Legal challenge to stop Kitsilano social housing project dismissed by BC court
Posted November 19, 2023 4:16 pm.
Last Updated November 19, 2023 4:57 pm.
A legal challenge aimed at stopping a social housing project in Kitsilano has been dismissed by the BC Supreme Court.
This comes after the province passed Bill 26 in April, which made it easier for the City of Vancouver to move ahead with the 13 storey, 129 unit social housing building at Arbutus and West 7th, also known as the Arbutus project.
B.C. housing minister Ravi Kahlon introduced Bill-26, the Municipalities Enabling and Validating Amendment Act, after he says the City of Vancouver asked the province to “legislatively intervene” on the Kitsilano project and push it ahead.
The legislation includes amendments designed to streamline local government’s development approval processes and modernize local government public notice requirements.
But shortly after the bill was passed, the Kitsilano Coalition for Children & Family Safety Society sought a judicial review, saying it was unconstitutional. The group claims the bill deprives Vancouverites of their right to challenge the legality of the city’s actions.
“The willingness of elected representatives to enact legislation that disregards constitutional rights should alarm every resident of this Province,” Kitsilano Coalition spokesperson Karen Finnan said.
However, the BC Supreme Court says it disagreed. The court ruled that the bill is in line with others that have “withstood judicial scrutiny”.
The Arbutus project has faced fierce opposition from some in the community who have concerns about public safety, saying the project is right across from a playground and a nearby school.
But advocates for the project say it provides much needed social housing during a housing and homelessness crisis in Vancouver.
The Coalition declined an interview with CityNews about the ruling, saying it needs more time to discuss the decision with legal counsel.
Second judicial review still in progress
Meanwhile, a second judicial review launched by the coalition to counter the development’s rezoning process is still under review by BC courts.
In 2022, the City of Vancouver approved the rezoning application for the site at a public hearing.
Three months later, the coalition filed a petition to B.C.’s Supreme Court, claiming the city failed to “ensure transparency, fairness and disclosure of key information in its decision-making process on the rezoning application.”
The petition asks that the decision made at the public hearing be rejected and a new public hearing be held for the rezoning proposal.
It’s currently awaiting a hearing date in the supreme court.
-With files from Greg Bowman