• Monitors what is happening in the Norquay area of East Vancouver
• Provides a forum for residents to communicate
• Documents how city officials implement CityPlan in Vancouver’s second “neighbourhood centre”
The interests of speculators, a developer-funded City Council, and compromised city planners may go against what renters and homeowners want to see happen in their neighborhood. Bad planning can contribute to damage of organic social fabric, loss of affordable rental housing, needless manufacture of unoccupied investment condos, skyrocketing property taxes, artificially accelerated rates of development, more people crowded into the same unimproved public space, aggravation of problems with parking and vehicle traffic, loss of views, poor quality in design, and severe shadow impacts. What is happening to Norquay calls for continuing independent community-based review. Please keep coming back to Eye on Norquay to stay up to date on news and to share your perspective.
→ See Resources in right sidebar learn more about Norquay and city planning in Vancouver
In 2011, extensive participation in City of Vancouver capital planning process (see Norquay Residents Submission to 2012-2014 Draft Capital Plan) resulted in allocations for zero improvements specific to the 2010 Norquay Plan.
Three years onward, the next capital plan is set to run to 2018. If Norquay gets nothing in the current round of capital planning, it is hard to believe that we will ever see any significant local improvements that mitigate our unwanted mass rezoning.
What looks more and more like all-take-no-give density dumping would prove a confirmed fact. Under such conditions, why would any sane neighborhood ever welcome “additional planning”?
During 2014, Jeanette Jones has taken a lead in trying to get engaged with the 2015-2018 Capital Plan. Spending plans solidify out of the public eye, and then emerge as theoretically tweakable concrete at a late-in-the-process “open house.” To make a useful submission within such framework is a painful slog.
Come out August 28 or September 4 and see whether there is anything planned for Norquay. Taking into account planning and priorities and actual Norquay growth, Jeanette has already made the best timely case she could for Norquay to get a downpayment on all the big promises. If you can’t make one of the two open houses, at least send in a brief response saying that significant allocation must go to Norquay.
Also see at CityHallWatch:
• • • • • • •
Here is the 24 May 2014 comment that Jeanette Jones supplied to City of Vancouver — slightly revisedfor this August 2014 posting, with photo captions added.
Capital Plan Proposal for Brock Park
I have lived in the vicinity of Brock Park for over four decades. When we first moved into the area the park was fairly new and well used. Our three daughters spent many happy hours of their childhoods in the playground with their friends. A cricket team played in the park on Sundays during warm weather. Other teams played soccer. Informal games of soccer, catch, and frisbee took place often. A post and chain fence separated the park from lanes along three sides.
Since then, I have watched the park steadily deteriorate. An underground stream that runs beneath the park contributes to a playing field that is so uneven and full of holes that only dogs would try to run there [photos 1-2-3-4 below]. The cricket team left years ago. No one who values their ankles would play games of any kind on the grass, and the soccer goalposts have long since disappeared. An asphalt path built about twenty years ago provides a place for people to walk for exercise, but the path is now cracked and sagging [photo 5 below]. The posts rotted and the fencing was removed. Quite a few residents of houses that surround the park now use park as their extra parking space [photo 6 below]. A brushy area around the stump of a cottonwood tree that was removed a couple of years ago has become a magnet for garbage dumping [photo 7 below]. The only part of the park that is used regularly for recreation is the playground, which is less attractive now than it was thirty years ago. There are still no washrooms.
In the meantime, many new people have moved into the area around Brock Park. A recently built development at 2300 Kingsway together with the already approved Kensington Gardens at 2220 Kingsway add up to about 800 dwelling units. This already accounts for about 20% of the 5000 new residents that city staff have projected to live in all of Norquay by 2040. In addition, a 4-storey 94-unit apartment building has been completed at 2239 Kingsway. Behind are eight new single family houses and a small “four storey apartment” with four units on Galt Street between Kingsway and Brock Park. (Taken together, these developments occupy the two-acre site of the London Guard Motel.) All of this development is within 400 meters of Brock Park.
The Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan adopted by Council in 2010 provides for new, denser housing forms to replace single family houses. Two large duplexes have almost been completed on Brock Street just east of Nanaimo. A development application for duplex plus infill under the new RT-11 zoning has just been approved for 4517 Nanaimo Street, a property that backs onto Brock Park. The appearance of other nearby sites suggests that redevelopment is imminent. The area near Brock Park is the first part of Norquay to experience multiple major and smaller developments.
