Archive for the ‘Events’ Category
Around noon on 10 April 2013, Vancouver City Council returned to “unfinished business” to approve the rezoning of 2220 Kingsway.
A restricted-access podium covers and walls off most of the 2.3 acre site. That physical feature of the development is far more offensive to Norquay residents than the three 14-storey towers that loom above. Still, the height of the development is out of human scale, and the massiveness was never anticipated in the resident-engaged Norquay planning of 2009.
Eye on Norquay appeared to be the only observer physically present during these proceedings at City Hall.
The main point of interest in this day-after-public-hearing discussion and vote was raised by Adriane Carr, the sole councillor not embedded in the Vision-NPA axis. The text of the Norquay Plan as approved by Council  offers no authority for a height of 14 storeys. Only for a height of 12 storeys.
Brian Jackson (General Manager, Planning and Development) was the only staff in the room. Almost as soon as the question was raised, he said that “Blackberry contact” was down and asked for time to summon other staff. Council declared recess. After a few minutes Jackson returned with planners Matt Shillito, Harv Weidner, and Grant Miller.
The only response from planning staff with regard to this official document was to point to “Consideration G” on page 2:
THAT Council amend the proposed Neighbourhood Centre Plan to increase the base building height allowable through rezoning in the Kingsway Rezoning Area from six- to eight-storeys to eight- to ten-storeys and to increase the allowable building density from approximately 3.2 FSR (net) to 3.8 FSR (net).
That text offers no support for allocating 14 storeys to 2220 Kingsway.
The cited authority for the 14-storey specification derives from two graphics (page 53 and page 54) embedded in a reworked presentation  of the Norquay Plan. See Appendix A and Appendix B below for direct access to those graphics.
It seems clear that the legal document itself was subsequently elaborated on to record what was desired by someone after the fact — but not what was stated at the time. This papered-over mess traces straight back to the hasty political agenda that saddled the Norquay Plan with major increases to height and density in October 2010 just before the rezoning was crammed down the throats of residents.
All too often the City of Vancouver seems to exploit inconsistency to mean what it wants to mean, and even then to exploit those inconsistencies inconsistently. Norquay has already seen provisional graphics used to override multiple instances of clear text . One of the councillors mentioned a principle that text takes precedence over graphics. (If such a principle exists, it just got tossed out the window again.)
If the graphic on page 53 has such authority for justifying a height of 14 storeys, it seems strange that the same graphic gets dismissed as “just a sketch for illustration” when it comes to recording intention for the plaza that was supposed to accompany the development. This looks like an extreme case of having it both ways at the same time. (The “plaza” morphed into a “park” and got shoved off onto the extreme southwest corner of the site.)
One Vision councillor went on at some length about how it might be different if a “whack of people” had come out to the public hearing and had made a point of the two-storey discrepancy. Point one. There is abundant evidence that even many nights of speakers have little impact on done-deal rezonings, especially if the developer happens to be a major player. Point two. Those who speak up and say what is not wanted to be heard tend to get written off as unrepresentative of the silent majority. On the other side of that equation, the abuse suffered by those who attempt to participate usually leads to rapid disengagement. The lack of speakers that show up is then taken as evidence of contentment with the state of affairs.
That same councillor ruminated about what resided in personal memory from fall 2010. When you can’t discover what you want in the documentation, just dig into individual recollections. Isn’t that how everything legal is supposed to work?
Adriane Carr found good reason to vote against approval of the rezoning of 2220 Kingsway. Was it sheer coincidence that she is the only councillor whose election campaign funding was not seriously beholden to developer Westbank?
The autocracy and arbitrariness of City of Vancouver manipulation goes on and on.
 Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan
 Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan 2010
 Landscaped Median #2 http://eyeonnorquay.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/landscaped-median-2/
Appendix A — Page 53 Graphic
Appendix B — Page 54 Graphic
The following notices arrived in the morning mail of 20 March 2013. Public hearings will be held on the same evening of 9 April 2013 for both the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre mass rezoning and for the rezoning of 2220 Kingsway for three 14-storey towers.
Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan
Rezoning Application — 2220 Kingsway
Below is a screen shot taken from the City of Vancouver web site for Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan. Notice how once again the race-to-mass-rezone has outstripped communication of the next stop on the railroad. Nothing about the public hearing is posted as of noon on 20 March 2013.
