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Busting the Neighborhoods

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Fifteen Years of Letting Developers Do “Planning”

Since 2002, at least ten substantial local areas of Vancouver have undergone extended planning processes that involved varying degrees of consultation that included: community-based working groups, formal survey research, community-based plan implementation groups, workshops, charrettes, open houses, calls for comment, development permit board, town hall, citizens assembly, and public hearing.

As politicians and planners have repeatedly retreated from public engagement, standard planning tools have reduced to a typical lockstep handful designed to minimize interactions: open house, call for comment, and public hearing.

One particular pattern has emerged that shows just how reactive all of the planning has become. A big developer wants a large site to exceed current context and zoning. Spot rezoning proceeds. Only then does the City of Vancouver initiate “planning.” The tower that the developer has busted the neighborhood with then tends to set precedent for all further discussion.

The following listing of sites and neighborhoods demonstrates how prevalent and consistent this tower-ahead-of-plan practice has become. The specific forms of abuse can vary considerably.

For example, the only chronological anomaly is found in Mount Pleasant, where a plan that specified no tower heights or FSR immediately had to deal with a large central development proposal clearly not foreseen by the community that had engaged in the planning. What came afterward was the site-specific local community resistance to the Rize-Alliance proposal for the southwest corner of Broadway at Kingsway. In the end, an informed, energetic, prolonged, strong-majority opposition to the project was squashed by an overwhelmingly unsupported Council decision.

The height of shame attaches to the latest completed neighborhood nuking at the Joyce Skytrain station in 2016. An FSR of 15.37 more than doubled the payload that had been dropped on any previous local area, including the densest parts of downtown Vancouver. The City of Vancouver picked on an already dense immigrant working-class neighborhood to set a new benchmark for social disregard.

These are brief glimpses of what two of the following eight local areas have endured. The adjacency of the 2009-2011 Cambie Corridor planning to the decimated Little Mountain social housing site, still held hostage by Holborn, deserves special concluding mention, though not included below. In scale and timeline, this atrocity dwarfs any of the examples in the list.

•       •       •       •       •       •

Data Key for Following Items

Developer / Architect
Address of Neighborhood Busting Development with Link to Council Report
Application-to-Approval Dates
FSR – Height in Storeys – Number of Dwelling Units
Local Area Name / Period of Planning
Area Planning Dates

Dates in headings  = 
Start Date of Application to Bust Neighborhood / End Date of Basic Local Area Planning


2002 / 2004  —  Kingsway & Knight Neighbourhood Centre

Aquilini / Rositch Hemphill
1402-1436 Kingsway and 4050 Knight Street (King Edward Village)
Dec 2002 to July 2003
FSR 3.86 – 17 storeys – 398 units
Kingsway & Knight Neighbourhood Centre 2 yrs & 00 mos
July 2002 to July 2004 (plan) / October 2005 (zoning)

2004 / 2010  —  Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre

Holborn / Ankenman Marchand  //  Wall
2300 Kingsway (Eldorado Motel)
May 2004 to Jan 2006
FSR 3.6 – 22 stories – 346 units
Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre / 4 yrs & 07 mos
April 2006 to November 2010 (plan) / April 2013 (zoning) / May 2013 (benefits)

2010 / 2007  —  Mount Pleasant

Rize Alliance / Acton Ostry
228-246 East Broadway & 180 Kingsway
July 2010 to April 2012
FSR 5.5 – 19 stories – 241 units
Mount Pleasant / 3 yrs & 07 mos
April 2007 to November 2010 (plan) / October 2013 (implementation)

2011 / 2014  —  Downtown Eastside

Wall / GBL
955 East Hastings
Oct 2011 to Oct 2012
FSR 6.15 – 12 storeys – 282 units and 70 social housing units
Downtown Eastside / [about 9 years]
September 2005 … August 2011 to March 2014 (plan)

2009 / 2013  —  West End

Westbank / Henriquez
1401 Comox
FSR 7.19 – 22 storeys – 186 units
Nov 2009 to May 2012
West End / 2 yrs & 04 mos
July 2011 to November 2013 (plan) / January 2014 (zoning)

