• 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
Upon reading the following brief account of the ghost word dord, it immediately struck me that we in Vancouver have the misfortune to live in the City of Dord. As a particular delight, the story includes the fear-inducing word planned. Further expatiation will follow presentation of this bright nugget, latched onto only as a discerning crow might treasure a piece of tinfoil.
The most famous ghost of the twentieth century appeared in Webster's Second New International, published in 1934. Webster's included many abbreviations in its wordlist, and the compilers planned to include the abbreviation for density, usually D, though sometimes a lowercase d is used. In July 1931, one lexicographer — Austin M. Patterson, special editor for chemistry — typed a 3 × 5 card explaining the abbreviation: he headed it "D or d" and provided the explanation "density." But when it came time to transcribe the card, someone misread it and ran theletters together without spaces, producing "Dord, density." It took five years for aMerriam editor to notice the strange entry, supported by neither etymology nor pronunciation. After investigating — no one could find any evidence for a word dord — he realized it was a mistake. He made an annotation: "plate change / imperative / urgent," and the printer removed dord from the next reprint, filling the otherwise empty line by adding a few letters to the entry for doré furnace. Pages 152-153 from "Of Ghosts and Mountweazels," Chapter 10½ in: Jack Lynch. You Could Look It Up: The Reference Shelf from Ancient Babylon to Wikipedia. New York : Bloomsbury Press, c2016
The suggestivity of this passage could prove as boundless as the heights to which a Babylonic tower might aspire.
To start with, notice the astounding textual homology: a foolish mistake ran the letters together without spaces. Think of thin streets. Think of plazas plundered, both before (Westbank at 2220 Kingsway) and after (Cadillac Fairview at Pacific Centre) those plazas ever see the light of day.
Next, appreciate how the dictionary publisher could fix the density mistake after a mere five years with a plate change. The beset residents of Vancouver promise to become far more beset when a tectonic plate change restructures the City of Dord.
Finally, revel in thinking about the conjunction of “ghost” with “density.” The incongruity of the two notions emblematizes the future that Bob Rennie has infamously promised to Vancouver. An overall proportion of ever more dwellings for ever fewer residents, as global wealth runs amok. From another angle, ponder how the wraithlike nonsubstance of ghosts has no truck with concentration of matter.
Here is a conundrum for the apostles of density:
How many ghosts can float around in one microsuite in the City of Dord?
Comment on Rezoning Application for
3868-3898 Rupert Street & 3304-3308 East 22nd Avenue
1. The FSR of this building is too high. In a neighbourhood of mostly single family houses, an FSR of
2.0-2.5 would be more appropriate.
2. The height and massing of the proposed building needs to be reduced. Aside from the school across the street, which is set well back from East 22nd Avenue, most residential and commercial development is one or two storeys.
The Rupert Street frontage of the site includes a full city block between East 22nd and East 23rd Avenues, a total of 270 feet. The building takes up 258 feet of this frontage. The development should be broken into two buildings, varied in size and height (i.e. 6 storeys and 4 storeys , along this frontage. There should be a courtyard at least 25 feet wide between the buildings to add some ground level open green space. These changes would make the development fit better with the neighbouring single family houses. A 2-building typology would also increase the number of corner units with more than one exposure, giving them more natural light and ventilation.
3. There should be more family-sized 3-bedroom units. The location is ideal for family housing. It is across the street from Renfrew Elementary School and a couple of blocks from Windermere High School. Renfrew Community Centre, Renfrew Park and Renfrew Library are all within easy walking distance. There will be a grocery store and other shops and services in the development. Yet the proposal is for 70 one-bedroom units and only 4 three- bedroom units. There should be at least 10 3-bedroom units in addition to the currently proposed 30 two-bedroom units.
4. The location of the lobby and elevators needs to be changed. The currently proposed location means that residents in the northeast corner of the building need to walk almost a city block to reach their units from the elevator. Ideally, there should be an entrance at both the north and the south ends of the development, with an elevator at each location. This is an additional reason to build two buildings. If this is not done and only a single entrance is built, the lobby and elevators should be located on Rupert Street near the centre of the building.
9 July 2016 / rev 2 August 2016
3560 Hull Street & 2070 / 2088 / 2090 East 20th Avenue
Coffee Shop Talk on 27 July 2016
The following report attempts to convey the substance of the information provided to a group that attended a presentation on the concept of developing a Cedar Cottage block of approximately 50,000 sq ft (about 1.15 acres) under the City of Vancouver’s Interim Rezoning Policy (IRP). This is the seventh IRP proposal to come forward since 2012. It would be the third to locate within a one kilometre radius — haphazardly centering a massive concentration of experimentation around Commercial Drive and East 18th Avenue.
