Monitors what is happening in the Norquay area of East Vancouver
      Provides a forum for residents to communicate
      Documents how city officials implement CityPlan in Vancouver’s second “neighbourhood centre”

The interests of speculators, a developer-funded City Council, and compromised city planners may go against what renters and homeowners want to see happen in their neighborhood. Bad planning can contribute to damage of organic social fabric, loss of affordable rental housing, needless manufacture of unoccupied investment condos, skyrocketing property taxes, artificially accelerated rates of development, more people crowded into the same unimproved public space, aggravation of problems with parking and vehicle traffic, loss of views, poor quality in design, and severe shadow impacts. What is happening to Norquay calls for continuing independent community-based review. Please keep coming back to Eye on Norquay to stay up to date on news and to share your perspective.

→   See Resources in right sidebar learn more about Norquay and city planning in Vancouver

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

Written by eyeonnorquay

14 February 2011 at 11:11 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Twelve-Storey Tower

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Proposed for 2395-2443 Kingsway

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

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

 
2395kwy-1
 

 
2395kwy-2
 

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

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

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

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

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

Written by eyeonnorquay

29 July 2015 at 10:22 am

Posted in News

Brian Jackson’s Exit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by eyeonnorquay

27 July 2015 at 11:39 pm

Posted in Events, News

5441 Wales Street

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Also see:  Slapdash Negligence

 
Comment on Development Application DE418819 under RT-11 Zoning

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

 
siteplan
 

 
8 July 2015

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

 
Density

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

 
Parking

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

 
Open Space

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

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

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

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

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

 
City Sidewalks

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

Please address these problems before approving the application.

 
Jeanette Jones and Joseph Jones
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

10 July 2015 at 8:58 pm

Posted in RT-11 Comment

Kingsway Public Realm No. 2

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Report Card No. 2 on Delivery of Public Realm Improvements
along Kingsway in the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre

June 2015
 
 
In November 2010 Council approved the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan, and the associated Public Realm and Transportation Improvements Plan for the Norquay Shopping Area along Kingsway. This report card is the second evaluation of the degree to which the City of Vancouver has done what it committed to do. It does not assign credit or blame to any individuals or group, nor does it account for factors that have made delivery more or less difficult. Report Card No. 1 can be found at

https://eyeonnorquay.wordpress.com/2014/06/25/public-realm-report-card/

 
1.  Pedestrian controlled traffic signals on Kingsway  —   A+   (unchanged)
Signals have been installed at Rhodes (not part of the original plan?) and at Wales, on either side of Norquay Park. A mid-block signal between Gladstone and Nanaimo is scheduled as part of the development at 2220 Kingsway.

 
2.  Landscaped median on Kingsway  —   C+   (up from C-)
The 17 dead and dying trees have been replaced. The “Treegator slow release watering bags” that surround the newly planted trees may help to ensure that this second planting survives.

 
IMG_8239
 

 
3.  Corner bulges  —   C-   (down from C)
The six planned corner bulges have been constructed. However the four bulges that were landscaped continue to deteriorate. Few plantings are still visible.

 
4.  Corner bulge and bike path at 34th and Wales  —   C+   (up from C)
The suggested benches, brick surface, and trees near the street have not materialized. The bike path that connects Norquay Park and Duchess Street and passes through this bulge has now been marked on the asphalt.

 
IMG_8237
 

 
5.  Sidewalks  —   A   (unchanged)
Broken and heaving sidewalks have been replaced and corner ramps installed where needed, with appropriate sidewalk stamps. Sidewalks in new developments are 25 feet wide (except at 2300 Kingsway, approved just ahead of Norquay planning).

 
6.  Boulevards  —   C   (down from B)
Street trees have been planted where needed and appear to be growing well. Unfortunately many of them have been planted directly under the new heavy wires on the north side of Kingsway. The City planted red maple trees in front of the 2400 Motel instead of the ginkgo trees specified in the Norquay Plan, as there were no ginkgo trees in the City nursery ready for planting. Thirty-seven ginkgo trees have been planted so far, mainly in front of new development. The dead and dying ginkgo trees in front of 2300 Kingsway have been replaced. The boulevard trees in front of the construction site at 2220 Kingsway are suffering from advertising scaffolding. Westbank needs to replace any trees that are damaged with equivalents.

 
IMG_8195
 

 
7.  Street furniture  —   C-   (unchanged)
The number of bus shelters has not changed. Neither has the number of benches, except for several added by developers at 2300 Kingsway and at 2239 Kingsway. Seating has also been added in front of the new development at 2671 (etc) Kingsway.

