[ Comment posted in response to: Brian Morton. Kingsway moves toward people-friendly future: New 12-storey tower in Norquay neighbourhood part of density plan. Vancouver Sun (3 July 2012) C1 ]
In early July, as the Vancouver real estate game started to catch a nasty chill, the Vancouver Sun ran a naked infomercial for a development project at 2711 Kingsway that is only half-sold. Even that claim of 50% presold could prove questionable, assuming that savvy specuvestors have plugged a decent exit clause into their contracts.
It was no surprise that Vancouver Sun editors proved unwilling to publish a cogent exposé, letter copied in Appendix A below. News that messes around with advertising cannot be tolerated.
The distortions in the Vancouver Sun story seem worthy of a tabloid that creates copy only from the overheated imaginations of sequestered fabricators. Appendix B below offers a few specific rebuttals.
The Norquay area of East Vancouver becomes an ever clearer story of profiteering exploitation of an already dense working-class immigrant neighborhood. Skyway Towers, for example, “contributes” financially a CAC sum total of $105,000 — considerably less than the selling price of one unit — and all of that money goes to the partial costs of an attempt to mitigate the tower’s all-day shadow impact on an existing daycare immediately to the north. What an enhancement for Norquay!
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Letter to the Editor submitted to Vancouver Sun and not published
Thu, Jul 5, 2012 at 9:24 PM
Re: Kingsway moves toward people-friendly future (July 3)
One mile of Kingsway bisects Norquay in the heart of East Vancouver. So far, our “people-friendly future” has consisted of little more than extra bodies and cars crammed into an already dense and underserviced neighborhood.
At the touted Skyway Towers, the main payback to the surrounding community for the 130 new dwelling units is an amenity contribution of $105,000. That pittance, far less than 1/130th of the development’s value, goes to cover only a portion of the damage control required for heavy shadowing of an existing daycare.
City planners unilaterally terminated Norquay Working Group at the beginning of February 2011. Assurance at the time of further opportunity to participate in development of an amenities and benefits strategy has come to nothing.
While newer initiatives burgeon all over Vancouver, Norquay planning has fallen off the table. Definition of the four new housing types sits in limbo. Multiple major sites rush toward buildout with no amenity strategy in place.
The November 2010 mass rezoning of 1900 single family homes in Norquay seemed to be based far more on what could be taken out of the neighborhood than on what would be given back to it. Who wouldn’t have opposed that prospect?
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Assertion: Skyway Towers, the first high-rise development under the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan, is a 130-unit project that includes nine commercial units to be built on the site of the old Wally’s Burgers.
Comment: Here we have a convenient failure to mention the much larger development at 2300 Kingsway, where one developer obtained a January 2006 rezoning of 2 acres for 297 dwelling units, then flipped off the project to another developer, after which a 2008 “redrawing” produced a projected 357 dwelling units. This blockbusting approval came only three months ahead of the commencement of a formal planning process for Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre. Here Norquay got a 22-storey tower with a setback of less than 5 feet and a broad new curb cut across the Kingsway sidewalk to facilitate motor vehicle traffic to 511 underground parking spaces, not to mention delivery trucks headed to loading bays.
Assertion: [The Norquay Plan] aims to maintain a single-family residential character in key areas, a concern of critics.
Comment: This is pure disinformation. In phase three of the Norquay planning, planners abandoned all pretense of maintaining balance and neighborhood character. Every last one of the 1900 single family dwellings that fell within the metastasized boundaries of Norquay was mass rezoned to one of four new housing types.
Assertion: “We’re trying to bring life, livability and vibrancy to the area,” he [Councillor Kerry Jang] said. “Now, it’s a provincial highway [and] it’s a bit run down. It can take a lot more density, but we want to be sensitive to single family dwellings. So we’ve limited [towers] to 12 storeys.”
Comment: During Norquay planning it became clear that Kingsway will never cease to be a truck route. Community attempts to define a true “neighbourhood centre” at the central intersection of Slocan and Kingsway were blocked and perverted by planners who insisted on perpetuating hodgepodge strip development along the entire one-mile segment of Kingsway. The speculator land grab unleashed on Norquay will never amount to a neighborhood, and it clearly will never have a center. What effrontery! Notice also how Jang soft-pedals the 14- 16- and 22-storey towers that will dominate and shadow Norquay in a way that residents never wanted. Also take a look at real data on which Vancouver neighborhoods “can take a lot more density.”
Assertion: “The Skyway plan had considerable support.” — Assistant Director of Planning Matt Shillito
Comment: Considerable support only from shills assembled by the developers: employees, relatives, other developers — practically all of them coming from outside of Norquay. Inspect the cooked-up written comments from the phony open house survey for yourself and see whether you think those results have any credibility. (Funny how City of Vancouver does not complain about “ballot-stuffing” when they get the result that they want to see.)
Assertion: “Right now, it’s [Kingsway is] very hostile to pedestrians.” — Assistant Director of Planning Matt Shillito
Comment: See first comment above on how the development at 2300 Kingsway will make the pedestrian situation even more hostile. The recent development proposal for 2220 Kingsway calls for an impermeable defensive perimeter surrounding a drive-to vertical gated community that encases a big box store with massive privatized plaza on top, all served by 597 underground parking spaces. So pedestrian friendly that will not be.
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