Archive for the ‘Apt Zone Comment’ Category
The City of Vancouver has mailed out notice of a 19 January 2016 public hearing on zoning amendments for the Norquay Apartment Transition Area.
City of Vancouver Documents
Amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law Regarding the RM-9A/9AN Districts for Norquay’s Apartment Transition Area
Draft Districts Schedule:
A By-Law to amend Zoning and Development By-law No. 3575 to create new districts for the Apartment Transition Area in accordance with the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan
RM-9, RM-9A, RM-9N AND RM-9AN Guidelines
Previous Eye on Norquay Postings
September 23rd Open House (16 Sept 2015)
P.S. on RM-9A (19 Sept 2015)
September 23rd Panels (24 Sept 2015)
RM-9A Zoning Compared (24 Sept 2015)
New RM-9A Zone [Formal Comment] (27 Sept 2015)
Apartment Transition Area (9 Dec 2015)
Why Support Apartment? (12 Dec 2015)
Public Input Under RM-9A (17 Dec 2015)
Norquay resident Marilyn Hogan commented at length on 14 December 2015 on the posting of the City of Vancouver letter about a report to Council on RM-9A zoning. Her full comment is reproduced below. She has raised good points. Eye on Norquay has not addressed those concerns in any previous postings. Our three-point response can be seen below.
Comment by Marilyn Hogan
The problem with the new RM-9A proposal is that it “streamlines” or “fast-tracks” developments. This is not a desirable trend, as it essentially means cutting the public input opportunities out, to a large extent. Under current zoning, development applications must be assessed on a case-by-case basis, with notices in the paper, public open houses, opportunities for dialogue with the planning department, and a chance to address city council. Under the new zoning proposals, much of these opportunities for public involvement will be removed unless a person happens to know about a specific development and takes the time to contact the city — and city council may or may not allow people to address the issue at a council meeting.
Essentially, the rezoning will mean that as long as the Director of Planning finds a development to be suitable and it meets basic guidelines, it will likely be approved, even with no public input at all. This is a marked digression from the usual democratic process — which, in my opinion, offers only minimal opportunities for community involvement as it is. The new zoning would cut out public input almost entirely and leave development decisions in the hands of the city planners. This is a bad precedent to set, as the chance for the public to be involved in urban development and to directly shape the direction our cities will take, is a fundamental component of democracy. Are we going to stand back and let this happen?
If we are no longer easily able to know about what is being planned in our neighbourhoods, then that means we are leaving virtually all the control (ideas about design, density, aesthetics, suitability, and whether it fits with the character of a neighbourhood) in the hands of government and city planners, with only a top-down approach to city planning. I encourage people to realize the implications of such rezoning. This is not to say all development is bad, and certainly some development proposals will be justified. But they should still be assessed on a case-by-case basis, which is how things will proceed if the current zoning in Norquay remains as it is.
You can see for yourself the differences between the current zoning and the proposed new zoning in the report that was presented at the 2015 open house. That report states, “By creating a district schedule or zone, the need for a rezoning process is removed.” What it fails to say is that most of the public input would also be removed and this is not right. See page 4 of this 10-page document:
Some argue in favour of the current proposal, because it allows for more structural diversity. While this might very well have merit, my issue (and I know I speak for many) is with how the application process for development in the area will be handled. Anyone who cares about development plans and the democratic process should be watching this issue closely, especially on Tuesday, December 15, 2015, when the report will go before council.
I hope people will plan on attending the Public Hearing, which the application recommends, and which I think will be held in early 2016.
• • • • • •
Response by Eye on Norquay
Thank you for your carefully considered comment. You raise good points. We would like to respond.
1 — The problem with the new RM-9A proposal is that it “streamlines” or “fast-tracks” developments.
It is true that when RM-9A zoning regulations come into effect, development applications in this zone will no longer need to go through a rezoning process. As you say, this process includes “notices in the paper, public open houses, opportunities for dialogue with the planning department, and a chance to address city council,” as well as notification of nearby residents by mail.
Larger developments within the Kingsway Rezoning Policy Area will still require rezoning. This situation is not expected to change.