 
IMG_8238
 

Six problematic CityLine litter bins have been replaced by a better design. There are still 5 bus stops without litter bins, and 4 of these do not have a bus shelter. Only 10 of the proposed 37 bike racks have been installed, and most of these predate the plan. Garbage on the boulevard continues to be a problem along Kingsway. More litter bins would help.

 
IMG_8231
 

 
8.  Utility Poles and Light Fixtures  —   A   (unchanged)
Installation of new light fixtures and new poles where needed has now been completed.

 
9.  Plazas

(a)  2699 Kingsway  —   A-   (unchanged)
This development, currently under construction, will contain the plaza that will function as the gateway to the Renfrew Ravine Linear Park. As a result of strong feedback by Norquay residents, the width of the plaza was increased and other improvements made. It seems that the redesigned plaza will work well as gateway to the park.
(b)  2220 Kingsway  —   D   (unchanged)
This development has been approved, but construction has not yet begun. The site, which was to be open and permeable, will now be almost completely covered by a podium, topped by three towers surrounding a raised private courtyard. The “plaza” has been greatly reduced in size and relegated to the northwest corner of the site, where it will mainly function as entrance to the grocery store retail anchor.

 
10.  Pocket Parks and Small Parks

(a)  2300 Kingsway  —   A-   (unchanged)
A small landscaped pocket park with seating has been built on the corner of Nanaimo and 30th Avenue as part of this development. It is well maintained. The proposed litter bin has not been installed.
(b)  2220 Kingsway  —   C-   (unchanged)
A small park is to be built at the corner of Gladstone and 30th Avenue as compensation for reduction of the plaza size [see 9(b) above]. Some of the proposed park space appears to have been separated by plantings to become outdoor seating for a restaurant. Vents from the underground parking intrude into park space. The park will contain landscaping, seating, and some play equipment.

 
* Subject to reevaluation when the project is completed.

 
Prepared by Jeanette Jones
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

25 June 2015 at 7:09 pm

Posted in Assessments

Slapdash Negligence

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What follows is a case study in developer and City of Vancouver coordinated disrespect for notification to and communication with Norquay residents. Misleading signage, contradictory and missing data, and a mere two-week window for response to a junk application — all of these elements betray a lack of professionalism, if not a more sinister agenda to obfuscate.

A City of Vancouver development notification letter dated 12 June 2015 specifies application number DE418819 for 5441 Wales Street. That incorrect 5441 Wales Street is also how City of Vancouver has the street address filed on their web site as of 15 June 2015 afternoon. The application proposes a “heritage revitalization agreement,” a relatively rare occurrence for Norquay. Here is the current on-site signage —

 
IMG_8219
 

and here is a view that shows the existing building proposed for heritage revitalization —

 
IMG_8214
 

In addition to a signage address that does not match up with the notification address, notice that the signage appears to propose that five buildings with 11 dwelling units and and 6 parking spaces will locate onto a single land parcel.

What is going on? The slipshod files that are available

        5441 Wales Street — DE418819
        http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/developmentservices/devapps/pc5441wales/index.htm

make possible a key supposition.

Buried in the file streetscape.pdf can be found one indication that the developer regards the “subject site” as “5471 & 5443 Wales St.” If this is the case, the on-site signage neglects to inform that the 5443 Wales Street property to the north is being included in the development proposal. Crucial other documents in the City of Vancouver web site package also fail in this respect.

A handful of “site statistics” are scattered down the right side of the file siteplan.pdf. But the key FSR parameter amounts to nothing but a redirect to some file that does not exist on the City of Vancouver web site: “See Sheets A2.7 to A2.8″

        City of Vancouver policy states:

        Where the floor space increase being considered is more than 10 percent greater than the maximum
        permitted under the zoning, prior Council approval is required.

Buried in the file designrationale.pdf is a contradictory indication that 8 (not just 6) parking spaces would be provided. Who can tell which of the two is the case?
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

15 June 2015 at 3:45 pm

Posted in Events, RT-11 Comment

Stealthy Redefinition?

with one comment

 
Ground-Oriented Buildings in Vancouver Residential Areas

 
The City of Vancouver appears to be attempting to redefine “ground-oriented building form” under Interim Rezoning Policy (IRP) to include a higher building form located off-arterial with almost no ground-level access. IRP is a city-wide policy introduced in 2012 that has seen little take-up so far, but a policy which is reported to have spurred considerable land-assembly speculation across Vancouver.

