Station Area Planning History

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A History of Planning in the Nanaimo / 29th Avenue Station Areas

February 2018

 
In November 2017, Vancouver City Council approved Housing Vancouver Strategy (2018-2027) and 3-Year Action Plan (2018-2020). (Find multiple links to report, appendixes, staff presentation, video clip at http://council.vancouver.ca/20171128/regu20171128ag.htm )

According to this document, a major planning program for the Nanaimo and 29th Avenue station areas will begin in 2018. Land around these stations will be rezoned “to create more affordable housing and deliver large increases in rental, social, and ground-oriented market housing.” (p. 10) Appendix B page 7 lists as “Key Strategy 1-B” to “launch” these new station area plans immediately after Council approval of the policy document.

Eye on Norquay sees a need to provide background context for this imminent planning program. Past planning processes for the Nanaimo / 29th Station Areas are described below.


1.  Nanaimo / 29th Avenue Station Areas Plan (1987)

Summary document only online at:
http://guidelines.vancouver.ca/N003.pdf

 
In 1981 the Government of British Columbia announced the selection of the Advanced Light Rapid Transit (ALRT) system for Greater Vancouver. Soon after, the City of Vancouver began to plan for the lands immediately around the four SkyTrain stations proposed for East Vancouver: Broadway, Nanaimo, 29th Avenue, and Joyce. Separate plans were developed for the Broadway and Joyce Station Areas.

A single plan was proposed for the Nanaimo and 29th Avenue Station Areas. No reason is apparent in available city documents for the combining of planning for these two stations into a single program. The life expectancy of a plan is often set at 25—30 years. The provisions of this plan are no longer referenced in City of Vancouver planning documents.

Plan Summary

Properties between Victoria Drive and Rupert Street, and between Kingsway and roughly East 22nd Avenue, are included in this plan. The northern boundary zigzags because the ALRT line runs parallel to Kingsway, which cuts across the street grid.

 

 

Most of the Plan consists of a detailed analysis of 21 potential development sites. The sites were selected because they met at least one of these criteria:

         Vacant city-owned sites
         Sites severely impacted by ALRT
         Sites soned for uses other than residential
         Sites either under-utilized or containing derelict properties

Redevelopment opportunities were to be limited to these 21 sites. (See Appendix A for details of implementation.)

The 21 selected sites are identified by the letters on the map below. Sites that were City-owned in 1987 are Sites A, C (partial), D, E, G (partial), J, K, L, and N (partial), In cases where the City owns only a part of the identified site, no redevelopment is specified to occur until adjoining private land has been purchased and incorporated into the site.

 

 

The Plan recommends multi-family townhouses (described as “medium density”) as the form of development most viable and appropriate for the majority of the identified sites. Unit density is set at 25-40 units per acre and maximum FSR is set at 1.0. The proposed developments are to act as a noise and visual buffer between the SkyTrain alignment and the existing single-family residences to the north and south.

Commercial redevelopment is to be small-scale and serve local needs only. It is not to negatively impact Kingsway, which is to remain the primary commercial area.

Considerable analysis of ALRT impacts is included in the Plan. Unresolved impacts identified in 1987 are primarily related to noise, privacy loss and visual intrusion.

The amenity most desired by the community in 1987 was an indoor swimming pool. However, Council rejected this request on the advice of the Park Board. Staff believed that residents already had sufficient access to swimming pools in nearby neighbourhoods.

In 1987 Vancouver had no shortage of sites for development. The population was expected to grow slowly and the economy was recovering from a recession. Redevelopment of the Nanaimo / 29th Avenue Station Areas was expected to be gradual and low key.


2.  Renfrew-Collingwood Community Vision (2004)

http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/planning/cityplan/Visions/rc/vision.htm

 
CityPlan (1995) was the City’s policy framework to direct future Vancouver city planning, especially in residential neighbourhoods that had not previously experienced detailed planning initiatives. Nine neighbourhoods, including Renfrew-Collingwood, went through extensive visioning processes that were directed by City staff but included substantial community input.

The resulting Renfrew-Collingwood Community Vision looked at locations for future low-rise housing forms (primarily townhouses and 4-storey apartment buldings). The relevant direction for the Nanaimo and 29th Avenue Station Areas reads:

        New housing types should be permitted in existing residential areas around the Nanaimo and
        29th Avenue SkyTrain stations, subject to detailed planning and impact mitigation. (p. 42)

This direction received more than 50% agreement in a community survey, but fell short of the support it needed to be classified as “approved.” It was classified as “uncertain,” which means that it will “remain on the table for future community discussion in subsequent planning processes.” (p. 6)


3.  The Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Draft Plan (2007) [rejected]

http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/planning/neighcentres/norquay/pdf/newsletter3english.pdf

 
The Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre planning process began in 2006. The area to be included was originally defined as the area near Kingsway between Nanaimo Street and Earles Street. Boundaries were extended during the planning process to include most of those areas that had been identified as “development opportunities” in the earlier Nanaimo and 29th Avenue Station Areas Plan (1987) as well as additional lands further from the SkyTrain alignment. Residents rejected the draft plan (map shown below) via a community survey in 2007. (That was the last formal community survey that City of Vancouver ever undertook.)

