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Qmunity gets $7 million

City council approves Pattison rezoning proposal

“We’re so thrilled. This is such a long time coming, and we couldn’t be happier,” Qmunity executive director Dara Parker said after city council approved a rezoning application that will see funding allocated to a new gay community centre. Credit: Shauna Lewis

BC’s queer resource centre, Qmunity, has been allotted $7 million for a new multipurpose community centre in Vancouver.

Vancouver city council unanimously approved the funds as part of a rezoning and development application Dec 17.

In exchange for council’s permission to rezone sites at Burrard and Hornby streets, applicants Jim Pattison Developments and Reliance Properties will give the city more than $15.8 million in community amenity contributions [CACs] to be allocated among several area amenities. At $7 million, Qmunity will receive the largest share of the contribution — nearly half.

“We’re so thrilled. This is such a long time coming, and we couldn’t be happier,” Qmunity executive director Dara Parker says.

“There was such an outpouring of the community and with so many different perspectives, from seniors to youth to volunteers and service users, that I think we saw that, really, Qmunity is an umbrella organization,” she says.

Parker says she expects Qmunity will receive the funding in six months. She says a formal public consultation regarding building plans will take place in June 2014 once a site has been secured.

“We can’t consult when we don’t know where it will be,” she says. “We want concrete tangibles in place.”

But Qmunity is open to community suggestions prior to the formal consultation process, she says.

Parker says the project budget is $10 million and Qmunity is still working with the city, hoping to secure more CACs for the remaining funds.

“I couldn’t be more pleased for Qmunity and the GLBT community itself,” Councillor Tim Stevenson told council.

“This is the first time that council has had such respect for our community that we’re seeing a CAC of this magnitude,” he said. “It’s a dream come true.”

During the public hearing, approximately 20 speakers supported the Pattison rezoning application, many under the premise that Qmunity, which has provided resources to the LGBT community for more than 30 years, is in dire need of a new, larger, more physically accessible, multipurpose space.

The few opposed to the application cited view impacts, building shadowing and unaffordable housing as primary concerns.

Funding for a new LGBT community centre was listed as a priority under the public benefit strategy in the city’s new West End community plan passed last month.

Plans for the Pattison sites at 1262-1290 Burrard Street and 1229-1281 Hornby Street include two mixed-use residential, retail and office towers.