• 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
When the City of Vancouver fails to follow its own development application protocols, and then fails to acknowledge and correct its own shortcoming in a timely fashion, worries compound. It feels like your neighborhood has become an impervious machine to serve anything-goes developers. Here is a case of a double fail. We now await response to a follow-up communication to administration at City of Vancouver. UPDATE: Same-day response was added at 5:00 pm to Correspondence section below as email # 3.
On Friday 13 November 2015 the City of Vancouver posted two new Norquay RT-11 development applications to its Development Application Information Web Page:
4521 Nanaimo Street — DE419732
5391 Slocan Street — DE419733
Before a development application gets posted to the web site, the developer is supposed to provide the City of Vancouver with a photograph that confirms display of a development application sign on the site proposed for development. (This and other such information may provide grist for a future posting on How to Monitor.)
Here are the photos that Eye on Norquay took of the two sites on Wednesday 18 November 2015.
Zero development application signage on site …
4521 Nanaimo Street
5391 Slocan Street
Email # 1 —
Thu, Nov 19, 2015 at 10:22 AM To: Project Coordinator On Friday, November 13, two new development applications were posted on the CoV web site: DE419732 (4521 Nanaimo Street) and DE419733 (5391 Slocan Street). Both these applications are for duplex plus infill developments under RT-11 zoning. As can be seen in the photos above, there is no sign posted at either site. My understanding has been that the applicant is required to send CoV a photo of the posted site sign before the application goes up on the CoV web site. Has this practice changed? Please ask the applicant to post the site sign as soon as possible. The deadline for comment should be adjusted to a date two weeks after the sign is posted. It is important to give opportunity for comment to neighbourhood residents who do not live within the notification area. Jeanette Jones
Email # 2 —
Tue, Nov 24, 2015 at 8:17 AM To: Project Coordinator Cc: Supervisor, Processing Centre Development On Thursday, November 19 I sent the email below regarding the absence of site signs at the development sites for these two applications. I have not yet received a reply, and as of 4:00 p.m. on Monday, November 23 no site signs have been posted. Could you please confirm by forwarding me a copy of the relevant photos that the site signs have been posted? The deadline for comments given in the notification letters is November 27, three days from now. This date should be changed to a date two weeks after the signs are posted. Thank you. Jeanette Jones
Email # 3 — City of Vancouver response
Tue, Nov 24, 2015 at 11:15 AM To: Jeanette Jones Thank you for bring this error to my attention. I am just in the process of preparing the sign information. Once we receive confirmation that the signs are up, we will adjust the notification deadline on the website. I will also let you know. Sorry for any inconvenience.
Eye on Norquay has been hearing recently from a new East Vancouver group called Renfrew-Collingwood Residents. Their activism relates to an area directly adjacent to and east of Norquay. Most of the Norquay Plan area also falls within Renfrew-Collingwood.
Here’s the latest about an alternative open house coming up later this week:
• • • • • •
Hello! Thank you for supporting and sharing our petition. We have gained a small victory — the City has extended the comment period to November 29 and will be meeting with local businesses. An extended comment period is not enough. We need commitment from the City that the existing local community will not be displaced and that our voice will be part of the planning process. We need to continue this momentum. You are invited to our alternative open house and info night [choice of two dates and times] to learn more about the City's proposal and contribute to our own vision for the area! Thursday November 26 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm Saturday November 28 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm Collingwood Neighbourhood House at 5288 Joyce Street Feel free to contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
• • • • • •
The group has earlier circulated notice of this online petition:
The content of the petition is reproduced below for ease of reference and for permanent record:
• • • • • •
We, the undersigned, are against the Joyce-Collingwood Station Precinct Review. We urge the City of Vancouver to pause the precinct review process until comprehensive multilingual consultation with the community has taken place and clear policies are put in place to protect the future of Renfrew-Collingwood, including the vulnerable residents and retailers that we all depend on. We are very concerned about the impacts the developments will bring with such drastic height proposals and we urge the City to conduct a social impact assessment before moving forward. We have the right to remain and the right to decide how our communities will be developed.
This kind of redevelopment is happening across the City of Vancouver with very little efforts being made by governments to consider the needs of local communities. Renfrew-Collingwood is a vibrant neighbourhood made up of many working class immigrant families that we fear will be displaced or negatively impacted. Join us in advocating for accessible consultation processes, policy protections for local residents and retailers, and the building of infrastructure decided by and for the existing community.
Submit your comments by Nov 4!
