Density × Density
A development application for 2312-2328 Galt Street happens to be the first rezoning proposal under Norquay Village — Apartment Transition Area Rezoning Policy. The application seeks to benefit from the Rental 100 suite of developer handouts at the same time.
The City of Vancouver is allowing two new experimental densities to collide, and Norquay in the heart of East Vancouver suffers the toxic density fallout. It was already unfair to target one of Vancouver’s already denser neighborhoods for more population with no added amenity. It seems beyond unfair to layer a second density handout on top of the first.
Apartment Transition Zone
First of all, the Galt Street application seeks to benefit from incentives provided by the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan.
Here is the relevant portion (pdf 46 of 108) of what Vancouver City Council approved on 4 November 2010 over the objections of a majority of area residents:
Note the following three divergences from how this new “zone” was presented in 2010 — and what has happened since:
I. Norquay was promised an Apartment Transition Zone. Instead, in 2013 it got an inflated loosey-goosey Apartment Transition Area Rezoning Policy.
II. In 2010 a Basic Development Parameter was specificed as 72 dwelling units. Presumably this figure applied to “one parcel.” The 2013 version of the zoning upped this figure to 180 for two parcels and 240 for three parcels. That represents an inflation of 25% for two parcels and 11% for three parcels.
III. The 2013 version of the zoning specifies at 2.4 that single parcels of less than 50 ft. ordinarily will not be eligible for rezoning. Land assembly is required. In the interim, however, City of Vancouver encouraged a misbegotten experiment on a 46.4 ft. parcel at 2298 Galt Street. Too bad planners had to see the face of Frankenstein before realizing that the monster needed to die. The four apartments in a nasty location have recently gone on the market at prices ranging from $878,000 to $998,800. (So much for Norquay’s vaunted new affordable housing.)
The 2010 Norquay Plan dropped significant additional density into RS-1 zones, and then the 2013 specifications stealthily pushed that density even higher.
The conclusion needs to go up front:
The City of Vancouver must make Norquay Apartment Transition Zone a no-go zone for additional Rental 100 handouts
This is not the place to get into all the details of the long, tangled, nasty history of Rental 100 incentives. Three points are enough:
The rental incentives “initiative” traces back to the 2008 economic downturn and a City of Vancouver effort to “stimulate” the construction and development activity that has become its only real business — apart from selling itself off as a global elite playground at the expense of most existing residents. This early account provides backstory:
Joseph Jones. The Ugly Story of Short Term Incentives for Rental. Vancouver Media Co-op (26 Aug 2010)
What was “short term” in 2009 has turned into a permanent deep trough for developers to pig out on at taxpayer expense. A recent mainstream media account makes it clear that developers are now interested in building rental properties even without these incentives:
Tamsin McMahon. Canada’s rental unit landscape witnessing a resurgence. Globe and Mail (16 March 2015)
In 2015 City of Vancouver budgeting, housing consumes 20% of capital budget and 35% of operating budget investments. Much of this “housing” consists of STIR and Rental 100 giveaways to developers. A correlate of this use of scarce resources is no amenity increase for the predominantly East Vancouver areas where the density is getting dumped.
2015 Capital Budget Expenditures — $306.0 Million (pdf 57 of 180)
2015 Operating Budget Investments — $9.4 Million (pdf 48 of 180)
2015 Budget Report DRAFT — Council Meeting February 24, 2015