This is typical of a municipal government that is hooked on scattergun rezonings for developer payback — always with bright green plastic wrapping up the gifts. Much more remains to be said and will be said about how the purported amenities and benefits of this frenetic activity never seem to materialize.
It’s always no-money mañana mañana when it comes to delivery on promises promises. In Norquay the City of Vancouver has shown less honor than a mafioso. So far what they do is worse than outright crookedness. Throughout the process they have engineered burnout and disengagement to facilitate their hoodwinking.
Vancouver City Council agenda for 12 March 2013 lists two major Norquay items back-to-back as policy reports. It can be expected that these two will be referred to public hearing later this spring, likely in April. The co-occurrence of these two reports shows how quickly profiteers stampede into a local community that has been singled out and put into play.
2220 Kingsway is one of the three largest sites along the Norquay mile of Kingsway. Initial analysis indicates
• That the developer has been allowed free range within the specifications of height and FSR
• That local resident comment following the September 2012 open house has resulted in no changes
• That in multiple ways this project disrespects the letter and the spirit of the Norquay Plan
• That a walled compound looks more like incursion of an alien form than any kind of “revitalization”
These new zoning district schedules offer up 117 pages of technicalities. Analysis will follow.
What is most apparent is that the amenities and benefits strategy for Norquay symbolically lags. In other words, do the mass rezoning, approve the 2220 Kingsway megaproject, and keep right on with dumping new density into an amenity desert. Get around to those promises later on, maybe. Like the Renfrew Ravine linear park, which is an already long overdue promise. Never deliver, and you can keep on making the same promise over and over! The on-siting and apparent sequestration of the paltry CAC at 2220 Kingsway looks like one more round in the shell game — purported benefits that remain unexperienced by the impacted community.
After reading a 28 February 2013 front-page article in the Vancouver Courier, Vancouver Cohousing Complex Draws Concern, Eye on Norquay made an effort to send the following email to Rod Raglin, the local resident quoted in the article.
Dear Rod Raglin – What you say about the cohousing proposal and its relation to "amenity" sounds familiar. If you haven't come across it yet, you might want to take a look at the micro-local web site Eye on Norquay at http://eyeonnorquay.wordpress.com. "Norquay" is right next door to you. Feel free to get in touch with me through **email**address** if that seems useful to you. Sincerely, Joseph Jones
What Eye on Norquay has to say about this proposal has nothing to do with the concept of co-housing, and little to do with the details of this particular implementation of the concept. Broader concerns of context, location, fit, process, and amenity stand at the forefront.
As this posting was being prepared, email notice of a useful summary by CityHallWatch popped up. Thanks to CHW for making it unnecessary to provide the additional links and background. That said, a specific pointer here to REVISED Rezoning Application — 1729, 1733, and 1735 East 33rd Avenue seems worthwhile.
The stated concerns with lack of concurrent and compensating amenity for the surrounding community look even worse when set in the context of new self-serving spaces that are designed to be closed off, and whose effect is to shut out the community and to privatize new amenity. These effects are apparent in the sizable privatized plaza at 2300 Kingsway and in the current proposal for a 2.3 acre walled compound at the 2220 Kingsway Canadian Tire site. New area residents get new amenity, while existing residents only get shadows, loss of views, increased vehicle traffic, and more competition for curbside parking.
Before turning the rest of this posting over to an invited guest piece by Rod Raglin, I’d like to point out that the proposed co-housing site at 1729-1735 East 33rd Avenue lies just a few blocks west of Norquay. The concept of a “neighbourhood centre” is that a local area develops a centre, with density decrease in a radius outward. In Vancouver, that sadly corrupted concept has proved nothing more than an excuse to mass rezone hundreds of acres at a single grab. The cynicism of this paragraph from the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre report to Council http://former.vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk//20101104/documents/penv2.pdf becomes ever more evident:
It should also be noted that by planning for new housing types in the neighbourhood centre, the existing RS-1 zoning is maintained for the majority of the surrounding areas. As a whole, RS zoning also remains the predominant zoning for the majority of the city (73 percent of residential land and 42 percent of all parcels). (p. 19)
Four STIR projects just outside Norquay boundaries, dense redevelopment of 1.25 grassy acres at the Avalon dairy site just outside Norquay boundaries, and now this co-housing proposal just outside Norquay boundaries. What has masqueraded as planning in Norquay is clearly one piece of a politicized land-grab strategy that seeks nothing but naked opportunity wherever it may be found — like just outside the boundaries of a neighbourhood centre.
