• 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
More Abuse from Westbank at 2220 Kingsway
View of Westbank’s 2220 Kingsway: Looking West along East 30th Avenue
On Friday 24 February Eye on Norquay received an email about new overnight construction noise at Westbank’s 2220 Kingsway construction site. Three fourteen-storey towers are being built on top of a podium that covers most of the 2.3 acres. An on-site observation at 9:45 pm, standing in front of the house at 2220 East 30th Avenue, confirmed a continuous, loud, low-pitched noise emanating from the south tower, which now stands at four of fourteen storeys.
Looking East Down East 30th Avenue
According to the email, this noise started on the preceding night of 23/24 February. The writer of the email attributes the noise to a large propane heater, and states: “My whole family cannot sleep at all because of this.”
The City of Vancouver’s Noise Control By-Law No. 6555
addresses such construction noise in sections 15 and 16 and 17. Section 15 limits continuous sound level to 85 decibels. (On occasions during the daytime, the site emits continuous noise that can be heard three blocks away.) Section 16 limits construction noise to weekdays from 7:30 am to 8:00 pm and 10:00 am to 8:00 pm on Saturday, with quiet for Sunday and holidays. Section 17 provides for relaxations.
The Noisiest Spot: Standing at Curbside of 2220 East 30th
This particular noise may exceed the allowed sound level. In any case, the noise is not allowed between 8:00 pm and 7:30 am. It seems unlikely that relaxation has been granted, and if so, this information has not been communicated to adjacent residents.
It would appear that the use of a large noisy propane heater serves only the purpose of reducing construction time. If the temperature is too low to pour, then the developer should wait for acceptable conditions. Speeding up the profits should not justify the continuous overnight impact on local area residents who already are having to put up with an incredible amount of noise, dirt, and traffic to accommodate the construction of these buildings.
The foregoing concern is being forwarded to relevant City of Vancouver authorities by Eye on Norquay. If and when a response is received, it will be appended to this posting.
The 2010 Norquay mass rezoning set as an objective for the local area “to evolve incrementally and organically.” Planners revel in such glib fantasies. Build in mechanisms to address plan consequences? Never.
At the start of 2017 a big newish Norquay house is up for … REDEVELOPMENT. This house was built in the year that Norquay planning started — 2006. Ten short years.
In the greenest city, you are now invited to fork over $3.2 million for the privilege of sending a quite serviceable house straight to the landfill. Well, maybe six bedrooms and 2800 square feet are both too much and not enough? Or maybe a greedy developer got whiplashed in the 2016 turnaround, and is getting desperate to flip?
For that $3.2 million, you get an almost-new house to tear down. Besides that you get a Halloween 2016 (check that date) development application to build two new duplexes:
Everybody likes new, right? Ten years. So OLD. Just think how incremental and organic it could be to cram two of these boxes (see below) onto one lot. And set a fine precedent for all those surrounding teardowns.
Here’s hoping that incrementalism is taking hold, and that a #vanre crash is underway that will shut down this nonsense. P.S. This property sold on 17 January 2016 for $2,405,000. The 1 July 2016 assessment was $2,497,000 (land at $1,982,000 and buildings at $515,000).
Comment on Development Application DP-2016-00558
under RM-7 Zoning
12 December 2016
We have several concerns about this application.
We are particularly concerned about the design of the north side of the building, fronting on East 28th Avenue. The steep front-to-back slope of the site does make it a challenge to locate building fronts and entrances on both streets, as the RM-7 Guidelines specify for corner sites [Section 2.3(b)].
But as much as possible should be done to make this side of the building to look more attractive and to break up its large mass. The articulation shown in the drawings is a start. Improvement should begin with making window sizes more uniform. The black infill panels between windows should be eliminated. An alternate exterior finishing material such as metal panels could be used on the projections. Entrances to the basement units need to be more visible and to look more like main entrances.
There should be 6 parking stalls for the 9 units in this building. The site plan shows only 5, one of which is substandard in size.
It is good to see that there are no small areas of grass in the landscape plan. A sprinkler system needs to be required to ensure that the landscaping is adequately watered.
