How is Norquay different from five other large areas that the City of Vancouver is subjecting to “new planning”? Why is Norquay the only neighborhood that is being allowed no participation through an ongoing community-based group?
Like a kid set loose in a candy store, the City of Vancouver (CoV) has gone on a rampage and left a huge planning mess in its wake. First it licked at the Norquay sucker a little and took a nibble off the side. Then it moved along to the Mount Pleasant candy bar, ripped off the wrapper, and has been chewing at one end. Then the possiblity of getting into three separate neighborhoods at the same time seemed appealing, so the CoV kid busted a big jar of sweets and stuffed its mouth full with Marpole, West End, and Grandview-Woodland. There seemed to be room left to cram yet one more piece in, so the CoV kid also managed to get a corner of its tongue wrapped around the Downtown Eastside. Five different candy flavors all together make for a colorful sticky face, but may not taste so good. Queasiness seems to have left the Norquay goodie dropped in a corner and covered with acid reflux.
On 3 February 2011 three planners met with nine Norquay Working Group (NWG) members and told them out of the blue that the group was “over.” NWG was also told that two February 2011 open houses would provide opportunity to sign up for participation in two new groups: public realm planning, development of amenities and benefits strategy. But two weeks later at the open houses, Norquay residents were told a flipflop different story: no sign-up sheets, and no participation. Twenty-one months later, Norquay just languishes in limbo while CoV avidly puts newer territories into play.
To parallel Norquay with Mount Pleasant is instructive. The development of the Norquay Plan ran from March 2006 to November 2010. The development of the Mount Pleasant Plan ran from May 2007 to November 2010. Despite this almost simultaneous planning, these two neighborhoods have been treated very differently. In clearest terms, Norquay lies further to the east of Vancouver’s great divide. Consistent differences probably can be found across factors like recency of immigration, extent of cultural integration, first language facility in English, and levels of education and income.
One striking and indisputable difference can be seen in CoV attitude toward ongoing neighborhood participation. In early 2012 city planners began meeting with Mount Pleasant about Terms of Reference for a Mount Pleasant Implementation Committee. The two specific groups that vanished overnight in Norquay are also explicitly named aspects of the ongoing Mount Pleasant public consultation. Compare below the extracted materials from CoV statements on Mount Pleasant and Norquay.
In the larger picture, the City of Vancouver is currently working with five local community planning groups in Mount Pleasant, Marpole, West End, Grandview-Woodland, and Downtown Eastside. Meanwhile, Norquay seems to have gotten segregated off into a special deprived category of residents to be excluded from any significant role in determining their own future.
Perhaps all CoV ever wanted out of Norquay was a phony process to meet the formalities required for a quickie mass rezoning. And now CoV seems to be getting ready to plow ahead with handover of 2.3 acres at 2220 Kingsway [fiat creation of a “property right” to FSR 3.8 and height of 14 storeys] to speculator profiteering while ignoring or shortchanging even the few ameliorations set forth in the broadly unsupported Norquay Plan. Somehow such “rights” do not seem to extend to the existing thousands of residents in the Norquay community.
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Mount Pleasant Community Planning Program
City staff and members of the Mount Pleasant Community are now working on implementation of the Mount Pleasant Community Plan. Work is being completed to finalize a Terms of Reference to guide the Mount Pleasant Implementation Committee (MPIC).
The MPIC will assist with Plan implementation including providing advice on public engagement, and helping with other implementation directions to develop a strategy for Broadway East revitalization, a community-wide public benefits and infrastructure strategy and a public realm plan for Mount Pleasant.
Mount Pleasant Community Plan — 6.2 Steps to Begin Community Plan Implementation [p. 32]
Public Benefits and Infrastructure Strategy
A Public Benefits and Infrastructure Strategy will be devised for Mount Pleasant to enable the delivery of multiple public benefits identified in the community plan. This Strategy will identify the capital costs for new public amenities and facilities requested in the community plan (e.g., childcare, parks, engineering infrastructure, cultural spaces including artist studios and live/work, affordable housing, and heritage retention), potential revenue expected from new development and other sources (e.g., DCLs, CACs, Capital Plan), and the allocation of that revenue to support the construction and operation of new amenities and facilities. The Strategy will also seek to ensure that new development on both City and private land pays a fair share towards public benefits needed to meet demands created by the new population.