Molnar Group — http://www.molnargroup.com — Real Estate Investors
Brook Pooni Associates — http://brookpooni.com — Urban Planning & Communications
Blaire Chisholm of Brook Pooni, accompanied by two associates, hosted a group of about twenty local area residents at Commercial Street Cafe for an evening presentation of 12 screens of information. Early on, persons attending were asked not to photograph the screens. Appended is a listing of the titles of the 12 screens, as derived from note-taking, usually with indication of content.
The following matters of interest emerged from the slides and the spoken presentation:
1. No formal inquiry has yet been made to City of Vancouver by Molnar / Brook Pooni
2. The City of Vancouver was said to have
(a) asked the proponent to consider using Interim Rezoning Policy
(b) indicated that 2088 East 20th Ave could qualify for “heritage” potential
3. Blaire Chisholm said she observed the process undergone by the Cressey application for 3365 Commercial
4. Molnar does not anticipate seeking waiver of CAC/DCL
5. “Underground parking for all residents and visitors” would mean at least one underground space assigned
to each dwelling unit and not separable from the rental unit (a response to the Cressey practice of
charging $100 per month for separable parking)
A double-sided flyer for the event concluded with this information:
City of Vancouver’s Interim Rezoning Policy (IRP)
The City’s Interim Rezoning Policy (IRP) encourages the provision of affordable housing options by considering rezoning for sites that meet two criteria: Affordability and Location & Form of Development.
The Molnar Group is considering a project that will offer 100% rental and a range of unit types (townhouses, studios, and 1 to 3-bedrooms). The project is located in close proximity to an arterial road (separated from Victoria Drive by a City-owned community garden). Victoria Drive is part of Translink’s Frequent Transit Network with transit stops nearby and the Skytrain guideway running along the site’s south property line. The IRP is quiet on the form of development adjacent to the Skytrain guideway. The proposal could provide a buffer and transition between the guideway and the single-family neighbourhood to the north.
List of Twelve Screens Presented
1 Hull and Twentieth Proposal [aerial view with parcel outlined in red] 2 The Project Team: Brook Pooni [five corporate entities dealing with communication and urban planning, architecture, landscape architecture / arborist, culture and heritage, and survey work] 3 Molnar [developing real estate since 1969 – several projects listed] 4 Kensington-Cedar Cottage Profile [mainly derived from information provided to City Council at the public hearing on the Cressey plan for 3365 Commercial] 5 Area Context [map showing parks, schools, etc – mention of 850 m distance from Nanaimo SkyTrain station] 6 Site [outline of four parcels comprising the ~ 50,000 sq ft] 7 Rosenberg Residence at 2088 East 20th Avenue [built 1900 – many additions – "granite" foundation – not on "heritage" register – would be relocated] 8 More Affordable Housing 9 Interim Rezoning Policy [project verbally described as "buffer and transition" to SkyTrain 10 Big Ideas [rental apartments, Rosenberg residence as live/work unit with daycare, surrounding pedestrian improvements, courtyard with play area, underground parking] 11 Preliminary Plan [retention of south and north edge poplar rows, low/midrise of five/six storeys parallel to SkyTrain, ground-oriented form at Hull Street end, two townhouse units along East 20th separated by courtyard, interior separation between apartment and townhouse] 12 Tell Us What You Like [two sets of six photos: apartment pictures, townhouse pictures – comment form handed out to participants and then collected]
An appeal to write a letter in support of the No Tower Coalition and its long struggle against the Kettle/Boffo collaboration led to the compilation of the following list of blockbustings. For over a decade now, what calls itself “planning” in Vancouver has turned into a mishmash of naked spot rezonings and new local area plans. Sometimes the two are so entangled that it becomes difficult to determine exactly how an addled egg has managed to emerge from a chicken cooped up in an open house. Consider only the tortuous histories of King Edward Village, Rize Alliance, and Joyce Station Precinct.
Amidst the muddle, one thing remains clear. Developers always push for the tallest possible towers. And planners collude to set precedents that can prejudice future area planning to the greatest extent possible.
Concrete proposals for Kettle/Boffo development will be a salient matter on 27 July 2016 as speakers line up to address the new Grandview-Woodland local area plan.
Council Date Storeys Description 2003 July 24 17 King Edward Village for Kingsway & Knight 2006 Jan 24 22 2300 Kingsway for Norquay 2011 Apr 21 16 8495 Granville (Safeway) for Marpole 2011 July 19 35 8440 Cambie (Marine Gateway) for Marpole 2011 Nov 01 30 Wall Centre Central Park for Renfrew-Collingwood 2012 June 11 22 1401 Comox for West End 2012 Feb 27 21 Rize Alliance for Mt Pleasant 2012 Oct 16 12 955 East Hastings for Downtown Eastside 2016 June 28 30 5050-5080 Joyce (Westbank at Joyce Station) 2016 July 19 12 155 East 37th (Little Mountain) for RPSC 2016 July 27 12 Kettle/Boffo for Grandview Woodland
The following report on Interim Rezoning Policy makes it possible to assess factors that City of Vancouver obscures in its documents.