2010 / 2014  —  Marpole

Westbank / Henriquez
8495 Granville (Marpole Safeway)
FSR 2.81 – 16 / 14/ 7 storeys – 357 units
Sept 2010 to May 2011
Marpole Plan / 2 yrs & 09 mos
July 2011 to April 2014 (plan) / May 2014 (zoning)

2015 / 2016  —  Joyce Precinct

Westbank / Henriquez
5050-5080 Joyce Street
FSR 15.37 – 30 storeys – 256 units
July 2015 – Dec 2016
Joyce-Collingwood Station Precinct Review / 1 yr & 2 mos
June 2015 to July 2016

2012 / 2016  —  Grandview-Woodland

Boffo / Olson Kundig & GBL
Commercial and Venables – No Tower / Kettle Boffo
FSR 6.8 – 12 / 5 storeys – ~ 200 units and 30 social housing units
Nov 2012 – in process
Grandview-Woodland Plan / 5 yrs & 01 mos
July 2011 to July 2016

Written by eyeonnorquay

20 March 2017 at 10:02 pm

Posted in History

Ravine Way History

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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.
(p. 19-20)

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.”

Public Process

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

Written by eyeonnorquay

25 November 2016 at 11:00 am

Posted in History, Ravine Way

Council Chaos

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Transcript of the Final Minutes
24 May 2016 Public Hearing on 3365 Commercial

     The Majority Opposition Rise in Concert to Walk Out of Council Chamber

The singular event that took place during the public hearing for

        3. REZONING: 3365 Commercial Drive and 1695-1775 East 18th Avenue

deserves the easiest access that can be provided to residents of the City of Vancouver. A careful transcript of approximately 1500 words takes less time and effort to access and review than would the video record — flawed by splicing and intermittent wild pixellation (see screenshot of acting mayor Raymond Louie provided as appendix to this transcript).

The cast of speaking characters in this segment, in order of appearance, are: Councillor Adriane Carr, Councillor Raymond Louie (Acting Mayor), Councillor Tim Stevenson, Assistant Director of Planning Kent Munro, Councillor Elizabeth Ball, Councillor Melissa De Genova, and the City Clerk. Real-time viewers tweeted about the video feed being cut, and the record for the entire evening originally seems to have terminated at 4:05:06. (Transcription timings belowed are keyed to the video for Item 3, not to video for the entire evening).



Context Below: After Deal’s Motion to Approve the Rezoning


[large omission] So, for those reasons, I will be voting against this app-application.

Clr Stevenson.

Thanks very much. Well, as I indicated, I-I have a lot of, uh, sympathy around this, uh, issue of, uh, of the trees. I-I just would really like us to have a second look at this. [clears throat] It does make a difference whether there’s mature trees or-or-or not, and, uh, I would like our city arborist to be involved in this. Uh, not that I don’t think that the one, uh, the developer has is, uh, not professional. But I really do think that it would be, uh, helpful to have our own city arborist, uh, look at this. I-I don’t know why the Park Board are not interested in a park. That-that’s too bad, actually. Um, but they have a budget, and I suppose this would be, uh, a fairly high ticket item for them. But one person did, uh, say, please stop and table this and have a second look at this. Uh, and uh, and I’m inclined to do that. Um, and maybe there’s some other, uh, issues we can look at at the same time, but, my real concern is because so many people from the neighborhood talked about how important that was, and how important the two parks were near them. So I would like to refer this back, uh, to staff and ask them to —

[Voice: Point of order]

Sorry, let’s hear what the motion is before you have a point of order. So, let’s hold for a minute. Clr Stevenson, can you just tell us what you’re intending —

Yes, ah, my intent is to have staff, um, uh, have-have another look at this whole issue of the trees and have our own, uh —

So you referred the motion to — you’re referring to staff for, what, and to when to report back —

I-I-I only want a month’s time. I’m, uh, sure that there’s all sorts of pressures, but, uh, I don’t think a month is too much, to come back —

Not, not to the merits of the motion, just —

OK. Ah, thank you. In July, uh,

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


at this point video splicing skips back to Stevenson above at

…  “helpful to have our own city arborist”  [etc]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


[Stevenson continued] with a further detailed report — [Louie: OK] — in particular in regard to this.

