• 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.
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Despite multiple communications to various City of Vancouver authorities on Saturday 12 March 2016, treewhackers returned to the Avalon Dairy site on Monday 14 March 2016 to make irreversible their damage to the large fir tree. In a few hours, the crew did a hit and run. The short time span and the unfinished work make the “job” look like nothing but haste and spite. Even as lumber, the old tree has been wasted.
A local area resident offered up a cellphone photo of part of the text of what appears to be a permit dated 30 November 2015:
Pursuant to the protection of trees by-law, the following work is hereby authorized:
Removal of nine trees for development, including two City trees …
Sixty-four new site trees plus 10 street trees to be planted with …
Six site trees and three City trees to be retained and protected …
SUBSTANTIAL ARBORIST SUPERVISION REQUIRED DURING ANY WORK WITHIN … ZONES
The supposed permit enumerates some numbers of trees for removal and others for retention. That vague language would allow the whackers to take out any trees they feel like, since no specific trees are identified. If a traffic cop wrote you a ticket like that, do you think a traffic court would do anything but laugh and let you go? That seems to be the Vancouver approach to letting developers eradicate trees.
Here’s the telephone number that was displayed on the “permit”: 604-687-4741. So telephone the City of Vancouver and ask for specific descriptions of the “six site trees and three City trees to be retained and protected.” Two bets: (1) They can’t or won’t tell you, except maybe after a $500 FOI, if you’re lucky. (2) There will not be “six site trees and three City trees” left standing.
Be glad you are not a tree in the City of Vancouver. You have two feet. You can flee the chainsaw … provided you hear it coming.
Saturday morning, 12 March 2016, around 11:00 am. The phone rings. I hear from distressed neighbors of the Avalon Dairy development project that some “work crew” has just had a go at cutting down the huge old fir tree at the southeast corner of the site. Police have been on scene. The tree cutters have departed. I tweet out what I can on the situation right away. After lunch I go out to make an eyewitness inspection. Now it’s Saturday night. This feels like the opposite of a party.
Start with this summary photo of the scene:
The lower limbs of the tree have been whacked off and superficial slicing has been inflicted on the lower trunk. Whatever else may be the case, this does not look like a responsible or a professional approach to tree removal.
The irresponsibilities appear to have included
Failing to justify the activity by timely posting of a permit
Failing to inform local area residents of time and nature of anticipated work
Failing to put in place safe-area markers (tape, pylons, etc.)
Exposing objecting residents to physical danger (as a threat?) by continuing to cut and drop branches
Earlier tree cutting at the Avalon Dairy site was covered by Eye on Norquay on 18 December 2015 in the posting Avalon Clearcut. Review this extract from Conditions of Approval of the Form of Development (Appendix B, Page 2 of 10) in the report to Council:
At this point it is difficult to imagine that the developer and/or the City of Vancouver care to retain any of the trees that may have enhanced the developer case for heritage density bonus. This starts to look like a programmatic part of the City of Vancouver’s ongoing destruction of tree canopy in East Vancouver.
While on that theme, the heritage farmhouse building itself seem imperiled. A neighbor reports that the building survived an unsuccessful arson attempt in November 2015. Now the structure, with unnecessarily open windows, suffers exposure to weather — and perhaps provides easy access to a future arsonist. If the house happened to go up in flames, would the City of Vancouver impose any penalty on the developer? After all, the supposed heritage that generated the bonus would have gone up in smoke.
Let the following photos enable you to conduct your own site inspection. Start with this contributed photo of the large tree, as it used to be, on a much sunnier day:
Next, see mistreated house in background, with today’s tree damage in foreground.
View below is from east toward west. Notice how this site as developed will not line up with houses along the street in the distance.
View below is from west toward east. At this stage, it’s easy to imagine how much better off the neighborhood might have been if the developer had not succeeded in scamming extra density off of the old farmhouse.
View below is from northeast corner of site to the south.
Does this final photo below look like a professional approach to cutting down a big tree, or does it look like a hasty attempt to do real damage to a tree that someone has hopes of saving?
Comment on Development Application DE419937 under RM-7 Zoning
15 February 2016
We have concerns with this application. Units 3 and 6 are long, narrow units, approximately 45 ft x 13 ft on the eastern side of the building adjacent to the neighbouring property. They have the following problems:
1 — The layout of these units is unattractive and inefficient. The front entries open into a passageway that passes the laundry area and the bathroom. The living areas in these units are in the centre of the building. Much of this space will need to function as a hallway to access the back half of the units.
2 — Living area windows of Unit 3 will look out on the 5 ft. fence that separates this site from the neighbouring property. The corresponding windows of Unit 6 will look out on the blank wall or into the windows of the house next door. There will be inadequate light and ventilation, and no view.
3 — There appear to be no windows in Unit 3 that look out on the street. Please address these concerns before approving the application.
We appreciate being able to view the floor plan — at least for the main floor of the building.
Jeanette Jones and Joseph Jones
Less than one week after the 3 February 2016 news comes out about Lowe’s “friendly $3.2 billion takeover” of Rona, ten separate little pink distant early warning signs have popped up along the Kingsway and Dumfries Street sidewalks to the south and west of the Rona building supply store at 1503 Kingsway.