Norquay is not affected by the “policy” described below due to its mass rezoning of 1912 properties for Vancouver’s second neighbourhood centre in 2010. But the 1577 properties mass rezoned in 2004 for Vancouver’s first neighbourhood centre at Kingsway & Knight are subject to the policy. This discrepancy is only one of the anomalies that taint the initiative.
Eye on Norquay has taken a particular interest in Interim Rezoning Policy, and in similar provisions of the Rental 100 program which has landed units within Norquay. That interest stems from a broader concern for policies which affect other Vancouver residential areas, especially those that lie in East Vancouver.
On 3 October 2012, Vancouver City Council approved an Interim Rezoning Policy for Increasing Affordable Housing Choices (hereafter cited as IRP).
At this stage, the I for “interim” could stand for indefinite, with regard to both policy specifications and duration of implementation.
Public $$$ Handed Out with Little Accountability
IRP and the related Rental 100 program raise huge concerns:
1. The City of Vancouver makes massive financial concessions to developers to build “secured market rental” — presumably “secured” for the greater of building lifespan or sixty years. Since no present Council can “fetter” a future Council, there is no assurance that any project will not be flipped from rental to strata sale at some point in the future.
2. Overall concessions in the form of waiver of DCL (development cost levy) and CAC (community amenity contribution) now run toward or beyond $100 million ($54 million for Aquilini alone). These waivers mean that increase in population comes without corresponding funding for amenities and infrastructure. The result will be a strip-mined public realm for Vancouver.
3. The “affordable” rental scale has imported west side rents into east side projects. This means that developers will concentrate on locations where they can exploit maximized differentials between costs and returns.
4. The supposed affordable rental scale is not monitored, and evaporates at first rental turnover of a unit. After being handed $54 million in concessions, Aquilini has just implemented a fixed-lease approach that will guarantee 100% turnover after one year (see St. Denis). In effect, the City of Vancouver writes the developer a blank cheque.
Problems Specific to IRP
The distinguishing feature of IRP is a de facto rezoning of most of Vancouver with no consultation and no planning. As of 20 April 2016, the policy includes a more detailed mapping. IRP has unleashed widespread speculation and massive land assemblies (see Yaffe).
Unlike Rental 100, IRP can extend off of arterial streets for a distance of “approximately 100 metres” — the length of a football field. Precedent has just been set at 3365 Commercial to push an apartment form into that entire space, contrary to the policy that specifies ground-oriented housing forms for off-arterial locations.
The City of Vancouver has expressed notions of participating with unit owners in future price appreciation of IRP units designed for ownership. The net result is expansion of conflict of interest — the body that controls zoning will self-deal by sticking its own finger into the pie. For about forty years, the City of Vancouver has already served itself in this fashion with the secretive off-balance-sheet Property Endowment Fund.
Six IRP Sites
The current version of IRP states: “As of April 20, 2016, six projects under this policy have been approved or are in process.”
It seems apparent that developer take-up on the policy has been underwhelming. The policy still states:
Once 20 rezoning applications are in process, other proposals will be put on a wait list pending any decision by Council to extend the policy beyond 20 projects.
The six sites listed in the table below appear to be the sites referred to. Passed over in silence by the City of Vancouver is the proposal from Pacific Arbour for a seniors facility on six parcels in the 4600 block on the east side of Dunbar Street. Facing extreme pressure from Dunbar residents, the City of Vancouver rejected the proposal in spring 2013, citing “affordability” concerns.
To extrapolate from six projects in four years, the City of Vancouver may get around to a “review” of the situation about ten years from now. At that point, developers may have plopped a series of one-off experimental projects mainly into East Vancouver. As it stands now, three of the six have landed in the single local area of Kensington-Cedar Cottage.
Only one of the six IRP’s has so far landed west of Main Street. That atypical project, 1037 West King Edward, displays low FSR, low height, and few units. For this, the developer receives huge upfront financial concessions — waiver of DCL calculated at $374,437 and no levy of CAC.