Now in regard to the point of order from Clr Carr. What was your point of order? [indistinct voice — apparently problem with microphone switch-on] Now, just a minute. There you go.


Thank you, Mr. Chair. Um, in previous meetings where I’ve tried to refer a partic — a public — an item at public hearing, I was informed that that is not allowed, and so I would like a ruling from the City Clerk. Um, only — we can only refer — my understanding, uh, is the discussion and the decision to a future council meeting — not refer back to staff.

Thank you. Um, it’s actually a ruling from the chair, and advice from the Clerk. So, Madam Clerk, can we just get some advice from you? [long pause] Just give us a couple of minutes here.


[During this 2-3 minute period of silence, the City Clerk rummaged and ruminated, and then engaged in a lengthy whisper huddle with Louie]


So, after [long pause] let’s take some advice from Mr Munro, if you have it, ah, based on your experience. Just before — just before I rule on the matter — here’s-here’s my sense is that we — it would be for further advice from staff rather than, um, hearing further from the public on the matter, and so, when we’re — if it was to defer a decision and-and seek further advice from staff that would seem to fit a pattern, and that — uh, of previous council asking for advice, but what is-is, does — [indistinct voice] Mist-Mr. Munro has the floor. We are working on a point of order right now. Mr. Munro.

The question, that shall refer to the Clerk in terms of the Procedures Bylaw, um, and I don’t know it intimately to, to really, um, say either way.

OK. Thank you. Uh, absent, uh, any further advice from s-staff on that side, I will rule, uh, that it — the motion *is* in order for those, as for, for those reasons [clears throat]

— [Carr?: Different rules for you guys and us.] —

Your motion to — Yes. I’ve heard you, Clr Ball.

Ah, you have often re-, referred to custom in this chamber, and you have consistently over the last many years told Clr Carr and others [Louie: Clr Ball —] that they could not refer dur-, after a public hearing — that they could not do-, do this, and this —

Two-thirds majority to overrule the ruling of the chair. In this case, that was not present.

In a pub — [microphone cut?]

Thank you, Clr Ball. Um, that’s is not the case. It has not told Clr Carr that, ever before, in fact. Not myself, so — So, what I will say is that, I’ve ruled — that Clr Stevenson’s motion which is to seek more information, so —

[indistinct other voice] OK. Clr Carr has challenged the chair [pause] and I’ll just move to the question then. Shall the chair be sustained? All in favor? Those opposed? The requisite votes are there to sus-sustain the chair. Thank you. So, the motion is — [indistinct voices] It requires a two-thirds majority to overturn the ruling of the chair, I’ll remind Council members.

So. Clr Stevenson, your motion to refer — [long pause]

Clr S-Stevenson. Clr, uh, Ball. [indistinct voices] Uh, if you’re unfamiliar with the rules — and for the public, just for your benefit — the rules of the, of — parliamentary rules that we follow under the Procedure Bylaw requires that if a chair has made a ruling, that if someone disagrees, or a member of Council disagrees, that it requires a two-thirds majority overule the, the ruling of the chair. In this case, that was not present, and there — therefore the ruling of the chair is sustained.

I will remind, um, everyone that this is a request for further information on the matter so we can make a, I think, a — a full decision based on full facts, and there was con- some concern, if I understand it, that the arborist was an external arborist rather than, ah, a person on staff with the City that could give that information, and that’s what Clr Stevenson is asking for in this instance. So, if you have issues with asking for further information, certainly you can vote against the referral, and, uh, we will proceed. But Clr Stevenson — it’s absolutely open to him to move that motion.

Clr De Genova. What is your point of order? [long pause] Cou — [Voice: Mike]

De Genova:
— and now that we’ve been told that we could have referred, but at the time — and I’ll pull up the tapes — that we were told that that we couldn’t refer —

Let me — let me rule on your point of order. First — first of all, we are in a separate public hearing, and, in this ins-instance, I have conferred with the Clerk, and, uh, my decision has been made and so I’ve ruled on the matter and so your point of order, which is again, uh, before us, to discuss the ruling is out of order.