Jeanette and Joseph Jones
City of Vancouver Parcels of Land
Introduction to the Brief
The Norquay Village Public Realm Plan, the last policy document of the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan, was released in October 2016. It can be found on the City of Vancouver web site at
The Public Realm Plan gives further detail about implementation of the relevant sections of the Norquay Plan (2010) and the Norquay Public Benefits Strategy (2013). Because staff considers the Public Realm Plan to closely follow these previous guidelines, the plan was simply announced and not shown either to the community or to Council for input or approval.
Most of the Norquay Public Realm Plan is in fact consistent with the Norquay Plan and with the Norquay Public Benefits Strategy. The very important exception is Section 2.5 entitled “Ravine Way” (p. 12-13).
Definitive specifications for Ravine Way, a proposed pedestrian connection between Norquay Park and Slocan Park that runs along a Metro Vancouver trunk sewer line and right-of-way, were to have been part of the Norquay Public Realm Plan. But details remain vague. The Plan has no definition of boundaries for Ravine Way, although a minimum 33 ft. width is specified. There is no discussion of a timetable for the incremental completion that has been promised to the neighbourhood.
The City of Vancouver already owns all but two of the properties necessary to create Ravine Way. The Public Realm Plan suggests that some of this land is superfluous and disposable: “some of the City’s land holdings in excess of the minimum corridor width may be released for development.” Our brief that follows, Ravine Way Specifications in Norquay Village Public Realm Plan (November 2016) presents evidence for the argument that it is highly unlikely that any of the land that the City of Vancouver currently owns in the Ravine Way corridor could or should be released for development.
The brief went to five relevant staff at the City of Vancouver on November 7, 2016. To date, we have received no response.
• • • • • • • • • • • •
To: [Five relevant City of Vancouver staff in Planning and Engineering]
From: Jeanette and Joseph Jones
Date: 7 November 2016
Re: Ravine Way Specifications in Norquay Village Public Realm Plan (April 2016)
Ravine Way, a proposed pedestrian connection between Norquay Park and Slocan Park, runs along a Metro Vancouver trunk sewer line and right-of-way. The realization of this feature has been promised to the Norquay neighbourhood for many years. The promise has been repeated in the Norquay Plan (2010) and the accompanying Norquay Public Benefits Strategy (2013).
Because land assembly is not yet complete, and because most of the properties that the City of Vancouver already owns are at present under lease, Norquay is told that the construction of Ravine Way is a longterm project.
The Ravine Way properties that are currently owned by the City of Vancouver are shown on a June 2006 map titled Norquay Village Study Area — City Properties. That map was provided to members of the 2006-2007 Norquay Working Group by City of Vancouver planning staff. See Appendix A for scanned copies.
The two properties that were identified in Appendix B of the May 2013 Norquay Public Benefits Strategy as still necessary to acquire are 2731 Horley Street (68 ft. frontage) and 2698 Ward Street (50 ft. frontage). We understand that these properties have been officially flagged.
A June 2014 Public Realm Workshop for Norquay proceeded on the declaration that all of the properties that the City of Vancouver already owns as well as those still necessary to acquire would be incorporated into Ravine Way. However, the Norquay Public Realm Plan posted to the public in October 2016 states:
A minimum corridor width will be protected along the Ravine Way route in order to facilitate the long-term vision. It is noted that some of the City’s land holdings in excess of the minimum corridor width may be released for development even as other currently missing properties in other portions of the corridor are being acquired. (p. 12)
This wording suggests that some portion of the property that the City of Vancouver owns at present is considered superfluous and disposable.
Unsourced maps lacking legend, included in the consultants’ presentation at the June 2014 Norquay Public Realm Workshop, show the location of the Metro Trunk Sewer that now carries a major underground stream to Still Creek through a large culvert that runs under the right-of-way. Black borders appear to define the properties which lie directly above portions of the culvert. See Appendix B for the mapping provided under the title Ravine Connection as pdf 12 of 13 in Consultant Presentation (PWL Partnership) as posted to the City of Vancouver web site.
A simple viewing of this map alongside the City Properties map of Appendix A might well lead to the erroneous conclusion that some of the land that the City of Vancouver already owns is not compromised by the underground sewer piping. One might assume that parcels not directly above the culvert could be suitable to release for development. But such a conclusion would not take into account the broader location of the old wandering stream bed, which does not coincide neatly with the linear path of a culvert.