Increasing densification of the area does not only bring many new residents. It also transfers many activities that have traditionally taken place in backyards to city parks. The new housing forms (duplex, rowhouse, stacked townhouse, small houses on shared lots) leave very little room for open space on the property. City parks are becoming the “shared backyard” where residents look to play, exercise, garden, and socialize. We expect picnic tables, exercise and play equipment for all ages, landscaping, and open space where we can run and play.
The Norquay Public Benefits Strategy (Report to Council of 22 April 2013) defines this priority:
Given its location nearer areas with anticipated greater population growth, General Brock Park
is considered to be the first priority for upgrading in the first 10 years of the Strategy. (p. 9-10)
The Strategy assigns $2M to the “renewal of existing facilities and infrastructure” in Brock Park, Slocan Park, and Earles Park (Appendix A, Item D). The area near Brock Park is experiencing far more rapid development than the areas around the other two parks in Norquay — indeed, more than most other areas of the city at the present time — and it seems likely to continue to do so in the foreseeable future.
The City of Vancouver has repeatedly assured Norquay residents that development of parks will accompany the development of new housing. The renewal of Brock Park must be included in the 2015-2018 Capital Plan.
No. 1 — Baby Sinkhole. Break a Leg!
No. 2 — Fit for a Dog?
No. 3 — Even the Park Board Mower Avoids This Iron
No. 4 — Plywood Treatment for Bog Spot
No. 5 — Greenwash Could Call This “Rewilding”?
No. 6 — “Park” It Is!
No. 7 — They Cut Down Our Big Tree & Then … Did Nothing
How do grit and glitz coexist?
Kensington Gardens, a pseudo-Brit-named development headed for 2220 Kingsway is going to have to do its best to ignore the weeds beyond the perimeter. Because we doubt that their gardener will deign to care for the other side of Kingsway. We know the City of Vancouver won’t. Wrong part of town. Yes, here …
Western Norquay on 11 August 2014
A month ago, Westbank Projects Corp and City of Vancouver coordinated a lightspeed tidy-up job on the site after a pair of tweets called attention to graffiti and used hypodermic needles. Here’s the first tweet —
Westbank’s ironic public art at 2220 Kingsway. Used needle invisible in foreground
#vancouver #eastvan #vanre #vanpoli
— and the photo that went with it:
Westbank Marketing Monolith on morning of 8 July 2014
CityHallWatch independently followed up in the afternoon with report of a pile of used needles elsewhere on the site. For a while the pair of graphics below ruled the roost at Twitter’s #vanpoli hashtag:
On the morning of 9 July 2014, Sadhu Johnston, Deputy City Manager, tweeted
City staff filled a pick-up with the garbage found on the public land there
The fact remains that the City of Vancouver has clearly stated that it has no intention of maintaining the Norquay public realm. Not even the weedy new corner bulges that it installed at Kingsway and Gladstone as a token “reward” for inflicting mass rezoning on hundreds of acres.
In later exchange I offered to help City of Vancouver allocate its $1.2 billion budget. So far they have not taken me up on that offer.
For a long time, the final item on the extensive Norquay timeline has read:
Uncertain: Planning for the SkyTrain area of Norquay that planners excluded on 2 Nov 2009
Background: Norquay planning officially “kicked off” in March 2006. After years of engagement, the Director of Planning sailed into a 2 November 2009 meeting to declare that the northern section of Norquay would no longer exist. That carve-out disrespected quite a few Norquay Working Group participants. In one instant, Vancouver city planning trashed their months of investment in working on a plan and threw their future into limbo. This is what Vancouver calls planning. Norquay residents call it abuse.
