Archive for February 2015
This report updates on the situation described in Sludge Straight into Sewer. Half a week onward, Westbank’s contractor at 2220 Kingsway has ripped off the covers of at least two on-site sewer drains and stuffed the drain holes with dirt. Imagine what could happen with a heavy rain storm. An inch of mud coating Kingsway?
Is the developer now saying to Norquay, you think a little mud matters? Ha! Take that!
Will the City of Vancouver allow this environmental abuse to continue and escalate?
Photos of Sludge-Dump Sewer Grate Area on February 16 — 17 — 18
The photo sequence below raises a big question. What environmental standards apply to excavating around an existing storm sewer opening? Is it OK to stuff the sewer with dirt?
Photo 1 of 9 — Monday 16 February 2015 11:45 am
Photo 2 of 9 — Tuesday 17 February 2015 1:00 pm
Another Group of Sewer Openings February 16 — 17 — 18
Photo 5 of 9 — Tuesday 17 February 2015 1:00 pm
Photo 6 of 9 — Wednesday 18 February 2015 1:00 pm
Continuing Discharge of Contaminated Water?
The two photos below make a strong case that on-site wastewater at 2220 Kingsway has continued to be discharged directly into the storm sewer. There appears to be no hookup yet to city water supply. Where else could that volume of water be coming from?
The pump in Photo 7 shows the only apparent way that substantial volume of water could be flowed.
The pumped-out pond in Photo 8 shows the only apparent source for such a volume of water. Evaporation does not seem plausible. A sump hose is lying there.
Photo 7 of 9 — Portable Pump on February 16 at 11:45 am
Photo 8 of 9 — Empty Pond on February 17 at 1:00 pm
Compare with previous photo of same smaller greenish-water pond:
Photo 9 of 9 — Smaller Pond, Different, Angle, on February 13 at 3:30 pm
If dumping the water without processing is the only available alternative, why would the developer not just wait until the processing apparatus becomes functional?
Why would a large-scale developer deliberately fail to observe appropriate project sequencing?
What urgency is there to dispose of the large quantity of groundwater in the pond?
Was that water tested at all before disposal?
Is the developer hoping to obtain better results by dumping a few ponds prior to any testing?
What message is Westbank sending to Norquay? We do whatever we want? Environment be damned?
There does not yet seem to be any connection to water service on site. The only apparent water lines are sump-type hoses that lead back to the south perimeter water collection pits. That water is contaminated not only by sediment but also by Canadian Tire auto servicing bay residues. It should go nowhere except into the six units of the processing apparatus.
Review the seven photos from 13 February 2015 and consider these factors:
The amount of sludge left around the sewer grate
The large pool of water at mid-site
The path taken by the water
An eyewitness report of pumping and dumping
The problems with this developer’s treatment of storm sewers seem to be ongoing and escalating.
There has been no updating at Eye on Norquay so far on Toxic Soil Remediation Factory
(posted 19 January 2015) because expected further information never arrived. Information
that was obtained is being incorporated into this sequel.
All the photographs that accompany this account were taken at the 2220 Kingsway construction site for Westbank’s Kensington Gardens development at mid-afternoon on Friday 13 February 2015.
The pictures tell the story far better than words can, but words are needed to explain the images and their sequence. This story starts at the downstream end and works backward to the source. Let the evidence come first.
1 of 7 — Sludge Goes Straight into the Sewer
The sewer grate at foreground right in this picture clearly has accommodated substantial recent water flow. The debris-covered grating is not properly fitted to the opening that it is supposed to cover. The opening has not been fitted with screening that is required to protect the sewer system. The asphalt surrounding the grate shows that a considerable amount of sludge must have been carried into the sewer. View is south from Kingsway sidewalk, toward western (Gladstone Street) side of 2.3 acre parcel.
2 of 7 — Sewer Grate in Context
Distance provides greater context for the now less visible sewer grate, located between dark brown foreground dirt and in line with rear of unhitched trailer. View is east from Gladstone Street, with Kingsway at left.