Another City of Vancouver map provided by planning staff to the 2006-2007 Norquay Working Group shows both the location of the culvert and a varying location for the original stream bed. See Appendix C for Norquay Village Study Area — Natural Features (July 2006). A Vancouver-wide context for this map can be viewed in Vancouver’s Old Streams (March 2011), provided as Appendix D.
In this City of Vancouver mapping it can be seen that the culvert does not strictly follow the old stream bed, and often diverges from it considerably. Moreover, the divergence is greatest precisely in those locations where the City of Vancouver presently owns the greatest amount of frontage: 2760 Cheyenne Street (78 ft.), and both 2707 Duke Street (99 ft.) and 2708 Duke Street (99 ft.). The likely explanation for the fact that the City of Vancouver already owns all of these properties is that in the past it was not judged acceptable or practical to develop either the land directly above the culvert or the land above the old stream bed.
The three buildings that the City of Vancouver has constructed on these sites for use by social agencies are one-storey structures. All but one of the existing buildings on the entire right-of-way are slab-on-grade construction without basements. The single exception is 2731 Horley Street, a steeply sloping lot where the front portion of the house’s first storey is partly below ground. This is also the location where the pipe and the old stream bed converge most closely, under the easement on the east side of this 68-foot wide property.
Construction technology has advanced in recent years, and it may now be possible to build in such problematic locations. Nevertheless, the additional costs required for small-scale construction seem likely to remain prohibitive.
In early 2015 a neighbour on Wenonah Street set out to build a new duplex with basement. Excavation uncovered an old stream bed that the City of Vancouver permit process failed to make them aware of. A major East Vancouver streamway that routes downhill from south of East 41st Avenue into Trout Lake passes through their parcel. The continuous active underground flow of a significant stream can be heard at manhole covers in Brock Park across the street.
Much of the property at what is now 2262 / 2266 Wenonah Street situates directly over the original stream bed, while a large underground clay pipe, which their backhoe broke into at the front northeast corner, mostly runs underneath the adjoining parcel to the east (occupied by a slab-on-grade Vancouver Special).
Construction delays and remediation of the Wenonah Street site led to massive unforeseen costs. Remediation measures under the direction of a specialist engineer included much additional excavation, side shoring with steel pilings and large concrete blocks, a drilling rig brought in to assess conditions, massive amounts of compacted gravel fill, and repair to the damage of existing underground culvert. (There was evidence of less than standard “inspection” accompanied by very rapid undergrounding of the repair.) A photo essay provided as Appendix D says far more that the words of this paragraph can.
It is difficult to suppose that City of Vancouver could sell off any Ravine Way property without fully disclosing known impairment. If any of the land that the City of Vancouver currently owns along the Ravine Way right-of-way were released for development, problems similar to those experienced on Wenonah Street seem likely to crop up. Under the Norquay Plan, the area is zoned RM-7 for row houses
and stacked townhouses.
It seems unlikely that monetary value realized from shaved-off bits of geotechnically dubious old stream bed could ever begin to approach the public use value of the same land’s being devoted to a larger Ravine Way.
Please respond in writing to this brief. Since the City of Vancouver views Ravine Way as a long-term project, the maintenance of full and accurate documentation becomes crucial. In view of the information presented here, it would seem appropriate to remove language from Norquay Public Realm Plan (April 2016) about disposal of presently held City of Vancouver Ravine Way land, and to add language to confirm that the land is generally unsuitable to support development of future construction.
• • • • • • • • • • • •
Appendix A:1 — Norquay Village Study Area: City Properties
Appendix A:2 — Norquay Village Study Area: City Properties
Appendix B — Norquay Village Public Realm: Community Workshop
Consultant Presentation (by PWL Partnership) : Ravine Connection (pdf 12 of 13)
Appendix C:1 — Norquay Village Study Area: Natural Features
Appendix C:2 — Norquay Village Study Area: Natural Features
Appendix D — Vancouver’s Old Streams (March 2011)
Appendix E — Norquay Old Streambed Photo Essay [modified]
1 of 16 – photo 7635 on 16 Jan 2015 at 3:41 pm
View northward along west side of lot. Load of rock distributed across site to provide footing for backhoe. Excavation visible at front of lot. Vertical steel driven in row close to west lot edge.
2 of 16 – photo 7662 on 23 Jan 2015 at 9:08 am
Rear of lot toward east side. Material excavated from front of lot shows stream bed soil characteristics such as clay and organic matter.
