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

[ Eye on Norquay complements the coverage of 2007-2008 provided by predecessor Norquay Neighbours ]

Written by eyeonnorquay

14 February 2011 at 11:11 am

Posted in Uncategorized

A Little Simpler

leave a comment »

 
The comment copied below, about the 15 June 2015 posting Slapdash Negligence, came in to Eye on Norquay on 18 August 2015. (Also see our 8 July 2015 assessment of the application at 5441 Wales Street.)

 

        Heather
        Submitted on 2015/08/18 at 1:20 pm

        Hi,
        Can you explain a little simpler what this means. I live at 5XXX
        Wales Street. The development notification sign was taken down the
        other week. I’m not sure what this means since I thought they were
        required to be up for six months. My landlord's very vague with his
        answers, my next step was going to be to phone the city for an
        explanation.

        Thanks,

 

Back from end-of-August slacking off, Eye on Norquay has just been reviewing the problem-riddled file for 5441 Wales Street. Here’s a 4 September 2015 photo of the site:

 
IMG_8342-640
 

     NO DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION SIGN !

 
Note to Heather: “Explain a little simpler” rarely seems to be an option when dealing with City of Vancouver planning and development. After years of slogging, we routinely encounter new twists. A cynic might say that City of Vancouver likes it that way, because obscurity and complexity help to fence out everybody except planners and the developers. We hope you have phoned the city and received an explanation. Now we also want an explanation. Back to this situation, which we pursue.
 

Shortly after distribution of the 8 July 2015 revision of the deficient 12 June 2015 application letter, Eye on Norquay observed a revised application sign posted at the site. That sign obviously is not there now, and almost certainly the sign had already disappeared by “the other week” before Heather’s August 18 comment. Based on considerable experience with watching the development application pipeline, it seems unlikely that this development application would have been approved at that point — and improbable that the application has yet been approved, since the information is still posted as of 4 September 2015.

What follows, hopefully, is a public lesson in how to get an answer to this question. At this point, the missing sign offers area residents no way to contact anybody. (Best of luck with old 311, that so often sends a questioner off to eternal voice mail limbo. Why bother with that?)

In the meantime, any persons concerned about 5441 Wales Street should understand that comment on a particular development application will be received and considered up to the point where the application is approved.

The City of Vancouver development application web site for 5441 Wales Street provides the best first-level contact information: an email address and telephone for the project coordinator.

Eye on Norquay is sending the following email to that address, and requesting a response by email, to be posted below when received.
 

•     •     •     •     •     •

 
Dear Project Coordinator for 5441 Wales Street — DE418819

There appear to be multiple and ongoing problems with this development application. The specific current problem seems to be the absence of the required development application sign at the site. As well as we can determine, the sign has been missing at least since early to mid-August. See the 4 September 2015 Eye on Norquay posting for details.

This circumstance seems unacceptable, since that signage offers a primary way for affected individuals nearby to understand what is happening to their neighborhood. It could be argued that the development application becomes illegitimate without the signage.

Please look into this situation. It seems appropriate that the City of Vancouver would

       suspend temporarily further consideration of the application
       instruct the developer to provide the signage
       require evidence from the developer that this has been done
       inform us that this negligence has ceased

We look forward to posting an email response at Eye on Norquay. In the unlikely event that the application was approved, and signage was no longer required after early to mid-August, we could accept that as a reasonable explanation.

There needs to be a more systematic means for Vancouver residents to track the progress of development applications. It seems unprofessional to communicate approval of application simply by disappearing the information from the development application web site.

Sincerely,

Joseph Jones
 

•     •     •     •     •     •

 
REPLY TO FOLLOW
 

•     •     •     •     •     •
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

4 September 2015 at 2:54 pm

Posted in RT-11 Comment

2711/2717 Horley Street

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Comment on Development Application DE419165 under RT-11 Zoning

http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/developmentservices/devapps/pc2711horley/index.htm

 
horley
 

 
21 August 2015

This application is very similar to one that was recently approved in the same block of Horley Street. We would expect the current application to incorporate the changes required at 2757 Horley Street (e.g. relocation of several living rooms). Some of the windows at the ends of the building are much smaller. They should be similar in size to those at 2757 Horley Street to maximize light and cross ventilation.

