Archive for July 2014
Update (less than one hour elapsed after communication of problems to City of Vancouver). (1) Applicant advised to revise. (2) Web site to be updated. (3) New site sign to come. (4) New postcards to be mailed out. Unprecedented. Congratulations to CoV.
The City of Vancouver has just posted a new development application for 4571 Slocan Street. This is the second proposal under Norquay’s new RM-7 zoning.
Maybe it’s that hard to get new things right the first time? Now it’s the second time …
Eye on Norquay is pretty happy with the outcome on the first RM-7 application for 4730 Duchess Street. But only after putting in a ton of work on that file (reviewing the original submission, making a trip to City Hall, communicating with planners and local area residents and City Hall watchers across the City of Vancouver, waiting for the outcome).
It’s too bad that one glaring problem with 4571 Slocan has to pop up immediately.
The notifications are botched — both the street signage and the notification letter.
Exhibit A — Street Signage
Exhibit B — Notification Letter
Start with the street sign. The one red rectangle is where the eye fixes itself. Message: This is a development application for ONE parcel. Message reinforced: The single address is 4571 Slocan Street.
Next go to the notification letter. The bolded header indicates a SINGLE address. Message: One parcel is affected by the development application. Further message: No mention anywhere of either 4565 Slocan Street or 4585 Slocan Street.
Is this deliberate misdirection or gross incompetence? Either one is unacceptable.
To correct this situation, the City of Vancouver must:
• Direct the developer to post signage that is not misleading
• Reissue the notification letter with missing addresses listed in header
• Extend the period for comment by the time it takes to rectify these inaccuracies
Any further comment on the development application for 4565 / 4571 / 4585 Slocan Street will require a visit to City Hall, since so little can be seen from the materials that get posted online.
In return for huge changes — including mass rezoning of 1900 single-family homes, an accelerated rate of redevelopment, and doubling-tripling-quadrupling of existing building heights along Kingsway — the 2010 Norquay Plan promised a variety of improvements for our impacted area.
The two biggest promises were
Delivery of an already-long-promised Renfrew Ravine Linear Park
Provision of significant indoor and outdoor new community space on the three-acre 2400 Motel site
These two promises occupied most of the agenda at the 16 June 2014 Norquay Village Plan Public Realm Workshop. Eye on Norquay has already reported on that event.
Here is what the Norquay Plan says on page 15 about the anticipated park:
Renfrew Ravine Linear Park.
There is an opportunity to extend the Renfrew Ravine Park south to create a green pedestrian connection between Slocan Park/29th Avenue and Kingsway. This connection, which runs along an existing Metro sewer right-of-way, will be created as adjacent properties redevelop. In the shorter term, the creation of new pocket parks, community garden spaces, and mid-block pedestrian connections, will be incremental steps toward the long-term objective of a complete linear park. This new park is also well-located to help the City achieve its city-wide objective (and Greenest City target) of increasing access to nature for all residents.
Since adoption of the plan, one of the greatest battles fought so far by Norquay residents resulted in modifications of the development proposal for 2699 Kingsway. Among other things, the plaza width for a gateway to Renfrew Ravine Linear Park was increased by a factor ranging from 45% to over 120%.
Renfrew Ravine Linear Park offers a prime example of a City of Vancouver nasty trick: make a promise, fail to deliver, and then use the same promise over again. The good thing is that the City of Vancouver has already acquired about 7/9ths of the land required, probably at the more reasonable prices that prevailed over a decade ago. The bad thing is that the City of Vancouver has delivered so little on a very old promise tied to SkyTrain development (especially 29th Avenue station area) in the 1980s. The only evidence of delivery is one recently installed community garden.
The foregoing is all backstory to repeating the number one message that came out of the June 16 Workshop:
Don’t Sell Off Any CoV Land
This posting, and this repetition, respond to Workshop materials that City of Vancouver posted to the web afterward.
It has been worrisome to discover in the record a so-called consultant presentation consisting of 13 slides.
How can this package prepared by PWL Landscape architects be called a “presentation,”
when it was never presented to workshop participants?
