Galt Street Report
This is a report on the 2312-2328 Galt Street open house of 15 April 2015. Comment on the development proposal is yet to come and will stand as a separate posting.
Approximately two dozen people attended a community open house for the proposed 2312-2328 Galt Street rezoning on 15 April 2015 from 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Also present were five different planning staff, two project architects, and the site owner/developer.
This is first development proposal to come forward under the Norquay Plan Apartment Transition Area Rezoning Policy. The development proposal also seeks to benefit from incentives available through the Rental 100 program.
A model of the proposed new 28-unit rental building was available for viewing:
In two separate episodes during the three hours, unusually upset immediate-area residents or owners complained vociferously and at great length about the out-of-scale nature of the development, and about a planning system in Vancouver that appears to serve developer interests only.
The first of the two unhappy people seemed to have connection with the newer single-family house to the immediate west (at right in photo of model) that seems destined to become squeezed between two four-storey apartment complexes. To the immediate east of that house the 2298 Galt Street development (four apartments in two buildings on a single lot) already exists as an ill-advised experiment that City of Vancouver encouraged prior to definition of the new zoning policy. The objector spoke in Chinese, and two of the planners had the language ability to interact with her. One point that could be understood by an onlooker was complaint that other lower-density Vancouver neighborhoods seem to stay protected from the sort of “planning” that has been forced onto Norquay.
The second frustrated person mentioned fifty years of residence, which from age appearance would mean having grown up in and still being occupant of a family dwelling. His greatest practical concerns seemed to be oppressive shadowing, exacerbation of an already severe parking situation, even more automobile traffic along a busy double-fronted street that functions more as a lane, and injection of 28 rental units into the midst of an existing single-family neighborhood.
For a good portion of the three-hour open house, three development planners had to take turns at trying to provide “ranter therapy.” The stress factor was obvious. Explanations of dry policy and bureaucratic process are not what people who feel threatened want to hear. This is the kind of unfortunate experience that tempts planners to discount or dismiss all input from the public.
The predominant planner response was to say that this kind of development is what Vancouver City Council has approved for the area. (Of course, City of Vancouver employees could never take the further step of outlining the politics of why most Vancouver City Councillors act as little more than a tool of developer money.)
Planners seemed to say two things for which they could have been taken to task by an informed participant. In light of the heated emotional situation, it did not seem useful to intervene in the exchanges with the following perspectives.
One planner (speaking out of direct experience with recent Marpole area planning) seemed to claim that the Norquay Plan had the support of a majority of area residents. The basis for saying this probably would be an assumption that Council would not flat-out stomp on a local area. However, the record shows that this is exactly what Council did to Norquay.
A formal community-wide survey strongly rejected the 2007 Norquay Draft Plan, and probably offered the truest indication ever of general Norquay sentiment. What the City of Vancouver did in the 2008-2010 wake of that result amounted to a sustained fabrication of “support” and smothering of evidence of widespread disapproval.
Another planner seemed to claim that Rental 100 policy would ensure that only reasonable rents would be collected by the property owner. It seems unlikely that City of Vancouver possesses now or will ever implement any monitoring or survey mechanisms to control the future market rents that Rental 100 properties will be able to collect. Norquay has already faced one outrageous Rental 100 project that appears to have fallen by the wayside.
Both the architects and the developer/owner communicated frankly in individual conversation. They appear to be committed both to building a quality project and to providing good long-term management. In a local real estate environment that so often favors hit-and-run construction coupled with quick-flip “investing,” their approach looked like good news for Norquay. But only time will tell.
Since the six open house panels for 2312-2328 Galt Street may never be provided on the City of Vancouver web site, and seem certain to disappear with eventual removal of the application information, photos are provided below:
View Analysis + Shadow Studies
Site Plan + Site Data + Design Rationale
Streetscapes + Context
Elevations + Sections + Perspectives