Archive for September 2011
Eye on Norquay could not be present at the 13 September 2011 developer open house for 2298 Galt Street. Several separate reports show strong questioning of the rezoning proposal by a substantial number of aggrieved Norquay residents.
One major issue appears to be lack of disclosure on plans for this construction immediately adjacent to recently sold properties. Most directly affected are purchasers/residents of the 8 houses on Galt Street and the 85 dwelling units in the four-storey building at 2239 Kingsway. Those brand-new buildings occupy most of what was a two-acre site. All that remains of the original large parcel (previous home to the London Guard Motel) is this one lot on Galt Street, surrounded by single-family houses in both directions. It is reported that a petition with fifty signatures in opposition formed a part of the open house pushback.
Another prevalent concern, apparent to anyone who looks at either Galt Street or Kingsway, is severe competition for street parking. Galt Street has sprouted an extensive curbside underbrush of plastic pails, old paint buckets, and scavenged traffic cones that attempt to stake out parking space claims. One of the new retail businesses already reports customer access problems caused by unregulated parking on Kingsway. This bad situation will grow far worse whenever the remaining 9 of the 13 new retail units open for business.
The city planners who engaged in the Norquay process from 2006 to 2010 never respected resident input about traffic and parking. Except for the single lot at 2298 Galt Street, all of this current development has occurred under the provisions of existing zoning. Imagine the inundation of automobiles that will follow on completion of far larger developments at 2300 Kingsway, 2667-2703 Kingsway, and the Canadian Tire site at the SE corner of Kingsway and Gladstone. [Breaking new gossip: Canadian Tire employees are reported to have said that the Kingsway store will close in November 2012.] With respect to parking, the Renfrew-Collingwood Community Vision states:
Each proposal for a new housing type has been made conditional … on an assurance that parking
and traffic impacts would be addressed. (p. 30)
The parking spaces allocated to the 4 apartment units proposed for 2298 Galt Street consist of 4 single-car garage units built into the ground floors of the two four-storey buildings — with little to guarantee that these rooms will not be used only as storage facilities, or even as extra bedrooms.
The Norquay Plan (p. 20) dismissed repeatedly expressed concerns about parking with just a wink and a wave. The brouhaha at the 2298 Galt Street open house may be a ripple of discontent compared with the tsunami of neighborhood rage that could be swelling on the distant horizon.
Bill McCreery, an NPA candidate for Vancouver City Council, reports having been present from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm at the developer open house. He says he observed “many very unhappy residents.” During the event McCreery sent out two tweets (brief electronic messages available to all who follow his messaging). The first came after almost an hour of observation:
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Attndg.rezong@2239 Kingsway.Riot bttr descrbs n’hood rcptn.Hghlghts flawed n’hood planng process.Planners trying to justify.N’hood not buyg.
11-09-13 6:21 PM
Expanded version: Attending rezoning at 2239 Kingsway. Riot better describes neighborhood reception. Highlights flawed neighborhood planning process. Planners trying to justify. Neighborhood not buying.
[Note: 2239 Kingsway, the place where the open house was held, is a building backing onto the 2298 Galt Street site.]
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Planners not developer defending Norquay rezoning. Why? Highlights why n’hood planning process is flawed.
11-09-13 6:55 PM
Expanded version: Planners not developer defending Norquay rezoning. Why? Highlights why neighborhood planning process is flawed.
[Note: “Norquay rezoning” could refer to either or both of: The specific proposal for 2298 Galt Street and/or the general and widely unsupported plan to mass rezone about 1900 properties throughout Norquay.]
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The City of Vancouver has recently posted to the web a set of seven pdf files related to the rezoning application for 2298 Galt Street.
This means that details on what is proposed can be viewed more easily ahead of the 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm Open House that the developer is holding at 2239 Kingsway on Tuesday 13 September 2011. As well, for persons unable to attend the Open House event itself, considered review and informed comment will be far more feasible.
Neighborhoods across Vancouver should examine carefully the new housing types being proposed in Norquay, as all of these types (traditional rowhouse, duplex with infill, stacked townhouse, four-storey apartment) seem likely to replicate in all nine of the “community vision” areas which have been primarily single-family residential.
Major concerns about this development have already been outlined under Item 1 in September Letter. Here is a recap of those preliminary points with some further elaboration:
• This one-off rezoning application is being used to “test” what the community will accept as a four-storey apartment on a single lot.
• Norquay Working Group was always told that this housing form would require land assembly (more than one lot) and would be built on footprints resembling a U or an H.
• This particular design bears strong resemblance to courtyard rowhousing (but four storeys, not three!). This is the housing type that city planners repeatedly tried to shove into Norquay, even though the Renfrew-Collingwood Community Vision that applies to most of Norquay specifically stated that this type would receive no further consideration.
• There has been no community review whatsoever of anything to do with specifications for the four-storey apartment housing type.
• The zoning specification for hundreds of Norquay properties that fall within this designation has not even been written yet.
• This appears to be the same developer that achieved a major rezoning of 2667-2703 Kingsway long before the Norquay Plan has even gone to public hearing.
• Haphazard redevelopment of single lots seems likely to produce an ugly streetscape, especially if this form of development is ever allowed around Norquay Park or along Earles.
• Existing houses will find their front yards sawtoothed into dark holes by a lessened setback that is designed to produce privatized interior courtyards.
• The characteristics and location of this particular single lot (with side lane, surrounded by newer houses, non-standard lot width for area, street already littered with plastic buckets to stake out parking, facing onto the back of all houses across the street) mean that this case should serve as a prototype for nothing whatsoever.
