How the City of Vancouver Cheaps Out on Norquay (Lesson #3)
Part 1: Trashy Cans … and Other Street Furniture — or Not
Early on, the promise of new street furniture for Norquay became a standing joke among residents who were attending an interminable stream of workshops and open houses. First off, that “discussion” looked like a tactic designed to divert attention away from big issues toward relatively trivial matters. You can provide input on the scope and location of the new “neighbourhood centre” or … maybe you’d rather express your preferences about garbage cans and lamp posts.
Who could ever have imagined that the joke, a pittance of a public realm promise glued onto a forced mass rezoning, would turn into a sick joke through nondelivery? (Two and a half years after the mass rezoning and counting.) No, it’s actually even worse than nondelivery. Even the little that Norquay used to have has been taken away!
The street furniture mapping from the Norquay Plan approved by council on 4 November 2013 indicates that Norquay has lost nine litter bins and one bench. That’s how things don’t add up when you try to count the crumbs. Color coding overlaid onto that page tells the sorry story at a glance:
Little colored dots are hard to read, so here’s the tally for everything, existing and supposedly to come:
Benches 12 In Place 6 Not in Place Litter Bins 3 In Place 12 Not in Place Bike Racks 6 In Place 29 Not in Place Bus Shelters 8 In Place 4 Not in Place
These statistics carry a Norquay resident back to those planner blandishments: Wouldn’t you like to let us make you into a new neighbourhood centre? You’ll get revitalized. You’ll get all of this public realm improvement. By the time it came to putting words to paper late in the game, the Norquay Plan snuck in the big hedge: “Proposed street furniture (as major development occurs)”. The shells in that game moved faster than a human eye could follow (especially the three “condition” bombshells dropped right at the end of over three years, massively upping all Kingsway height and FSR). The note does not say: “Existing taken-away street furniture to be returned as major development occurs.”
This seems a good point at which to exhibit the few trashy cans that have not been disappeared. These three photos of Norquay area Skyline-style “litter bins” were in no way posed — this is how they were found on the street. Notice especially the rust, dents, graffiti, residues at base, and companion weeds. This is what revitalization looks like!
Now it’s time to turn from the disgrace of Norquay to take a look at what has happened along Victoria Drive, an area which lies just to the west of Norquay.
Part 2: Not Mass Rezoned but Getting Nice New Stuff!
What smacks you between the eyes is the absolute discrepancy. The Norquay area, forced into an unwanted mass rezoning, gets mostly worse than nothing. Then, to really rub it in, a massive shipment of new goodies lands right around the corner in an area not subjected to mass rezoning. The message: “Did you ever get suckered!”
To start off, here’s a mapping and tally of all the new litter bins and bike racks that have just been installed between East 33rd Avenue and East 41st Avenue, with existing benches included in the accounting.
All that new street furniture that came all at once. Here’s a sample picture of a new bike rack on Victoria Drive:
And here’s a sample picture of a new litter bin on Victoria Drive:
This is one more instance of the treatment given to Norquay. Extensive involvement in years of “planning” starts to feel like swallowing a corrosive substance — you’d throw up, but you have no stomach left.