Interim Rezoning Policy
The following report on Interim Rezoning Policy makes it possible to assess factors that City of Vancouver obscures in its documents.
Norquay is not affected by the “policy” described below due to its mass rezoning of 1912 properties for Vancouver’s second neighbourhood centre in 2010. But the 1577 properties mass rezoned in 2004 for Vancouver’s first neighbourhood centre at Kingsway & Knight are subject to the policy. This discrepancy is only one of the anomalies that taint the initiative.
Eye on Norquay has taken a particular interest in Interim Rezoning Policy, and in similar provisions of the Rental 100 program which has landed units within Norquay. That interest stems from a broader concern for policies which affect other Vancouver residential areas, especially those that lie in East Vancouver.
On 3 October 2012, Vancouver City Council approved an Interim Rezoning Policy for Increasing Affordable Housing Choices (hereafter cited as IRP).
At this stage, the I for “interim” could stand for indefinite, with regard to both policy specifications and duration of implementation.
Public $$$ Handed Out with Little Accountability
IRP and the related Rental 100 program raise huge concerns:
1. The City of Vancouver makes massive financial concessions to developers to build “secured market rental” — presumably “secured” for the greater of building lifespan or sixty years. Since no present Council can “fetter” a future Council, there is no assurance that any project will not be flipped from rental to strata sale at some point in the future.
2. Overall concessions in the form of waiver of DCL (development cost levy) and CAC (community amenity contribution) now run toward or beyond $100 million ($54 million for Aquilini alone). These waivers mean that increase in population comes without corresponding funding for amenities and infrastructure. The result will be a strip-mined public realm for Vancouver.
3. The “affordable” rental scale has imported west side rents into east side projects. This means that developers will concentrate on locations where they can exploit maximized differentials between costs and returns.
4. The supposed affordable rental scale is not monitored, and evaporates at first rental turnover of a unit. After being handed $54 million in concessions, Aquilini has just implemented a fixed-lease approach that will guarantee 100% turnover after one year (see St. Denis). In effect, the City of Vancouver writes the developer a blank cheque.
Problems Specific to IRP
The distinguishing feature of IRP is a de facto rezoning of most of Vancouver with no consultation and no planning. As of 20 April 2016, the policy includes a more detailed mapping. IRP has unleashed widespread speculation and massive land assemblies (see Yaffe).
Unlike Rental 100, IRP can extend off of arterial streets for a distance of “approximately 100 metres” — the length of a football field. Precedent has just been set at 3365 Commercial to push an apartment form into that entire space, contrary to the policy that specifies ground-oriented housing forms for off-arterial locations.
The City of Vancouver has expressed notions of participating with unit owners in future price appreciation of IRP units designed for ownership. The net result is expansion of conflict of interest — the body that controls zoning will self-deal by sticking its own finger into the pie. For about forty years, the City of Vancouver has already served itself in this fashion with the secretive off-balance-sheet Property Endowment Fund.
Six IRP Sites
The current version of IRP states: “As of April 20, 2016, six projects under this policy have been approved or are in process.”
It seems apparent that developer take-up on the policy has been underwhelming. The policy still states:
Once 20 rezoning applications are in process, other proposals will be put on a wait list pending any decision by Council to extend the policy beyond 20 projects.
The six sites listed in the table below appear to be the sites referred to. Passed over in silence by the City of Vancouver is the proposal from Pacific Arbour for a seniors facility on six parcels in the 4600 block on the east side of Dunbar Street. Facing extreme pressure from Dunbar residents, the City of Vancouver rejected the proposal in spring 2013, citing “affordability” concerns.
To extrapolate from six projects in four years, the City of Vancouver may get around to a “review” of the situation about ten years from now. At that point, developers may have plopped a series of one-off experimental projects mainly into East Vancouver. As it stands now, three of the six have landed in the single local area of Kensington-Cedar Cottage.
Only one of the six IRP’s has so far landed west of Main Street. That atypical project, 1037 West King Edward, displays low FSR, low height, and few units. For this, the developer receives huge upfront financial concessions — waiver of DCL calculated at $374,437 and no levy of CAC.
Initial Rents, East and West
From page 13 of report on 3365 Commercial
From page 8 of report on 1037 West King Edward
Site Data Site SqFt FSR Height Storeys Units 1729 E. 33rd 29,587 1.26 37 ft 3 31 3323 E. 4th 36,777 1.45 46 ft 4 54 3120 Knight 17,653 2.08 52 ft 5 51 1037 W. King Edward 19,008 1.48 40 ft 2 - 4 36 3365 Commercial 35,106 2.40 60 ft 3.5 - 6 110 3868 Rupert 29,102 3.60 69 ft 6 112 DCL Waivers 1729 E. 33rd Not applicable 3323 E. 4th Not applicable 3120 Knight $465,476 1037 W. King Edward $374,437 3365 Commercial $1,077,792 3868 Rupert ??? Unit Distributions Studio 1 BR 2 BR 3 BR 1729 E. 33rd (Strata co-housing plus 2 rental units) 3323 E. 4th (Life-lease) 8 46 3120 Knight 1 32 18 3365 Commercial 31 38 30 11 1037 W. King Edward 8 12 13 3 3868 Rupert 78 30 4
Council Reports for IRP Rezonings
1729 East 33rd
2013 March 12-13
3. REZONING – 1729-1735 East 33rd Avenue
3323 East 4th
2014 March 13
1. REZONING: 3323-3367 East 4th Avenue (Beulah Garden)
2014 May 20
1. REZONING: 3120-3184 Knight Street
2016 May 24
3. REZONING: 3365 Commercial Drive and 1695-1775 East 18th Avenue
2016 June 23
1. REZONING: 3365 Commercial Drive and 1695-1775 East 18th Avenue
1037 West King Edward
2016 June 21
3. REZONING: 1037 West King Edward Avenue
City of Vancouver Documents on IRP
Final Report from the Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability (2 October 2012)
Affordable Housing Choices Interim Rezoning Policy (4 Oct 2012 / 2 Dec 2013 / 20 Apr 2016)
Council Meetings about IRP
3 October 2012
4. Final Report of the Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability
3 December 2013
4. Development Cost Levy By-law Amendments to the Definition of
For-Profit Affordable Rental Housing
20 April 2016
2. Affordable Home Ownership Pilot Program
Rejected IRP for 4600 Block East Side of Dunbar Street
Brent Jang. Plan for Dunbar seniors home way up in the air. Globe and Mail (20 Nov 2012)
Naiobh O’Connor. City rejects seniors housing application in Dunbar. Vancouver Courier (6 Mar 2013)
Legal Challenge to IRP / Rental 100 “Affordability”
Carlito Pablo. City of Vancouver to amend STIR and Rental 100 bylaws after legal fight. Georgia Straight (19 Nov 2013)
Bob Mackin. West End Neighbours society wonders what is affordable. Vancouver Courier (10 Apr 2014)
Speculation (Yaffe) and Aquilini (St. Denis/O’Brien)
Barbara Yaffe. City looks to dismantle land assembly. Vancouver Sun (23 Apr 2015: D3
[Brian] Jackson says the land assembly activity that has been accelerating amounts to property speculation. … The activity is likely the result of an interim zoning policy adopted by the city three years ago.
Jen St. Denis / Frank O’Brien. New Aquilini rental tower uses controversial fixed-term tenancy agreements. Business in Vanocuver (8 July 2016)
Related Coverage at Eye on Norquay
Rental 100 Red Flag
Vancouver CAC 2013
Commercial at 18th Ave