Ravine Way History
Ravine Way is the designation used for a proposed linear park and/or pedestrian way in East Vancouver that would connect Norquay Park to Slocan Park along the existing Metro sewer right-of-way. The delivery of this feature has been promised to the Norquay neighborhood for many years. During the Norquay planning process, the local community rated this amenity as highly desirable — second only to a new community arts facility at the 2400 Motel site.
Concern about the future of Ravine Way has prompted us to compile History of the Proposed Ravine Way Linear Park (September 2016). This essay traces the promise of Ravine Way through Norquay planning history. This document was sent to the City of Vancouver on 6 September 2016.
A History of the Proposed Ravine Way Linear Park
For many years, planning processes in Norquay have included a proposal for a linear park that would follow the undergrounded portion of Still Creek that flows in a culvert from Norquay Park to Slocan Park. Most of the properties that would be incorporated into the park are already owned by the City of Vancouver.
Existing City of Vancouver policy and staff communications to the community on this topic can be summarized as follows:
1. The Ravine Way Linear Park has been consistently referred to as a park which will also function as a pedestrian connection. Not until the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Public Realm Workshop of June 2014 did staff begin to refer to these properties as a mere pedestrian connection called “Ravine Way.”
2. Staff has been unclear and inconsistent about the future width and precise boundaries of the park. The community has been led to believe that all of the City-owned land will be incorporated into the park, together with the properties that the City of Vancouver has identified as necessary to acquire.
3. Two principles regarding the building of the park have been consistently reiterated:
(a) Implementation will be incremental, since time is needed to
assemble all of necessary properties.
(b) Prior to completion, sections of the designated park will function
as pocket parks, community gardens, and mid-block pedestrian connections.
A detailed description of staff communications and existing City of Vancouver policy follows.
Background and Context
Nanaimo/29th Avenue Station Areas Plan (1987)
This document does not specifically mention the proposed Renfrew Ravine Linear Park. The most relevant reference is to enhancement of the Renfrew Ravine north of Slocan Park, the area where planning for a park is currently underway. There is also explicit reference to developing “a lighted asphalt pathway … in Slocan Park linking the B.C. Parkway with Norquay School to provide a north/south walkway system that intersects with the B.C. Parkway” (p. 104-105). Anecdotal evidence reports discussion of the Renfrew Ravine Linear Park between Kingsway and Slocan Park in connection with Station Areas Planning. But no such discussion seems to have become part of the written record.
The 1987 Plan states that “the Nanaimo/29th Avenue Station areas contain 2.25 hectares of neighbourhood park space for every one thousand residents,” higher than the City’s average service level of 1.1 hectares (p. 104). A careful reading shows that this figure includes John Hendry Park around Trout Lake (23.6 hectares out of the 31.3 hectare total). It must be recognized that John Hendry Park is an “area park” serving a much larger area of East Vancouver. The document “Planning for the Community & Rapid Transit: Nanaimo and 29th Station Areas” (1983) states that total park space in the 29th Station Area, including Slocan Park (4.08 hectares) and the undeveloped Renfrew Ravine (2.23 hectares), amounted to only 0.8 hectares for every one thousand residents in 1983. Although the number of residents has increased since that time, park space has not.
Renfrew-Collingwood Community Vision (2004)
This document addresses the restoration and preservation of Renfrew Ravine, but not the undergrounded section of Still Creek south of Slocan Park. It states: “Renfrew-Collingwood has .8 hectares of park per thousand residents, which is lower than the City standard of 1.1 hectares per thousand.” (p. 62)
Planning for the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre
Draft Plan for Future Housing in Norquay Village Neighbourhood Center and an Improved Streetscape for Kingsway (2007) This draft plan was not approved.
This document has a short section titled “Ravine Way ‘Green Corridor’ Concept” that states:
The “Ravine Way” is a concept for a linear park that would traverse through Norquay Neighbourhood Village from Slocan Park to Kingsway following the historical watercourse of Still Creek …. The Working Group members and CityPlan staff feel that this easement and these properties represent a unique opportunity to create a linear green belt or park connecting other significant parks in the community. It is important to stress that this is a long term ‘100 year’ vision. Even with community support for this concept, it would take a long time before the city could acquire additional properties along the easement. To achieve this, the City would gradually, over the next 20-100 years, purchase additional properties along the Ravine Way corridor at fair market value. (p. 8)
This statement seems to imply that the City of Vancouver intended to acquire additional properties to increase the width of the park. The City already owns all but two properties necessary to complete a continuous linear park. It is unlikely that 100 years would be needed to acquire nothing more than those two properties.
Norquay Planning Process (2008-2010)
The Norquay Working Group consisted of about a dozen community residents who met with city planners in 2009 and early 2010 to work on the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan. It was the understanding of the Working Group that most, if not all, of the City owned properties along the easement would be incorporated into the Ravine Way Linear Park.