3 of 16 – photo 7700 on 27 Jan 2015 at 10:13 am
Front of lot toward northeast corner. Shoring with large interlocking concrete blocks. Some additional gravel dump. Drainage established from underneath neighbor lot. Water accumulation managed with sump line to street curb.
Photo not provided here
4 of 16 – photo 7742 on 6 Feb 2015 at 11:50 am
View southward of entire lot. Drilling rig samples substrata. Note old streambed log at excavation bank toward right.
Photo not provided here
5 of 16 – photo 7877 on 23 Feb 2015 at 10:40 am
Front of lot, westward toward northwest corner. Along west side of lot, shoring with large concrete blocks, steel pilings, and timber. Backhoe begins significant gravel infill.
6 of 16 – photo 7880 on 23 Feb 2015 at 10:42 am
Front of lot, eastward toward northeast corner. Angle of sun unfavorable to photography. Backhoe tamps gravel bed. Just-damaged culvert barely visible beyond furthest pool of water. View of streambed soils.
Photo not provided here
7 of 16 – photo 7933 on 23 Feb 2015 at 2:18 pm
Front of lot, eastward toward northeast corner. Degree of close-up focus. Broken culvert scraped out with shovel and cut into vertical trough.
8 of 16 – photo 7939 on 23 Feb 2015 at 4:34 pm
View southward of front northwest corner. Much gravel compacted to high level in corner.
Photo not provided here
9 of 16 – photo 7941 on 24 Feb 2015 at 2:06 pm
Front of lot, eastward toward northeast corner. Gravel bed extended across front of site. Broken culvert visible at right of leftmost distant figure.
Photo not provided here
10 of 16 – photo 7955 on 24 Feb 2015 at 4:57 pm
Front of lot, eastward toward northeast corner. Large blue plastic pipe extends from rough cementing at angle not in line with broken culvert.
11 of 16 – photo 7956 on 26 Feb 2015 at 2:47 pm
Front of lot, eastward toward northeast corner. Culvert repair and connections buried under compacted gravel.
Photo not provided here
12 of 16 – photo 7971 on 26 Feb 2015 at 3:35 pm
East side of lot, just to south of broken culvert point. Excavation, compacted gravel, interlocking concrete blocks set perpendicular to lot line, apparently to separate base corner of new duplex from culvert problem area.
13 of 16 – photo 7991 on 27 Feb 2015 at 10:06 am
East side of lot alongside neighbor’s house. More use of gravel and large concrete block.
Photo not provided here
14 of 16 – photo 7999 on 27 Feb 2015 at 11:07 am
Center of lot, westward. View of subsoils before gravel fill. Concrete block at right is end of “wall” visible in 7991.
15 of 16 – photo 8041 on 2 Mar 2015 at 10:00 am
View from northwest corner of lot. Concrete block structure almost to level of grade. Extensive high level of compacted gravel.
16 of 16 – photo 8063 on 2 Mar 2015 at 5:30 pm
View from front of lot southward toward back. Old streambed material consists of clay overlaid with organic residues.
Ravine Way is the designation used for a proposed linear park and/or pedestrian way in East Vancouver that would connect Norquay Park to Slocan Park along the existing Metro sewer right-of-way. The delivery of this feature has been promised to the Norquay neighborhood for many years. During the Norquay planning process, the local community rated this amenity as highly desirable — second only to a new community arts facility at the 2400 Motel site.
Concern about the future of Ravine Way has prompted us to compile History of the Proposed Ravine Way Linear Park (September 2016). This essay traces the promise of Ravine Way through Norquay planning history. This document was sent to the City of Vancouver on 6 September 2016.
A History of the Proposed Ravine Way Linear Park
For many years, planning processes in Norquay have included a proposal for a linear park that would follow the undergrounded portion of Still Creek that flows in a culvert from Norquay Park to Slocan Park. Most of the properties that would be incorporated into the park are already owned by the City of Vancouver.
Existing City of Vancouver policy and staff communications to the community on this topic can be summarized as follows:
1. The Ravine Way Linear Park has been consistently referred to as a park which will also function as a pedestrian connection. Not until the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Public Realm Workshop of June 2014 did staff begin to refer to these properties as a mere pedestrian connection called “Ravine Way.”