The contemporary style and materials of this development will help to differentiate it from the more traditional style of 2757 Horley Street. We appreciate the desire of the builders to reuse plans, but we would like to see more separation between developments built according to the same basic plan. Perhaps a good criterion would be that they should not both be visible from any specific location along the street.

 
Jeanette Jones and Joseph Jones
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

22 August 2015 at 2:00 pm

Posted in RT-11 Comment

5083/5091 Chambers Street

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Comment on Development Application DE419249 under RT-11 Zoning

http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/developmentservices/devapps/pc5085chambers/index.htm

 
chambers
 

 
21 August 2015

1.  This is the first application for a stacked townhouse in Norquay that lacks windows on the sides of the building. These windows are important for light and cross ventilation, as well as for external appearance.

2.  There is a narrow strip of grass on either side of the steps at the centre of the back of the building. Grass in this location is not useful and would be difficult to mow. This area should be planted with shrubs and/or perennials.

3.  It is confusing to have a picture on the site plan of a model that does not seem to correspond to any of the drawings. The roofline is very different. The landscape plan for this application shows no trees in the front yard, but the picture does.

 
Jeanette Jones and Joseph Jones
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

22 August 2015 at 1:00 pm

Posted in RT-11 Comment

Landscaping Concerns

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On 30 July 2015 the following formal comment was submitted to three City of Vancouver planners having responsibilities for urban landscape, urban design, and development planning.

 
Norquay’s residential zones are being redeveloped with duplexes, small houses, and townhouses. Since the new zoning came into effect in Spring 2013, more than 50 duplexes have been approved outright in Norquay, and more than 15 have been completed and landscaped. A few single family houses have also been built during this time. Construction has not yet begun on any projects in the RM-7 (rowhouse or stacked townhouse) zone. One 8-unit project is nearing completion and has been landscaped in the RT-11 (small house/duplex) zone. One 4-unit project on a single lot has been completed in the apartment transition zone.

These comments are based on observations of the front yard landscaping around these newly completed residences and on inferences from landscape plans of recently approved multi-family projects.

 
I.  Lawns

Most of the new front yard lawns that have been planted in Norquay within the past few months are now dead or dying. Virtually all grass that has been recently planted on boulevards has died. This was already happening when Vancouver’s watering restrictions were at Stage 1, as the picture below (taken on 24 June 2015) shows.

 
IMG_8241-640
 

In one completed project, the areas of grass in the front yards are green, but they have not been cut (possibly because they are too small to be cut with a lawnmower). The grass is now about 10 inches long.

 
Comment and Suggestions:

1.  Climate change increases the possibility of drought. Areas planted with grass should be kept to a minimum, especially in multi-family projects.

2.  Where grass is planted, the grassy area should be a reasonable size (no tiny pockets), be easy to access, and have a shape that facilitates mowing and edging. If the area is shady, a type of grass that grows well in shade should be planted. Grass should not be planted under conifers or under any large existing tree.

3.  Developers should be required to adequately water new landscaping before new residents move in. Perhaps during the hottest months of the year, landscaping should be deferred until cooler weather.

4.  Residents of newly landscaped properties should be given information about the care and maintenance of their landscaping when they move in. Specific instructions should be given about watering requirements and restrictions, and about how to apply for a special watering permit if a new lawn has been planted.

5.  It seems likely that many residents of new housing have no previous experience in gardening with ornamental plants and lawns, especially with newly planted ones {new plantings}. They may expect their brown lawns to recover in the fall. It would be beneficial for the City of Vancouver or the VSB to run a two-hour course in the spring in both English and Mandarin/Cantonese on caring for new lawns.

6.  Residents of new buildings should be made aware that they are responsible for the care and maintenance of the boulevard that borders their property, as well as for picking up any litter that collects on the boulevard or in the gutter. They need to be encouraged to water new boulevard trees.

