Links to two pdf copies of extensive formal comment on the January 23/26 Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre open house materials, as submitted on 4 February 2013 to the City of Vancouver, have been posted at the top of the Documents section of Eye on Norquay.
One early news account reported on our initial impression of general conformity with the Norquay Plan. Our hope and good will led us to say too much too fast. As we have had time to dig into details, we have discovered a number of disturbing points where the Norquay Plan is being ignored if not overridden.
One week was not a lot of time to review what is proposed for about half of a square mile of East Vancouver. On top of that, panel information is selective and filtered. Access to the real underlying documents has been refused.
Opportunity to Comment Remains Open
According to the printed comment form (see link below), 4 February 2013 is the deadline for submission of comment to the City of Vancouver. However, it appears that a participant in the online survey will be told this: Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey. We will be collecting responses until February 11, 2013. Please encourage your friends and neighbours to learn more and have their say. The deadline published on the printed form seems likely to be a soft deadline — unlike the hard deadline in June 2007 that was used to cut off unwanted opposing comment to the hasty and heedless 2007 Draft Plan.
Norquay can be found on the City of Vancouver web site at
A have-your-say link under the Progress tab provides an online form for comment. Panels 4-18 of the open house can be viewed under the Documents tab. A more reliable method of delivering comment is to work from a scan of the printed comment sheet distributed at the Norquay open houses and to respond by email to firstname.lastname@example.org either through direct email or attachment.
In a Nutshell
Here are five salient concerns arising from lack of mesh between Open House panels and the 2010 Norquay Plan. This is by no means every discrepancy. Many others are set out with excruciating pains in the formal comments referred to above.
One — The public benefits “strategy” seems to be out to deprecate the extensive Norquay process that led to the definition of three primary paybacks to Norquay for the mass rezoning of around half a square mile in the heart of East Vancouver. The three main amenities specified in the Norquay Plan: community gathering spaces, Renfrew Ravine linear park, park extensions. See page 15 of the Report to Council for 4 November 2010 titled Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan [ http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20101104/documents/penv2.pdf ]. Norquay has seen no delivery on any of these, despite considerable development frenzy. It is distressing to see the fuzz and fudge of diversionary secondary possibilities used to muddy the picture. This scam is called bait and switch. The Renfrew Ravine linear park is already a hoary old undelivered promise associated with density dumping from a generation ago. In addition to this, the new community space should be new — the arts facility/seniors space envisaged during the planning process. Replacement/relocation of an existing facility (Collingwood Library or Cedar Cottage Neighbourhood House) in no way provides the promised growth in amenity that is to occur in step with increase of density. Such relocation would also impoverish the adjoining areas that would be abandoned.
Two — For Rowhouse the Norquay Plan specified a minimum width of 16 feet. See pages 17-18 of Appendix A at document linked to above. Even a width of 16 feet is trending downward from the upper-limit width for a single-wide trailer in a trailer park. And remember that a trailer does not have to accommodate code-width stairs to access upper levels. Anything less than a width of 16 feet is not acceptable.
Three — What CAC (community amenity contribution) has brought to Norquay so far is invisible and serves almost no one. Development at 2300 Kingsway of a 22 storey tower with 7 storey wings resulted in 37 spaces in an on-site daycare which the rezoning report valued at $2.4 million (p. 6). Development at 2699 Kingsway of a 12 storey tower with a 4 storey wing resulted in $105,846 that got sucked into an attempt to mitigate the new building’s unacceptable shadowing of an existing daycare immediately to the north. Anything new for Norquay is said to depend largely on CAC. It is not acceptable for CAC to fund anything ahead of the three major priorities described under item one above. Given the track record of the City of Vancouver so far, it is hard to see how CAC could fund even one of the major promises made ahead of the mass rezoning.
Four — The community vision that supposedly underlies the Norquay Plan assures (p. 30) existing residents that parking and traffic will be addressed in further densification. Open house Panel 7 specifies parking for Stacked Townhouse at 0.65 parking spaces per dwelling unit. No assurance can be given that only two-thirds of Stacked Townhouse dwelling units will be occupied by person(s) who choose to have a single motor vehicle. A requirement of one parking space per unit seems an absolute minimum.
Five — Open house Panel 9 for Apartment Transition zone rezoning policy specifies a minimum frontage of 50 feet. While the Norquay Plan itself remained fuzzy on the details, the spirit of the planning presented to the Norquay Working Group in 2009 was that the anticipated norm would be three-lot land assembly, in order to produce the U and H footprints needed to make this new form friendly to adjacent lower-height forms. That is why it was called transition. There are approximately 210 land parcels in Norquay subject to four-storey apartment. A minimum frontage of 50 feet for four-storey apartment is way too low a figure.
Bear in mind that the foregoing is only a highlighting of the worst of the transgressions of the Norquay Plan.
First provided in a provisional form, this posting was updated and completed on 6 February 2013.