For more details about the precinct review, see the City’s proposals here:
A 29-storey market condo project is being proposed by Westbank at 5050-5080 Joyce Street and may be approved before the height guidelines are enacted. There are 3 small businesses currently operating on this site that do not want to be displaced. Find out more:
We are organizing on the ancestral, traditional, and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples.
… as Partial Answer to “Why Norquay?”
A never-answered question for Norquay residents:
How and why did planners select this particular half of a square mile to become
Vancouver’s second mass-rezoned “neighbourhood centre” under CityPlan?
In the earlier days, probably in 2007, then Director of Planning Brent Toderian blustered something like this as a response: “Why, neighborhoods are lining up for this opportunity!” Subtext: You should consider yourselves fortunate. Fact content: Zero. Reality: Norquay clearly and consistently did the exact opposite of line up.
At the RM-9A open house on 23 September 2015, this same question was overheard being put to a planner by a very unhappy Norquay resident. “Why us?” Still no good answer.
Back in mid-2011, Joseph Jones attempted a Freedom of Information request for
The City of Vancouver offered to accept $540 “to conduct this search” (estimate only!). What sucker would pay that amount for the likelihood of hearing back some combination of (a) the little already found without assistance, or (b) nothing, or (c) shreds of documents redacted into meaningless unreadability? This is one specific example of how City of Vancouver walls off from public scrutiny what it does in the back rooms.
On 17 November 2015, Jens von Bergmann provided a mapping of 2011 Canadian census data that “shows the percentage of the population that are immigrants” — excluding non-permanent residents. The overlay of a Norquay outline onto a screen grab of Vancouver mapping quickly conveys a lot about our area’s immigrant component and our Vancouver context.
If a bomber pilot were assigned the task of trying to take out as much of immigrant Vancouver as possible with one hit, that pilot could hardly do better than to unload on Norquay and hope for wide radius effect.
An immigrant population offers up to the hierarchy of politicians and developers and planners an especially vulnerable target: inexperience with new culture, uncertainty with foreign language, desire to avoid interaction with government, immersion in attempting to establish a new economic life, etc.
A graphic personal story has already been told at Eye on Norquay as Unheard Voices.
Consider this November 2005 justification for selecting Norquay:
It also ranks first in terms of need for public realm and pedestrian safety improvements,
based on a review of data from Neighbourhood Centres across all Vision areas. (p. 2)
Planning for Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre
Ten years onward, the City of Vancouver itself has done almost nothing to enhance the Norquay area. Meanwhile, rapid redevelopment slaps us in the face every day with the value extraction (construction nuisance, profits, fees, sequestered levies, increased property taxes) that mass rezoning has triggered.
Following is the formal comment that we have made on the development application, based on the application, the materials presented at the open house, and discussion with the developer agents.
18 November 2015
The 18 November 2015 open house on the development proposed for the SE corner of East 34th Avenue displayed 3 panels selected from the 11 files already available on the City of Vancouver application web site:
Project Statistics, Context Plan, and Streetscape
The open house provided a useful opportunity to talk to developer Richard Wittstock and to assess the project.
At the heart of the proposal is B & K Grocery, a two-storey brick building that has stood on the corner for over 100 years. Redevelopment of the 41.5 x 88 ft site to an FSR of 1.33 in a total of 4 dwelling units and 1 retail unit would make economically feasible the in-place seismic upgrading and refurbishing of the B & K Grocery. The existing brick structure that faces East 34th Avenue would acquire an addition of a single-family unit on the east side. A second separated two-unit infill would be built to the south, facing Nanaimo Street.
In this particular case, the desirability of retaining an unusual, scarce, and prominent Norquay heritage building clearly outweighs significant concessions on density bonusing and parking requirements.
We commend both the scale and contrasting design shown in the “infill north” view (in Elevations for Heritage Building & Attached Townhouse). [Note: image appended below for easy reference]. It is encouraging to see new construction that shows such promise of enhancing the Norquay area.
Joseph and Jeanette Jones
Open House at Cunningham School — 2330 East 37th Avenue
5:00 pm to 7:00 pm — Wednesday 18 November 2015
This 41.5 x 88 ft. single lot on a corner currently contains a small two-storey “heritage” building which has functioned as a corner store with a housing unit above. The applicant proposes to restore the existing heritage building and to attach a new two-storey infill townhouse on East 34th Avenue. A new three-storey duplex would also be added as infill on Nanaimo Street. Total units proposed are 4 residential and 1 commercial with no parking spaces.
Initial concerns focus on request for an excessive amount of bonus density (approximately 50% rather than the 10% usually granted on residential sites) and on the lack of provision for parking. The public may submit comments by email to the rezoning planner — email@example.com — until a final decision is made. The decision usually occurs several weeks after the Open House.