Initial Rents, East and West
From page 13 of report on 3365 Commercial
From page 8 of report on 1037 West King Edward
Site Data Site SqFt FSR Height Storeys Units 1729 E. 33rd 29,587 1.26 37 ft 3 31 3323 E. 4th 36,777 1.45 46 ft 4 54 3120 Knight 17,653 2.08 52 ft 5 51 1037 W. King Edward 19,008 1.48 40 ft 2 - 4 36 3365 Commercial 35,106 2.40 60 ft 3.5 - 6 110 3868 Rupert 29,102 3.60 69 ft 6 112 DCL Waivers 1729 E. 33rd Not applicable 3323 E. 4th Not applicable 3120 Knight $465,476 1037 W. King Edward $374,437 3365 Commercial $1,077,792 3868 Rupert ??? Unit Distributions Studio 1 BR 2 BR 3 BR 1729 E. 33rd (Strata co-housing plus 2 rental units) 3323 E. 4th (Life-lease) 8 46 3120 Knight 1 32 18 3365 Commercial 31 38 30 11 1037 W. King Edward 8 12 13 3 3868 Rupert 78 30 4
Council Reports for IRP Rezonings
1729 East 33rd
2013 March 12-13
3. REZONING – 1729-1735 East 33rd Avenue
3323 East 4th
2014 March 13
1. REZONING: 3323-3367 East 4th Avenue (Beulah Garden)
2014 May 20
1. REZONING: 3120-3184 Knight Street
2016 May 24
3. REZONING: 3365 Commercial Drive and 1695-1775 East 18th Avenue
2016 June 23
1. REZONING: 3365 Commercial Drive and 1695-1775 East 18th Avenue
1037 West King Edward
2016 June 21
3. REZONING: 1037 West King Edward Avenue
City of Vancouver Documents on IRP
Final Report from the Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability (2 October 2012)
Affordable Housing Choices Interim Rezoning Policy (4 Oct 2012 / 2 Dec 2013 / 20 Apr 2016)
Council Meetings about IRP
3 October 2012
4. Final Report of the Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability
3 December 2013
4. Development Cost Levy By-law Amendments to the Definition of
For-Profit Affordable Rental Housing
20 April 2016
2. Affordable Home Ownership Pilot Program
Rejected IRP for 4600 Block East Side of Dunbar Street
Brent Jang. Plan for Dunbar seniors home way up in the air. Globe and Mail (20 Nov 2012)
Naiobh O’Connor. City rejects seniors housing application in Dunbar. Vancouver Courier (6 Mar 2013)
Legal Challenge to IRP / Rental 100 “Affordability”
Carlito Pablo. City of Vancouver to amend STIR and Rental 100 bylaws after legal fight. Georgia Straight (19 Nov 2013)
Bob Mackin. West End Neighbours society wonders what is affordable. Vancouver Courier (10 Apr 2014)
Speculation (Yaffe) and Aquilini (St. Denis/O’Brien)
Barbara Yaffe. City looks to dismantle land assembly. Vancouver Sun (23 Apr 2015: D3
[Brian] Jackson says the land assembly activity that has been accelerating amounts to property speculation. … The activity is likely the result of an interim zoning policy adopted by the city three years ago.
Jen St. Denis / Frank O’Brien. New Aquilini rental tower uses controversial fixed-term tenancy agreements. Business in Vanocuver (8 July 2016)
Related Coverage at Eye on Norquay
Rental 100 Red Flag
Vancouver CAC 2013
Commercial at 18th Ave
Comment on Development Application DP-2016-00101
under RT-11 Zoning
5 July 2016
This standard FuHo design for an RT-11 development is generally acceptable. We note the following concerns:
1. Only two parking spaces are provided. The Parking ByLaw states that parking in RT-11 zones should be one per unit, i.e. three spaces for this development.
2. There is no existing sidewalk along the East 40th Avenue frontage. Construction of this sidewalk needs to be included as a Condition of Development for this application.
Jeanette Jones and Joseph Jones
Comment on Development Application DP-2016-00092
under RM-9A Zoning
4 July 2016
In general, we like this application. Approximately 2/3 of the units are 2-bedroom or 3-bedroom units. The layouts shown at the 2015 pre-app open house (which we presume have not changed) make good use of space. The modern architecture fits in well with the two RM-7 rowhouse projects that have already been approved at 2631 Duke Street and 2759/2765 Duke Street.
The cobblestone around the entry courtyard, the diagonal ramp, and the coloured metal accent panels add visual interest to the exterior of the building. The colour scheme should be reconsidered. The rowhouse project at 2631 Duke Street and the large stacked townhouse development just a block north at 2715 Ward Street, both being built by ConWest, are using an identical colour scheme (black and white with orange accents). The use of a different colour scheme here would add variety to the streetscape.
The green wall and trellis near the entrance to the parking level is attractive. The roof garden will provide additional green space. The 7-foot pedestrian connection on the east side of the building provides at least a temporary solution until the Renfrew Ravine Linear Park is built.
We question the planting of blueberry bushes in front of the building. The smaller plantings that surround them will make it difficult to pick the fruit. But local residents seem likely to try, and may not be concerned about damaging the landscape.
Jeanette Jones and Joseph Jones