• 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
To see the correspondence that is replied to below, see the previous posting titled Going Through the Motions. (The Rezoning Applications web site now [12:30 am March 28] shows a rescheduling to 15 April 2015, but the file for 2312-2328 Galt Street still shows the old date.)
* * * * * *
from: Jackson, Brian (PDS) to: "Joseph Jones" cc: "Robertson, Gregor" , "Reimer, Andrea" , "Deal, Heather" , "Ballem, Penny" , "Munro, Kent" , "Naylor, Michael" , "Zeng, Yan" date: Fri, Mar 27, 2015 at 2:00 PM subject: RE: Open letter to Brian Jackson on Notice of Rezoning Application and Community Open House for 2312-2328 Galt Street mailed-by: vancouver.ca
Dear Mr. Jones,
Thank you for your letter concerning the date for the Open House for a rezoning application for 2312-2328 Galt Street. We have taken immediate action as outlined herein.
You are absolutely correct that this date is not appropriate. It is not the City’s practice to schedule consultation events immediately around long weekends, statutory holidays or other significant cultural or religious observances. Staff normally schedule around these known dates; in this particular case, in the haste to secure one of few room bookings at the Renfrew Community Centre, there was an oversight in recognizing that the Friday following the available date was a statutory holiday.
Immediate steps have been taken this morning to reschedule the open house to a more suitable date. We know that the community prefers to have such events at the community centre but it may need to take place at a different venue because of limited availability at the Renfrew Community Centre in April. In any case, residents will be informed of the new event details.
Thank you for bringing this error to our attention and we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience that this may have caused you. It would be most helpful if you could assist in getting the word out to the community about our error on this by posting this note to your website.
Brian J. Jackson, MCIP
General Manager, Planning and Development Services
CITY OF VANCOUVER | [p] 604 873 7034
* * * * * *
from: Joseph Jones to: "Jackson, Brian (PDS)" cc: "Robertson, Gregor" , "Reimer, Andrea" , "Deal, Heather" , "Ballem, Penny" , "Munro, Kent" , "Naylor, Michael" , "Zeng, Yan" date: Sat, Mar 28, 2015 at 12:06 AM subject: RE: Open letter to Brian Jackson on Notice of Rezoning Application and Community Open House for 2312-2328 Galt Street mailed-by: vancouver.ca
Dear Brian Jackson –
Your prompt and helpful response is appreciated. I and others can now look forward to being able to attend a rescheduled and more convenient Open House for 2312-2328 Galt Street.
Since Norquay had experienced a previous problem with a meeting scheduled for Chinese New Year on 3 February 2011, it was not clear that the City of Vancouver had any established practice about scheduling. It is good to hear that such policy exists, and that these two unfortunate instances resulted from oversights.
As you request, I am posting your response to Eye on Norquay with appropriate cross-linking.
For response of 27 March 2015, see Brian Jackson Replies.
26 March 2015
Open Letter to Brian Jackson
General Manager, Planning and Development Services, City of Vancouver
cc: Penny Ballem, City Manager, City of Vancouver
cc: Gregor Robertson, Mayor, City of Vancouver
cc: Andrea Reimer, Deputy Mayor and Appointee to Vancouver City Planning Commission
cc: Heather Deal, Chair, Standing Committee on Planning, Transportation, and Environment
This Open Letter is being posted to Eye on Norquay on the day following email to addressees.
One of the four stated priority issues of the City of Vancouver’s Engaged City Task Force is
Improving the way the City consults with citizens on policy
Consider the following case in light of that “priority.” First, see immediately below exhibit of
Notice of Rezoning Application and Community Open House for 2312-2328 Galt Street
postmarked 19 March 2015 and received 24 March 2015:
Two aspects of this notification demonstrate that the City of Vancouver notion of “engagement” amounts to little more than going through the motions, plodding through a process needed to shove through yet one more Vancouver rezoning application. The subtext: input from residents of Vancouver is NOT WANTED, and we perform this “public consultation” only because we have to.
