Eye on Norquay

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Archive for March 2011

Rezoning Application for Kingsway Near Earles

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The following announcement of the first public meetings on a major Norquay rezoning application went out on 22 March 2011. This is only one day of notice for the developer open house and sixteen days of notice for the City open house. This application has gone forward before Norquay has any comprehensive plan that has gone through a formal public hearing. Proposal of an unnecessary twelve-storey tower exceeds even the ten-story base height that development interests have jackbooted into Norquay.

It is of special concern that this is the first rezoning attempt after the principles of Norquay planning went to City Council on 4 November 2011. At a meeting of Norquay Working Group on 3 February 2011, the lead Norquay planner told the group that the only application known to be on the horizon was not a rezoning that would involve new provisions. This sudden emergence is therefore either based on a lie and/or on an extreme rush job.

At least two persons having interest in this property were involved with the first phase of Norquay planning from March 2006 to June 2007.

Since this is the first rezoning attempt that refers to Norquay planning, the potential for setting precedent seems great. Opportunity to examine details of the proposal will follow – especially for those able to attend either or both of these short-notice public meetings.

Here are questions that immediately come to mind:

    •   Is it appropriate to proceed with this rezoning application ahead of any public hearing for the Norquay plan?
    •   Will the quality of finish and construction reflect the promises of the interim planning, or will they be little or no better than the related project just completed at 2239 Kingsway under old outright planning provisions?
    •   Will there be any benefits to the community from this development, other than the convenience to the developer of allowing a public passageway over land that cannot be built on anyway?
    •   Given the natural underground conditions of an active stream, will future residents be well served by massive underground parking that the location itself will particularly subject to leaks?
    •   Is cheaper wood construction planned for the four-storey building?
    •   The new potential for FSR 3.8 is being maximized. Is it proportional to distribute this area as one four-storey and one twelve-storey? Would it not be better to have two buildings more in scale? If the four-storey were six-storey, how much could the height of the twelve-storey be lowered?
    •   Do vertical gated drive-to communities mesh well with the character of Norquay?
    •   What is the full extent of year-round shadow impact on the surrounding area? With the present proposal, surely those impacts extend well beyond the three-block notification radius for the open house announcements?
    •   How does this excessive height proposed at the fringe of Norquay mesh with planning for a “neighbourhood centre“?

Think about what is being proposed, and plan to attend either or both open houses to ask your questions and to register your opinions.

Notice of Rezoning Application and Community Open House –
2667, 2679 and 2703 Kingsway   March 23, 2011

Application: W.T. Leung Architects, on behalf of Thind Holdings Ltd., has submitted an application to the City of Vancouver to rezone this site from C-2 (Commercial) District to CD-1 (Comprehensive Development) District for the purpose of developing a mixed-use commercial and residential project. The project would contain a 12-storey building on the west portion of the site and a 4­storey building on the east portion of the site. Both buildings would have commercial uses at grade and residential units on the floors above. A total of 129 dwelling units are proposed. The proposed Floor Space Ratio (FSR) is 3.80. Underground parking for 151 vehicles is proposed, with access taken from the lane. The rezoning application will be considered in the context of the Norquay Community Plan and additional recent community discussions regarding additional height and density on special sites on Kingsway.

The City will host a Community Open House:
Date: April 7, 2011   Time: 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Place: On site – “Scéna” Presentation Centre Building
The applicant team and City staff will be available to answer your questions and receive your comments.

For more information regarding this proposal, please visit our website at: vancouver.ca/rezapps. If you do not have web access, please contact Alison Higginson, Planner at 604.873.7727. Written comments may also be sent to City Hall, 453 West 12 Avenue, Vancouver, BC, V5Y 1V4, by fax to 604.873.7060, or by email to alison.higginson@vancouver.ca.


Paul C.P. Cheng, MAIBC, LEED A.P.
Development Planner
Urban Design and Development Planning Centre
City of Vancouver
Tel. 604.871.6665   Fax 604.873.7060


Written by eyeonnorquay

24 March 2011 at 8:34 am

Posted in Events

Meanwhile, in Shaughnessy

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Odd and illuminating situations sometimes pop up at City Council while a speaker passes time waiting for a different and later agenda item.