An Open House for a proposed development under the IRP at 3365 Commercial Drive / 1695-1775 East 18th Avenue was held on 21 May 2015. The site includes 5 lots of varying sizes (one of them presently owned by City of Vancouver). The developer proposes a secured market rental apartment building complex consisting of a 6-storey wing fronting on Commercial and a 4-storey wing fronting on 18th Avenue. A shared entrance and elevator join the two wings. Five for-sale ground-oriented units at the western edge of the site are offered as transition to adjacent RS-2 zoning.

 
siteplan
 

The IRP states that “mid-rise forms up to a maximum of 6 storeys” may be considered if they front on arterials. In this case, a 6-storey building is proposed to front on Commercial Drive. “Within approximately 100 metres of an arterial street ” (i.e. behind the apartment building), the IRP permits “ground-oriented forms up to a maximum of 3.5 storeys, which is generally sufficient height to include small house/duplexes, traditional row houses, stacked townhouses, and courtyard row houses.”

 
1.  Current Definition of “Ground-Oriented Building Form”

Until now, the phrase “ground-oriented forms” has been understood to mean “small house/duplexes, traditional row houses, stacked townhouses, and courtyard row houses,” as specified in the IRP. The description does not include 4-storey apartment buildings.

 
2.  Apparent New Definition

In the case of this application, we understand that three of the ground-level units in the 4-storey building are to have ground-level entries, although only one such unit shows on the floor plan. The City seems to be implying that the presence of these ground floor units with ground-level entries allows the entire 23-unit wing fronting on 18th Avenue to qualify as a “ground-oriented building form.”

Planners at the Open House referenced examples in other parts of Vancouver – multi-storey apartment buildings where a few of the ground floor units have private, ground-level entries. This weak analogy provides no basis for redefining a clear specification by IRP. An apartment building containing a few units that have private ground-level entries does not magically become a ground-oriented building form.

 
3.  Implications

A 4-storey apartment building has much greater density than other low-rise forms. For example, in Norquay, the maximum allowable FSR is 0.9 for the RT-11 zone (small house/duplex), 1.2 for the RM-7 zone (rowhouse/stacked townhouse) and 2.0 in the transition rezoning policy (for 4-storey apartments). The allowable unit density per hectare is 74 for RT-11, 132 for RM-7, and 240 in the transition rezoning policy for 4-storey apartments. To allow the City of Vancouver to redefine this term through precedent would have huge implications not only for IRP projects, but for all City policies that include the words “ground-oriented building form.”

There is a real shortage of small house/duplexes, traditional row houses, stacked townhouses and courtyard row houses in Vancouver. They are a true transitional form that combines features of both single family houses (private ground-level entries, easily accessible open space) and apartment buildings ( attached side walls, shared parking). The stated intent of the IRP is to encourage the building of these housing forms between the apartment buildings on the arterials and single family residential areas.
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

4 June 2015 at 3:25 pm

Posted in Comments, IRP

3365 Commercial Drive

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        and 1695-1775 East 18th Avenue : Comment
 

http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/planning/rezoning/applications/3365commercial/index.htm

 
IMG_8183
 

 
IMG_8182
 

 
1 June 2015

 
This application should not be approved in its current form for the following reasons:

1.  The building form does not meet the criteria set out in the Interim Rezoning Policy. The IRP states that “mid-rise forms up to a maximum of 6 storeys” may be considered if they front on arterials. In this case, a 6- storey building is proposed to front on Commercial Drive. “Within approximately 100 metres of an arterial street” (i.e. behind the apartment building), the IRP permits “ground-oriented forms up to a maximum of 3.5 storeys, which is generally sufficient height to include small house/duplexes, traditional row houses, stacked townhouses, and courtyard row houses.” The intent of the IRP is “to encourage innovation and enable real examples of ground-oriented affordable housing types to be tested for potential wider application that will provide on-going housing opportunities.”

Until now, the phrase “ground-oriented forms” has been understood to mean the housing types listed above. In the case of this application, I was told at the Open House that three of the ground floor units in the 4-storey wing have ground-level entries, although only one unit is shown on the floor plan. In any case, the City seems to be implying that the presence of ground floor units with ground-level entries makes the entire 23-unit 4-storey wing fronting on East 18th Avenue a “ground-oriented building form.” Planners have referenced examples in other parts of the City.

This is a false comparison. Yes, there are multi-storey apartment buildings in Vancouver where there are a few ground floor units with private, ground-level entries that could be called “ground-oriented units.” But these units do not define the building form. An apartment building does not become a ground-oriented building form because it contains a few units that have private ground-level entries. It does not meet requirements where City policy specifies that ground-oriented housing types should be built. The 4-storey wing of the apartment building proposed in this application needs to be removed. All housing units behind the 6-storey building fronting on Commercial should be small house/duplexes, traditional row houses, stacked townhouses, or courtyard row houses, just as the IRP specifies. Otherwise there will be fewer, not more, examples of “ground- oriented affordable housing types” built under the IRP. This would defeat the clearly stated intent of the policy.

