Ravine Way Future

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City of Vancouver Parcels of Land

 
Introduction to the Brief

 
The Norquay Village Public Realm Plan, the last policy document of the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan, was released in October 2016. It can be found on the City of Vancouver web site at

http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/norquay-village-public-realm-plan.pdf

The Public Realm Plan gives further detail about implementation of the relevant sections of the Norquay Plan (2010) and the Norquay Public Benefits Strategy (2013). Because staff considers the Public Realm Plan to closely follow these previous guidelines, the plan was simply announced and not shown either to the community or to Council for input or approval.

Most of the Norquay Public Realm Plan is in fact consistent with the Norquay Plan and with the Norquay Public Benefits Strategy. The very important exception is Section 2.5 entitled “Ravine Way” (p. 12-13).

Definitive specifications for Ravine Way, a proposed pedestrian connection between Norquay Park and Slocan Park that runs along a Metro Vancouver trunk sewer line and right-of-way, were to have been part of the Norquay Public Realm Plan. But details remain vague. The Plan has no definition of boundaries for Ravine Way, although a minimum 33 ft. width is specified. There is no discussion of a timetable for the incremental completion that has been promised to the neighbourhood.

The City of Vancouver already owns all but two of the properties necessary to create Ravine Way. The Public Realm Plan suggests that some of this land is superfluous and disposable: “some of the City’s land holdings in excess of the minimum corridor width may be released for development.” Our brief that follows, Ravine Way Specifications in Norquay Village Public Realm Plan (November 2016) presents evidence for the argument that it is highly unlikely that any of the land that the City of Vancouver currently owns in the Ravine Way corridor could or should be released for development.

The brief went to five relevant staff at the City of Vancouver on November 7, 2016. To date, we have received no response.

 
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To:  [Five relevant City of Vancouver staff in Planning and Engineering]

From:  Jeanette and Joseph Jones

Date:  7 November 2016

Re:  Ravine Way Specifications in Norquay Village Public Realm Plan (April 2016)

 
Ravine Way, a proposed pedestrian connection between Norquay Park and Slocan Park, runs along a Metro Vancouver trunk sewer line and right-of-way. The realization of this feature has been promised to the Norquay neighbourhood for many years. The promise has been repeated in the Norquay Plan (2010) and the accompanying Norquay Public Benefits Strategy (2013).

Because land assembly is not yet complete, and because most of the properties that the City of Vancouver already owns are at present under lease, Norquay is told that the construction of Ravine Way is a longterm project.

The Ravine Way properties that are currently owned by the City of Vancouver are shown on a June 2006 map titled Norquay Village Study Area — City Properties. That map was provided to members of the 2006-2007 Norquay Working Group by City of Vancouver planning staff. See Appendix A for scanned copies.

The two properties that were identified in Appendix B of the May 2013 Norquay Public Benefits Strategy as still necessary to acquire are 2731 Horley Street (68 ft. frontage) and 2698 Ward Street (50 ft. frontage). We understand that these properties have been officially flagged.

A June 2014 Public Realm Workshop for Norquay proceeded on the declaration that all of the properties that the City of Vancouver already owns as well as those still necessary to acquire would be incorporated into Ravine Way. However, the Norquay Public Realm Plan posted to the public in October 2016 states:

A minimum corridor width will be protected along the Ravine Way route in order to facilitate the long-term vision. It is noted that some of the City’s land holdings in excess of the minimum corridor width may be released for development even as other currently missing properties in other portions of the corridor are being acquired.  (p. 12)

This wording suggests that some portion of the property that the City of Vancouver owns at present is considered superfluous and disposable.

Unsourced maps lacking legend, included in the consultants’ presentation at the June 2014 Norquay Public Realm Workshop, show the location of the Metro Trunk Sewer that now carries a major underground stream to Still Creek through a large culvert that runs under the right-of-way. Black borders appear to define the properties which lie directly above portions of the culvert. See Appendix B for the mapping provided under the title Ravine Connection as pdf 12 of 13 in Consultant Presentation (PWL Partnership) as posted to the City of Vancouver web site.

A simple viewing of this map alongside the City Properties map of Appendix A might well lead to the erroneous conclusion that some of the land that the City of Vancouver already owns is not compromised by the underground sewer piping. One might assume that parcels not directly above the culvert could be suitable to release for development. But such a conclusion would not take into account the broader location of the old wandering stream bed, which does not coincide neatly with the linear path of a culvert.

