Archive for March 2013
How the City of Vancouver Cheaps Out on Norquay (Lesson #2)
Public Realm and Transportation Improvements Plan was the title of the 18-page Appendix B to the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan approved by Vancouver City Council on 4 November 2010. [Reference: http://former.vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk//20101104/documents/penv2.pdf ] That’s well over two years ago. Page 12 (pdf 76) offers the following generalized graphic for new corner bulges:
Now that new corner bulges have been installed, the promise of the plan can be compared with the reality on the ground. Photos of three corner bulges demonstrate City of Vancouver implementation. Look for the brick pavers. Look for the granite edge. Look for the bike racks. Look for the benches. Look for the landscaping.
Tell us we’re lucky that sod was placed over some of the dirt — maybe half of the surface area pictured?
Here’s Kingsway at Clarendon, north side:
Here’s Kingsway at Gladstone, south side:
Here’s Kingsway at Gladstone, north side:
On 9 April 2013 there is a public hearing on a proposal to locate 404 dwelling units in three 14-storey towers that will guard a walled compound. The 2220 Kingsway site sits right beside the bulge at the southwest corner of Kingsway at Gladstone. While huge benefit will be handed over to Vision Vancouver major funder Westbank, Norquay gets to contemplate a few bulges that couldn’t even match the specifications — and may well be destroyed by the onslaught of impending developments. Experience “planning” in Vancouver.
The following notices arrived in the morning mail of 20 March 2013. Public hearings will be held on the same evening of 9 April 2013 for both the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre mass rezoning and for the rezoning of 2220 Kingsway for three 14-storey towers.
Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan
Rezoning Application — 2220 Kingsway
Below is a screen shot taken from the City of Vancouver web site for Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan. Notice how once again the race-to-mass-rezone has outstripped communication of the next stop on the railroad. Nothing about the public hearing is posted as of noon on 20 March 2013.
This is typical of a municipal government that is hooked on scattergun rezonings for developer payback — always with bright green plastic wrapping up the gifts. Much more remains to be said and will be said about how the purported amenities and benefits of this frenetic activity never seem to materialize.
It’s always no-money mañana mañana when it comes to delivery on promises promises. In Norquay the City of Vancouver has shown less honor than a mafioso. So far what they do is worse than outright crookedness. Throughout the process they have engineered burnout and disengagement to facilitate their hoodwinking.
Vancouver City Council agenda for 12 March 2013 lists two major Norquay items back-to-back as policy reports. It can be expected that these two will be referred to public hearing later this spring, likely in April. The co-occurrence of these two reports shows how quickly profiteers stampede into a local community that has been singled out and put into play.
2220 Kingsway is one of the three largest sites along the Norquay mile of Kingsway. Initial analysis indicates
• That the developer has been allowed free range within the specifications of height and FSR
• That local resident comment following the September 2012 open house has resulted in no changes
• That in multiple ways this project disrespects the letter and the spirit of the Norquay Plan
• That a walled compound looks more like incursion of an alien form than any kind of “revitalization”
These new zoning district schedules offer up 117 pages of technicalities. Analysis will follow.
What is most apparent is that the amenities and benefits strategy for Norquay symbolically lags. In other words, do the mass rezoning, approve the 2220 Kingsway megaproject, and keep right on with dumping new density into an amenity desert. Get around to those promises later on, maybe. Like the Renfrew Ravine linear park, which is an already long overdue promise. Never deliver, and you can keep on making the same promise over and over! The on-siting and apparent sequestration of the paltry CAC at 2220 Kingsway looks like one more round in the shell game — purported benefits that remain unexperienced by the impacted community.
After reading a 28 February 2013 front-page article in the Vancouver Courier, Vancouver Cohousing Complex Draws Concern, Eye on Norquay made an effort to send the following email to Rod Raglin, the local resident quoted in the article.
Dear Rod Raglin – What you say about the cohousing proposal and its relation to "amenity" sounds familiar. If you haven't come across it yet, you might want to take a look at the micro-local web site Eye on Norquay at https://eyeonnorquay.wordpress.com. "Norquay" is right next door to you. Feel free to get in touch with me through **email**address** if that seems useful to you. Sincerely, Joseph Jones
What Eye on Norquay has to say about this proposal has nothing to do with the concept of co-housing, and little to do with the details of this particular implementation of the concept. Broader concerns of context, location, fit, process, and amenity stand at the forefront.
As this posting was being prepared, email notice of a useful summary by CityHallWatch popped up. Thanks to CHW for making it unnecessary to provide the additional links and background. That said, a specific pointer here to REVISED Rezoning Application — 1729, 1733, and 1735 East 33rd Avenue seems worthwhile.
The stated concerns with lack of concurrent and compensating amenity for the surrounding community look even worse when set in the context of new self-serving spaces that are designed to be closed off, and whose effect is to shut out the community and to privatize new amenity. These effects are apparent in the sizable privatized plaza at 2300 Kingsway and in the current proposal for a 2.3 acre walled compound at the 2220 Kingsway Canadian Tire site. New area residents get new amenity, while existing residents only get shadows, loss of views, increased vehicle traffic, and more competition for curbside parking.