2.  The 6-storey apartment building is too tall and massive for this site. The height and mass are excessive for a building in the RS-2 zone. The building should be shorter. Failing this, the 5th and 6th storeys should be set back at least 10 feet from the building edge. The building design should be improved to reduce the massing, and to add interest and variety.

3.  The 6-storey building is set too close to the property line. The setback is only 0.2 metres on Commercial and 0.91 metres on East 18th Avenue. This is not enough. A greater setback would enable landscaping to soften the impact of the building, and make it fit in better with the surrounding residences.

4.  More trees should be retained. At a minimum, the fir and hemlock trees (#1677 and #1678) identified by the arborist as being in “normal” condition should be kept. There should be sufficient space allowed for the root balls of the grove of trees at the corner of Commercial and East 18th Avenue so that those trees survive undamaged.

5.  The “heritage” house should be removed. The house has little heritage value at present. It will have virtually none after it has had its interior gutted and its exterior finishes replaced, and has been moved from its present location onto a new foundation elsewhere on the site.

 
Jeanette Jones
 

 
•     •     •     •     •     •
 

 
To:  Yardley McNeill, Rezoning Planner, yardley.mcneill@vancouver.ca
From:  Joseph Jones
Date:  1 June 2015

Please confirm that this comment on the 21 May 2015 open house for development proposed for the above address has been received and put on record.

 
1.  Comments are listed here in order of decreasing expectation that they will have any impact on the specific development proposal or on City of Vancouver planning practices. This means that comment numbered two seems most likely to result in revision to the proposal, etc.

2.  Under Interim Rezoning Policy, it seems inappropriate to permit development encroachment along East 18th Avenue into a long-established RS area through mere fact of parcel contiguity. The parcel fronting Commercial Drive should constitute the single locus for application of IRP. The East 18th Avenue parcels should emphasize ground-oriented access to dwellings and should give preference to rowhouse form.

3.  The retention of cypress trees at the corner is highly desirable. Extensive discussion with the project arborist at the open house underlies the following recommendations. As presently structured, the development adjacent to the retained trees will result in a root loss of approximately 30%, significantly impairing the longevity of the five trees proposed for retention. Therefore the physical structure fronting Commercial Drive should be modified to mitigate root loss and to enhance that area’s provision of water and nutrients. Slight additional setback of the building should be coupled with more extensive foundation setback to accommodate existing root structure. Cantilever with design to channel rainwater under the sheltered portion should provide a viable option, especially considering the large benefit already conferred on the developer in the form of requiring no commercial space on ground floor. As necessary to achieve this additional root space, commensurate reduction in underground parking would be acceptable. The existing grove of cypress trees amounts to a major amenity. Since absolutely nothing will be coming back to the neighborhood from this proposed development, impact on already enjoyed amenity should minimized as much as possible.

4.  The weakest, smallest cypress should be removed immediately to enhance the viability of the remaining four. The arborist does not anticipate a healthy future for the runt. With slight additional setback, one additional tree to the north that is scheduled for removal could be retained.

5.  The setback from Commercial Drive appears to be insufficient. At an absolute minimum, it should equal that of the Porter STIR project to the immediate south of the site.

6.  It is not apparent that the development or the neighborhood will benefit at all from the extreme relocation and retention of a highly dubious “heritage” facade. This supposed heritage element should in no way benefit the developer in terms of increased FSR or height or transfer allowances.

7.  It seems clear that the City of Vancouver via the Property Endowment Fund is prepared to sell its parcel of land to Cressey and to extract value from the neighborhood with no return whatsoever to the affected location.

8.  This IRP proposal appears to be the fifth that has been entertained by the City of Vancouver since the 2012 inception of an obviously failed policy. It does not go unnoticed that the only IRP rejection so far has occurred on the far west side of Vancouver. Even worse, this particular IRP project is the third to land in Kensington-Cedar Cottage, and lies within less than ten blocks of an IRP site on Knight Street that eliminated existing affordable apartment housing and clearly fudged on the criterion of adjacency to a shopping district. The density dumping and amenity extraction that City of Vancouver fosters in KCC is execrable planning and serves a blatantly classist agenda.

9.  There is evidence that Cressey is an exploitative and abusive landlord. It is unfortunate that the City of Vancouver would permit these operators to concentrate in one local area and to subsidize them handsomely.
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

1 June 2015 at 5:02 pm

Posted in IRP

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