Adding to the irony, this proposal appears to be one of the three that have been put forward and allowed to proceed under the “interim rezoning policy” emanating from the Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability. Isn’t it odd how the density keeps getting dumped into the same area, an area that has taken a huge amount of density over the past decades and has seen no significant expansion of amenity?
This co-housing proposal has been sent to public hearing despite two successive non-support votes by the Urban Design Panel (24 Oct 2012 and 16 Jan 2013). If the project can’t find support at UDP, something has to be wrong. If the project is now scooting toward its undeserved rubber stamp, something has to be wronger.
• • • • • •
Mayor and Council’s Plan for Co-Housing Means the Destruction
of Single Family Neighbourhoods
I live across the street from a proposed co-housing condominum development at 1729, 1733 and 1735 East 33rd Avenue.
Co-housing is attractive to some people because of its philosophy of communal style living as well as its joint financing component.
When I went to the first information meeting those representing the developer, the Cedar Cottage Co-housing Society, seemed to think because they embraced this philosophy of communal living the residents of the neighbourhood should allow them to build whatever they like.
Our neighbourhood concerns were more practical and addressed things like the projects mass, height, shadows falling on yards, obstruction of views, invasion of privacy, the ugliness of the design and the inappropriateness of plunking a three and a half story, 27 unit building in the middle of single-family residential homes.
The developer responded at the next information meeting by presenting a plan different only in that they increased the number of units from 27 to 29.
Again, overwhelming opposition. The developer’s response to this third meeting was to add two more units for a total of 31, as well as increase the height of the project.
In my work with the community I have seen developers offer amenities to a neighbourhood in exchange for extra density. This developer feels the community should grant them extra density so they can have on-site amenities like:
• Sandbox (125 sq. ft) • Great room (484 sq. ft.) • Kids play room (192 sq. ft.) • Lounge (130 sq.ft.) • Communal kitchen (130 sq. ft.) • Teen room • Reading room • Common terrace (650 sq. ft.) • Courtyard with fountain • Rooftop deck
A package of 1800 sq. ft of amenities.
To take advantage of stuff like this local residents have to take their kids to the library, or the local park. The terrace is at Starbucks (with no fountain).
Their plans have twice been rejected by the City’s Urban Design Panel, who called them “not adequately respectful of the single family context.” The city planning department now has literally coached them with their application to get it to a public hearing.
Initially, I was amazed at the developer’s intransigence, and their arrogant and disrespectful attitude. Then I realized they didn’t care what the neighbourhood was saying because it didn’t matter.
This project “responds to the Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability and the Interim Rezoning Policy for Increasing Affordable Housing Choices” in the city.
Under this policy, “up to 20 rezoning applications will be considered. Once these applications are in process, Council will review the outcomes before extending the policy beyond 20 projects.”
Council has “directed staff to explore opportunities to expand opportunities for cohousing in Vancouver through the removal of regulatory barriers that may exist and through incentivizing cohousing projects through the Interim Rezoning Policy.”
In essence, this developer is endorsed and enabled by the Mayor and Council and the City Planning Department.
It’s a done deal so to hell with the local residents.
Please consider writing a letter to the Mayor and Council, cc Farhad Mawani, city planner, saying you oppose the rezoning application for 1729, 1733, 1735 East 33rd Ave on the grounds this type of densification is not appropriate in the middle of a single family residential neighbourhood.
This needs to be done prior to the public hearing, March 12, 2013.
We need your help to stop this destruction of single family neighbourhoods. Otherwise, the next one might be across the street from you.
East 33rd Avenue (1700 block)
Last updated 5 March 2013 at 10:45 am
Written comment of 11 March 2013 submitted to Mayor and Council. Link to pdf provided in
Documents section of Eye on Norquay.
Today’s Wednesday 23 January 2013 Norquay open house provided details on 18 separate panels. Since that material was not available today on the City of Vancouver web site, photos of all the panels follow in sequence below. A second open house will be held at the Norquay Elementary School gymnasium on Saturday 26 January 2013 from 11 am to 3 pm. Deadline for submission of comment will be 4 February 2013.