2. Staff has been unclear and inconsistent about the future width and precise boundaries of the park. The community has been led to believe that all of the City-owned land will be incorporated into the park, together with the properties that the City of Vancouver has identified as necessary to acquire.
3. Two principles regarding the building of the park have been consistently reiterated:
(a) Implementation will be incremental, since time is needed to
assemble all of necessary properties.
(b) Prior to completion, sections of the designated park will function
as pocket parks, community gardens, and mid-block pedestrian connections.
A detailed description of staff communications and existing City of Vancouver policy follows.
Background and Context
Nanaimo/29th Avenue Station Areas Plan (1987)
This document does not specifically mention the proposed Renfrew Ravine Linear Park. The most relevant reference is to enhancement of the Renfrew Ravine north of Slocan Park, the area where planning for a park is currently underway. There is also explicit reference to developing “a lighted asphalt pathway … in Slocan Park linking the B.C. Parkway with Norquay School to provide a north/south walkway system that intersects with the B.C. Parkway” (p. 104-105). Anecdotal evidence reports discussion of the Renfrew Ravine Linear Park between Kingsway and Slocan Park in connection with Station Areas Planning. But no such discussion seems to have become part of the written record.
The 1987 Plan states that “the Nanaimo/29th Avenue Station areas contain 2.25 hectares of neighbourhood park space for every one thousand residents,” higher than the City’s average service level of 1.1 hectares (p. 104). A careful reading shows that this figure includes John Hendry Park around Trout Lake (23.6 hectares out of the 31.3 hectare total). It must be recognized that John Hendry Park is an “area park” serving a much larger area of East Vancouver. The document “Planning for the Community & Rapid Transit: Nanaimo and 29th Station Areas” (1983) states that total park space in the 29th Station Area, including Slocan Park (4.08 hectares) and the undeveloped Renfrew Ravine (2.23 hectares), amounted to only 0.8 hectares for every one thousand residents in 1983. Although the number of residents has increased since that time, park space has not.
Renfrew-Collingwood Community Vision (2004)
This document addresses the restoration and preservation of Renfrew Ravine, but not the undergrounded section of Still Creek south of Slocan Park. It states: “Renfrew-Collingwood has .8 hectares of park per thousand residents, which is lower than the City standard of 1.1 hectares per thousand.” (p. 62)
Planning for the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre
Draft Plan for Future Housing in Norquay Village Neighbourhood Center and an Improved Streetscape for Kingsway (2007) This draft plan was not approved.
This document has a short section titled “Ravine Way ‘Green Corridor’ Concept” that states:
The “Ravine Way” is a concept for a linear park that would traverse through Norquay Neighbourhood Village from Slocan Park to Kingsway following the historical watercourse of Still Creek …. The Working Group members and CityPlan staff feel that this easement and these properties represent a unique opportunity to create a linear green belt or park connecting other significant parks in the community. It is important to stress that this is a long term ‘100 year’ vision. Even with community support for this concept, it would take a long time before the city could acquire additional properties along the easement. To achieve this, the City would gradually, over the next 20-100 years, purchase additional properties along the Ravine Way corridor at fair market value. (p. 8)
This statement seems to imply that the City of Vancouver intended to acquire additional properties to increase the width of the park. The City already owns all but two properties necessary to complete a continuous linear park. It is unlikely that 100 years would be needed to acquire nothing more than those two properties.
Norquay Planning Process (2008-2010)
The Norquay Working Group consisted of about a dozen community residents who met with city planners in 2009 and early 2010 to work on the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan. It was the understanding of the Working Group that most, if not all, of the City owned properties along the easement would be incorporated into the Ravine Way Linear Park.
At Community Workshop #5 (May 14, 2009), the Park Board representative stated that possibilities for new parks included pocket parks, a public plaza at 2400 Kingsway, fixing edges at Brock and Slocan Parks, and a greenway corridor of 50 to 100 feet from Slocan Park to Kingsway. (See “A participant report on Community Workshop #5: Assessing options,” Norquay Working Group Consolidated Participants Reports, at Eye on Norquay
Norquay Plan (2010)
Section 6.2 of this document (p. 70-71) discusses the creation of the park.