The November 2009 Norquay Exclusion Outlined in Red
[ Note: A mapping of the original core Norquay "neighbourhood centre" plus its various accretions can be found at http://www.vcn.bc.ca/norquay/nrqexp.pdf ]
Until now, the only inkling we’ve had of this murky future has been these few highlighted words in the closing sentence of Community Plans: Next Steps, a report that went to Council on 25 September 2013 :
Staff also note that significantly extending more than one planning process would impact the Planning and Development Services Department’s ability to deliver on other Council priorities for area planning, including Cambie Corridor Phase 3, Broadway Corridor, the Eastern Core, South East False Creek, North East False Creek and other Station Areas (such as Nanaimo and 29th Avenue). (p. 15)
Thanks to a CityHallWatch video record , Eye on Norquay is able to provide the following easy-access transcript of a second inkling. On 30 July 2014 Brian Jackson (General Manager, Planning and Development Services, City of Vancouver) spoke to Vancouver City Planning Commission  for sixteen minutes [0:00 to 15:58]. His overview of recent and upcoming City of Vancouver planning activities included two segments specific to Norquay.
Brian Jackson (credit: CityHallWatch)
Brian Jackson 0:44 to 1:22
But in addition to the three large areas that we’ve approved — or that Council has approved [as?] we recommended, we can’t forget we also did the implementation strategy for Norquay — we finished that, we finished the Mount Pleasant implementation strategy, we did a new policy statement for Pearson Dogwood, we did a new policy statement slash structure plan for Great Northern Way. So it’s been an incredible year as far as policy is concerned. All of this is taking place in 2014, which is going to prove to be our busiest year ever in terms of development applications.
Comment — The implementation strategy for Norquay was created by planning staff with no resident involvement, other than a one-time opportunity to react to what staff cooked up. Norquay Working Group was terminated on 3 February 2011, and promised new groups for public benefits strategy and for public realm planning were never allowed to form. Meanwhile, the parallel implementation strategy for Mount Pleasant crammed a planning staff agenda down the throats of a very unhappy implementation committee. These were probably the last such resident “involvements” that Vancouver city planning will ever allow. (Also notice Jackson’s rhetoric: the backtrack from saying that planning did the approving, and the language surrounding mention of Norquay — “we can’t forget” and the redundancy of “we finished that.”)
Brian Jackson 14:04 to 14:40
And then, to top it off, our other proposal is for doing some station area planning around two of the Millennium Line stations at 29th and Nanaimo which have development opportunities, and the community itself is very interested in taking a look at what could happen around the immediate station area. So, I’m mentioning that last, because we’ve got a lot on our plate, and it may take us a while to get to those last things, so those things are looking like they’re mid to late 2015.
Comment — Far closer to the truth: the “community itself” dreads a second all-take-no-give planning incursion — except perhaps for developers who have assembled land or profiteers who expect to cash out and escape. “What could happen”? Surely not tall towers! But right now the “plate” is filled with seeing just how tall a tower can be forced onto the Safeway site in northern Cedar Cottage as part of the technically adjacent Grandview Woodland plan.
• • • • • •
 Community Plans: Next Steps (25 Sept 2013)
 Brian Jackson’s status report to Vancouver City Planning Commission
 Vancouver City Planning Commission — Agenda, 30 July 2014
Brian Jackson charts future path at Vancouver City Planning Commission meeting
CityHallWatch posting of 6 August 2014
Update (less than one hour elapsed after communication of problems to City of Vancouver). (1) Applicant advised to revise. (2) Web site to be updated. (3) New site sign to come. (4) New postcards to be mailed out. Unprecedented. Congratulations to CoV.
The City of Vancouver has just posted a new development application for 4571 Slocan Street. This is the second proposal under Norquay’s new RM-7 zoning.
Maybe it’s that hard to get new things right the first time? Now it’s the second time …
Eye on Norquay is pretty happy with the outcome on the first RM-7 application for 4730 Duchess Street. But only after putting in a ton of work on that file (reviewing the original submission, making a trip to City Hall, communicating with planners and local area residents and City Hall watchers across the City of Vancouver, waiting for the outcome).
It’s too bad that one glaring problem with 4571 Slocan has to pop up immediately.
The notifications are botched — both the street signage and the notification letter.
Exhibit A — Street Signage
Exhibit B — Notification Letter
Start with the street sign. The one red rectangle is where the eye fixes itself. Message: This is a development application for ONE parcel. Message reinforced: The single address is 4571 Slocan Street.
Next go to the notification letter. The bolded header indicates a SINGLE address. Message: One parcel is affected by the development application. Further message: No mention anywhere of either 4565 Slocan Street or 4585 Slocan Street.
Is this deliberate misdirection or gross incompetence? Either one is unacceptable.