New Housing Types for Norquay
On preliminary analysis, the proposals seem to conform in outline to the specifications of the Norquay Plan. Outstanding specific concerns (in particular, roof slopes and parking allocations) appear to have been addressed.
If other neighborhoods believe that Norquay’s new zonings and policy may become a template for them, then they should take care to conduct their own reviews of these proposals, since their differing circumstances may be subject to greater impacts.
Amenities and Benefits
What appear to be significant disproportions and gaps have been noticed. More detailed comment requires further examination.
Update of 28 Jan 2013
Now that the open houses are over, the City of Vancouver has now posted Panels 4 through 18 as four separate pdfs under the Documents tab at http://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/norquay-village-neighbourhood-centre-plan.aspx, along with an online survey form. Therefore better images can now be obtained for
It is unfortunate that lower quality photographs will still have to be relied on for Panels 1-3.
* * * * * *
Caution: Use pdf links above to obtain better-quality images of Panels 4-18.
Panel #1 — Welcome!
Panel #2 — Norquay Village Plan
Panel #3 — New Zones in Norquay
Panel #4 — RT-11 Small House / Duplex Zone
Panel #5 — RT-11 Small House / Duplex Zone
Panel #6 — RM-7 Rowhouse / Stacked Townhouse Zone
Panel #7 — RM-7 Rowhouse / Stacked Townhouse Zone
Panel #8 — RM-7 Rowhouse / Stacked Townhouse Zone
Panel #9 — Apartment Transition Zone Rezoning Policy
Panel #10 — Public Benefits Strategy
Panel #11 — Current Facilities Serving Norquay
Panel #12 — Recent Improvements to Area Facilities
Panel #13 — Facilities and Services Assessment
Panel #14 — Facilities and Services Assessment
Panel #15 — Facilities and Services Assessment
Panel #16 — Developing a Public Benefits Strategy
Panel #17 — Developing a Public Benefits Strategy
Panel #18 — Next Steps
End of Panels
Re: New Vancouver Housing Types Will Be Unveiled in Norquay
Norquay Village Plan Open Houses
Wednesday, January 23, 4pm – 8pm
Cunningham Elementary School (gymnnasium)
2330 E. 37th Avenue
Saturday, January 26, 11am – 3pm
Norquay Elementary School (gymnasium)
4710 Slocan Street
* * * * * * *
Dear Norquay Resident,
The Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan [ http://vancouver.ca/docs/planning/norquay-community-plan-2010.pdf ] that was approved by Council in November 2010 included provision for four new housing types: small house/duplex, rowhouse, stacked townhouse, and four-storey apartment. More than two years later, planners have scheduled the two Norquay Open Houses listed above to inform residents about details for two of the new housing types. The first, designated as RT-11, is a small house/duplex zoning. The second, designated as RM-7, is a stacked townhouse/rowhouse zoning. It appears that two of the new housing types approved in 2010 are being conflated into a single zoning. A second component of the Open House will be information about future public benefits that Norquay can expect to receive from increased density. The Norquay Plan calls for a “Public Benefits Financial Strategy” that explains how these benefits will be paid for.
We are concerned that city planners are making the provisions of the 2010 Norquay Plan less stringent. For example, drawings at the last Open House in April 2011 showed rowhouse units as narrow as 12 1/2 feet, although the Norquay Plan specified that rowhouse units must be at least 16 feet wide. Stacked townhouses built on two or more lots were shown with 3.5 storeys, rather than the 2 full storeys and partial third storey described in the 2010 Norquay Plan. Although Norquay residents will see no details until the day of the Open House, we fear that this kind of “creep” already experienced may go even farther. At this point there is very little detail available about the public benefits we might expect, or how they would be paid for.
Planners have told us that what is specified in the Norquay Plan is no longer negotiable by residents. The Plan should be written in stone for the City as well. At this time, it is important for us to hold the City to the Plan and to protest loudly if they try to go away from what the Plan clearly specifies. It appears that the planners are conflating the rowhouse zone and the stacked townhouse zone, described as two separate zones in the Norquay Plan. We need to speak out if the new combined zone is described in terms of the lowest common denominator.
Specific Things to Look For on the Planners’ Boards at the Open House
A. Housing Types
1 — Width of the units: 2010 Norquay Plan specifies a minimum width of 16 feet for rowhouses.