Additional park and open space improvements will be sought as opportunities arise, with a focus on extending the Renfrew Ravine Park between Slocan Park and Kingsway. (p. 70)
The Norquay Plan identifies the partial implementation of the park as a priority. The second item on the “Priorities” list for this section of the plan is:
2. Pursue the creation of pocket parks and green pedestrian connections along the future Ravine Way (existing Metro sewer right-of-way) to eventually link Slocan Park and the 29th Avenue Skytrain Station with the Kingsway shopping area and Norquay Park. Any redevelopment adjacent to the future Ravine Way should orient primary entrances to the Ravine Way. (p. 71)
Norquay Village Public Benefits Strategy (2013)
This document gives further specifics on the incremental implementation of the Renfrew Way Linear Park concept.
A new mixed-use project at 2699 Kingsway across from Norquay Park has incorporated the first section and link to Ravine Way through a plaza space. Subsequent sections can be constructed incrementally as properties and funding become available &hellip. Prior to completion of the entire park route, sections would function as pocket parks, mid-block connections, or as two City-owned properties currently function as community gardens.
(Section 3 Parks, Open Space and Access to Nature, p. 10)
The two remaining “key properties to be acquired on an opportunity basis” are identified as 2731 Horley and 2698 Ward. The Duke Street Daycare play space is to be relocated. (Appendix B, Policy Report on Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan Implementation — Public Benefits Strategy and Apartment Transition Area Rezoning Policy)
The Ravine Way Linear Park is projected to cost $7 M. It is to be funded through DCLs.
In answer to a question from Council at the Public Hearing, planning staff stated that the width of the park was expected to be 20 to 40 feet.
RM-7 and RM-7N Zoning Guidelines (May 2013)
A two-page section of these zoning guidelines is titled “Special Considerations for Development Along ‘Ravine Way’ Linear Park in Norquay” (RM-7 and RM-7N Guidelines, p. 19-20). This section describes the development that is expected to take place adjacent to the park:
The development of Ravine Way will occur in an ongoing, incremental process, where opportunities for land acquisition by the city will slowly occur along with the gradual private development of the flanking sites …. The sketch shows an aspirational 40 ft. width in order to maximize capacity for pocket parks, pedestrian traffic, and seating areas. In locations where 40 ft. cannot be achieved, other design solutions will be explored …. New development on properties that contain or are directly adjacent to this right-of-way will typically be required to be oriented towards Ravine Way.
Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Public Realm Plan Workshop (June 2014)
About 30 residents met with staff and consultants to discuss plans for the Norquay Public Realm, including “Ravine Way.” Park planning at the workshop was for an area outlined in yellow on an aerial photograph, which included all of the properties that the City of Vancouver currently owns or intends to buy along the easement. In response to residents’ concern that the City of Vancouver was intending to sell some of this land, staff stated that none of the land would be sold.
A summary of ideas from the workshop can be seen on the City of Vancouver web site.
Recent Development Impacting the Ravine Way Linear Park
Skyway Tower (2699 Kingsway; consolidated from 2776-2703 Kingsway)
This development includes a 12-storey tower and a 4-storey building, separated by a plaza. The Proposed Conditions of Approval of the Policy Report presented to Council on May 31, 2011 states:
Note to Applicant: The proposal shows active uses in the form of residential lobby and retail entries facing the south half of the plaza. The north half of the plaza should receive a similar treatment to help denote this space as the entrance to the future Ravine Way linear park system.
(Appendix B, p. 2)
At this point, the building has been completed and occupied for several years. The plaza is completed and an attractive piece of public art has been installed. Bike stands have also been installed. However, there are no benches or other seating in the plaza. The grates surrounding the trees are overgrown with weeds, and the trees are not being watered during dry periods. There seems to be no
ongoing maintenance of the plaza.
2688 Duke Street (consolidated from 2684, 2690 and 2696 Duke St.)
This current development application is for a 4-storey apartment building to be built on the three properties immediately to the west of the Duke Street Daycare Centre. The site plan shows that a 7-foot wide pathway at the extreme east edge of the site has been designated as a “mid-block pedestrian connection.”
According to the staff presentation at the June 2014 Public Realm Workshop, the public planning process for the Norquay Public Realm Plan (which includes the Ravine Way Linear Park) is to consist of these stages: (1) Workshop (2) Community Outreach (3) Draft Public Realm Plan (4) Public Review
(5) Finalize Public Realm Plan.
At this point, the public planning has consisted only of stage 1, the June 2014 workshop.