Buildings in the RM-9A zone will be smaller 4-storey projects, generally fewer than 30 dwelling units on three or four parcels of land. Typically, small developers undertake these projects. The additional costs of a time-consuming and expensive process of one-by-one rezoning would make the apartment units even less affordable.
2 — Under the new zoning proposals, much of these opportunities for public involvement will be removed.
It is true that residents will need to take efforts to become more aware of development proposals in their neighbourhood. The City of Vancouver will continue to post a development application notice at the physical location. As well, considerable detail about the application will be posted on the City’s Development Applications web site at
Concerned residents will still be able to contact the project coordinator by phone or email if they have questions. They may also submit written comments that will be considered — and in our experience, can have impact. Eye on Norquay plans to initiate a separate listing for active development applications in all of the zones: RM-7, RM-9A, RT-11. Since 2013 Eye on Norquay has monitored and commented on development applications in RM-7 and RT-11. Except in a few problem instances that we attempted to publicize, we are not aware that anyone else has ever taken any advantage of this opportunity for input.
Norquay residents often fail to take advantage of existing opportunities for public input on small projects. Poor attendance characterized the three Apartment Transition Area open houses that Eye on Norquay participated in over the past 18 months. No speakers showed up for the only public hearing. (Unable to be present, Eye on Norquay wrote a letter to Council — the only letter on record.)
3 — Development decisions [will be] left in the hands of city planners.
It is true that applications will be dealt with by the Planning Department and not by Council. However, Council relies on the planning staff recommendation that accompanies every rezoning application, and almost never modifies what is recommended. Beyond that, planning staff can and will make substantial changes to a development application in response to perspectives that have basis and genuine support.
We encourage the many who are said to be concerned about opportunities for public input to make fuller use of the existing opportunities.
On 15 December 2015 this policy report goes to Vancouver City Council:
Amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law Regarding the RM-9A/9AN Districts
for Norquay’s Apartment Transition Area
with recommendation that the matter be referred to Public Hearing. In essence, the Norquay Plan would move from a May 2013 “rezoning policy” to a defined rezoning district.
The intent of the RM-9A/9AN District is to provide a physical transition between the taller buildings and densities envisioned for Kingsway, and the lower ground-oriented buildings behind. In addition, the apartment form can provide a liveable, cost effective, higher-density housing form appropriate for families and seniors. (p. 4-5)
Eye on Norquay agrees with the report’s statement that
The proposed provisions for these districts [RM-9A/9N] are generally consistent
with the intent of the Apartment Transition Area Rezoning Policy. (p. 2)
In point form, here are specific reasons that Eye on Norquay supports this new zoning schedule:
Diversity — The zoning will increase the diversity of housing type throughout Norquay.
Accessibility — The elevators provided by the apartment form will assure appropriate residential-area accommodation for seniors, families with small children, and the physically disabled. The Norquay Working Group emphasized the need to provide housing for seniors.
Respect for the Norquay Plan — In this instance the Norquay Plan has not been encroached on by form creep. At an earlier stage, the conflation of zones for rowhouse and stacked townhouse effectively reduced diversity by failing to mandate an area specifically for rowhouse.
Transition — The height and density of the apartment form will provide the most appropriate form between Kingsway and the surrounding lower-density neighborhoods.
Parking — The report specifies minimum 1 space and no more than 2 spaces for each principal dwelling unit. Less would not be acceptable.
As detailed in the notification copied below, an open house on this proposed major site redevelopment was held on 4 November 2015. Panels from the open house and the development application can be viewed at
Following is the formal comment that we have made on the development application, based on the application, the materials presented at the open house, and discussion with developer agents and planners.
November 8, 2015
We are disappointed that more detailed information on this proposal was not available at the Open House held on 4 November 2015. There was no real model, and most questions to the architect received a standard response indicating that detailed planning had not yet occurred. If this were a Pre-App Open House, this would be understandable. If this is to be the only Open House opportunity for the public to respond, it seems premature and inadequate.
On the basis of the limited information available, we offer the following comment.
1 — Building Form
In general, the proposed building form is consistent with the Norquay Plan. We like the building form proposed on the “Photorealistic Visualization” board. The wider vertical and horizontal separation of windows on the tower, and the brick finish on parts of both the tower and the 4-storey portion of the development, are an improvement to the design. We find it difficult to visualize the appearance of the front of the 4-storey portion, and were hoping that a model could help us to do this. The face of the building might look more unified if the balcony railings on the 2nd and 3rd storeys were to be made of a material more visibly substantial than clear acrylic. The pedestrian connection between Kingsway and the lane appears to be adequate.