2 — Height: Plan specifies a maximum of 2 storeys plus basement for small house duplex and rowhouses, 2 storeys plus a partial third for stacked townhouses, all to a maximum height of 35 feet.
3 — Floor Space Ratio (FSR): Plan specifies a maximum of .825 FSR for small house/duplex and .825-1.1 FSR for rowhouse, depending on lot size and shape. Stacked townhouses are a maximum of .9 FSR on a single lot (3 units) and 1.1 FSR on 2 or more lots (9 units possible on 2 lots).
4 — Unit Density: Plan specifies 22-30 units per acre for small house/duplex, 27 units per acre for rowhouses, and 49 units per acre for stacked townhouses built on 2 or more lots. These are approximate (depending on site size, assembly and frontage) and do not include lock-off units.
5 — Lock Off Units: Plan specifies 1 lock off unit per dwelling for small house/duplex, 1 for each 3 dwellings for rowhouses and stacked townhouses.
6 — Front Yard Setbacks: Plan specifies 16-24 feet for small house/duplex, 8-12 feet for rowhouses, and 18-24 feet for stacked townhouses.
7 — Back Yards: Plan specifies that there must be garden space in the middle and/or on the edges of units in the small house/duplex zone. It specifies a back yard in the rowhouse and stacked townhouse zones that measures a minimum 16 feet from the house wall to the garage or the parking spot.
8 — Building Design Guidelines: Plan specifies that rowhouses or stacked townhouses built on a single lot should be designed to appear as a large house, and two or multi-lot developments should appear as a small multi-family townhouse building while respecting neighbouring properties. Roof lines are not specified in the Plan, but Norquay residents expressed a strong preference for sloping roofs over flat roofs.
9 — Retention of Character Houses: The Plan says that there should be incentives to retain character houses in small house/duplex, rowhouse and stacked townhouse zones.
10 — Parking: Unspecified in the Plan.
11 — Legal Title: The Plan specifies strata title for all new housing types. Norquay residents expressed a desire for a fee simple title option (i.e. individual ownership of both the building and the land).
12 — Retention of RS-1 Development Option: The Plan specifies that the development rights enabled by the current RS-1 District Schedule (including the ability to develop a one-family dwelling, with the option of a secondary suite and a laneway house) should be retained.
B. Public Benefits
1 — What specific benefits can Norquay expect to see from increased density?
2 — The beginning point for public realm improvement is cleanliness. How many garbage cans can we expect? (An allocation of 50 garbage cans for the two miles of Norquay sidewalk along Kingsway would provide one for every 200 feet.)
3 — How will these benefits be paid for?
4 — Are these benefits above and beyond what Norquay would have received as routine maintenance even without increased density (such as repaving of sidewalks on Kingsway)?
5 — Do the benefits match those given priority by Norquay residents and specified in the Norquay Plan (a flexible neighbourhood gathering space on the 2400 Motel site, completion of the Renfrew Ravine Linear Park, expansion of green space)? So far, all CACs from new zonings (2300 Kingsway and 2699 Kingsway) have been assigned to daycare.
6 — How much is the City receiving in CACs and DCLs from the development of 2220 Kingsway (the Canadian Tire site), and how is it being allocated?
Please fill out the comment form provided by the City, or write your own observations and ask to have them included with the comment forms. Comments can be submitted online for some period of time after the Open House. If you can’t attend in person, the information should become available after January 26 on the City of Vancouver website somewhere at http://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/norquay-village-neighbourhood-centre-plan.aspx. A detailed analysis of city proposals will be provided at Eye on Norquay [ http://eyeonnorquay.wordpress.com ] as soon as possible after the Open House.
All Vancouver residents will be affected by what happens in Norquay. The City of Vancouver intends to permit the building of new medium density housing types within 1.5 blocks of every street designated as an “arterial” under the provisions of the Mayor’s Task Force on Affordability [ http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/Final_task_force_report_brochure.pdf ] The report mentions Norquay as prototype for these new housing types (p. 10). We ask you to attend one of these Open Houses. Bring your friends and neighbours. Put questions to the planners and make your opinions known. This is your only real chance to affect regulations governing these new housing types. By the time these zoning specifications go to Council, it will be very difficult to change anything.
We look forward to seeing you next week.
Jeanette Jones / Joseph Jones