After a 24 February 2012 City of Vancouver email went out to unspecified Norquay residents and/or property owners, members of the Norquay Working Group have been asking us about what input they ever had into the planning for Kingsway streetscape changes scheduled to begin in March 2012.
Three preliminary remarks are called for.
One — On 3 Feb 2011 city planners unilaterally terminated Norquay Working Group, but said that there would be opportunities to sign up for two new working groups on amenities and benefits strategy and public realm planning. At the 19/21 Feb 2011 open house there were no sign-up sheets provided, and the new lead planner said he had decided that the community would have no participation. Kingsway streetscape would fall under the heading of public realm. [ Back story at http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/story/gentrification-bombards-heart-east-vancouver/6123 ]
Two — On 26 Jan 2012 the Mount Pleasant Implementation Committee received draft terms of reference from the same planner who has just sent the email to Norquay. The Mount Pleasant group is told that it will have participation in planning under four headings. Two of those headings are Public Benefits and Amenities Strategy and Public Realm Plan. So Mount Pleasant residents get to participate, while those in Norquay are not allowed to. (Might things change for Mount Pleasant after too many residents get vocal at the public hearing now underway?)
Three — Strong Norquay representations that precious Kingsway pavement should be allocated to a bicycle lane rather than to a decorative median were persistently stonewalled and disregarded by planners. They seem to think that the row of long-dead trees (October 2010 count was 12 dead out of 21) along the King Edward Village median presage a more attractive choice. [[Update March 2012 – Replanting seems to have happened recently.]]
Jeanette Jones prepared the report that follows and has already sent it to the persons who were asking questions. Joseph Jones has reformatted this information, written the introduction, and provided links to cited documents.
Report on the History of Planning for Kingsway Streetscape Changes
I’m writing you jointly because each of you has expressed surprise/concern about the recent email from city planners giving notice of implementation of the Kingsway Streetscape Plan in the near future. You were wondering about how this plan was formed and how decisions were made.
I did some work and here is what I could find about its history.
June 2007 Draft Plan — A Kingsway Streetscape Plan was part of the (now notorious) 2007 Draft Plan. It was included in the survey of the neighbourhood — a survey that the planners later dismissed as “not valid.” The plan was developed with participants in the “Shopping” Working Group.
November 2008 Open House — A copy of the June 2007 Kingsway Streetscape Plan was displayed in the room and discussed on Boards 14 and 15. “Some of the detailed elements of the streetscape plan have not yet been confirmed. Further decisions will be made through community workshops to be held early in 2009.”
April 2009 Workshop — This workshop (the one where we chose areas of interest and met in small groups with a City staff member) included the Kingsway Streetscape Plan as one of the options. I did not choose this option, so I’m not sure what happened there.
January 2010 Open House — Board 22 mapped changes to street design for Kingsway (street lighting, landscaped medians, additional street trees, sidewalks, ramps & bulges, street furniture), as well as the signed pedestrian crossings and proposed changes to some of the intersections.
June 2010 Open House — Board 19 illustrated some of the elements of proposed street design changes.
November 2010 Norquay Plan Approval by Council — Appendix B of the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan approved by Council is an 18-page description of all the details of the Kingsway Streetscape Plan.
It is true that we did not spend a lot of time in Working Group meetings talking about the plan for the Kingsway streetscape, and it got short shrift at the Open Houses. I guess it is also true that most of us were far more interested in talking about the new housing types in residential areas and new development along Kingsway, and about what the community would get in exchange. Planners will no doubt say that the community was adequately consulted and that most people favored the streetscape plan. (I looked at the comments from the June 2010 Open House related to Kingsway streetscape, and most of them were favorable. Unfavorable comments mostly addressed the problem of Kingsway as a highway rather than any specific details of the plan.)