As detailed in the notification copied below, an open house on this proposed major site redevelopment was held on 4 November 2015. Panels from the open house and the development application can be viewed at
Following is the formal comment that we have made on the development application, based on the application, the materials presented at the open house, and discussion with developer agents and planners.
November 8, 2015
We are disappointed that more detailed information on this proposal was not available at the Open House held on 4 November 2015. There was no real model, and most questions to the architect received a standard response indicating that detailed planning had not yet occurred. If this were a Pre-App Open House, this would be understandable. If this is to be the only Open House opportunity for the public to respond, it seems premature and inadequate.
On the basis of the limited information available, we offer the following comment.
1 — Building Form
In general, the proposed building form is consistent with the Norquay Plan. We like the building form proposed on the “Photorealistic Visualization” board. The wider vertical and horizontal separation of windows on the tower, and the brick finish on parts of both the tower and the 4-storey portion of the development, are an improvement to the design. We find it difficult to visualize the appearance of the front of the 4-storey portion, and were hoping that a model could help us to do this. The face of the building might look more unified if the balcony railings on the 2nd and 3rd storeys were to be made of a material more visibly substantial than clear acrylic. The pedestrian connection between Kingsway and the lane appears to be adequate.
Our preferred color scheme is:
(a) Tower. We propose that the primary color be light gray, similar to the color seen in the “streetscape” file on the CoV rezoning application web site. White is less suitable because it can look dirty very quickly, and makes the building appear even more massive. If the glass is to be tinted, we prefer a very light blue or very light gray (definitely not green!)
(b) Four-storey. We propose dark blue as a primary color.
(c) Brickwork. We propose that the brick be red.
2 — Interior Layout
Information on interior layout was minimal. Many of the suites labeled “2-bedroom” do not seem to have enough windows to allow for 2-bedroom suites. The proposed amenity room is poorly located, has a problematic shape and too few windows, and is too small for the size of the development. A solution would be to put a larger room with more windows on level 5 beside the rooftop garden.
3 — Allocation of Community Amenity Contribution
To date Norquay has received no substantial amenities from a considerable amount of development under the Norquay Plan. The 37 daycare spaces at 2300 Kingsway (far fewer than there should have been) and the redevelopment of Norquay Park (paid for mainly by federal stimulus grants) were both funded outside of the Norquay Plan.
It is important for Norquay residents to be able to see that the rapid densification of their neighbourhood is actually bringing some of the benefits that CoV has promised since the planning process began in 2006. It would be very discouraging if the CACs from this development were to be sequestered in the Norquay Village Amenity Reserve Fund, where $3 million of the CACs generated by Kensington Gardens is already languishing and depreciating. All of the CACs generated by this development should provide amenities immediately.
The three top priorities identified in the Norquay Public Benefits Strategy are:
1. Community space at 2400 Kingsway. This space is to be built when the site is redeveloped, something unlikely to happen soon.
2. The Renfrew Ravine Linear Park. A concept plan for this park is currently being worked on.
3. Redevelopment of Brock Park and Slocan Park. Brock Park has been identified as a priority because there has already been so much development nearby. The Renfrew Ravine Linear Park and Brock Park are approximately equidistant from the site at 2395-2443 Kingsway.
We propose that the CACs from this development be allocated to the Renfrew Ravine Linear Park. CoV has said that the park will be built in modules, so that individual parts can be fully connected when all the necessary properties have been assembled. We would like to see at least one new module (i.e. one that does not incorporate land currently being used as a community garden or orchard) built immediately. If this module cannot be delivered by the end of 2017, the CACs from this development should be allocated to the renovation of Brock Park.
Jeanette and Joseph Jones
… at Westbank’s 2220 Kingsway Site
The series of four photos below documents how sump pumping of construction site wastewater is bypassing the extensive filtration and remediation system that was installed prior to construction activity.
Environmental degradations include:
Contaminants draining from 2.3 acre construction site dump directly into Vancouver storm water system
Deficient removal of sediments that could necessitate downstream removal at taxpayer expense
Erosion of landscaped City of Vancouver corner bulge at Kingsway and Gladstone
Sump pump at lowest point of excavation with attached drainage hose
leading upward to ground-level edge of excavation
Sump hose emerges from excavation and leads to curbside
Downstream view from sump hose at curbside toward storm drain
Upstream view from eroded landscape of corner bulge toward drainage hose at curbside
Remediation equipment and previous storm drain abuse at the 2220 Kingsway site are described in these earlier postings:
All photos taken on afternoon of Sunday 8 November 2015.