 
II.  Trees and Shrubs

Few trees have been planted in front of duplexes or single family houses. Where shrubs have been planted, many of them are currently dead or dying. In the almost-completed RT-11 project at Killarney Ridge (East 41st and Killarney), many trees and shrubs on the south and west edges of the property have died even before the new residents have moved in.

In general, the landscaping plants being used in RT-11 and RM-7 projects seem to be appropriately low maintenance and reasonably drought tolerant. But new plantings need to be watered regularly until they are established.

In one completed project, an automatic watering system ensures that plantings are adequately watered.

 
Comment and Suggestions:

1.  If not already required, an automated watering system should be made mandatory for all planted areas in multi-family developments to ensure that they are adequately watered.

2.  It would be beneficial for the City of Vancouver or the VSB to run a night course of several sessions in late winter or early spring in both English and Mandarin/Cantonese on gardening with ornamental plants.

3.  Where the required 4 ft. allowance between buildings and the fence is not a walkway, this low- visibility area should be covered either in gravel placed over an effective weed inhibitor with a hardy ground cover such as periwinkle. Any other type of planting will be difficult to access and care for. There will be times people need to walk in this space, and to set up ladders and other equipment.

 
III.  Walkways

The surface for walkways should not be stepping stones or gravel. A surface of concrete or pavers is easier to maintain, to walk on and to shovel when there is snow.

 
Jeanette Jones
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

10 August 2015 at 10:28 am

Twelve-Storey Tower

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Proposed for 2395-2443 Kingsway

 
The City of Vancouver’s Rezoning Applications web site lists a new development application for 2395-2443 Kingsway (north side between Nanaimo and Clarendon Streets). Seven assembled parcels result in a site that measures 297 x 106.5 ft. The proposal includes 126 residential units and 154 underground parking spaces. The developer is Dalit Thind and the architect is Ankenman Marchand.

Here are two sketches of what the project might look like:

 
2395kwy-1
 

 
2395kwy-2
 

The land assembly has occurred in a location that the Norquay Plan specifies for a pedestrian connection between Kingsway and Galt Street. This is one of three places where there is a need to break up very long blocks along the north side of Kingsway. At these three points the Norquay Plan allows for a tower with a maximum height of 12 storeys. The other buildings along the 297-foot frontage show as 4 storeys.

The application can be viewed on the City of Vancouver’s web site at

        http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/planning/rezoning/applications/2395-2443kingsway/index.htm

The development proposal generally seems to conform to requirements of the Norquay Plan. The main area of concern so far is the amount of glass shown for the tower. A recorded preference of the Norquay community was for brick finish for any towers along Kingsway, and for avoidance of green glass. Colours for exterior finish materials have not yet been decided on.

In fall 2015 there will be an open house where City of Vancouver staff and the applicant will be available to answer questions. Eye on Norquay will post this information when it becomes available. Comments can be submitted in writing at the open house, or at any time using the on-line feedback link on the web site.
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

29 July 2015 at 10:22 am

Posted in News

Brian Jackson’s Exit

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News broke yesterday that Brian Jackson plans to retire at the end of 2015 after a three-year stint as chief of City of Vancouver planning.

When Jackson arrived in 2012, the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan was in wind-down mode — two-thirds of the way along from November 2010 Council approval to 2013 nail-down with public hearings on new zoning schedules and amenities and benefits strategy.

Jackson’s most significant action in Norquay has been to bow low to every intention that Westbank expressed for the 2.3 acre Canadian Tire site at 2220 Kingsway (within the bare Norquay Plan constraints of tower height and FSR), and to permit serious abuse of the requirement that a “plaza” be provided. Jackson put extra grease on the skids by deciding that one of the three most massive projects that Norquay could experience under the plan did not have to undergo review by the Development Permit Board. (This would have been one of only three opportunities normally provided for public comment, the other two being initial open house and public hearing for rezoning.) One concrete example of the “consultation” style of Brian Jackson.

In a 27 July 2015 interview on CBC Early Edition, Jackson said this:

There have been the large policy initiatives like Marpole, the West End plan, the Downtown Eastside plan, are all now being successfully implemented. The other implementation strategies that have been put in place in Norquay and Mount Pleasant are resulting in development applications in those areas.