One — Mailed-to area residents have been given an effective nine days (seven working days) of notice that the open house will be held.
Two — The open house is scheduled for Thursday 2 April 2015 from 5 pm to 8 pm. This is the evening that precedes a four-day long weekend, one of the two most concentrated periods of official time-off for everyone in our annual calendar.
Because of lack of adequate notice coupled with the extremely poor timing, I will not be able to go to this open house in our immediate local area. I would have attended with great interest, since this proposed development will establish crucial precedent for Transition Zone policy under the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre mass rezonings of 2010-2013.
In no way do I hold city planners responsible for this state of affairs. It is apparent that they face extreme pressures from the persons who direct them, which is why this comment is directed to you.
On a previous occasion, all of Norquay was subjected to an even greater lack of consideration. What proved to be our last-ever meeting of Norquay Working Group took place on 3 February 2011 — Chinese New Year. The disrespect that City of Vancouver showed to the 48% Chinese population of Norquay at that time was beyond belief. This open house for 2312-2328 Galt Street continues in that same sad tradition.
Will this abuse by City of Vancouver of its residents ever let up?
As persons responsible for City of Vancouver planning, you need to establish overall policy governing timelines for adequate notification and parameters for acceptable event dates.
Monitoring the Norquay Plan — Report No. 1 (March 2015)
A separate posting of fifteen photos of Norquay duplexes from February 2015 accompanies this evaluation.
This overall review of the 2010-2013 Norquay Plan starts with residential areas, and focuses on the most prevalent new housing type, the duplex. Remark is added for single-family house, a permitted form which is not new. See note appended below on context for brief description of the Norquay Plan and a listing of aspects yet to be reviewed. The City of Vancouver failed to include in the Norquay Plan any mandate for formal review of the effects and consequences of the mass rezoning.
A developer can build duplexes outright anywhere in two of three of Norquay’s residential zones (RT-11 and RM-7, but not Transition). Duplex development can include a secondary suite for each unit but not a laneway house. Some sites in RT-11 may qualify for additional infill small houses. There are no formal design guidelines for duplexes in Norquay. However, regulations govern things like height, yards, site coverage of the building, etc. In Norquay, regulations also call for such features as pitched roofs and main doors that face the street. These regulations can be found in Section 4 of the RT-11 and RM-7 District Schedules at
Since 2013, and as of February 2015, the City of Vancouver has issued 44 development permits for duplexes in Norquay. This is by far the most popular form of development to date in our residential zones. Small developers are attracted by the possibility of building denser housing quickly on a single lot.
In general, duplexes with front/back units are being built on narrow, deep lots and side-by-side units on wider lots. The front yard setback is usually in line with neighbouring houses. Back yards are small. The quality of the design varies considerably.
Unit size ranges from approximately 1200 sq. ft. to 2000 sq. ft., with a median size of 1550 sq. ft. The observed asking price range (not inclusive) is $719,000 to $1,098,000, with a median asking price of $899,000 for each unit.
Photos of 15 duplexes completed in Norquay as of February 2015 can be viewed in a separate posting, along with prices and square footages where available.
Single Family Houses
Any residential RT-11 or RM-7 or Transition site in Norquay may be developed outright as a single family dwelling. “Outright” land uses are those that are permitted by the City of Vancouver, provided that all the regulations and provisions of the Zoning and Development Bylaw and the Parking Bylaw are met. The builder does not need to go through a lengthy development application process, where the proposal is evaluated according to formal development guidelines and impact on neighbours is considered. A single family dwelling built in Norquay follows city-wide RS-1 (Single Family Dwelling) regulations. They can be found at
Since Norquay’s new zoning was passed in spring 2013, the City of Vancouver has issued 15 development permits for new single family dwellings. We have not observed any new single family houses being advertised for sale, possibly because these sites are being redeveloped by existing owners.
