Controversial Safeway towers development gets public hearing

The public will get its say on the polarizing triple-tower development proposed near Commercial Drive and Broadway.

The public will get its say on the controversial triple-tower development proposed near Commercial Drive and Broadway.

The project, located at 1780 East Broadway, would see three towers with more than 430 residential units built where the Safeway currently stands. New retail space and a plaza would be added at street level, and the Safeway grocery store would be expanded.

The project has a less direct route than some; twice it’s been revised and resubmitted to the city. In the current application, its proponents, developer Westbank and investment trust Crombie, note they’ve updated the proposal based on staff suggestions, including upping the number of below-market rentals to “approximately 93” and reducing the density of the towers by removing one floor from each (they’re now expected to range from 24 to 29 storeys).

They’ve also removed a daycare and a shrank a fitness area.

Over the past couple of years, the project has faced opposition from the public, notably from a group under the banner of ‘No Megatowers at Safeway.’ They’ve collected over 2,200 names on a digital petition against the towers.

“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,” they state on their website.

They also released a document they had received via an FOI request from the city, showing the vast majority of responses during a public comment period in November were opposed, though the project wasn’t without its supporters.

On July 7 the public will be able to weigh in on the proposed development as it’s currently presented as the land needs to be rezoned before the project moves forward. While public comments have been allowed in the past via email, and there have been two virtual open houses, this will be the first public hearing. It’ll give supporters and opponents a chance to speak directly to the decision-makers.

“These Public Hearings are to be convened by electronic means, with in-person attendance also available. You may participate in the Public Hearing either by speaking by phone or in person, or by submitting comments that will be distributed to the Mayor and Councillors,” states the city’s website. 

Those wishing to participate can register to speak starting on June 24. 

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