As far as implementation of any local area plan goes, it seems clear that all Jackson and his Council masters care about is manufacturing a flow of development applications. There is no talk here of enhancement of amenity to serve new densities of population and traffic. Much less the concurrent provision of amenity promised in the Renfrew-Collingwood Community Vision.

And here’s a report on the same day of something Jackson said to the Vancouver Courier:

I’m very proud of landing three very complex area plans [Downtown Eastside, Marpole and West End]. It’s also landing plans that actually have implementation strategies attached to them. It’s really looking at planning, not only in terms of doing bubble diagrams and pretty pictures, it’s devising plans that set out what the future land uses are for an area, set out what the community benefits could be and who’s going to pay for them and when they’ll occur.

What the community benefits could be. That mode of speech is conditional, and the bitter experience so far is no delivery. “When they’ll occur.” Has a clear timeline ever been specified for any local area subjected to a planning process?

The City of Vancouver’s interest seems to lie in ramping up development applications and city revenues from permits, fees, and property taxes. In other words, extracting value from ever more unhappy neighborhoods, not in adding value to them.
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

27 July 2015 at 11:39 pm

Posted in Events, News

5441 Wales Street

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Also see:  Slapdash Negligence

 
Comment on Development Application DE418819 under RT-11 Zoning

http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/developmentservices/devapps/pc5441wales/index.htm

 
siteplan
 

 
8 July 2015

 
We commend the applicant for proposing to retain and renovate one of the very few houses in Norquay that are currently listed on the City of Vancouver’s Heritage Register. However, this development application has several major problems.

 
Density

The proposed FSR for this application is 1.12. This is 30% more than the zoned FSR of 0.85 for RT- 11. The zoned unit density of 74 units per hectare works out to 8.25 units on this site, and 11 units are proposed. Although additional density is allowed for heritage revitalization, such a bonus would be excessive. This goes far beyond the “bonus of on-site density of approximately 10%” that is cited as “typically yielded” by proforma reviews in the RS and RT zones [Heritage Proforma Review — Interim Policy, Effective June 11, 2014, p. 1]. Livability would compromised, as we detail below.

 
Parking

The overflow from the proposed 8 parking spaces for 11 units (with no visitor parking) will make it difficult for neighbours and their visitors to park on the street. Except for the bus route along E. 41st Avenue, this site is not close to convenient and reliable public transportation. Most residents and their can be expected to use cars.

 
Open Space

1.  The proposed density results in far too little open space on the site.

(a) It is difficult to determine the dimensions of the enhanced side yard from the site plan, but the proposal does not appear to meet the provisions of the RT-11 District Schedule (Section 4.5). This enhanced side yard is to be “additional” (4.5.3). It should not include any of the area separating the house from the fence along the north or south property lines.

(b) Although the larger duplexes at the front of the site and the heritage house have porches or terraces attached to the primary units, screening of the terraces seems inadequate to ensure privacy. Units in the two smaller duplexes at the back of the site do not appear to have any private open space.

2.  All of the walkways consist of crushed limestone. This will make them more difficult to walk on, impossible to shovel effectively when there is snow, and hard to maintain since weeds will grow through the gravel. Permeable paving stones should be used instead. Fruit trees (T5 and T6) typically feature low branches and dropped fruit, and should not overhang walkways.

3.  The plantings between buildings and fences will be difficult to access and maintain, and should be limited to hardy ground covers. The planting in the northwest corner of the site is especially invisible and inaccessible. The space might be better used as a terrace for one of the back units. The small area of turf in the back yard should be replaced by plantings.

 
City Sidewalks

No city sidewalk exists along the west side of Wales Street between East 38th Avenue and East 41st Avenue. A development application has recently been approved for the site immediately to the south (5473 Wales). At a minimum, a sidewalk should be put in place on the west side of Wales Street between 5473 Wales and East 38th Avenue to improve walkability in the neighbourhood.

Please address these problems before approving the application.

 
Jeanette Jones and Joseph Jones
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

10 July 2015 at 8:58 pm

Posted in RT-11 Comment

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