See Pink Spot on Sidewalk at Left
Close-Up of a Pink Spot
City of Vancouver Public VanMap shows the dimensions of the irregular parcel. By rough calculation, the larger of the two 1503 sites amounts to almost 1.5 acres of land.
VanMap Data for 1503 Kingsway
Perspective on Parcel Size
Only time will tell whether those pink spots represent site infection by terminal condoitis. If that proves to be the diagnosis, woe betide Vancouver’s first “neighbourhood centre” at Kingway and Knight. And chalk up another serious loss of useful retail in an area that was supposed to become more friendly to walkable shopping — but is doing the opposite. (King Edward Village is a monument already to retail desertification.)
The planning exercise achieved nothing except (1) a dump of King Edward Village onto the Safeway site across the street, separated from the local area process that failed to deliver anything besides (2) a fast mass rezoning of 1577 single-family properties. That ugly history has already been exposed in detail at Eye on Norquay.
Unlike what happened with the second “neighbourhood centre” in Norquay, planners and their local area compradors never specified anything for the Kingsway shopping area around Knight. Pretend planning leaves behind blank slates for vulture developers.
Since the first came before the second, it would seem reasonable to retroject key specs from Norquay down the hill to the west: maximum FSR of 3.8, and maximum height of 16 storeys.
While “Norquay” chewed a piece off the eastern edge of Kensington-Cedar Cottage, Kingsway & Knight is supposed to be the neighborhood’s heart. Let’s hope that a stake has not just been driven through it.
New Iron Stake at NW Corner of Site
Lowe’s offers $3.2B to take over Canadian rival Rona
Lowe’s Cos to buy Canada’s Rona for $3.2 billion in cash to
create home improvement giant
Comment on Development Application DE419797 under RM-7 Zoning
(Formerly 4730 Duchess St and 2603 Cheyenne St)
8 February 2016
The lot at 4730 Duchess Street was previously approved for 3 traditional rowhouses (DE417498). Shallow, sloping sites like this one are more suitable for rowhouse development. Rowhouses might also be better able to take advantage of the corner location of the site.
If stacked townhouses are to be built, we have two main concerns:
1 — There seems to be inadequate private outdoor space for the units. The proposed area for balconies and porches is only 1307 sq. ft. rather than the allowable 2105 sq. ft. The balconies at the back of the building are very shallow. Locating sunken patios for the first floor units under the front porches of the units above would severely limit daylight and air circulation.
2 — Too much of the front yard of the larger building is taken up by sidewalks. The site plan shows 4 single-width sidewalks and 1 double-width sidewalk. An 8-unit building in the RM-7 zone usually has 4 single-width sidewalks. Fewer sidewalks would create more open space and make the areas of lawn larger and easier to maintain. Access to Units 1 and 2 should be reconfigured.
Jeanette Jones and Joseph Jones
Last week was a bad week for assault on public realm at Westbank’s 2220 Kingsway construction site. This seems to be what the corporation’s ballyhooed Gesamtkunstwerk approach amounts to in East Vancouver. Sick dada.
A new category of abuse opened up with someone ripping apart the protective fencing around a mature boulevard tree and cutting it down.
The only evidence that remains is part of the fencing and the stump. This tree, the closest to East 30th Avenue, was part of a row of similar trees that stretch along the east side of the entire block to Kingsway. It seems like two steel barrels were placed to try to make the tree-cutting less obvious to a passerby.
Tree stump photos were taken on 25 January 2016.
The ongoing dumping of untreated construction wastewater directly into storm drains continued with a pump-out of cementitious water from the excavation that was allowed to flood beside and across the Kingsway sidewalk. The photo below shows the residue left around the sewer grate that occupied the middle of a corner bulge that City of Vancouver had landscaped with grasses.
The photo below shows the residue that was trapped on the south side of the Kingsway sidewalk as water flowed across to reach the Kingsway street drain.
These photos were taken on the morning of 27 January 2016.
The experience of trying to report these incidents to City of Vancouver has been disheartening. It appears that Westbank has free rein to disregard any by-law it wants to, with no consequence ever suffered. How could a beholden Vision Vancouver City Council ever allow municipal employees to raise a hand to their master? In so many words — read my lips — inspectors tell you that all they can do is go and beg Westbank to be nice. From what we see so far, Westbank will never be nice.
All the invaded neighborhood can do photograph the welts and scars and publish the documentation.
The City of Vancouver has mailed out notice of a 19 January 2016 public hearing on zoning amendments for the Norquay Apartment Transition Area.
City of Vancouver Documents
Amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law Regarding the RM-9A/9AN Districts for Norquay’s Apartment Transition Area
Draft Districts Schedule:
A By-Law to amend Zoning and Development By-law No. 3575 to create new districts for the Apartment Transition Area in accordance with the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan
RM-9, RM-9A, RM-9N AND RM-9AN Guidelines
Previous Eye on Norquay Postings
September 23rd Open House (16 Sept 2015)
P.S. on RM-9A (19 Sept 2015)
September 23rd Panels (24 Sept 2015)
RM-9A Zoning Compared (24 Sept 2015)
New RM-9A Zone [Formal Comment] (27 Sept 2015)
Apartment Transition Area (9 Dec 2015)
Why Support Apartment? (12 Dec 2015)
Public Input Under RM-9A (17 Dec 2015)