In addition, we have noticed 3 major renovations of existing single family houses in Norquay since 2013.
Note: Subsequent monitoring reports are anticipated for RT-11 (Small House/Duplex) Zone RM-7 (Rowhouse/Stacked Townhouse) Zone Transition Zone Kingsway Development Kingsway Public Realm Public Benefits Comprehensive Analysis
In the fall of 2010, Vancouver City Council adopted the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan. The plan lays out a “roadmap forward” that is supposed to guide development in Norquay for the next 30 years.
In the spring of 2013, Vancouver City Council adopted new zoning schedules for Norquay. Most of the residential area was rezoned to RT-11 (small house/duplex) or RM-7 (rowhouse/stacked townhouse). A rezoning policy was put in place for the Transition zone (four storey apartments) immediately behind Kingsway.
Specifications for development along Kingsway are part of the 2010 Norquay Plan.
Council also adopted a Public Benefits Strategy and Apartment Transition Area Rezoning Policy for Norquay in spring 2013. This policy identifies the key amenities and services that Norquay can expect to accompany development, and suggests how they should be funded. To date, nothing has been delivered.
Development has begun. The City of Vancouver has no formal process for monitoring the implementation of the Norquay Plan. This series of postings will examine how the Norquay Plan of 2010, the subsequent new zoning schedules of 2013, and the Public Benefits Strategy are being implemented.
The photos below complement a review of new duplexes built since implementation of Norquay Plan zoning in spring 2013. (Half-duplex price and sq ft data is given as discovered, with no specification attempted for particular side or sub-unit.)
Photo 1 of 15 — 2187 / 2189 East 34th Avenue — $899,800 — 1465 sq ft
Photo 2 of 15 — 2457 /2459 Brock Street — $875,000 — 1550 sq ft
Photo 3 of 15 — 2463 / 2465 Brock Street — $888,000 — ??? sq ft
Photo 4 of 15 — 5444 / 5446 Clarendon Street — $ ??? — ??? sq ft
Photo 5 of 15 — 2735 / 2737 Duke Street — $ ??? — ??? sq ft
Photo 6 of 15 — 2795 / 2799 Horley Street — $ ??? — ??? sq ft
Photo 7 of 15 — 4816 / 4818 Earles Street — $899,000 — 1407 sq ft
Photo 8 of 15 — 4888 / 4898 Earles Street — $798,000 — 1420 sq ft
Photo 9 of 15 — 5069 / 5071 / 5073 Nanaimo Street — $898,000 — 1558 sq ft
Photo 10 of 15 — 5092 / 5094 Nanaimo Street — $798,000 — 1417 sq ft
Photo 11 of 15 — 5606 /5608 Rhodes Street — $1,098,000 — 1994 sq ft
Photo 12 of 15 — 4833 / 4835 Slocan Street — $853,000 — 1753 sq ft
Photo 13 of 15 — 5495 / 5499 Slocan Street — $ ??? — ??? sq ft
Photo 14 of 15 — 5551 / 5557 Slocan Street — $1,018,000 — 1960 sq ft
Photo 15 of 15 — 5554 (1 & 2) Wales Street — $1,098,000 — 1994 sq ft
All photos taken on morning of 19 February 2015.
On Friday afternoon 20 March 2015, a sizeable subarea of East Vancouver experienced a 3.5 hour power shutdown between 4:00 pm and 7:30 pm. It took a BC Hydro repair crew about three hours to arrive on scene. Power was lost because a light wind either broke or detached a long protective flag line, leaving two loose ends to snare across high-tension power wires. This failure seems to have resulted either from use of defective/substandard materials or incompetent installation.
If the 2220 Kingsway area has experienced this degree of impact at a very early stage of Westbank’s massive construction project for Kensington Gardens, how much more can local residents expect to suffer in the future?
The story follows in chronological sequence.