Jeanette Jones — September 2016
Resident Concerns Are Heard
On rare occasions in Vancouver, at a public hearing for a proposed new development, local area residents may discover that expressed concerns have been both heard and addressed. On 18 October 2016, the rezoning of 2395-2469 Kingsway met with such a happy outcome.
This site has been identified under the Norquay Plan as one of three locations along Kingsway — in very long blocks along the north side — where new development is supposed to provide pedestrian connection to the street that runs parallel. The rezoning application presented a 12-storey tower built on a two-part podium of 4 storeys, with a connecting bridge at an upper level.
In general, the form of development respected the Norquay Plan. But a letter to Council from residents detailed four concerns:
(1) That more brick be used on the exterior of the buildings.
(2) That the width of the pedestrian connection be increased from 20 feet to 40 feet.
(3) That conditions for landscaping and furniture and maintenance be explicitly specified.
(4) That the “bridge” overhanging the pedestrian connection be removed, with a second elevator provided for the smaller building.
Council members raised all of these concerns at the public hearing. Planning staff responded that the first three items had already been addressed or were in the process of being dealt with. And the applicant affirmed that the bridge would be removed and a second elevator installed in the smaller building.
This is an example of how the development and public hearing process is supposed to work.
The video recording of the public hearing can be seen at
Comment on 17 October 2016 Open House for 2153-2199 Kingsway
On the whole, the development proposed for 2153-2199 Kingsway, as presented at the open house on 17 October 2016, will enhance the local area and provide needed rental accomodation.
The corner at Kingsway and Gladstone is a place-making opportunity, and much of the potential has been realized. I favor the alignment of roofline with the side of the building. The orientation of the building toward the path of the sun means that shadow impact will be minimized in any case. Enhanced sidewalk width along Kingsway toward Gladstone is appreciated.
The orientation of the main residential street entrance toward Gladstone Street is a good choice. That feature will encourage passing social acquaintance of renters with other local area residents.
The location of underground parking entrance toward the western end of the building on the lane side is appropriate. That will somewhat mitigate traffic concerns by distributing activity toward both ends of the lane. At present, pedestrians and cyclists suffer considerable hazard from the blinded lane entry onto Gladstone.
The placement of an underground parking exhaust vent on Gladstone, right beside the residential entrance, is the single greatest failure of the proposal. That vent should be relocated to the lane side, perhaps at the intersection of the T lane running northward, to mitigate impact on sites north of the lane. Efficiency of exhaust suggests that a more midpoint location in the length of the building would better serve the physics of venting than would the far end of 231 feet. The mechanics of providing underground parking spaces must take second place to this concern.
Other public realm concerns toward the Gladstone end of the building include: assurance that Bus Stop and Litter Bin are retained on Kingsway; complete redevelopment of the Gladstone sidewalk to eliminate present extensive curb cuts; specification that all Gladstone curbside is designated for short-period loading/unloading only with absolutely no parking; no parking signage is needed for the 24 foot segment of east-side curb opposite the recently installed corner bulge at Gladstone and Kingsway; relocation of the large black electrical box recently dumped onto the corner.
Everything possible should be done to improve articulation along the 231 feet of the Kingway side of the building. There has been improvement from the pre-application open house. More seems achievable. A 231 foot long battleship should not eradicate a streetscape that presently offers the organic variety of five different faces sited on seven parcels. In the block to the east, the relatively recent C-2 development is only at four storeys and extends only for about 175 feet without interruption.
That 2339 Kingsway development has managed to achieve small-retail without consolidating those spaces or presenting a massive dead face to the street, as Royal Bank notoriously has done at 2300 Kingsway. To quote open house panel 1: this development is supposed to “contribute to an inviting and revitalized pedestrian realm on Kingsway through new retail storefronts.” There seems little excuse for this new development to fall short of achieving that goal.
For the most part, the proposed detailing seems acceptable. The extent of brick and its two colors are welcome. I question the orange that is proposed on two grounds. First is the current prevalence of that color, which promises to make it look dated very soon. Think avocado appliances. The second is how close the orange comes to the intrusive local corporate color of VanCity Credit Union. A shift toward reds would solve these problems and play better with the greens to come at 2220 Kingsway. The variegation of the shades among the panels is a good approach.
Joseph Jones • 19 October 2016