Clr Stevenson, did you have anything further on your referral motion? [indistinct voice] Clr De Genova. You’re challenging the ruling of the chair on your point of order. Is that correct? OK. So I will — Madam Clerk, do we have that? Ready for the challenge [to the] chair? Shall the chair be sustained? All in favor? Those opposed? Ah, those opposed, ah, do not have the sufficient weight — ah, sufficient number of votes, so the chair is sustained. OK? Clr Stevenson.

It’s three to four, sir, there’s a chair that gets to vote as well. [indistinct voice from chamber] No.

No, no, we’re not — we have not sir. [indistinct voice from chamber]

Sir, there’s been no decision. At this point in time we’re making a decision on whether or not we should refer [pause] the matter.

Clr Stevenson, do you have anything further?

Clr De Genova are you leaving the chambers? [long pause] OK. [long pause] So — [long pause]

[Shout from chamber: What a zoo!]

Yes. [indistinct shout] Apparently. OK. So apparently we have lost quorum. Madame Clerk, could we poll the councillors that have left the council chambers, and see whether or not —? Uh, yes, could you — [long pause]

It is 10:21 pm. Clrs Affleck, Ball, De Genova, and Carr have left meeting and we have — and this has resulted in the loss of quorum. Under the Procedure Bylaw I declare this meeting adjourned.

OK. Thank you. [shout from chamber] I apologize. Unfortunately we have lost quorum and we cannot conclude to a decision this evening — [indistinct voice] and we will see — what, how, uh to proceed after, uh, taking further advice. Thank you.





Written by eyeonnorquay

28 May 2016 at 1:03 am

Ten Long Years

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A Decade Plus of Vancouver Local Area Planning

As 2015 comes to an end, Eye on Norquay offers up this retrospective — one little history lesson to pin a lot of isolated bits across the framework-of-torture that serves planning hell. Politicians and planners prefer to operate with bits … and especially their analogues, silos and spots. Except when a “plan” makes it possible to grab more, give less, go bigger, and execute faster.


Besides all that, without an occasional “plan” dress-up, the rest of Vancouver’s development would have to stand naked as a silly opportunistic jumble.

             Kingsway & Knight Neighbourhood Centre
   2-00      July 2002 to July 2004 (plan)   October 2005 (zoning)
             Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre
   4-07      April 2006 to November 2010 (plan)  •   April 2013 (zoning)
             May 2013 (benefits strategy)
             West Point Grey Community Vision
   4-08      January 2006 to September 2010
             Mount Pleasant
   3-07      April 2007 to November 2010 (plan)
             October 2013 (implementation package)
             Cambie Corridor
   1-10      July 2009 to May 2011 (plan)
             April 2015 to ---- [phase 3]
             Downtown Eastside
             September 2005 ... August 2011 to March 2014 (plan)
             West End
   2-04      July 2011 to November 2013 (plan)  •  January 2014 (zoning)
   2-09      July 2011 to April 2014 (plan)  •   May 2014 (zoning)

   1-03      June 2014 to September 2015 (heritage conservation area)
   4-04+     July 2011 to ???? 


The timeline above provides a framework for tales of the local areas that have suffered recent onslaught by City of Vancouver “planning.” Let a Q & A approach test your knowledge of the strung out and the done in.

Who got strung out the longest?

Grandview-Woodland will soon overtake Norquay. Downtown Eastside, whose tortuous path is an exemplar of obfuscation, occupies a class all by itself.

Who wrung the clearest concessions out of City Council?

Marpole — likely the poorest and most vulnerable westside local area. Two other westside areas receive mention in the timeline because their areas were dealt with as a whole — not because they underwent anything like a mass rezoning for denser and faster redevelopment.

Where has City of Vancouver grabbed the most the fastest?

Cambie Corridor, no contest. First and foremost, the “corridor” concept served to simultaneously overwhelm three distinct local areas: Riley Park-South Cambie, Oakridge, Marpole. (Those first two have (had?) community visions, for whatever those exercises are now worth.)