On Friday February 13 contaminated sludge went straight into an unprotected sewer grate at 2220 Kingsway. Eye on Norquay reported this event on February 16.
In the two days following the report, electrical contractors appeared to install the multiple transformers needed to power the remediation equipment that had been bypassed in the sludge dump. Below see electricians at work on the afternoon of 17 February 2015. The sign on the truck door says Rokstad.
The protective flag line stretched across Kingsway at that time held up for slightly over one month.
Below see the south end of the tangled flag line prior to crew arrival:
Once the BC Hydro crew arrived on scene, they dealt quickly and efficiently with the problem. But it took about three hours for them to show up. At 4:00 pm the BC Hydro power outage telephone service was estimating a restoration of service by 6:00 pm. By 7:00 pm the timeframe estimate had shifted to 9:00 pm. Here are three photos of the BC Hydro crew in action:
This report updates on the situation described in Sludge Straight into Sewer. Half a week onward, Westbank’s contractor at 2220 Kingsway has ripped off the covers of at least two on-site sewer drains and stuffed the drain holes with dirt. Imagine what could happen with a heavy rain storm. An inch of mud coating Kingsway?
Is the developer now saying to Norquay, you think a little mud matters? Ha! Take that!
Will the City of Vancouver allow this environmental abuse to continue and escalate?
Photos of Sludge-Dump Sewer Grate Area on February 16 — 17 — 18
The photo sequence below raises a big question. What environmental standards apply to excavating around an existing storm sewer opening? Is it OK to stuff the sewer with dirt?
Photo 1 of 9 — Monday 16 February 2015 11:45 am
Photo 2 of 9 — Tuesday 17 February 2015 1:00 pm
Another Group of Sewer Openings February 16 — 17 — 18
Photo 5 of 9 — Tuesday 17 February 2015 1:00 pm
Photo 6 of 9 — Wednesday 18 February 2015 1:00 pm
Continuing Discharge of Contaminated Water?
The two photos below make a strong case that on-site wastewater at 2220 Kingsway has continued to be discharged directly into the storm sewer. There appears to be no hookup yet to city water supply. Where else could that volume of water be coming from?
The pump in Photo 7 shows the only apparent way that substantial volume of water could be flowed.
The pumped-out pond in Photo 8 shows the only apparent source for such a volume of water. Evaporation does not seem plausible. A sump hose is lying there.
Photo 7 of 9 — Portable Pump on February 16 at 11:45 am
Photo 8 of 9 — Empty Pond on February 17 at 1:00 pm
Compare with previous photo of same smaller greenish-water pond:
Photo 9 of 9 — Smaller Pond, Different, Angle, on February 13 at 3:30 pm
If dumping the water without processing is the only available alternative, why would the developer not just wait until the processing apparatus becomes functional?
Why would a large-scale developer deliberately fail to observe appropriate project sequencing?
What urgency is there to dispose of the large quantity of groundwater in the pond?
Was that water tested at all before disposal?
Is the developer hoping to obtain better results by dumping a few ponds prior to any testing?
What message is Westbank sending to Norquay? We do whatever we want? Environment be damned?
There does not yet seem to be any connection to water service on site. The only apparent water lines are sump-type hoses that lead back to the south perimeter water collection pits. That water is contaminated not only by sediment but also by Canadian Tire auto servicing bay residues. It should go nowhere except into the six units of the processing apparatus.
Review the seven photos from 13 February 2015 and consider these factors:
The amount of sludge left around the sewer grate
The large pool of water at mid-site
The path taken by the water
An eyewitness report of pumping and dumping
The problems with this developer’s treatment of storm sewers seem to be ongoing and escalating.
There has been no updating at Eye on Norquay so far on Toxic Soil Remediation Factory
(posted 19 January 2015) because expected further information never arrived. Information
that was obtained is being incorporated into this sequel.