Our preferred color scheme is:
(a) Tower. We propose that the primary color be light gray, similar to the color seen in the “streetscape” file on the CoV rezoning application web site. White is less suitable because it can look dirty very quickly, and makes the building appear even more massive. If the glass is to be tinted, we prefer a very light blue or very light gray (definitely not green!)
(b) Four-storey. We propose dark blue as a primary color.
(c) Brickwork. We propose that the brick be red.
2 — Interior Layout
Information on interior layout was minimal. Many of the suites labeled “2-bedroom” do not seem to have enough windows to allow for 2-bedroom suites. The proposed amenity room is poorly located, has a problematic shape and too few windows, and is too small for the size of the development. A solution would be to put a larger room with more windows on level 5 beside the rooftop garden.
3 — Allocation of Community Amenity Contribution
To date Norquay has received no substantial amenities from a considerable amount of development under the Norquay Plan. The 37 daycare spaces at 2300 Kingsway (far fewer than there should have been) and the redevelopment of Norquay Park (paid for mainly by federal stimulus grants) were both funded outside of the Norquay Plan.
It is important for Norquay residents to be able to see that the rapid densification of their neighbourhood is actually bringing some of the benefits that CoV has promised since the planning process began in 2006. It would be very discouraging if the CACs from this development were to be sequestered in the Norquay Village Amenity Reserve Fund, where $3 million of the CACs generated by Kensington Gardens is already languishing and depreciating. All of the CACs generated by this development should provide amenities immediately.
The three top priorities identified in the Norquay Public Benefits Strategy are:
1. Community space at 2400 Kingsway. This space is to be built when the site is redeveloped, something unlikely to happen soon.
2. The Renfrew Ravine Linear Park. A concept plan for this park is currently being worked on.
3. Redevelopment of Brock Park and Slocan Park. Brock Park has been identified as a priority because there has already been so much development nearby. The Renfrew Ravine Linear Park and Brock Park are approximately equidistant from the site at 2395-2443 Kingsway.
We propose that the CACs from this development be allocated to the Renfrew Ravine Linear Park. CoV has said that the park will be built in modules, so that individual parts can be fully connected when all the necessary properties have been assembled. We would like to see at least one new module (i.e. one that does not incorporate land currently being used as a community garden or orchard) built immediately. If this module cannot be delivered by the end of 2017, the CACs from this development should be allocated to the renovation of Brock Park.
Jeanette and Joseph Jones
The following material supplements the 16 September 2015 posting titled September 23rd Open House.
RM-9A is the designation that the City of Vancouver is using for new zoning for the Norquay Village Apartment Transition Area. The regulations for this new Norquay zone therefore derive from the schedule approved in June 2014 for the RM-9 zone in Marpole. We anticipate that details will differ for Norquay’s
RM-9A, but until the September 23 Open House unveiling we cannot know which ones. Relevant specifications for the RM-9 zone in Marpole have now been incorporated into an Eye on Norquay comparison table provided below. This preliminary work should make it easier to assess features proposed for the RM-9A zone in Norquay.
But Norquay is not Marpole.
The RM-9 zone in Marpole permits a variety of building forms, including low-rise apartments, stacked townhouses, and rowhouses. An important difference is that Marpole already has a considerable stock of
low-rise apartments on residential streets. The Marpole Community Plan also provides for other zones that will permit this housing form.
The Norquay Village Apartment Transition Area (to become the new RM-9A zone) is the only place in Norquay that permits low-rise apartments on residential streets.
If developers are from this point forward allowed to build stacked townhouses in this zone, Norquay will likely see very few low-rise apartments. One of the most important stated goals of the Norquay Plan is to increase housing options for residents. To permit stacked townhouses in RM-9A can only reduce or exclude the alternative apartment form.
