Archive for the ‘Events’ Category
Resident Concerns Are Heard
On rare occasions in Vancouver, at a public hearing for a proposed new development, local area residents may discover that expressed concerns have been both heard and addressed. On 18 October 2016, the rezoning of 2395-2469 Kingsway met with such a happy outcome.
This site has been identified under the Norquay Plan as one of three locations along Kingsway — in very long blocks along the north side — where new development is supposed to provide pedestrian connection to the street that runs parallel. The rezoning application presented a 12-storey tower built on a two-part podium of 4 storeys, with a connecting bridge at an upper level.
In general, the form of development respected the Norquay Plan. But a letter to Council from residents detailed four concerns:
(1) That more brick be used on the exterior of the buildings.
(2) That the width of the pedestrian connection be increased from 20 feet to 40 feet.
(3) That conditions for landscaping and furniture and maintenance be explicitly specified.
(4) That the “bridge” overhanging the pedestrian connection be removed, with a second elevator provided for the smaller building.
Council members raised all of these concerns at the public hearing. Planning staff responded that the first three items had already been addressed or were in the process of being dealt with. And the applicant affirmed that the bridge would be removed and a second elevator installed in the smaller building.
This is an example of how the development and public hearing process is supposed to work.
The video recording of the public hearing can be seen at
An appeal to write a letter in support of the No Tower Coalition and its long struggle against the Kettle/Boffo collaboration led to the compilation of the following list of blockbustings. For over a decade now, what calls itself “planning” in Vancouver has turned into a mishmash of naked spot rezonings and new local area plans. Sometimes the two are so entangled that it becomes difficult to determine exactly how an addled egg has managed to emerge from a chicken cooped up in an open house. Consider only the tortuous histories of King Edward Village, Rize Alliance, and Joyce Station Precinct.
Amidst the muddle, one thing remains clear. Developers always push for the tallest possible towers. And planners collude to set precedents that can prejudice future area planning to the greatest extent possible.
Concrete proposals for Kettle/Boffo development will be a salient matter on 27 July 2016 as speakers line up to address the new Grandview-Woodland local area plan.
Council Date Storeys Description 2003 July 24 17 King Edward Village for Kingsway & Knight 2006 Jan 24 22 2300 Kingsway for Norquay 2011 Apr 21 16 8495 Granville (Safeway) for Marpole 2011 July 19 35 8440 Cambie (Marine Gateway) for Marpole 2011 Nov 01 30 Wall Centre Central Park for Renfrew-Collingwood 2012 June 11 22 1401 Comox for West End 2012 Feb 27 21 Rize Alliance for Mt Pleasant 2012 Oct 16 12 955 East Hastings for Downtown Eastside 2016 June 28 30 5050-5080 Joyce (Westbank at Joyce Station) 2016 July 19 12 155 East 37th (Little Mountain) for RPSC 2016 July 27 12 Kettle/Boffo for Grandview Woodland
A consolidation of 5 parcels with a frontage of 231 feet has occurred on the northwest corner of Kingsway at Gladstone Street, cater-corner from the massive full-block development now underway at 2220 Kingsway.
The letter reproduced below has been received by local area residents, announcing a developer’s pre-application open house:
Gladstone Secondary School
4105 Gladstone Street
Thursday — 19 May 2016 — 5 pm to 8 pm
The developer seeks to build approximately 100 units of so-called affordable rental housing in a building of six storeys at an FSR of 3.3. The City of Vancouver “Rental 100” program offers developers massive no-fee gifts (with no honest rental-rate accountability) simply to build rental housing units.
Primary concerns at this point relate to three aspects:
Kingsway and Gladstone sidewalk setbacks. Gladstone Street marks the western boundary for the Norquay Plan. For a development of this scale, the Norquay Plan requires a setback of 25 feet. Does it make sense for the block right beside Norquay to suffer a downgraded “transition” status because that next block has not been “planned”? The stretch of Kingsway between Victoria Drive and Gladstone Street is already more attractive than any comparable segment of Kingsway that falls within the one-mile boundaries of “Norquay.”
Articulation along a 230 foot streetwall. Without good design, the existing building variety could be lost to a deadscape that deactivates current street life. This development needs to look like at least five different buildings.