The twelfth slide has caused us some concern:
The nine numbers in circles located across the right-side graphic read, left to right:
/ 20′ / 20′ / 23′ / 15′ / 20′ / 30′ / 29.5′ / 20′ / 29′ /
We’re hoping that these figures represent nothing more than the technicality of easement that runs across the properties for the underground pipeline that carries the waters of what used to be that section of Still Creek. The City of Vancouver has not yet responded to our questions about these numbers.
Some time ago, Eye on Norquay attempted to do a freedom of information request, to retrieve the planning criteria that led to Norquay being fixed in City of Vancouver crosshairs for the second “neighbourhood centre.”
All that came back was an offer to charge about $500 to make the attempt (and likely return three sheets of paper with everything blacked out).
Chad Skelton’s recent visualization of the Starbuckification of Vancouver promised to offer insight into this ongoing Norquay mystery. And all for free — excluding the labor of dropping a Norquay outline onto the mapping.
The effort confirmed the intuition. Norquay is a pinkish-to-red Starbucks desert. See?
Conclusion: Planners decided that any area of Vancouver that was so Starbucks-starved must need fixing. Like a wary cat, whether it wanted fixing or not. Thus did Norquay get mass rezoned for a “neighbourhood centre” against its will.
Guess what? Four years onward, there still isn’t a Starbucks. Here’s betting that particular incursion will be a long time coming. And that’s OK, since Starbuckification is a synonym for gentrification.
By the way, it’s looking more and more like Westbank miscalculated by trying to plop its product at 2220 Kingsway. Surprise, surprise.
… Or, Spawn of Norquay
It is becoming apparent that Grandview-Woodland — in the one respect of indefinite process suspension — may be the neighborhood that comes closest to reproducing the excruciations that Norquay has suffered.
Only under the direction of a maestro of horror can Part II outdo Part I. The City of Vancouver has this demonstrated capability.
Just as color, props, and setting (a fortress shopping mall replacing an isolated farmhouse) made it possible for Dawn of the Dead (1978) to take the themes of Night of the Living Dead (1968) to an entirely new level, so too may the Grandview-Woodland production surpass that of Norquay, all played out in our ever more zombified city.
The common element in the two histories is stop-dead-in-tracks, followed by dragged-out fumble toward a restart destined to lead to predetermined closure. The G-W sequel has a blockbuster and publicly-known budget of $275,000.
Scrutinize the parallels in this chart:
|Council initiates 21 November 2005||Council initiates 28 July 2011|
|One “kick-off” Open House March 2006||Two “launch” Open Houses May 2012|
|Norquay Village Draft Plan distributed May 2007||Broadway & Commercial workshop 6 July 2013|
|Ruckus w Toderian June 2007||Ruckus w Jackson June-July 2013|
|Indefinite suspension starting June 2007||Indefinite suspension starting August 2013|
|Municipal election 2008 — NPA decimated||Municipal election 2014 — ???|
|Open House restart late November 2008||“Citizens Assembly” restart September 2014|
|Unsupported plan imposed November 2010||??? 2015 ???|
The latest Grandview-Woodland face-off, appearing on the same date of 3 July 2014, sees hired-gun consultant Rachel Magnusson op-edding in the Vancouver Sun about jury democracy, while Grandview-Woodland defender Jak King over at the Georgia Straight takes the City of Vancouver to task.
Lessons of Possible Use to Grandview-Woodland
Norquay residents must have surprised the City of Vancouver by coming back in January 2009 with a sizeable group of committed persons who stuck it out through the whole slog — of what eventually proved to be only one phase of a “process” that ran for close to five years.
Altogether there were about four dozen individuals who connected with the Norquay Working Group throughout 2009 (notably, about that same number is scheduled for the upcoming Grandview-Woodland “Citizen’s Assembly”). Norquay’s faithful-attendance core settled down to around a dozen and a half. Within that group, the minority of City of Vancouver supporters tended either to have ties to development interests, stakes in networking for possible employment opportunities, or naive trust in what planners were pushing (that listing is in decreasing order).
In hindsight, it seems clear that the City of Vancouver had no idea how to deal with a group of local residents that really wanted to play a part in specifying their own future. The City of Vancouver abruptly terminated the Norquay Working Group in February 2011, shortly after Council approved an imposed plan. Norquay was not allowed to have a group to “implement” plan proposals. From that point forward, everything about us has been done without us. (Until the Norquay Village Plan Public Realm Workshop of 16 June 2014.)