 

 


4.  The Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan (2010)

http://council.vancouver.ca/20101104/documents/penv2.pdf

 
A second phase of Norquay planning 2008-2009 failed to produce a plan. When a third planning phase was launched in November 2009, the areas near the SkyTrain alignment were removed from consideration. The map below shows the final boundaries of the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre as well as the areas near the SkyTrain that were excluded from the planning process at that time.

 

 

The two station areas were designated for a future station area planning process. The relevant board from a community open house on 30 January 2010 is reproduced below.

 

 

Slocan Park is located in the area that was removed from the planning process, but the park serves a large area of Norquay. A direction was included in the Plan to incorporate additional land into the park to provide an enhanced street presence. (p. 71)


5.  Norquay Village Public Benefits Strategy (2013) and
Norquay Village Public Realm Plan (April 2016)

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

 
These later documents reiterate the need to upgrade Slocan Park. The park is included in the listing of Norquay’s parks to be renewed “over time and as the surrounding population and park usage increase.” (Norquay Village Public Realm Plan, p. 8)


Appendix A: Redevelopment under the 1987 Nanaimo and 29th Station Areas Plan

 
The twenty-one sites identified in the 1987 Plan as potential sites for redevelopment were subsequently rezoned to CD-1 (Comprehensive Development).

Many of the sites identified as suitable for multi-family residential development have not yet been redeveloped as planned. No redevelopment has occurred on adjoining Sites B and C, a fairly large area that includes the Copley Community Orchard. A few parcels have been redeveloped with single-family houses within Sites F, N, and O. Within sites M, R and S, small-scale redevelopment has taken place in the form of duplexes or triplexes on a few individual lots.

In October 2015 a policy document titled “Parking Amendments to Various DC-1 By-laws for Sites Adjacent to SkyTrain was approved by City Council. This policy reduced parking requirements on identified sites that had not yet been completely redeveloped (i.e. sites B, C, F, G, M, N, O, Q and S). The reason given for reducing the parking requirement from 1-2 per unit to 0.65 per unit is the proximity of the sites to SkyTrain stations. City staff argued that excessive parking requirements were hindering redevelopment of these sites.

Sites that have been completely or partially redeveloped as multi-family housing include:

Site G:  The Nanaimo SkyTrain Station and bus loop covers the northern corner of this site. The Westridge (4170/4180 Nanaimo Street), a complex of two 4-storey affordable rental apartment buildings, has been built along the Nanaimo frontage. The 10 parcels with single-family houses along E. 26th Avenue have not been yet been incorporated into the site. The City-owned land east of the apartment building, where a steel foundry was located in the past, is likely contaminated and remains vacant.

Site H:  Chelsea Green (4120 Kamloops), a 29-unit “family townhouse” development with rents set at 30% of income, was built on this site in 1989.

Site N:  Until now the City-owned part of this site east of Kaslo Street has been in use as a community garden. A development application is in process to build a 52-unit Temporary Modular Housing development at this location. The community garden will be moved to Slocan Park.

Site P:  Heritage Gate (2960 East 29th Avenue), a 56-unit strata described on management’s web site as a “townhouse style apartment complex,” was built on this site in 1990.

Site Q:  A 3-unit traditional rowhouse development is currently under construction at 4521 Earles Street.

In advance of expected station area planning, two sites have been assembled recently:

Site F:  Has been assembled and sold.

Site O:  Has been partially assembled, but to our knowledge no land has yet been sold.

A few small sites have been developed for uses other than housing, as recommended by the Plan.

Site E:  Three of the four lots on the northwest corner of Brant Street and E. 25th Avenue have been incorporated into the Learning Tree Daycare Centre. One lot was considered surplus to their needs and has presumably been sold.

Site J:  This small site functions as a pocket park.

Sites K and L:  These sites are now a part of the B.C. Parkway system, to be maintained by the B.C. Parkway Society. Site K on the south side of the alignment is named the Penticton Children’s Park. However, all of the play equipment originally installed in the park has been removed and not replaced.

Sites A and D  were reserved by the Plan for future development opportunities. Site D is currently being used as a community garden.

Some redevelopment has taken place on unidentified sites adjacent to the SkyTrain alignment. These include:

The Beacon (4320 Slocan Street):  A 4-storey, 41 unit affordable rental building with ground-level retail was completed in 2017 under the Rental 100 policy.

Earles Court (4590 Earles Street):  A former B.C. Electric Substation was converted into 12 apartment condo units in 1990.

3560-3570 Hull Street & 2070-2090 East 20th Avenue:  A rezoning application is currently in process to rezone this site to CD-1 to permit a 3.5 storey development of 41 townhouses, a 28-unit apartment building, and a heritage house under the Affordable Housing Choices Interim Rezoning Policy.
 
 

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Written by eyeonnorquay

10 February 2018 at 11:27 pm

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