Before turning the rest of this posting over to an invited guest piece by Rod Raglin, I’d like to point out that the proposed co-housing site at 1729-1735 East 33rd Avenue lies just a few blocks west of Norquay. The concept of a “neighbourhood centre” is that a local area develops a centre, with density decrease in a radius outward. In Vancouver, that sadly corrupted concept has proved nothing more than an excuse to mass rezone hundreds of acres at a single grab. The cynicism of this paragraph from the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre report to Council http://former.vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk//20101104/documents/penv2.pdf becomes ever more evident:
It should also be noted that by planning for new housing types in the neighbourhood centre, the existing RS-1 zoning is maintained for the majority of the surrounding areas. As a whole, RS zoning also remains the predominant zoning for the majority of the city (73 percent of residential land and 42 percent of all parcels). (p. 19)
Four STIR projects just outside Norquay boundaries, dense redevelopment of 1.25 grassy acres at the Avalon dairy site just outside Norquay boundaries, and now this co-housing proposal just outside Norquay boundaries. What has masqueraded as planning in Norquay is clearly one piece of a politicized land-grab strategy that seeks nothing but naked opportunity wherever it may be found — like just outside the boundaries of a neighbourhood centre.
Adding to the irony, this proposal appears to be one of the three that have been put forward and allowed to proceed under the “interim rezoning policy” emanating from the Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability. Isn’t it odd how the density keeps getting dumped into the same area, an area that has taken a huge amount of density over the past decades and has seen no significant expansion of amenity?
This co-housing proposal has been sent to public hearing despite two successive non-support votes by the Urban Design Panel (24 Oct 2012 and 16 Jan 2013). If the project can’t find support at UDP, something has to be wrong. If the project is now scooting toward its undeserved rubber stamp, something has to be wronger.
• • • • • •
Mayor and Council’s Plan for Co-Housing Means the Destruction
of Single Family Neighbourhoods
I live across the street from a proposed co-housing condominum development at 1729, 1733 and 1735 East 33rd Avenue.
Co-housing is attractive to some people because of its philosophy of communal style living as well as its joint financing component.
When I went to the first information meeting those representing the developer, the Cedar Cottage Co-housing Society, seemed to think because they embraced this philosophy of communal living the residents of the neighbourhood should allow them to build whatever they like.
Our neighbourhood concerns were more practical and addressed things like the projects mass, height, shadows falling on yards, obstruction of views, invasion of privacy, the ugliness of the design and the inappropriateness of plunking a three and a half story, 27 unit building in the middle of single-family residential homes.
The developer responded at the next information meeting by presenting a plan different only in that they increased the number of units from 27 to 29.
Again, overwhelming opposition. The developer’s response to this third meeting was to add two more units for a total of 31, as well as increase the height of the project.
In my work with the community I have seen developers offer amenities to a neighbourhood in exchange for extra density. This developer feels the community should grant them extra density so they can have on-site amenities like:
• Sandbox (125 sq. ft) • Great room (484 sq. ft.) • Kids play room (192 sq. ft.) • Lounge (130 sq.ft.) • Communal kitchen (130 sq. ft.) • Teen room • Reading room • Common terrace (650 sq. ft.) • Courtyard with fountain • Rooftop deck
A package of 1800 sq. ft of amenities.
To take advantage of stuff like this local residents have to take their kids to the library, or the local park. The terrace is at Starbucks (with no fountain).
Their plans have twice been rejected by the City’s Urban Design Panel, who called them “not adequately respectful of the single family context.” The city planning department now has literally coached them with their application to get it to a public hearing.
Initially, I was amazed at the developer’s intransigence, and their arrogant and disrespectful attitude. Then I realized they didn’t care what the neighbourhood was saying because it didn’t matter.
This project “responds to the Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability and the Interim Rezoning Policy for Increasing Affordable Housing Choices” in the city.
Under this policy, “up to 20 rezoning applications will be considered. Once these applications are in process, Council will review the outcomes before extending the policy beyond 20 projects.”
Council has “directed staff to explore opportunities to expand opportunities for cohousing in Vancouver through the removal of regulatory barriers that may exist and through incentivizing cohousing projects through the Interim Rezoning Policy.”
In essence, this developer is endorsed and enabled by the Mayor and Council and the City Planning Department.
It’s a done deal so to hell with the local residents.
Please consider writing a letter to the Mayor and Council, cc Farhad Mawani, city planner, saying you oppose the rezoning application for 1729, 1733, 1735 East 33rd Ave on the grounds this type of densification is not appropriate in the middle of a single family residential neighbourhood.
This needs to be done prior to the public hearing, March 12, 2013.
We need your help to stop this destruction of single family neighbourhoods. Otherwise, the next one might be across the street from you.
East 33rd Avenue (1700 block)
Last updated 5 March 2013 at 10:45 am
Written comment of 11 March 2013 submitted to Mayor and Council. Link to pdf provided in
Documents section of Eye on Norquay.