Amenity delivery failure for Norquay so far. A new massive no-payback development will exacerbate the population pressures already concentrating at the western edge of Norquay. After enduring a great deal of construction activity, and seeing a CAC of $3 million immediately sequestered, Norquay residents have enjoyed none of the major public realm improvements specified by the Norquay Plan. So far that brand-new “neighbourhood centre” to the east — where the City of Vancouver owns three acres of land at 2400 Kingsway — remains a truck-route wasteland despite all the planning. Meanwhile, developers exploit the edge.
• • • • • • •
2153-2199 Kingsway as Shown on VanMap
The Five Existing Parcels on Kingsway
Two Big Wins from Any Redevelopment
Elimination of Pattison’s Lighted, Noisy Non-Conforming Billboard
Disappearance of the City of Vancouver Sponsored DUMP
However ugly we get treated in the heart of East Vancouver, sometimes there’s unintended upside!
Call it collateral repair?
Open House at Cunningham School — 2330 East 37th Avenue
5:00 pm to 7:00 pm — Wednesday 18 November 2015
This 41.5 x 88 ft. single lot on a corner currently contains a small two-storey “heritage” building which has functioned as a corner store with a housing unit above. The applicant proposes to restore the existing heritage building and to attach a new two-storey infill townhouse on East 34th Avenue. A new three-storey duplex would also be added as infill on Nanaimo Street. Total units proposed are 4 residential and 1 commercial with no parking spaces.
Initial concerns focus on request for an excessive amount of bonus density (approximately 50% rather than the 10% usually granted on residential sites) and on the lack of provision for parking. The public may submit comments by email to the rezoning planner — firstname.lastname@example.org — until a final decision is made. The decision usually occurs several weeks after the Open House.
At the September 23 Norquay Open House people had to line up to see panels and to talk to planners. The event was busy for all three hours. Shortly after the 5:00 pm opening about sixty people were present. Planners ran out of comment forms. Panel number 3 for Zoning in Norquay Village stayed mobbed for the whole evening.
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
News broke yesterday that Brian Jackson plans to retire at the end of 2015 after a three-year stint as chief of City of Vancouver planning.
When Jackson arrived in 2012, the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan was in wind-down mode — two-thirds of the way along from November 2010 Council approval to 2013 nail-down with public hearings on new zoning schedules and amenities and benefits strategy.
Jackson’s most significant action in Norquay has been to bow low to every intention that Westbank expressed for the 2.3 acre Canadian Tire site at 2220 Kingsway (within the bare Norquay Plan constraints of tower height and FSR), and to permit serious abuse of the requirement that a “plaza” be provided. Jackson put extra grease on the skids by deciding that one of the three most massive projects that Norquay could experience under the plan did not have to undergo review by the Development Permit Board. (This would have been one of only three opportunities normally provided for public comment, the other two being initial open house and public hearing for rezoning.) One concrete example of the “consultation” style of Brian Jackson.
In a 27 July 2015 interview on CBC Early Edition, Jackson said this:
There have been the large policy initiatives like Marpole, the West End plan, the Downtown Eastside plan, are all now being successfully implemented. The other implementation strategies that have been put in place in Norquay and Mount Pleasant are resulting in development applications in those areas.
As far as implementation of any local area plan goes, it seems clear that all Jackson and his Council masters care about is manufacturing a flow of development applications. There is no talk here of enhancement of amenity to serve new densities of population and traffic. Much less the concurrent provision of amenity promised in the Renfrew-Collingwood Community Vision.
And here’s a report on the same day of something Jackson said to the Vancouver Courier:
I’m very proud of landing three very complex area plans [Downtown Eastside, Marpole and West End]. It’s also landing plans that actually have implementation strategies attached to them. It’s really looking at planning, not only in terms of doing bubble diagrams and pretty pictures, it’s devising plans that set out what the future land uses are for an area, set out what the community benefits could be and who’s going to pay for them and when they’ll occur.
What the community benefits could be. That mode of speech is conditional, and the bitter experience so far is no delivery. “When they’ll occur.” Has a clear timeline ever been specified for any local area subjected to a planning process?
The City of Vancouver’s interest seems to lie in ramping up development applications and city revenues from permits, fees, and property taxes. In other words, extracting value from ever more unhappy neighborhoods, not in adding value to them.