All the photographs that accompany this account were taken at the 2220 Kingsway construction site for Westbank’s Kensington Gardens development at mid-afternoon on Friday 13 February 2015.
The pictures tell the story far better than words can, but words are needed to explain the images and their sequence. This story starts at the downstream end and works backward to the source. Let the evidence come first.
1 of 7 — Sludge Goes Straight into the Sewer
The sewer grate at foreground right in this picture clearly has accommodated substantial recent water flow. The debris-covered grating is not properly fitted to the opening that it is supposed to cover. The opening has not been fitted with screening that is required to protect the sewer system. The asphalt surrounding the grate shows that a considerable amount of sludge must have been carried into the sewer. View is south from Kingsway sidewalk, toward western (Gladstone Street) side of 2.3 acre parcel.
2 of 7 — Sewer Grate in Context
Distance provides greater context for the now less visible sewer grate, located between dark brown foreground dirt and in line with rear of unhitched trailer. View is east from Gladstone Street, with Kingsway at left.
3 of 7 — Large Pool on Surface of Asphalt
At center a large pool reflects trees, buildings, and sky in distance. This is water that was not able to flow to sewer grate. Pavement is dry because this was not a day of rain. Note evidence of stream of water at right having fed the pool. View is north toward Kingsway from East 30th Avenue, near corner with Gladstone Street.
4 of 7 — L-Shaped Pond at South Center
This water collecting excavation is located at what used to be the western end of the Canadian Tire automobile service bays. (Compare with pre-demolition images numbered 3 and 4 at Toxic Soil Remediation Factory.) Note vertical and horizontal white plastic pipes connected with tube at water level at inside corner of ell. Note sump hose crossing foreground. Note color of water and materials floating on surface. View is north toward Kingsway from East 30th Avenue near center of site.
5 of 7 — Drainage Hoses Stretch Away from Two Ponds
These hoses appear to have been used to pump water out of water collecting ponds over to the western asphalt-covered side of the site. View is west toward Gladstone Street from laneway along eastern side
of site, with East 30th Avenue lying just beyond covered sidewalk.
6 of 7 — Two Water Collecting Ponds
Note different levels and water colors for two ponds. This southeast corner of the Canadian Tire site is where a large waste oil collection tank used to stand, at the eastern end of the row of automobile service bays.
7 of 7 — Larger Southeast Pond
Angle and distance of this photo give better view of water in the larger southeast pond. Notice the layer of something collected on the surface of the water. View is from eastern laneway northwest toward intersection of Kingway with Gladstone Street.
The 2220 Kingway site slopes south to north, and forms part of a long downhill grade toward Trout Lake, whose main feeder stream happens to runs underground just east of the Canadian Tire site.
At the time of photographing, I spoke with an adult eyewitness who described how water had earlier been pumped out, with the hose releasing water somewhere near the center of the site. This account matches the evidence that remained visible, especially the large pool and the sludge surrounding the sewer grate.
Back to the Factory
The City of Vancouver responded promptly and helpfully to questions posed earlier in Toxic Soil Remediation Factory. The purpose of the factory is to clean up construction site waste water, including washings from vehicle tires, before that water enters the sewer system. The purpose of the two large square steel boxes is to collect sediment. The purpose of the four round tanks is to carbon filter the water to remove impurities like hydrocarbons. Truckloads of soil that require remediation will be taken to an off-site facility for processing. This was reassuring news.
Far less reassuring was the type of monitoring and frequency of reporting that seem anticipated for the operation of the water cleaning apparatus. It appears that equipment dysfunction could go undetected for weeks, and that no independent checking will be performed on infrequently reported self-assessments of water quality.
Big New Questions
Why has a large quantity of sedimented and probably contaminated water already been discharged directly into the sewer system?
Why did this water not pass through the remediation apparatus that has been set up?
What does this very early incident suggest about Westbank concern to do the job right and City of Vancouver oversight to ensure that standards are met?