3 of 7 — Large Pool on Surface of Asphalt
At center a large pool reflects trees, buildings, and sky in distance. This is water that was not able to flow to sewer grate. Pavement is dry because this was not a day of rain. Note evidence of stream of water at right having fed the pool. View is north toward Kingsway from East 30th Avenue, near corner with Gladstone Street.
4 of 7 — L-Shaped Pond at South Center
This water collecting excavation is located at what used to be the western end of the Canadian Tire automobile service bays. (Compare with pre-demolition images numbered 3 and 4 at Toxic Soil Remediation Factory.) Note vertical and horizontal white plastic pipes connected with tube at water level at inside corner of ell. Note sump hose crossing foreground. Note color of water and materials floating on surface. View is north toward Kingsway from East 30th Avenue near center of site.
5 of 7 — Drainage Hoses Stretch Away from Two Ponds
These hoses appear to have been used to pump water out of water collecting ponds over to the western asphalt-covered side of the site. View is west toward Gladstone Street from laneway along eastern side
of site, with East 30th Avenue lying just beyond covered sidewalk.
6 of 7 — Two Water Collecting Ponds
Note different levels and water colors for two ponds. This southeast corner of the Canadian Tire site is where a large waste oil collection tank used to stand, at the eastern end of the row of automobile service bays.
7 of 7 — Larger Southeast Pond
Angle and distance of this photo give better view of water in the larger southeast pond. Notice the layer of something collected on the surface of the water. View is from eastern laneway northwest toward intersection of Kingway with Gladstone Street.
The 2220 Kingway site slopes south to north, and forms part of a long downhill grade toward Trout Lake, whose main feeder stream happens to runs underground just east of the Canadian Tire site.
At the time of photographing, I spoke with an adult eyewitness who described how water had earlier been pumped out, with the hose releasing water somewhere near the center of the site. This account matches the evidence that remained visible, especially the large pool and the sludge surrounding the sewer grate.
Back to the Factory
The City of Vancouver responded promptly and helpfully to questions posed earlier in Toxic Soil Remediation Factory. The purpose of the factory is to clean up construction site waste water, including washings from vehicle tires, before that water enters the sewer system. The purpose of the two large square steel boxes is to collect sediment. The purpose of the four round tanks is to carbon filter the water to remove impurities like hydrocarbons. Truckloads of soil that require remediation will be taken to an off-site facility for processing. This was reassuring news.
Far less reassuring was the type of monitoring and frequency of reporting that seem anticipated for the operation of the water cleaning apparatus. It appears that equipment dysfunction could go undetected for weeks, and that no independent checking will be performed on infrequently reported self-assessments of water quality.
Big New Questions
Why has a large quantity of sedimented and probably contaminated water already been discharged directly into the sewer system?
Why did this water not pass through the remediation apparatus that has been set up?
What does this very early incident suggest about Westbank concern to do the job right and City of Vancouver oversight to ensure that standards are met?
Fast replacement of 17 vandalized trees for Vancouver west side
Longstanding neglect of missing, damaged, and sick trees that symbolize Norquay
Back in November 2010, when the City of Vancouver rammed its Norquay Plan down the throat of area residents, planners tried to daub a coat of sugar over the bitter pill. One of their ideas — not ours — was that the ginkgo tree could become a Norquay signature. They called for concrete memorials like this one to remind us how they vanquished and rebranded us:
and like this one:
Developers like concrete. That’s about all they want to pour into the neighborhoods that they extract big profits from.
There were also supposed to be some trees. Here’s a pretty page from the Norquay Plan as it went to Council for approval:
Let’s extract and highlight the sentence that finishes off that page:
Planning will be undertaking further design exercises to achieve a high level
of placemaking design for the Norquay Village public realm.
Undertaking … Well, when it comes to tree funerals, those planners sure knew what they were talking about. What follows is a photo documentation of Norquay public realm as currently implemented along the Kingsway frontage of the 2300 Kingsway tower and its eastern podium.