Key to Abbreviations in Comparison
ATARP = Norquay Apartment Transition Area Rezoning Policy (May 2013) RM-7 = Norquay RM-7/RM-7-N Districts Schedule and Guidelines (May 2013) RM-9 = Marpole RM-9/RM-9N Districts schedule and Guidelines (June 2014)
Comparison of Current Zoning Guidelines in Norquay and Marpole
Building Form ATARP 4-storey apartment RM-7 Stacked townhouse / Traditional rowhouse [compared below] [excluded from comparison] RM-9 Low-rise apartment (4-storey) / Stacked townhouse / Rowhouse Amenity Contribution ATARP CAC $15.00 per sq ft RM-7 None RM-9 Affordable housing or amenity share $108 per sq m ($10 per sq ft) for FSR increase between 0.75 and 1.2 $592 per sq m ($55 per sq ft) for FSR above 1.2 Type of Parking ATARP Underground RM-7 Uncovered surface spaces at lane RM-9 Underground or surface spaces at lane Required Parking Spaces ATARP Unspecified RM-7 2 for every 3 units RM-9 *** See footnote below *** Elevator ATARP Yes RM-7 No RM-9 For apartment only Maximum Height ATARP 13.7 m / 45 ft RM-7 11.5 m / 37.5 ft RM-9 13.7 m / 45 ft Minimum Frontage ATARP 15.2 m / 50 ft — except orphan lots [proposals so far have assembled 3 or 4 lots] RM-7 12.8 m / 42 ft [12 of 14 proposals so far for 1 or 2 lots] RM-9 12.8 m / 42 ft Front Yard Setback ATARP 3.7 m / 12 ft RM-7 6.1 m / 20 ft RM-9 4.9 m / 17 ft or LESS Side Yard Setback ATARP 2.1 m / 7 ft RM-7 1.2 m / 4 ft RM-9 2.1 m / 7 ft or LESS Rear Yard Setback ATARP 3.7 m / 12 ft RM-7 Not applicable RM-9 1.2 m / 4 ft Courtyard Width ATARP 9.1 m / 30 ft RM-7 Not applicable RM-9 7.4 m / 24 ft Maximum Site Coverage ATARP Unspecified RM-7 55% RM-9 55% or MORE Maximum Floor Space Ratio (FSR) ATARP 1.2 for single orphan lots only 1.5 for frontage of 15.2 m / 50 ft 2.0 for frontage of 27.4 m / 90 ft RM-7 1.2 RM-9 1.2 for frontage of 12.8 m / 42 ft 1.5 for frontage of 15.2 m / 50 ft 2.0 for frontage of 27.4 m / 90 ft Maximum Unit Density ATARP 180 units per hectare for 1.5 FSR 240 units per hectare for 2.0 FSR RM-7 132 units per hectare at permitted 1.2 FSR RM-9 132 units per hectare for 1.2 FSR 180 units per hectare for 1.5 FSR 240 units per hectare for 2.0 FSR *** Footnote for RM-9 Required Parking Spaces *** Section 220.127.116.11 of Vancouver’s Parking Bylaw states that the parking space requirement for RM-9 is a minimum of 0.5 space for every dwelling unit with less than 50 sq m of gross floor area, and, a minimum of 0.6 space for every dwelling unit with 50 sq m or more of gross floor area, plus one space for each 200 sq m of gross floor area, except that, for every dwelling unit which has a gross floor area of 80 sq m or greater, there need be no more than 1 space for every dwelling unit.
The City of Vancouver intends to establish a specific new zoning schedule for the Norquay Apartment Transition Zone. This area includes
• Properties that back onto the lanes serving Kingsway businesses
• Most of the properties fronting on Norquay Park
• Some of the properties along Earles Street
New regulations for an RM-9A zone would replace the Norquay Village Apartment Transition Area Rezoning Policy that was adopted by Council in May 2013. Details will be made available at an Open House scheduled for 23 September 2015.
Perhaps the biggest change is that planners now propose to allow stacked townhouses as well as four-storey apartment buildings to be built in this zone. Stacked townhouses will be cheaper to build, since they do not require an elevator. They may require less property assembly. The provisions for parking are still unclear. A detailed comparison of the two housing types is appended below.
