Disrespecting the Norquay Plan

with one comment

Analysis of 2220 Kingsway Development Application
in Relation to the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan

Prepared by Jeanette Jones

I. Background of the Plan

The City of Vancouver began work on the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan (the Plan) in March 2006. Over the years forty to fifty different people made up the Norquay Working Group that was “consulted” — but rarely more than a dozen and a half at any one time. Community Open Houses were scheduled at key points during the process. More details on the convoluted history of Plan production can be viewed at the Eye on Norquay web site [1]. One easy overview is provided by a Timeline [2]. A basic summary of the five years of planning that led up to the Plan [3] was put together for a December 2010 public presentation. The Plan that Vancouver City Council approved in November 2010 [4] is supposed to provide a policy basis for all development within the boundaries of Norquay.

The section of the plan most relevant to the development application for 2220 Kingsway is the section dealing with the Kingsway Rezoning Area (p. 46-60).

  Base height for buildings along Kingsway is set at 8-10 storeys.
  Three “mid-block” sites on the north side of Kingsway (including the Wally’s site) are allowed 12 storeys
    in exchange for pedestrian walkways between Kingsway and Galt Street.
  On two “large sites” [Purdy’s and Canadian Tire] height limit is 14 storeys. In exchange, these sites are
    expected to include a large and fully landscaped public plaza.

The Plan was designed to

        enhance local neighbourhood identity through new public realm enhancements (a more beautiful centre),
        supporting a rich and robust community life, maintaining the distinctive and eclectic character of
        the neighbourhood, and providing unique spaces that fit the evolving nature of the community.
(p. 5)

The implementation of this Plan is supposed to include three “companion documents”:

1   New District Schedule[s] and Guidelines for the new residential housing types. These are Small
     House/Duplex (p. 34), Traditional Rowhouse (p. 38), Stacked Townhouse (p. 40) and Low-Rise
     Apartment (p. 43).
2   A Public Benefits and Infrastructure Financing Strategy “to consider the impact of increased population
     and mechanisms available to pay for [public] benefits.” (p. 69)
3   A more detailed Public Realm Plan. This plan is to include “guidelines … to address relationships of
     private and public open space.” (p. 57)

Not one of these “companion documents” has been completed. No provisional work on them has been shown to the community. Yet development along Kingsway proceeds in their absence. No further development should be approved until the guidelines which are to govern such development are written and adopted by Council.

II.  Relationship of the Plan to the Development Application for 2220 Kingsway

A.  Respecting the Plan … sort of …

1  —  Sidewalk width of 24 feet on Kingsway is respected. But the proposed East Tower overhangs the sidewalk by several feet.

2  —  Height limit on this site of 14 storeys is respected. But the sketch on p. 53 of the plan shows only
one 14-storey tower.

3  —  Traffic impacts have been mitigated.

       A new configuration for the streets at southwest corner of the development would divert traffic
         from the intersection of Kingsway and Gladstone. Preliminary drawings show a crossing of the
         barrier only for bicycles, but not for pedestrians.
       A new signalized crossing of Kingsway would be constructed where the lane on the east side of the
         development meets Kingsway. But this lane will function primarily as access to the site for
         residential and commercial traffic rather than as the “pedestrian mews” described in the development
         application. A sidewalk along the lane narrows to almost nothing where trucks will be turning.

4  —  The development would contain a long-awaited grocery store of approximately 32,000 square feet. Previous planning promised a grocery store at 2300 Kingsway, and the Plan calls for a grocery store at the 2400 Motel site. Will we get all three?

B.  Disrespecting the Plan

1  —  This development is too massive to fit into a Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre. These are not the “human-scaled” buildings called for in the Plan. (p. 49), but a walled compound. The entire 2.3 acre site is to be covered by a private podium of at least one storey. The proposed buildings are not in keeping with the sketch for “Gateway sites” on p. 53 of the Plan, which shows one 14 storey tower and one lower tower. In the drawing, the two buildings are separated by a roughly rectangular ground level plaza that is surrounded by shops.

2  —  There is no adequate public plaza. The Plan states that “any redevelopment on these two sites [i.e. the Purdy’s site and the Canadian Tire site] will be required to provide a large (approximately 6,000-8,000 square feet) and fully landscaped public plaza which will be activated by retail uses on the edges. These plazas should be prioritized for primary pedestrian use and should not be accessible by vehicles” (p. 56). The plaza is to be a “functional and distinctive local public space to serve as [a] community gathering space for neighbourhood activities” (p. 50). The proposed “plaza” at the corner of Gladstone and Kingsway will function mainly as a funnel-shaped entrance to the proposed grocery store. A proposed small “park” at the corner of Gladstone and 30th Avenue will serve the same function. Neither can serve as a community gathering space in any meaningful way. Only by including non-functional narrow strips of space at the edges of the buildings can the “plaza” be calculated to include the area required by the Plan.

3  —  The towers are a uniform height and have a uniform glass and concrete finish. The Plan calls for “modulating building faces in width, height, and finishing materials to visually break up large building walls.” (p. 49) [Panel 13 from the June 2010 open house conveys a community preference for a unifying brick theme that has been respected at 2339 Kingsway and 2711 Kingsway; Panel 10 from the February 2011 open house conveys a clear community distaste for glass towers.]

4  —  The West Tower is a 14 storey wall separating the development from the unrezoned single family neighbourhood to the west of Norquay. Elsewhere in the Plan there is a 4 storey transition zone between taller buildings on Kingsway and single family housing. “The Plan recognizes the need for a careful transition from residential neighbourhoods to the higher densities and intensities of Kingsway.” (p. 42)

5  —  The development does not contribute to community life in any meaningful way. The social life of the residents will be centred on the private central courtyard with its swimming pool and on the private rooftop gardens. These areas are nicely landscaped, but are visible only from the air and remain inaccessible to the community.


[1]  Eye on Norquay

[2]  Timeline (Eye on Norquay)

[3]  Norquay “Planning” in Vancouver: Five Years of Top-Down Manipulation (Dec 2010)

[4]  Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan (Nov 2010)


Written by eyeonnorquay

27 August 2012 at 9:26 pm

One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. What is the tradeoff. Balance is needed. Losing green space. If the goal is to function as a community why more accessible for bikes but not for walking patrons. If no parking patrons will continue to park in front of residential homes. Residents will move. Densification without social amenities not good. What is the draw to community. Massive building no. We should be looking to Main Street as an inspiration people coming back to community. Unless we have a branded company moving in there is no guarantee any company will take ownership to ensure they will provide attractive landscape, ensure property clean and not over ridden with big trucks parking everywhere. No large commercial truck should be allowed to park in front of any residential homes or laneways. Residential owners are tired of not being able to park in front of their homes, picking up garbage, increased gas fumes, noise and dust. Why should residential owners be accountable for sidewalks, maintenance of boulevards when they cannot park in front of their own property. We need to have homes built with garages attached to homes. City Hall needs to rethink building code. Wider sidewalks needed, more floral foliage not just hunks of tree plopped everywhere. Look to Port Coquitlam they have a unique floral look… Attractive and inviting not cold and stark… We need to think of our community as a plate of food that must entice senses, smell, looks, taste… same premise… Then we will have a win, win. We are not English Bay we do not have sidewalks allocated to pedestrians or walkway set aside to bike riders, or have water to stroll around. We are a mass congested area. We need presence. We need something to be visually inviting, and socially motivating, relaxing … We do not want to be a square box you can twist around like a cube, cold, stark, bleak… we are not a third world country… Theme needed.

    Rita Achtemichuk/

    4 September 2012 at 9:22 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s