On Thursday 3 March 2011, the Proposed Amendment to Subdivision By-law No. 5208 — Reclassification at 4888 Pine Crescent (see the five-page report) provoked a few thoughts.

What follows is a story that could never be recovered from the official minutes for the item.

The owner of 4888 Pine Crescent (at the corner of West 33rd Avenue) was seeking to subdivide his lot having a 90 foot frontage. Except for three similar lots at the other corners of his block, the ten other lots all have a frontage of 66 feet. That block sits at the southwest corner of a Shaughnessy Heights area designated E, meaning that the minimum width of each property should be 75 feet. Right across West 33rd to the south is an area designated C, which requires minimum width of 50 feet (most lots in the block on that side are 50 or 55 feet). In 2005 a property two blocks east, also designated E, was allowed subdivision into two 44 foot frontages. So precedent for exception existed.

The seven councillors present (5 Vision, 1 NPA, 1 COPE) voted unanimously to support the recommendation of staff and to refuse the application. Councillors Anton and Jang sympathized with the owner’s situation, but felt constrained by existing policy.

The owner had stated that approval to subdivide would result in the construction of two new dwellings under the prevailing RS-5 zoning, that the new structures would be in keeping with surrounding dwellings, and that he would remain as resident in one of the properties. Refusal, however, meant that the entire property would be sold that day to an offshore buyer, who likely would replace the existing dwelling with a new 6400 square foot residence out of scale with surrounding homes.

The striking thing in this little case study is Council and planner respect

    •   For existing policy on lot size, lot distribution, and lot zoning
    •   For 75% opposition from 12 nearby neighbors who responded to questionnaire
    •   For the long-established character of Shaughnessy

Contrast this with Vision-NPA Council and planner disrespect

    •   For policy and process throughout the entire period Norquay has been put into play
    •   For quantitative assessment of what 10,000 affected residents would prefer
    •   For the long-established character of Norquay

In the larger picture, it is a matter for wonder whether the mass-rezoning atrocity of a “neighbourhood centre” would ever be imposed west of Main Street.

Norquay looks toward mass rezoning for nine dwelling units crammed onto two 33 foot lots – even though Renfrew-Collingwood Community Vision 15.5 states that sixplex form is Not Approved. Sixplex is there defined as “six units on two 33 foot lots.” Meanwhile, in Shaughnessy, a 90 foot lot is preserved for a single dwelling.

Written by eyeonnorquay

13 March 2011 at 9:38 pm

Posted in Parallels

Too Familiar Community Misery

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Members of the Norquay Working Group should experience strong déjà vu in reading a recent statement issued to the City of Vancouver about a Joint Working Group for planning Northeast False Creek. To judge by the extracts below, it appears that the False Creek Residents Association (FCRA) has endured an abuse that parallels — and possibly even exceeds — what Norquay has suffered.

One obvious difference is that the FCRA is up against Concord Pacific, a single developer that tends to hold the City of Vancouver in the palm of its hand. FCRA faces a complex set of proposals that went to City Council public hearing on February 17 as items 3, 4, 5, and 6. The package is still in process, to continue on March 7 with an epic set of sessions on the item 6 proposal to locate a casino complex in the area.

After considerable discussion and persuasion we were convinced to come back to the table and participate in the new process. We were assured that we would be heard. … FCRA members have devoted countless volunteer hours … we find ourselves back at the same point … staff recommendations to City Council fly in the face of everything our association has communicated with respect to community perspectives and concerns.

There is nothing in the Community Benefits package that benefits the existing community, or the people who will be living in the proposed 4 new high rise towers. The Joint Working Group could have been and should have been a collaborative, transparent and open process. It has now deteriorated into secrecy and back room deals that have nothing to do with the community or its needs. In our view the City’s strategy has been to keep us busy with junior staff at various tables while senior staff negotiate the real deal.

Statement to the Joint Working Group, February 3, 2011 — Patsy McMillan and Fern Jeffries, Co-Chairs, False Creek Residents Association

[ Note: Emphases in original; Extracts from nine paragraph statement. ]

Reproduced both on the FCRA web site and as a memorandum to agenda item 4 on 17 Feb 2011 (Appendix A – pdf 7, page 1 of 1).

Written by eyeonnorquay

3 March 2011 at 10:55 pm

Posted in Parallels