People on the Mount Pleasant Implementation Committee (November 2012 to October 2013) had far more experience and competence than the Norquay group, and did their best to hold city planners accountable. They felt very frustrated throughout, and deeply disappointed in the results. That probably was the last voluntary local area planning group that the City of Vancouver will allow to exist. More control is the agenda.
The randomness or stratification or whatever happens with the impending selection of the engineered Grandview 48 will not be transparent, and probably will “represent” a lot of Vision Vancouver plants and picks.
Painful and hopeless as the task may seem, people with history and understanding in the Grandview-Woodland struggle should consider putting in their applications.
The 2009 Norquay experience suggests that the City of Vancouver will always have considerable difficulty in rounding up and sustaining a substantial number of compradors. Truth will out, especially if even a few informed and persistent individuals manage to find their way into the forum.
Since the time of Kingsway & Knight (in Kensington-Cedar Cottage) and Norquay (mostly in Renfrew-Collingwood), the City of Vancouver has abandoned the list of 19 projected “neighbourhood centres” and generally avoided messing with the other seven of the nine residential neighborhoods covered by community visions. (For the record, those seven are/were: Dunbar, Victoria/Fraserview/Killarney, Sunset, Hastings Sunrise, Arbutus Ridge/Kerrisdale/Shaughnessy, Riley Park/South Cambie, West Point Grey.)
[ Postcript above copied from
Killing the Remnants of Character in Norquay
Norquay is blue, literally, in a Vancouver Building Age Map recently put together by Ekaterina Aristova.
Eye on Norquay has tweaked her mapping with an outline that circumscribes the blueness of Norquay.
(Follow the link to Aristova’s source map to see how color scale matches to decade.)
The blueness shows how much of the character and heritage that Norquay once had was destroyed in the decades of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. This history is what led planners to get so glib in the Norquay Plan:
There are only about 300 houses remaining in the area that were built prior to the 1940’s, many of which have lost much of their original character over time. There are only two houses in the area that are listed on the Vancouver Heritage Register. (p. 6)
Translation: The City of Vancouver has treated this local community as a tear-it-down area deserving of a cheapo clear-cutting type monoculture, and will continue to do so. The cynicism comes home to roost in a functional sneer at the little character Norquay still left in the area.
This Plan provides incentives for character house retention, most notably by enabling development of rear-yard infill housing and additional FSR allowances to offset incentives of additional FSR through tear-down and redevelopment. Character home retention is not required, however. (p. 21)
One year ago a spiffy and mostly vacuous document accreted to Norquay:
Norquay Village character house and retention guidelines (15 May 2013)
Here’s the key to the vacuity:
With the exception of Small House/Duplex development sites,
the retention of a character house is at the owner’s discretion.
Next, go to Page 1 of
RT-11 and 11N guidelines
to discover that Small House/Duplex means a site of at least 5,500 sq ft. When you calculate the square footage of a “regular” Norquay parcel of 33 x 120, you get 3,960 sq ft. Of course, there are a lot of Norquay parcels on the downside of “regular.” But on the upside, you may as well go looking for hen’s teeth.
Bottom line: Despite the turgid prose and the fancy pictures and the veneer of concern, the City of Vancouver has declared Norquay a zone for clear-cutter makeover.
Norquay has no illusions that developers and politicians care much about any of Vancouver’s heritage.
Still, contrast the treatment of Norquay with the recent handwringing over those fine old houses in …
you guessed it! — Shaughnessy.
Kevin Griffin. “City approves plan to protect First Shaughnessy homes.” Vancouver Sun (12 June 2014)
Heritage action plan: steps to enhance protection of First Shaughnessy and pre-1940s character houses
(10 June 2014)
The City of Vancouver report cited above does look beyond Shaughnessy. But page 6 makes it crystal clear that it is the west side of Vancouver that matters, not the east side. “Arbutus, Dunbar, and Kerrisdale” get singled out for concern.
Meanwhile, the pale ghost of recently mass-rezoned Norquay hovers over the heart of East Vancouver.
Shaughnessy experiences a 15% population decline over the past forty years, yet continues to be stroked with kid gloves by the same politicians who yammer about the desperate need for Vancouver to accommodate countless incoming hordes of people.