Archive for January 2012
Why this dense new development on a single-family lot in the Norquay Transition Zone is critical to the future of all of Norquay:
• Precedent may be set for hundreds of similar properties along the Norquay stretch of Kingsway
• Transition Zone planning has never been presented to the Norquay community
• Single lots were not designated for this kind of development in Norquay planning
The Transition Zone will have huge impact on the character and public realm of Norquay because that housing type has been extended around all of Norquay Park and northward on Earles Street.
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The following account of the 30 January 2012 Public Hearing on the rezoning application for 2298 Galt Street is being sent to the Norquay email distribution list. The notice was prepared by Jeanette Jones.
Some of you will have received the Notice of Public Hearing on January 30 for the rezoning of 2298 Galt Street. This single family site in the Transition Zone behind Kingsway 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 proposed “building” will 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 will 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 present 9 houses to the west and 11 houses to the east.) The other building will be three storeys tall (tops of the buildings will be at the same height because the land slopes), will also contain two principal dwelling units, and will be set very close to the rear lane. One of the dwelling units will contain a lock-off suite. Two parking spaces are included inside each of the buildings (4 in total), accessible from the lane that runs beside the site.
The City of Vancouver online file for the 2298 Galt rezoning application can be found at
This file includes a link to the report to Council.
This is the first application for development in the proposed Transition Zone. It is certain to set a precedent for the kind of development that will be permitted in this zone. It is critical to note that zoning regulations are still being developed for all the new housing types, and have not yet been adopted by Council. 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 is described in less detail than the other zones in the Norquay Plan and was not included in the Open House presentation. There has been no public consultation so far about development in the Transition Zone. Planners have told us that zoning regulations for the Transition Zone will not be completed before 2013. In the meantime, an interim rezoning policy will guide development.
The proposal for the Transition Zone that was presented to the Norquay Working Group mentioned only 4-storey apartment buildings that would require assembly of at least three lots. The type of building proposed was to be H- or U-shaped. The apartments would have windows on more than one side, increasing natural light and ventilation. The site would include considerable green space visible from the street. This type of development sounds as if it could be quite attractive.
Planners state in their report to Council that they they are now considering whether development of single sites in the Transition Zone should be permitted only if they are “orphaned” (left over) by larger assembled-lot developments on adjacent neighboring properties, or whether such development should be permitted throughout the Transition Zone but “disincentivized” by allowing a reduced Floor Space Ratio. The community needs to speak out loudly to restrict the development of single sites to orphan lots. If such development is permitted throughout the zone, it will become very difficult to assemble the three lots needed to build the proposed 4-storey apartment buildings. Haphazard and inconsistent development with buildings set back only 10 feet from the street may result in an unattractive streetscape — especially around Norquay Park where so much will be visible at a single glance.
Planners have also told us informally that the reason that there has been no Open House on the Transition Zone is that they are still calculating how to derive amenity funding (CACs and/or DCLs) from the lift that this housing type will produce. Single lot development in this zone will not produce any significant lift, and consequently no amenity funding.
Please consider coming out to speak to Council on this issue on January 30 (7:30 p.m. in the Council Chamber at City Hall, 453 West 12th Avenue at Cambie). If you can’t come in person, you can send a written submission to firstname.lastname@example.org and/or individual councillors.
A single sentence is enough to get your voice heard and recorded.
[ Minor updates incorporated on 25 January 2012 ]
CityHallWatch has just issued a call for underreported Vancouver stories for 2011. The Norquay story dragged on for yet one more interminable year, scarcely noticed outside the blogosphere.
News by definition is new. Longer-term stories become ever more untouchable as they cease to be new. Fragmentation of narrative into decontextualized bits is a mainstream media strategy to prevent the subjugated from seeing connections. Many of the mass media audience will never find the time or energy to engage with more than diversions (television, spectator sports, etc.) — when they are not otherwise occupied with tasks like income production.
The origins of the Norquay story seem destined to remain obscure. A July 2011 freedom of information (FOI) request sought to find out how and why City of Vancouver planners scheduled four East Vancouver communities (out of a total of 19) to bear the brunt of initial “neighbourhood centres” planning. That FOI request immediately slammed into the standard City of Vancouver brick wall — an estimate only that payment of $540.00 would be required to pursue the information. Even more money was asked to provide Norquay residents a window into the recent amenities planning in which Norquay residents have been denied any participation whatsoever. Bottom line, City of Vancouver to Norquay:
We’ll do as we like, and you’ll find out only as much as we decide to tell you, whenever we feel like
telling you — usually on a short time horizon after we have cooked up a one-off deal with a developer.
The Norquay timeline outlines in sequence the major events of 2011. Here are the top four events and non-events:
• Unilateral termination of Norquay Working Group by City of Vancouver planners
• Lack of structured planning for Norquay benefits and amenities as announced by the Norquay Plan
• Amelioration of planning for 2699 Kingsway development only after strenuous response from residents
• Virtual riot conditions at an open house for 2298 Galt Street planning
Norquay is a part of a huge and scandalous story. The City of Vancouver spent many millions of dollars 1997-2010 producing community visions for nine of Vancouver’s residential neighbourhoods. Then planners simultaneously found themselves struggling to complete the final vision in West Point Grey and to implement the second (last?) neighborhood centre in Norquay. Distrustful Vancouver residents were becoming too aware that the planning was a sham. For that reason, both planning programs meandered along for four long years.
The foundation for Norquay “planning” has been cynical disrespect for the Renfrew-Collingwood Community Vision — completed only two years ahead of the start of planning. The Norquay community and its vision never looked toward
• The mass rezoning of 1900 single family dwellings occupying hundreds of acres
• The imposition of a bisecting corridor wall along the entire span of truck-route Kingsway
• The adoption of a non-human scale that only destroys purported walkability and livability
As a lead Norquay planner famously declared to Norquay Working Group in the summer of 2009: “We’re making this up as we go along.” Thus does planning become diktat.