To correct this situation, the City of Vancouver must:
• Direct the developer to post signage that is not misleading
• Reissue the notification letter with missing addresses listed in header
• Extend the period for comment by the time it takes to rectify these inaccuracies
Any further comment on the development application for 4565 / 4571 / 4585 Slocan Street will require a visit to City Hall, since so little can be seen from the materials that get posted online.
In return for huge changes — including mass rezoning of 1900 single-family homes, an accelerated rate of redevelopment, and doubling-tripling-quadrupling of existing building heights along Kingsway — the 2010 Norquay Plan promised a variety of improvements for our impacted area.
The two biggest promises were
Delivery of an already-long-promised Renfrew Ravine Linear Park
Provision of significant indoor and outdoor new community space on the three-acre 2400 Motel site
These two promises occupied most of the agenda at the 16 June 2014 Norquay Village Plan Public Realm Workshop. Eye on Norquay has already reported on that event.
Here is what the Norquay Plan says on page 15 about the anticipated park:
Renfrew Ravine Linear Park.
There is an opportunity to extend the Renfrew Ravine Park south to create a green pedestrian connection between Slocan Park/29th Avenue and Kingsway. This connection, which runs along an existing Metro sewer right-of-way, will be created as adjacent properties redevelop. In the shorter term, the creation of new pocket parks, community garden spaces, and mid-block pedestrian connections, will be incremental steps toward the long-term objective of a complete linear park. This new park is also well-located to help the City achieve its city-wide objective (and Greenest City target) of increasing access to nature for all residents.
Since adoption of the plan, one of the greatest battles fought so far by Norquay residents resulted in modifications of the development proposal for 2699 Kingsway. Among other things, the plaza width for a gateway to Renfrew Ravine Linear Park was increased by a factor ranging from 45% to over 120%.
Renfrew Ravine Linear Park offers a prime example of a City of Vancouver nasty trick: make a promise, fail to deliver, and then use the same promise over again. The good thing is that the City of Vancouver has already acquired about 7/9ths of the land required, probably at the more reasonable prices that prevailed over a decade ago. The bad thing is that the City of Vancouver has delivered so little on a very old promise tied to SkyTrain development (especially 29th Avenue station area) in the 1980s. The only evidence of delivery is one recently installed community garden.
The foregoing is all backstory to repeating the number one message that came out of the June 16 Workshop:
Don’t Sell Off Any CoV Land
This posting, and this repetition, respond to Workshop materials that City of Vancouver posted to the web afterward.
It has been worrisome to discover in the record a so-called consultant presentation consisting of 13 slides.
How can this package prepared by PWL Landscape architects be called a “presentation,”
when it was never presented to workshop participants?
The twelfth slide has caused us some concern:
The nine numbers in circles located across the right-side graphic read, left to right:
/ 20′ / 20′ / 23′ / 15′ / 20′ / 30′ / 29.5′ / 20′ / 29′ /
We’re hoping that these figures represent nothing more than the technicality of easement that runs across the properties for the underground pipeline that carries the waters of what used to be that section of Still Creek. The City of Vancouver has not yet responded to our questions about these numbers.
Some time ago, Eye on Norquay attempted to do a freedom of information request, to retrieve the planning criteria that led to Norquay being fixed in City of Vancouver crosshairs for the second “neighbourhood centre.”
All that came back was an offer to charge about $500 to make the attempt (and likely return three sheets of paper with everything blacked out).
Chad Skelton’s recent visualization of the Starbuckification of Vancouver promised to offer insight into this ongoing Norquay mystery. And all for free — excluding the labor of dropping a Norquay outline onto the mapping.
The effort confirmed the intuition. Norquay is a pinkish-to-red Starbucks desert. See?
Conclusion: Planners decided that any area of Vancouver that was so Starbucks-starved must need fixing. Like a wary cat, whether it wanted fixing or not. Thus did Norquay get mass rezoned for a “neighbourhood centre” against its will.
Guess what? Four years onward, there still isn’t a Starbucks. Here’s betting that particular incursion will be a long time coming. And that’s OK, since Starbuckification is a synonym for gentrification.
By the way, it’s looking more and more like Westbank miscalculated by trying to plop its product at 2220 Kingsway. Surprise, surprise.