(That project blockbusted Norquay just ahead of a “neighbourhood centre” planning process. Hit ’em hard first and maybe they’ll just give up? Naw. We just keep feeling more and more beat up, and we keep on hollering. Now the bully has gone after other neighborhoods that can hit back better. With counterpunch lawsuits.)
Keep thinking “Norquay logo” while you review the February 2015 images of these six fancy ginko trees that the City of Vancouver implemented in front of 2300 Kingsway. The sequence is west to east.
Tree 1 of 6 — Big Hit, Little Tree
Tree 2 of 6 — All-Natural Fibers Inside
Tree 3 of 6 — Best Spot for Cigarette Butts
Tree 4 of 6 — Off to a Bad Start
Tree 5 of 6 — I Came, It Sawed, It Conquered
Tree 6 of 6 : View 1 — Not a Lightning Strike
Tree 6 of 6 : View 2 — Big Skin Problem & Broken Arm
Postscript: A Norquay resident who occasionally communicates with Eye on Norquay shared a top-level City of Vancouver September 2014 response to complaint on this issue. Four months later, no action. Six trees should be easier than seventeen?
Comments on Development Application DE418514 under RT-11 Zoning
3 February 2015
I would like to express a couple of concerns with regard to this application.
1. Sidewalks. There is no existing sidewalk on the west side of Wales Street in the block where this site is located. The Norquay Plan identifies missing sidewalks as a priority, especially where redevelopment is occurring. It states that “new, wider sidewalks will be sought, and boulevards of adequate width will be requested to support street trees” (5.2 Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvements, p. 63). The sidewalk with boulevard and trees should be created at this site and extended either north to East 39th Avenue or south to the nearest lane (or both).
2. Landscaping. I am pleased to see the landscaping plan included with the material posted on the City’s web site for this application.
(a) I question whether coniferous trees should be planted in a front yard of this size. Even though the species suggested are relatively slow growing, they will reach a mature height of 30 to 50 feet. They will shade not only the residences on this site, but also neighbouring residences, and prevent winter sun from reaching the front windows. It will be difficult to grown a lawn underneath these trees.
(b) The many small patches of lawn will be difficult to maintain, and some of them could be paved or planted. There seems to be no access to the front lawns from the paved areas.
(c) The stepping stones in the back yard are also time-consuming to maintain. A solid sidewalk would be better.
The following open letter is being sent to Mayor Gregor Robertson and to all City Councillors. Eye on Norquay rarely gives space to an issue that does not have apparent and immediate connection to Norquay. In this particular case, while the connection may not be apparent, it does seem immediate — not only for New Yaletown but for all of Vancouver, including Norquay. For details on the recent B.C. Supreme Court judgment against the City of Vancouver, see
Supreme Court: Vancouver Development Process Unfair, Illegal
and for the issue addressed in the following open letter see
CANY Letter re: Amendments to the Official Development Plan
2 February 2015
To Mayor Gregor Robertson and All City Councillors:
I write to you regarding item 3 listed as Council agenda for 4 February 2015:
I am especially concerned to see the item followed by this preclusionary language:
Members of the public will have an opportunity to speak to this application
when it has been referred to public hearing.
To try to send a hasty done-deal proposal off to public hearing without being willing to hear from the public seems … I find myself at a loss for words. I gather that “procedure” is the shield for this assault.
To the extent that this document seeks to address fallout from the 27 January 2015 slapdown of the City of Vancouver by the B.C. Supreme Court, the document has to be illegitimate.
To head back into the public arena only one week following a severe rebuke manifests the extremest possible arrogance. The City of Vancouver cannot possibly do anything well-considered in that short period of time.
The message this action sends to perturbed residents across Vancouver is this:
Our jackboots are owned by the jackhammers, and we want them
to stomp you again as fast and as hard as possible.
The real apology message last fall from Gregor Robertson was that he felt sorry that he thought he might run a risk of not getting re-elected. Right?