At Community Workshop #5 (May 14, 2009), the Park Board representative stated that possibilities for new parks included pocket parks, a public plaza at 2400 Kingsway, fixing edges at Brock and Slocan Parks, and a greenway corridor of 50 to 100 feet from Slocan Park to Kingsway. (See “A participant report on Community Workshop #5: Assessing options,” Norquay Working Group Consolidated Participants Reports, at Eye on Norquay
Norquay Plan (2010)
Section 6.2 of this document (p. 70-71) discusses the creation of the park.
Additional park and open space improvements will be sought as opportunities arise, with a focus on extending the Renfrew Ravine Park between Slocan Park and Kingsway. (p. 70)
The Norquay Plan identifies the partial implementation of the park as a priority. The second item on the “Priorities” list for this section of the plan is:
2. Pursue the creation of pocket parks and green pedestrian connections along the future Ravine Way (existing Metro sewer right-of-way) to eventually link Slocan Park and the 29th Avenue Skytrain Station with the Kingsway shopping area and Norquay Park. Any redevelopment adjacent to the future Ravine Way should orient primary entrances to the Ravine Way. (p. 71)
Norquay Village Public Benefits Strategy (2013)
This document gives further specifics on the incremental implementation of the Renfrew Way Linear Park concept.
A new mixed-use project at 2699 Kingsway across from Norquay Park has incorporated the first section and link to Ravine Way through a plaza space. Subsequent sections can be constructed incrementally as properties and funding become available &hellip. Prior to completion of the entire park route, sections would function as pocket parks, mid-block connections, or as two City-owned properties currently function as community gardens.
(Section 3 Parks, Open Space and Access to Nature, p. 10)
The two remaining “key properties to be acquired on an opportunity basis” are identified as 2731 Horley and 2698 Ward. The Duke Street Daycare play space is to be relocated. (Appendix B, Policy Report on Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan Implementation — Public Benefits Strategy and Apartment Transition Area Rezoning Policy)
The Ravine Way Linear Park is projected to cost $7 M. It is to be funded through DCLs.
In answer to a question from Council at the Public Hearing, planning staff stated that the width of the park was expected to be 20 to 40 feet.
RM-7 and RM-7N Zoning Guidelines (May 2013)
A two-page section of these zoning guidelines is titled “Special Considerations for Development Along ‘Ravine Way’ Linear Park in Norquay” (RM-7 and RM-7N Guidelines, p. 19-20). This section describes the development that is expected to take place adjacent to the park:
The development of Ravine Way will occur in an ongoing, incremental process, where opportunities for land acquisition by the city will slowly occur along with the gradual private development of the flanking sites …. The sketch shows an aspirational 40 ft. width in order to maximize capacity for pocket parks, pedestrian traffic, and seating areas. In locations where 40 ft. cannot be achieved, other design solutions will be explored …. New development on properties that contain or are directly adjacent to this right-of-way will typically be required to be oriented towards Ravine Way.
Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Public Realm Plan Workshop (June 2014)
About 30 residents met with staff and consultants to discuss plans for the Norquay Public Realm, including “Ravine Way.” Park planning at the workshop was for an area outlined in yellow on an aerial photograph, which included all of the properties that the City of Vancouver currently owns or intends to buy along the easement. In response to residents’ concern that the City of Vancouver was intending to sell some of this land, staff stated that none of the land would be sold.
A summary of ideas from the workshop can be seen on the City of Vancouver web site.
Recent Development Impacting the Ravine Way Linear Park
Skyway Tower (2699 Kingsway; consolidated from 2776-2703 Kingsway)
This development includes a 12-storey tower and a 4-storey building, separated by a plaza. The Proposed Conditions of Approval of the Policy Report presented to Council on May 31, 2011 states:
Note to Applicant: The proposal shows active uses in the form of residential lobby and retail entries facing the south half of the plaza. The north half of the plaza should receive a similar treatment to help denote this space as the entrance to the future Ravine Way linear park system.
(Appendix B, p. 2)
At this point, the building has been completed and occupied for several years. The plaza is completed and an attractive piece of public art has been installed. Bike stands have also been installed. However, there are no benches or other seating in the plaza. The grates surrounding the trees are overgrown with weeds, and the trees are not being watered during dry periods. There seems to be no
ongoing maintenance of the plaza.
2688 Duke Street (consolidated from 2684, 2690 and 2696 Duke St.)
This current development application is for a 4-storey apartment building to be built on the three properties immediately to the west of the Duke Street Daycare Centre. The site plan shows that a 7-foot wide pathway at the extreme east edge of the site has been designated as a “mid-block pedestrian connection.”
According to the staff presentation at the June 2014 Public Realm Workshop, the public planning process for the Norquay Public Realm Plan (which includes the Ravine Way Linear Park) is to consist of these stages: (1) Workshop (2) Community Outreach (3) Draft Public Realm Plan (4) Public Review
(5) Finalize Public Realm Plan.
At this point, the public planning has consisted only of stage 1, the June 2014 workshop.
Jeanette Jones — September 2016