3120-3184 Knight Street
Interim Rezoning Policy — Only for East Vancouver?
On 11 February 2014 the City of Vancouver held a second open house about the development proposed for 3120-3184 Knight Street. The history of the application can be viewed on the Rezoning Centre web site.
There it says: This application is being considered under the Interim Rezoning Policy for Increasing Affordable Housing Choices. In other words, a developer is looking to profit from relaxations and incentives (meaning no CAC/DCL to fund increase to local area amenity in step with population increase).
No information is provided on the spaciousness or affordability of the existing three rental apartment buildings that would be replaced by more expensive new construction.
Summary information for revision of the application shows that rental units have been reduced from 54 to 51 while floor area has decreased from 42,609 sq. ft. to 38,325 sq. ft. Floor plans indicate that 19 of these would be two- or three-bedroom units. The basic math [ 38,325 sq. ft. ÷ 51 = 751.47 sq. ft. average] suggests that every unit would be a shoebox.
The main purpose of this posting is to examine the failure of this application to meet one of the conditions of site location. The Interim Rezoning Policy (click on the Details tab) says that location should be
within 500 metres (a five-minute walk) of identified neighbourhood centres
and local shopping areas
In conversation with planner Yan Zeng at the open house event, Eye on Norquay confirmed that city planning regards Commercial Drive retail as the required adjacent shopping area.
Here is the crude City of Vancouver mapping of what are considered arterials and shopping areas for the purposes of the Interim Rezoning Policy:
Direct measurement of sidewalk route with a measuring rod shows that sidewalk distance from center front of site to NW corner of East 13th Avenue at Commercial Drive is around 650 meters. Here’s the route followed, a direct path with good sidewalks for shopping carts, the most level way to pass through an unusually hilly area:
The site fails to meet the distance-to-shopping-area criterion by 150 meters, which is 30% in excess of the maximum. Add to that the laughability of defining of East 13th Avenue at Commercial as shopping area. That terminus only reaches the boundary. Real shopping lies another three blocks or more to the north.
Why would the City of Vancouver so blatantly disregard its own criterion in this instance? One answer may be that it is desperate to find acceptable proposals under the new initiative, to the point of abusing a local community considered unlikely to mount effective defense.
Months after the 3 Oct 2012 adoption of the Interim Rezoning Policy, it appeared that only three provisionally acceptable proposals had been submitted. It seems unlikely that the stated expectation of the Interim Rezoning Policy (under the Progress tab) was ever met: Staff are expected to report back to Council by June 2013.
These are the other two applications that went forward early on:
1729, 1733 and 1735 East 33rd Avenue — [rezoning approved 13 March 2013]
So far, under the Interim Rezoning Policy, it looks like the east side of Vancouver gets treated one way while the west side gets treated differently (and deferently).
Will heedless density dumping continue in already far denser East Vancouver — being allowed in this case to ride roughshod over conditions specified for location while destroying more affordable rental units? Another Eye on Norquay posting has mapped a peculiar tendency of developer-giveaway STIR projects to gang up around the Norquay area of East Vancouver.
Brian Jackson, Vancouver’s General Manager of Planning and Development, looking back on 2013, said his “single toughest decision” was to reject a proposal to redevelop the Stong’s site. Coincidentally, that is the block right next to the Pacific Arbour proposal. (A rezoning application is still posted for 4508-4560 Dunbar Street and 3581 West 30th Avenue.) Perhaps the case of 3120-3184 Knight Street offers Jackson an opportunity to show some balance in his decision-making.
Here’s recent news on Interim Rezoning Policy, straight from Brian Jackson:
One has been approved — a co-housing project on East 33rd Avenue and another, called Beulah Garden, is in the works, Jackson said. The project on East Fourth is for 57 units of affordable seniors housing. “They already have a seniors housing project there, so they’re just expanding across the street,” Jackson said. … Thirteen other projects are in the pre-application, the serious enquiry or the initial inquiry stage, including the second co-housing proposal that’s in the pre-application stage.