Who got the most “consulted”?

Downtown Eastside. See also “strung out” question above. The City of Vancouver delights to boast in its report to Council (p. 7) of intensive engagement with the LAPP Committee with members investing over 470 hours of volunteer time. [Between the lines: Ask a dis-membered former LAPPster how it feels to be “consulted.”]

Whose “plan” has been most disrespected so far?

Probably Mount Pleasant — consider only (1) the override of extreme nonsupport for Rize-Alliance at Broadway and Kingsway (2) the impending encroachment of Westbank-Hootsuite on industrial land at Main/Quebec and 4th/5th Avenue.

Who stands out for NOT being present?

Most of the “community vision” areas, since the City of Vancouver did a 180 during Norquay planning — and left fifteen years of CityPlan smothered in mothballs. Six of these community vision areas (1998-2010) became hands-off to any subsequent local area planning of the mass-rezone variety: Dunbar (1998), Victoria-Fraserview/Killarney (2002), Sunset (2002), Hastings-Sunrise (2004), Arbutus Ridge/Kerrisdale/Shaughnessy (2005), West Point Grey (2010). Even so, significant portions of three primarily eastside areas got steamrolled: Kensington-Cedar Cottage (1998), Renfrew-Collingwood (2004), Riley Park/South Cambie (2005).

Vancouver’s non-mass-rezoned areas contain the great majority of the remaining 68,282 RS (single-family) zoned properties. The value divergence upward for these properties becomes ever more apparent. The two “neighbourhood centre” mass rezonings of 1577 and 1912 properties blitzed immigrant working-class areas in the heart of East Vancouver.

Who suffers the biggest density dump?

West End by a mile. “New planning” for yet more density-dumping has landed on the doorstep of a local area that in 2011 sported a person-per-hectare figure of 218. Downtown had 146. Shaughnessy had 20. The Vancouver average was 53.

Who only pretended to get planned?

Kingsway & Knight. King Edward Village concurrently blockbusted the heart of the area, separated from the planning process. The eventual mass rezoning affected 1577 properties. Meanwhile, the “shopping area” part fell off the back of the planning wagon that was racing uphill toward Norquay. Populate your nightmares with what may happen at the Rona site, since future development for the entire commercial part of the first “neighbourhood centre” was never defined.

Written by eyeonnorquay

29 December 2015 at 12:05 pm

Posted in East & West, History

Station Area Planning

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A Stealth Swath Across East Vancouver?

Over the past six years, Vancouver planners have mentioned “station area planning” in various contexts. In two instances, clear and specific proposals have encountered immediate strong resistance: Broadway and Commercial (2013) and Joyce (2015). Towers of 36 and 35 storeys at either end. The City of Vancouver has shown tendencies to view this large swath as a corridor. Yet so far it only dabbles in piecemeal attempts.

The primary purpose of this review is to put five pieces together, latest first:

        October 2015 — Joyce Precinct Review
        October 2015 — Changes to Eight CD-1 Areas
        August 2014 — Brian Jackson Glimpse of the Future
        June 2013 — Grandview-Woodland Meltdown
        November 2009 — Norquay Backstory

The only thing that saves East Vancouver from a Cambie Corridor type onslaught is the patchwork of actual development (Collingwood Village, Wall Centre Central Park) and recent planning (Norquay) that now stands in the way.

If Vancouver had undertaken considered development rather than impulsive this-and-that, SkyTrain today would be a subway that runs along Kingsway. That major highway cuts across the grid to follow an early route adapted to East Vancouver landforms. SkyTrain does not. The terrain between Broadway/Commercial and Joyce includes wetlands, a contaminated site, and considerable divergences in elevation. And understandably, no existing local area shopping.

In the end, Norquay planners insisted that the supposed “neighbourhood centre” could not locate anywhere off of Kingsway. The key idea was core density with a walkable radius. To now seek to locate significant new density at the periphery of that radius would dismiss that recent planning as fumble. (Avalon Mews at the south edge of Norquay has already abused the concept.) City of Vancouver abandoned the many millions of dollars and the many years invested in CityPlan. Anything can happen overnight when “planning” turns into subterfuge.