The apartment buildings originally proposed for this zone have several attractive features:
• Multiple exposures to maximize natural light and ventilation
• Courtyard usually provided at the front or rear of the building
• Elevators (especially needed by seniors)
• Units attractive for seniors who want to remain on a residential street in their familiar neighbourhood
Come out to the Open House to learn details of what the City of Vancouver is now proposing and to give your feedback. The Open House is scheduled for
23 September 2015 — 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Norquay Elementary School — 4710 Slocan Street
If you are unable to attend, you can check the City’s web site under the “Progress” tab at
a few days after September 23 for the information that was presented. An on-line comment form should be available.
It is possible to submit a second on-line comment even if you have already filled out the comment form at the Open House. Our analysis will be posted at Eye on Norquay as soon as possible after the event.
Note added 19 September 2015: All material from the table below can be found in expanded form at
P.S. on RM-9A. This revision facilitates comparison with Marpole RM-9 and will provide the expandability needed for point-by-point assessment of the forthcoming Norquay RM-9A.
Comparison of Current Guidelines
|Specification Compared||Apartment Transition Area||Stacked Townhouse RM-7|
|Type of Parking||Underground||Uncovered surface spaces|
|Number of Parking Spaces Required||Unspecified||2 for every 3 units|
|Community Amenity Contribution (CAC)||$15.00 per sq ft||None|
|Maximum Height||45 ft||37.5 ft|
|Maximum Floor Space Ratio (FSR)||1.5 (2 lots) to 2.0 (3 lots)||1.2|
|Maximum Unit Density||240 per hectare||132 per hectare|
50 ft (2 lots) to 90 ft (3 lots)
[proposals so far have
assembled 3 or 4 lots]
42 ft (4+ units)
[12/14 proposals so far
have been for 1 or 2 lots]
What guidelines will the City of Vancouver propose for stacked townhouses in the new RM-9A zone?
Norquay does not deserve to end up with the WORSE characteristics of both housing types.
Come out to the September 23rd Norquay Open House
Protect the Norquay Apartment Transition Zone from Developer Greed
Comment on Development Application DE418823 under Apartment Transition Zone Policy
18 April 2015
The application is the first to come forward under defined policy for Apartment Transition Zone in Norquay. The location of the particular site raises area problems which cannot be divorced from the application. Genuine planning must address the context as well as the isolated building form on site.
A. Policy Framework
To layer Rental 100 policies on top of Norquay’s Apartment Transition Area Rezoning Policy seriously compromises the livability of this development and vitiates key standard design elements. The 12.5% increase of FSR (from 2.0 to 2.25) prevents achievement of the useful courtyard (minimum 30 ft. wide) as mandated by the Norquay Plan. The strict limits that Rental 100 sets on unit size results in almost no larger units with two major exposures. Two of the most attractive features of the family apartments intended for this zoning are being nullified.
B. Missing Sidewalks
Our greatest concern is that NO connective sidewalks exist in the area where this development is located. Areas shown in red on the map below have no sidewalk on either side of the street. The Transportation 2040 Plan states: “Pedestrians will continue to be the City’s top transportation priority.” (Transportation 2040, p.19) Yet currently no one can reach a bus stop or the SkyTrain from this building site without walking a busy street lined with parked cars. Without these sidewalks, children cannot safely access their school, their neighbourhood park, or the local daycare centre. The City needs to extend the sidewalk along Galt Street between this building and Nanaimo Street, and to install a sidewalk along one side of Baldwin Street between Galt Street and General Brock Park. These sidewalks need to be provided concurrently with this development, not imagined for some vague future date.
II. Specific Development Application
We like the simplicity of the proposed design of this building. We appreciate especially the following elements:
• Provision for interior ventilation and daylight by making it possible for air to enter the hallways via
grilles in the exterior walls of the stairways
• Balconies that do not protrude, but appear to be part of the building
• The dark colour of the building, which makes it appear smaller and cleaner
• The use of metal trim for better long-term maintenance (provided that the metal will not rust)
We are very pleased to see that all of the units in this building are two- or three-bedroom units, and that the increase in unit density is minimal. This respects the character of the Norquay area.
To form an objective and reliable judgment of architectural practitioners and rental real estate developer/owners is almost impossible. That said, we feel that both of these agents in the development proposal represent a standard that is as good as could be hoped for.
Jeanette Jones and Joseph Jones