Another City of Vancouver map provided by planning staff to the 2006-2007 Norquay Working Group shows both the location of the culvert and a varying location for the original stream bed. See Appendix C for Norquay Village Study Area — Natural Features (July 2006). A Vancouver-wide context for this map can be viewed in Vancouver’s Old Streams (March 2011), provided as Appendix D.

In this City of Vancouver mapping it can be seen that the culvert does not strictly follow the old stream bed, and often diverges from it considerably. Moreover, the divergence is greatest precisely in those locations where the City of Vancouver presently owns the greatest amount of frontage: 2760 Cheyenne Street (78 ft.), and both 2707 Duke Street (99 ft.) and 2708 Duke Street (99 ft.). The likely explanation for the fact that the City of Vancouver already owns all of these properties is that in the past it was not judged acceptable or practical to develop either the land directly above the culvert or the land above the old stream bed.

The three buildings that the City of Vancouver has constructed on these sites for use by social agencies are one-storey structures. All but one of the existing buildings on the entire right-of-way are slab-on-grade construction without basements. The single exception is 2731 Horley Street, a steeply sloping lot where the front portion of the house’s first storey is partly below ground. This is also the location where the pipe and the old stream bed converge most closely, under the easement on the east side of this 68-foot wide property.

Construction technology has advanced in recent years, and it may now be possible to build in such problematic locations. Nevertheless, the additional costs required for small-scale construction seem likely to remain prohibitive.

In early 2015 a neighbour on Wenonah Street set out to build a new duplex with basement. Excavation uncovered an old stream bed that the City of Vancouver permit process failed to make them aware of. A major East Vancouver streamway that routes downhill from south of East 41st Avenue into Trout Lake passes through their parcel. The continuous active underground flow of a significant stream can be heard at manhole covers in Brock Park across the street.

Much of the property at what is now 2262 / 2266 Wenonah Street situates directly over the original stream bed, while a large underground clay pipe, which their backhoe broke into at the front northeast corner, mostly runs underneath the adjoining parcel to the east (occupied by a slab-on-grade Vancouver Special).

Construction delays and remediation of the Wenonah Street site led to massive unforeseen costs. Remediation measures under the direction of a specialist engineer included much additional excavation, side shoring with steel pilings and large concrete blocks, a drilling rig brought in to assess conditions, massive amounts of compacted gravel fill, and repair to the damage of existing underground culvert. (There was evidence of less than standard “inspection” accompanied by very rapid undergrounding of the repair.) A photo essay provided as Appendix D says far more that the words of this paragraph can.

It is difficult to suppose that City of Vancouver could sell off any Ravine Way property without fully disclosing known impairment. If any of the land that the City of Vancouver currently owns along the Ravine Way right-of-way were released for development, problems similar to those experienced on Wenonah Street seem likely to crop up. Under the Norquay Plan, the area is zoned RM-7 for row houses
and stacked townhouses.

It seems unlikely that monetary value realized from shaved-off bits of geotechnically dubious old stream bed could ever begin to approach the public use value of the same land’s being devoted to a larger Ravine Way.

Please respond in writing to this brief. Since the City of Vancouver views Ravine Way as a long-term project, the maintenance of full and accurate documentation becomes crucial. In view of the information presented here, it would seem appropriate to remove language from Norquay Public Realm Plan (April 2016) about disposal of presently held City of Vancouver Ravine Way land, and to add language to confirm that the land is generally unsuitable to support development of future construction.
 

 
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Appendix A:1  —  Norquay Village Study Area: City Properties
(June 2006)

 
xa-citprop-1
 

 

Appendix A:2  —  Norquay Village Study Area: City Properties
(June 2006)

 
xa-citprop-2
 

 

Appendix B  —  Norquay Village Public Realm: Community Workshop
(June 2014)

Consultant Presentation (by PWL Partnership) : Ravine Connection (pdf 12 of 13)
http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/norquay-public-realm-plan-workshop-consultant-presentation-06162014.pdf

 
xb-wkshpconsultant
 

 

Appendix C:1  —  Norquay Village Study Area: Natural Features
(July 2006)

 
xc-natfea-1
 

 

Appendix C:2  —  Norquay Village Study Area: Natural Features
(July 2006)

 
xc-natfea-2
 

 

