By the Numbers
Vancouver’s 22 Local Areas Over Time
The heart of this posting is the table below. Calculations from base numbers increase perspective. The first point of interest is what has been happening to Norquay (Renfrew-Collingwood and Kensington-Cedar Cottage), and how these two areas that include Norquay compare with the rest of Vancouver. Discussion will center on Renfrew-Collingwood, because the bulk of “Norquay” lies east of Nanaimo Street. It still needs to be borne in mind that the smallish Kensington-Cedar Cottage portion
• Abuts 2300 Kingsway, the two acres now occupied by 337 new dwelling units
• Incorporates 2339 Kingsway, a site now occupied by 94 dwelling units
(17 townhouses, 27 penthouses, 50 condos on floors 2-3, 12 commercial units)
• Anticipates 2220 Kingsway which has announced 404 dwelling units
This effort exemplifies the kind of analysis that City of Vancouver (CoV) should be presenting to residents of Norquay. But CoV seems to prefer decontextualization, the arrogance of unsubstantiated assertion, misrepresenting normal maintenance as significant improvement, and sequestering the data that it does possess.
Key to Columns Below:
A = Hectares | B = Population 2006 | C = Population 2011 | D = % Change 2006-2011
E = Persons per Hectare 2011 | F = Population 1971 | G = % Change 1971-2011
|West Point Grey||455||12,990||12,803||-1.44||28.1||11,870||7.86|
Vancouver = 11,467 = Actual Sum + Stanley Park − Musqueam Lands in Dunbar-Southlands
11,285 = Sum of 22 Local Areas in Column A
Residents of Norquay have repeatedly been told that we have to do our part in accommodating the growth of Vancouver. The figure that leaps out of the table above is that Renfrew-Collingwood has, over the past forty years, experienced a population increase of almost 70%. Among Vancouver’s 22 neighborhoods, that puts us in fourth place — after Downtown, Killarney, and Fairview. In terms of persons per hectare, Renfrew-Collingwood at 61.6 stands seventh.
The obvious question is why an already dense area of Vancouver was targeted for mass rezoning and further acceleration of growth — and was forced into this situation despite clear majority opposition. We still don’t know the answer, and never expect to. Welcome to Vancouver.
At 820 hectares, Renfrew-Collingwood is the second largest neighborhood in Vancouver. In absolute terms, therefore, it is doing even more than numbers suggest, since ratios and rankings are only relative.
What is most disturbing is that CoV has paid only lip service to amenities and public benefits. Developer megaprojects have already rolled into Norquay, and new ones loom on the horizon. The assurance provided in the 2004 community vision was this —
Vision participants wanted the impacts which might be associated with new housing to be addressed. They did not want additional people to reduce the level of service existing residents enjoy with parks and other community facilities. … As a result, each proposal for a new housing type has been made conditional … on an increase in community facilities and programs needed to serve any population growth generated by the new housing type. (p. 30)
Less than ten years later, it looks like CoV was lying through its teeth. Almost everything touted as benefit on
Panel 12 at the January 2013 Norquay open houses amounts to nothing more than routine maintenance and replacement. [The foregoing panel, and all panels cited below can be viewed on this pdf of Panels 10-18.] The one clear new contribution, 37 daycare spaces at 2300 Kingsway, is tucked away out of sight and benefits very few people.
The nastiest scam that CoV has run in Norquay is to let residents think they may experience an increase in their land value from being mass rezoned for even greater density. Indeed, they may do so in absolute terms, while losing out in relative terms. If clear enhancement of land value were the case, investors in Shaughnessy would be clambering to have the same thing done to their neighborhood. For sure they are not. It is hard not to notice that, over the past forty years, Shaughnessy is the only Vancouver neighborhood that has actually decreased its density, and that gap is not a small figure. Only short-sighted greed would induce anyone to think that further crowding and increased vehicle traffic would provide them relative increase in value. In Vancouver, the RS zoning designation is the gold standard. And CoV makes sure there is less of it every year.
CoV admits the following on Panel 13:
None of the community facilities [in the general area] are located within Norquay Plan boundaries
In other words, the Norquay sub-area of Renfrew-Collingwood has remained an amenity desert, even while Norquay has absorbed forty years of disproportionate population growth. CoV mouths off about wanting to create a walkable neighborhood, yet thinks it is acceptable to point to surrounding facilities as something provided.
When the possibilities for funding new facilities gets looked at on Panel 16, all the Norquay community can see for the future is continued poverty, and extension of the lie that population growth will mean corresponding increase in facilities and services.
If CoV wants to have any credibility with Norquay, it has to start with quantitative assessment over time of what has been happening to Norquay — and what is now being unleashed. Small bright pictures of renovated general-area facilities convey no information about growth in capacity to serve population: increases in functional square footages, increases in staffing, increases in programming.
Specific mentions on Panel 13 of Collingwood Library and Cedar Cottage Neighbourhood House suggest that the same old bottle of snake oil is being uncorked again. Replacements are nothing new. Far worse, CoV is suggesting that it might be willing to extract these facilities from the nearby locations that presently enjoy their proximity. Shifting around existing facilities amounts to nothing more than an ugly shell game.
Increase in benefit and amenity for Norquay needs to be quantified, and quantified just as clearly as the the upped FSRs and increased heights that primarily motivate the “planning” behind mass rezoning. Norquay has already more than done its share as a dumping ground for population density that has never yet seen any reward.
CoV needs to own up to this situation and find a capital funding of perhaps $30 to $50 million to put a decent new community facility on the 2400 Motel site that it already owns. At this stage, a mealy-mouthed scraping of the pan for a few tidbits just does not cut it. Surely the half-a-square-mile of Norquay and its 10,000 or so residents (order of magnitude only) deserve a fragment of the $150 million plus that CoV lavished on the Olympic Village, an area miniscule by comparison and already within walking distance of so much downtown amenity.
End Note: The numbers in the table are derived from Vancouver census materials found at http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/planning/census/. This is information that CoV has darkwebbed by leaving it behind during the 2012 migration to a new web site. It is possible that this information will be liquidated if it proves inconvenient. If you find that this link suddenly no longer works, feel free to contact Eye on Norquay for its own preservation archive.