… Or, Spawn of Norquay
It is becoming apparent that Grandview-Woodland — in the one respect of indefinite process suspension — may be the neighborhood that comes closest to reproducing the excruciations that Norquay has suffered.
Only under the direction of a maestro of horror can Part II outdo Part I. The City of Vancouver has this demonstrated capability.
Just as color, props, and setting (a fortress shopping mall replacing an isolated farmhouse) made it possible for Dawn of the Dead (1978) to take the themes of Night of the Living Dead (1968) to an entirely new level, so too may the Grandview-Woodland production surpass that of Norquay, all played out in our ever more zombified city.
The common element in the two histories is stop-dead-in-tracks, followed by dragged-out fumble toward a restart destined to lead to predetermined closure. The G-W sequel has a blockbuster and publicly-known budget of $275,000.
Scrutinize the parallels in this chart:
|Council initiates 21 November 2005||Council initiates 28 July 2011|
|One “kick-off” Open House March 2006||Two “launch” Open Houses May 2012|
|Norquay Village Draft Plan distributed May 2007||Broadway & Commercial workshop 6 July 2013|
|Ruckus w Toderian June 2007||Ruckus w Jackson June-July 2013|
|Indefinite suspension starting June 2007||Indefinite suspension starting August 2013|
|Municipal election 2008 — NPA decimated||Municipal election 2014 — ???|
|Open House restart late November 2008||“Citizens Assembly” restart September 2014|
|Unsupported plan imposed November 2010||??? 2015 ???|
The latest Grandview-Woodland face-off, appearing on the same date of 3 July 2014, sees hired-gun consultant Rachel Magnusson op-edding in the Vancouver Sun about jury democracy, while Grandview-Woodland defender Jak King over at the Georgia Straight takes the City of Vancouver to task.
Lessons of Possible Use to Grandview-Woodland
Norquay residents must have surprised the City of Vancouver by coming back in January 2009 with a sizeable group of committed persons who stuck it out through the whole slog — of what eventually proved to be only one phase of a “process” that ran for close to five years.
Altogether there were about four dozen individuals who connected with the Norquay Working Group throughout 2009 (notably, about that same number is scheduled for the upcoming Grandview-Woodland “Citizen’s Assembly”). Norquay’s faithful-attendance core settled down to around a dozen and a half. Within that group, the minority of City of Vancouver supporters tended either to have ties to development interests, stakes in networking for possible employment opportunities, or naive trust in what planners were pushing (that listing is in decreasing order).
In hindsight, it seems clear that the City of Vancouver had no idea how to deal with a group of local residents that really wanted to play a part in specifying their own future. The City of Vancouver abruptly terminated the Norquay Working Group in February 2011, shortly after Council approved an imposed plan. Norquay was not allowed to have a group to “implement” plan proposals. From that point forward, everything about us has been done without us. (Until the Norquay Village Plan Public Realm Workshop of 16 June 2014.)
People on the Mount Pleasant Implementation Committee (November 2012 to October 2013) had far more experience and competence than the Norquay group, and did their best to hold city planners accountable. They felt very frustrated throughout, and deeply disappointed in the results. That probably was the last voluntary local area planning group that the City of Vancouver will allow to exist. More control is the agenda.
The randomness or stratification or whatever happens with the impending selection of the engineered Grandview 48 will not be transparent, and probably will “represent” a lot of Vision Vancouver plants and picks.
Painful and hopeless as the task may seem, people with history and understanding in the Grandview-Woodland struggle should consider putting in their applications.
The 2009 Norquay experience suggests that the City of Vancouver will always have considerable difficulty in rounding up and sustaining a substantial number of compradors. Truth will out, especially if even a few informed and persistent individuals manage to find their way into the forum.
Since the time of Kingsway & Knight (in Kensington-Cedar Cottage) and Norquay (mostly in Renfrew-Collingwood), the City of Vancouver has abandoned the list of 19 projected “neighbourhood centres” and generally avoided messing with the other seven of the nine residential neighborhoods covered by community visions. (For the record, those seven are/were: Dunbar, Victoria/Fraserview/Killarney, Sunset, Hastings Sunrise, Arbutus Ridge/Kerrisdale/Shaughnessy, Riley Park/South Cambie, West Point Grey.)
[ Postcript above copied from