Appendix D  —  Vancouver’s Old Streams (March 2011)

http://dvn.library.ubc.ca/dvn/dv/ABACUSPD/faces/study/StudyPage.xhtml?globalId=hdl:11272/IKHNQ

 
xd-vancouversoldstreamsprintedmap
 

 

Appendix E  —  Norquay Old Streambed Photo Essay [modified]

 
 
1 of 16 – photo 7635 on 16 Jan 2015 at 3:41 pm
View northward along west side of lot. Load of rock distributed across site to provide footing for backhoe. Excavation visible at front of lot. Vertical steel driven in row close to west lot edge.

 
xe-1-7635
 

 
 
2 of 16 – photo 7662 on 23 Jan 2015 at 9:08 am
Rear of lot toward east side. Material excavated from front of lot shows stream bed soil characteristics such as clay and organic matter.

 
xe-2-7662
 

 
 
3 of 16 – photo 7700 on 27 Jan 2015 at 10:13 am
Front of lot toward northeast corner. Shoring with large interlocking concrete blocks. Some additional gravel dump. Drainage established from underneath neighbor lot. Water accumulation managed with sump line to street curb.

Photo not provided here

 
 
4 of 16 – photo 7742 on 6 Feb 2015 at 11:50 am
View southward of entire lot. Drilling rig samples substrata. Note old streambed log at excavation bank toward right.

Photo not provided here

 
 
5 of 16 – photo 7877 on 23 Feb 2015 at 10:40 am
Front of lot, westward toward northwest corner. Along west side of lot, shoring with large concrete blocks, steel pilings, and timber. Backhoe begins significant gravel infill.

 
xe-5-7877
 

 
 
6 of 16 – photo 7880 on 23 Feb 2015 at 10:42 am
Front of lot, eastward toward northeast corner. Angle of sun unfavorable to photography. Backhoe tamps gravel bed. Just-damaged culvert barely visible beyond furthest pool of water. View of streambed soils.

Photo not provided here

 
 
7 of 16 – photo 7933 on 23 Feb 2015 at 2:18 pm
Front of lot, eastward toward northeast corner. Degree of close-up focus. Broken culvert scraped out with shovel and cut into vertical trough.

 
xe-7-7933
 

 
 
8 of 16 – photo 7939 on 23 Feb 2015 at 4:34 pm
View southward of front northwest corner. Much gravel compacted to high level in corner.

Photo not provided here

 
 
9 of 16 – photo 7941 on 24 Feb 2015 at 2:06 pm
Front of lot, eastward toward northeast corner. Gravel bed extended across front of site. Broken culvert visible at right of leftmost distant figure.

Photo not provided here

 
 
10 of 16 – photo 7955 on 24 Feb 2015 at 4:57 pm
Front of lot, eastward toward northeast corner. Large blue plastic pipe extends from rough cementing at angle not in line with broken culvert.

 
xe-10-7955
 

 
 
11 of 16 – photo 7956 on 26 Feb 2015 at 2:47 pm
Front of lot, eastward toward northeast corner. Culvert repair and connections buried under compacted gravel.

Photo not provided here

 
 
12 of 16 – photo 7971 on 26 Feb 2015 at 3:35 pm
East side of lot, just to south of broken culvert point. Excavation, compacted gravel, interlocking concrete blocks set perpendicular to lot line, apparently to separate base corner of new duplex from culvert problem area.

 
xe-12-7971
 

 
 
13 of 16 – photo 7991 on 27 Feb 2015 at 10:06 am
East side of lot alongside neighbor’s house. More use of gravel and large concrete block.

Photo not provided here

 
 
14 of 16 – photo 7999 on 27 Feb 2015 at 11:07 am
Center of lot, westward. View of subsoils before gravel fill. Concrete block at right is end of “wall” visible in 7991.

 
xe-14-7999
 

 
 
15 of 16 – photo 8041 on 2 Mar 2015 at 10:00 am
View from northwest corner of lot. Concrete block structure almost to level of grade. Extensive high level of compacted gravel.

 
xe-15-8041
 

 
 
16 of 16 – photo 8063 on 2 Mar 2015 at 5:30 pm
View from front of lot southward toward back. Old streambed material consists of clay overlaid with organic residues.

 
xe-16-8063
 

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Written by eyeonnorquay

30 November 2016 at 11:35 pm

Posted in Ravine Way

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