To propose a double-tracking of new development across an already dense East Vancouver further disrespects a region that has already endured more than its share of disrespect. The outstanding characteristic of Renfrew-Collingwood redevelopment over the past two decades has been grudging increase in amenity infrastructure. Increase means provision of new facilities — not refurbishment or replacement or extension of what was already there. Collingwood Neighbourhood House (1985/1995) is what planners love to point to. Twenty to thirty years old is far from new.

Panel 19 for the Joyce Station open house typifies a dismissive give-nothing-more blandishment in connection with proposing to inject thousands of new residents:

         Joyce-Collingwood is generally well-served by existing and planned facilities

That statement flies in the face of the promises written into the 2004 Renfrew-Collingwood Community Vision:

Each proposal for a new housing type has been made conditional not only on an increase in community facilities and programs needed to serve any population growth generated by the new housing type but also on an assurance that parking and traffic impacts would be addressed.  (p. 30)

Planning in Vancouver seems to have become a mechanistic exercise in rezoning, collecting fees, increasing property tax revenue — and giving nothing back to the affected community. Not even sidewalks and garbage cans.

October 2015 — Joyce Precinct Review

In fall 2015 the City of Vancouver Joyce-Collingwood Station Precinct Review became highly contentious. A 21 October 2015 open house unveiled sudden surprises, only in English, to an area that is about one-quarter Chinese. A massive amount of information was confusingly presented in a series of twenty panels.

Astute residents quickly recognized serious problems and formed the Joyce Area Residents Association (JARA). In late November JARA held two grassroots open houses and submitted a formal report to Mayor and Council and to planners.

The prior acceptance of a 29 July 2015 development application for a 29-storey tower at 5050-5080 Joyce Street seems extremely prejudicial to any good-faith planning for the entire area. Setting up a single blockbusting precedent just ahead of local area planning has become a particularly nasty habit of the City of Vancouver — starting with King Edward Village and 2300 Kingsway (at Nanaimo Street) in the middle of the last decade.

October 2015 — Changes to Eight CD-1 Areas

On 20 October 2015 a “parking amendments” document —

         Parking Amendments to Various CD-1 By-laws for Sites Adjacent to SkyTrain

— went before City Council. The map below shows the eight areas in the vicinity of the Nanaimo and 29th Avenue SkyTrain stations where developers have avoided the difficult site conditions mentioned in the introduction. If they are allowed to avoid excavation into bogs and contaminated sites, who knows what they might be able to achieve at the expense of existing neighbours?


It seems clear that the only consultation that Vancouver city planners anticipate for residents in the areas of the Nanaimo and 29th Avenue SkyTrain stations is a single out-of-the-blue invitation to spectate a done deal at a City of Vancouver public hearing.

A favorite planner phrase is “next steps.” All that the public gets to see here is one giant step. Perhaps the best speculation: look east and west to see the proposals for 35-storey towers that have already raised a ruckus at Broadway and Commercial and at Joyce.

August 2014 — Brian Jackson Glimpse of the Future

In August 2014 Eye on Norquay provided context for the following comment that Brian Jackson made to Vancouver City Planning Commission. (At the time he was General Manager, Planning and Development Services, City of Vancouver — he suddenly announced his decision to retire on 26 June 2015.)

Our other proposal is for doing some station area planning around two of the Millennium Line stations at 29th and Nanaimo which have development opportunities. … We’ve got a lot on our plate, and it may take us a while to get to those last things, so those things are looking like they’re mid to late 2015.

June 2013 — Grandview-Woodland Meltdown

The specifics of what City of Vancouver top-down planning had in mind for the Broadway & Commercial station area became apparent in the summer of 2013. An “emerging directions” presentation, with a proposal for multiple towers, one as high as 36 storeys, set off a chain reaction. (The southern boundary of Grandview-Woodland is Broadway. Planners chose to bite off extra by reaching into already neighbourhood-centred Kensington-Cedar Cottage.)