The following letter prepared by Jeanette Jones is being sent on 6 September 2011 to our Norquay contact list. In regard to the most immediate concern, proposed development at 2298 Galt Street, the only information that has been provided so far to the general community is two thin bits with very limited distribution and little prominence:
• A yellow notification postcard
• A sign board at 2298 Galt Street
Plan now to attend the 13 September 2011 developer open house at 2239 Kingsway and to register your opinion. When this goes to public hearing, your comment will be part of the file. In the case of 2267-2703 Kingsway, Council showed undue respect to a strange comment file: “All 52 comment sheets were in support of the rezoning application.” Earlier, planners threw out a formal Norquay survey of June 2007 when they did not like the result, and complained of “coaching” and “ballot stuffing.” This totally positive result shows far more evidence of skew, yet planners and Council do not question and disparage the result because it says what they want to hear. A file for 2298 Galt Street will be maintained in the Eye on Norquay Rezonings category.
We hope all of you have had an enjoyable and relaxing summer. We want to bring you up to date on recent developments in the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre.
1. A development application has been received for a single lot in the transitional “apartment” zone.
The site at 2298 Galt Street (behind the new 4-storey building at 2239 Kingsway, on the north side of Kingsway between Nanaimo and Gladstone) is to be rezoned to CD-1 (Comprehensive Development) to allow the construction of a 4-storey residential building with an FSR of 1.19. This “building” would actually consist of two buildings (front 34.6 feet x 37.5 feet; back 34.6 feet x 40.4 feet; height of 38.7 feet) separated by a courtyard space of approximately 25 feet. The building closest to Galt would be four storeys tall and contain two principal dwelling units and be set back approximately 10 feet from the front property line. (This setback is about half of what exists for the front yards of the existing 9 houses to the west and 11 houses to the east.) The other building would be three storeys tall (tops of the buildings would be the same height because the land slopes), would also contain two principal dwelling units, and would be set very close to the rear lane. One of the dwelling units would contain a lock-off suite. Two parking spaces would be included inside each of the buildings (4 in total), accessible from the lane that runs beside the site. Planners have told us that this rezoning application reflects the kind of built-form that they expect will be permitted everywhere under the emerging 4-storey apartment Transition Zone in the Norquay Plan for single-lot developments.
This development application raises several concerns:
A. There has been no discussion with the community about the Transition Zone. The Open House held in April 2011 dealt only with new housing types in the Duplex, Stacked Townhouse, and Traditional Rowhouse Zones. The Transition Zone was not included in that presentation. Nothing should be built in this zone until the community is consulted. The proposal presented to the Working Group mentioned only 4-storey apartment buildings that would require assembly of at least three lots. Nowhere have design guidelines for this zone been presented to or discussed with the community.
B. The site at 2298 Galt Street is not a typical lot in the Transition Zone. It is wider [46.4 feet frontage x 102.7 (west) / 121.2 feet (east)] than the standard 33 x 122 ft. lot. There is also a lane running beside the site, which gives more options for parking spaces and allows more light to enter the buildings. This site is not representative enough to act as a “test” — or a precedent for anything permitted elsewhere in the Transition Zone.
C. Planners tell us that the difference between the Floor Space Ratio permitted on a single lot (1.19) and the FSR permitted on a three-lot parcel (approximately 2.0 FSR) will be incentive enough to encourage developers to assemble three lots. Developing single lots under this zoning does not seem likely to interest developers large enough and experienced enough to build 4-storey apartment buildings on three lots. But single-lot development will be very attractive to smaller developers accustomed to building single family houses or duplexes. Once a block has one or two single-lot developments, it will become much more difficult to assemble three lots. Haphazard and inconsistent development may result in an unattractive streetscape — especially around Norquay Park where so much will be visible at a single glance.
There is an Open House for this development on 13 September 2011, 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at 2239 Kingsway. Drawings should be available already, but in fact are not. Watch for them at
Written comments may be emailed to: email@example.com It is important to communicate your opinion.
2. Rezoning has been approved by Council for 2667-2703 Kingsway.
A 12-storey and a 4-storey building are planned for this site. Detailed planning is now underway. The next step is that this plan will be taken to the Development Permit Board, probably sometime in the fall. The development application can be viewed at
Concerns about this development include:
A. The Public Amenities and Infrastructure Financing Strategy promised in the Norquay Plan has not been developed. CACs generated by this project (slightly more than $100,000) are going to be used to mitigate the shadowing that this development will cast on the Duke Street daycare.
B. The 40-foot-wide “plaza” separating the two buildings is to serve as the entrance to the future Renfrew Ravine Linear Park. As currently designed, it will serve primarily as a plaza for the residents of the development, since the main doors to both buildings face the plaza rather than Kingsway. We have suggested that special paving be used to denote the pathway to the park, and that the Duke Street daycare be moved immediately so that the pathway could connect Duke Street to Kingsway even before the rest of the park is built. Planners have assured us that the connection will be wider than the 20 foot opening at the rear of the site that is shown on the development application.
Your input to the final plan can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
3. The Canadian Tire Site at Kingsway and Gladstone is in process of being sold to a developer.
We will provide details as they become available.
4. A development application has been received for 4892 Clarendon.
This is the current site of the Eldorado Liquor Store on the northwest corner of Kingsway and Slocan. A 5-storey building is proposed. We will provide details as they become available.
To keep up with news of what is happening in Norquay, check the Eye on Norquay web site at
It is important to continue to let planners know your opinions. Attend Open Houses and fill out comment sheets. If you can’t make the Open House, send an email. Although it may seem as if our comments are usually disregarded, things will become far worse if we say nothing.
Yours for a better neighbourhood,
Jeanette and Joseph Jones