Stacked Townhouse

Detailed Comment #2 on Norquay Rezoning Specifications


One of the four new housing types for Norquay is called Stacked Townhouse, a form that is being brought together with Rowhouse under the RM-7 zoning specification.

The January 23/26 Norquay open houses covered the proposed RM-7 zoning on Panels 6-8.

The Good News

All of the highlights listed on Panel 8 are welcome:

        Orientation toward street for all units
        Reduction of massing and likelihood of pitched roof
               (setback requirement for flat roof should be quantified at a level to incentivize pitched form)
        Avoidance of design monotony
        Private outdoor space for each unit (this should not entail discounted FSR)
        Two exposures providing natural light and ventilation
        Disincentive to enclosed parking space that will not be used for parking


One aspect of RM-7 for Stacked Townhouse raises a large red flag. A parking requirement of 0.65 car parking spaces per unit for Stacked Townhouse is unacceptable. (See Panel 7.)

The Renfrew-Collingwood Community Vision also states:

        Each proposal for a new housing type has been made conditional … on an assurance
        that parking and traffic impacts would be addressed.  (p. 30)

Anything less than 1 car parking space per unit for Stacked Townhouse fails to address this important policy promise, unless it can be enforced that the same proportion of unit occupants will not dump on the neighborhood by making use of local curbside parking.

If new-owner residents experience some increased “affordability” at such obvious detriment to existing residents, the result can only be increase in social conflict. It has to be remembered that Norquay will be impacted as an existing single-family neighborhood. Norquay is not a large tract of industrial land awaiting comprehensive redevelopment.

FSR Creep

The 2010 Norquay Plan provides for 1.1 FSR for two or more lot development (depending on lot size). Panel 7 now proposes 1.2 FSR for sites over 4,800 sq ft and 42 ft wide.

This FSR “creep” — an increase of more than 9% — is not acceptable and makes a mockery of process and good faith. Credibility for seeking such an adjustment would be greater if, for example, a special site developer were ever to be constrained to less height and FSR than have been handed over as a “right” by planning changes. But the balance of lessening never seems to occur, either under existing policy or in new planning.

Land Consolidation

Except as triplex on a single lot, the Stacked Townhouse form seems destined to crudely disrespect the 2004 Renfrew-Collingwood Community Vision, which assured residents that the Not Supported  form of Sixplexes (p. 35) would receive no further consideration. Much less even larger multiplexes. What confidence should Vancouver residents have in a “planning” regime that cannot look ahead for even ten years?


Written by eyeonnorquay

29 January 2013 at 10:35 pm