for us to take right now.”

Councillors Suzanne Anton, Ellen Woodsworth and David Cadman opposed the motion.

“This is another blow to democracy by this council,” Anton said. “It says to me that you are afraid of hearing the 80 speakers, or however many are on the list, this afternoon.”

“It’s a very vaguely worded, hastily constituted motion responding to what the public in the DTES has been calling for,” Woodsworth added. “The public needs to know what is a community committee, who’s going to be on it, what’s the accountability?”

Carnegie Community Action Project volunteer Harold Lavender said he felt “ripped off” because he didn’t get a chance to speak.

“I feel excluded from the community now,” he said. “I live in Chinatown and they just broke the DTES into artificial pieces based on the priorities of developers.”

Bob Mackin reports for Vancouver 24 Hours.

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