Subarea Focus — Broadway Commercial & VCC Clark Transit Oriented Community

The ensuing heat — see Charlie Smith. City of Vancouver seeks input on densifying area around Commercial-Broadway Station. Georgia Straight (26 June 2013) and Yolande Cole. Grandview-Woodland residents rally for more time on community plan. Georgia Straight (9 July 2013) — eventually led into the forensics of an unprecedented “citizen’s assembly.” The results of that long and expensive attempt at decontamination remain unclear at the end of 2015.

In the interim, on 10 November 2014, a comment by Senior Urban Designer Scot Hein lifted the veil on the planning shenanigans that led to the debacle.

November 2009 — Norquay Backstory

One of the biggest surprises ever during the years of planning for Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre came on the evening of 2 November 2009. After more than three and a half years, Director of Planning Brent Toderian bombshelled the Norquay Working Group with the news that about one-fifth of what had been outlined as Norquay would be excluded going forward.

Four months earlier, a substantial majority of Norquay Working Group had signed a document in support of the plan that they had developed during a prolonged and intense 2009 process. (Residents in a mid-2007 formal survey strongly rejected cut-and-paste quickie “draft plan” based on the mass rezoning at Kingsway & Knight).

That 9 July 2009 meeting was the last one ever where Norquay Working Group had status as participants. The City of Vancouver went into indefinite recess, and then came back with a brand new set of planners.

What Toderian then called “station area planning” to the north would be put on indefinite hold. This out-of-the-blue severance disrespected the many Norquay residents from that area, many of whom had put in the equivalent of several working weeks of volunteer time.

Written by eyeonnorquay

17 December 2015 at 5:02 pm


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… as Partial Answer to “Why Norquay?”

A never-answered question for Norquay residents:

        How and why did planners select this particular half of a square mile to become
        Vancouver’s second mass-rezoned “neighbourhood centre” under CityPlan?

In the earlier days, probably in 2007, then Director of Planning Brent Toderian blustered something like this as a response: “Why, neighborhoods are lining up for this opportunity!” Subtext: You should consider yourselves fortunate. Fact content: Zero. Reality: Norquay clearly and consistently did the exact opposite of line up.

At the RM-9A open house on 23 September 2015, this same question was overheard being put to a planner by a very unhappy Norquay resident. “Why us?” Still no good answer.

Back in mid-2011, Joseph Jones attempted a Freedom of Information request for


The City of Vancouver offered to accept $540 “to conduct this search” (estimate only!). What sucker would pay that amount for the likelihood of hearing back some combination of (a) the little already found without assistance, or (b) nothing, or (c) shreds of documents redacted into meaningless unreadability? This is one specific example of how City of Vancouver walls off from public scrutiny what it does in the back rooms.

On 17 November 2015, Jens von Bergmann provided a mapping of 2011 Canadian census data that “shows the percentage of the population that are immigrants” — excluding non-permanent residents. The overlay of a Norquay outline onto a screen grab of Vancouver mapping quickly conveys a lot about our area’s immigrant component and our Vancouver context.


If a bomber pilot were assigned the task of trying to take out as much of immigrant Vancouver as possible with one hit, that pilot could hardly do better than to unload on Norquay and hope for wide radius effect.

An immigrant population offers up to the hierarchy of politicians and developers and planners an especially vulnerable target: inexperience with new culture, uncertainty with foreign language, desire to avoid interaction with government, immersion in attempting to establish a new economic life, etc.

A graphic personal story has already been told at Eye on Norquay as Unheard Voices.

Consider this November 2005 justification for selecting Norquay:

        It also ranks first in terms of need for public realm and pedestrian safety improvements,
        based on a review of data from Neighbourhood Centres across all Vision areas.  (p. 2)

        Planning for Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre

Ten years onward, the City of Vancouver itself has done almost nothing to enhance the Norquay area. Meanwhile, rapid redevelopment slaps us in the face every day with the value extraction (construction nuisance, profits, fees, sequestered levies, increased property taxes) that mass rezoning has triggered.

Written by eyeonnorquay

21 November 2015 at 10:55 am

Posted in Context, History, Maps