Public Realm Plan
A Public Realm Plan will be drafted to co-ordinate the public realm improvements identified in the community plan. In general, the public realm plan should address issues of connectivity across Mount Pleasant (e.g., with pathways, bikeways, and Laneways), street vibrancy, provision and design of public spaces, and sustainability (e.g., rainwater management, wildlife habitat, and other ecological considerations). A key consideration will be approaches to daylighting and marking Mount Pleasant’s streams.
Public Engagement Review
The overarching goal of this review is to improve civic decision-making, addressing issues of representativeness, diversity, trust, and creativity in neighbourhood decision-making, while building community capacity to solve problems. It will involve an investigation into creating a governance structure and process mechanism to engage representatives of the Mount Pleasant community, design professionals, and the City to collaborate on design solutions and implementation strategies for the Mount Pleasant Community Plan. As a first step, various models and best practices used in other neighbourhoods and municipalities will be reviewed, including neighbourhood design panels and co-design processes. This would be followed by further dialogue with community stakeholders to jointly determine the best approach to adopt in Mount Pleasant. This review will be co-ordinated with the City’s own on-going review of public engagement practices.
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Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan
Public Amenities [p. 15, pdf 15]
Amenities, such as recreational facilities, parks and libraries, are important elements of a vibrant and livable community. As part of the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre planning process, the community identified a number of desired (and needed) public amenities which were then translated into a preliminary Public Benefits Strategy with directions and priorities for the delivery of amenities within the neighbourhood.
As part of the implementation phase, the City (in consultation with the community) will develop more detailed strategies for service and amenity improvements and ensure that new development on both City and private land pays a fair share towards public benefits to meet the demands created by the additional population.
NEXT STEPS [p. 23, pdf 23]
Following adoption of the proposed Plan, further steps are required to fully realize its potential. Primary among these steps are the two major components of the Implementation Plan:
Zoning By-law Development
The Neighbourhood Centre Plan proposes four new residential zones that require drafting, testing, and refining new District Schedules and Design Guidelines to implement. The new zoning documents will amend the Zoning and Development By-law to enable new ground- oriented housing to be developed in the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre without requiring rezoning approval. Development of these documents will also include public consultation to ensure they are well-calibrated to community preferences.
Public Amenities and Infrastructure Financing Strategy
More detailed work is required to develop a complete Public Amenities and Infrastructure Financing Strategy appropriate to the amount of new development planned in the Neighbourhood Centre. This includes more detailed analysis of Development Cost Levy and Community Amenity Contribution potential and mechanisms to ensure that the local area benefits from new development. Also included in this strategy will be consideration of other funding sources and steps, including Capital Plans, required to finance improvements needed to ensure a complete and sustainable Neighbourhood Centre.
Placemaking and Public Realm Plan
In addition to the Public Realm and Transportation Improvement Plan, further work is planned to develop more detailed Public Realm improvements and placemaking guidelines to fully realize the potential of the Kingsway shopping area. Included in this effort will be more detailed work to identify public art opportunities and to develop public realm elements specific to Norquay Village.
6.0 Community Amenities and Facilities [APPENDIX A, page 35 of 40; pdf 60]
Amenities — such as recreational facilities, parks and libraries are important elements of a vibrant and livable community. And as the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre grows and evolves over time, new amenities and facilities will be needed to ensure the continued livability and desirability of the area. This section outlines directions and priorities for future amenities within the Neighbourhood Centre, in response to needs and preferences identified by community members and forecasted demand. As well, this plan recognizes that new development should also contribute by paying a fair share towards public benefits to meet the demands created by the new population.
As part of the implementation program for this plan, a detailed public Amenity and Infrastructure Financing Strategy will be developed that outlines proposed funding and delivery of new amenities in the Neighbourhood Centre. The detailed Strategy will consider the impact of increased population and the mechanisms needed to pay for the benefits (i.e. capital expenditures, Development Cost Levies, and Community Amenity Contributions). This section will inform develop of that Strategy as well as rezonings completed in accordance with this plan. The section is divided into three main sub- areas: parks and Open Spaces, Community Gathering Spaces and Other Amenities and Services.
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