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Kingsway-Knight Area Alert

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On Seeking to Rezone RT-10 to RT-11
in Vancouver’s First Neighbourhood Centre

 
 
Context Note

On 18-19 September 2018 a Vancouver City Council held a lamest-duck-ever public hearing just ahead of shutting down business ahead of the quadriennial municipal election. Two controversial mass rezonings stood as the final items on the agenda.

 

 

During the public hearing on Item 5 it was declared that Item 6 would restart as “a new public hearing” after the upcoming 20 October 2018 municipal election.

 

 

Thus for Item 6, all speaker registrations and all submitted comment were tossed into the wastebasket — a far too typical disrespect shown to the involvements of many Vancouver residents. This was Vision Vancouver’s final sneer at “engagement” before the self-deligitimized “party” met with its decimation in the 2018 election.

That suspension of Item 6 provided time for Eye on Norquay to carry out a detailed survey for Kensington-Cedar Cottage. The problems inherent in the hasty redo called “planning” became apparent. Serious defects became apparent in the broad-brush intent to swap out the RT-10 of the Kingsway-Knight “neighbourhood centre” planning for the later RT-11 zoning of Norquay Village.

The report below was sent to appropriate staff in Vancouver city planning on 10 October 2018. The prefatory letter of transmission is appended. Eye on Norquay hopes that the new City Council will look toward planning that takes into account local area specifics (starting with greatly variant lot size and street configuration) within the Kingsway-Knight area, where 1577 properties were already mass rezoned in the past decade.

To so crudely revisit this Kensington-Cedar Cottage area of East Vancouver ahead of any dealing with the many and massive CityPlan Vision areas (1998-2010) that have been subjected to zero planning implementation displays an ongoing, blatant East-West inequity in Vancouver’s “planning” agenda.

 
•   •   •   •   •   •   •   •   •   •   •   •

 
Rezoning the RT-10 District to RT-11

We live in the portion of Kensington-Cedar Cottage that is included in Norquay’s RT-11 (Small House/Duplex) zone. Since the zoning regulations came into effect in 2013, we have been monitoring development in Norquay by looking carefully at applications posted on the CoV web site, by walking through the entire neighbourhood once a month, and by attending open houses.


 
Norquay Experience of RT-11 Zoning

To date, by our count, 27 conditional RT-11 development applications have been posted on the City of Vancouver web site.

Conditional development in the RT-11 zone of Norquay usually occurs on large single lots. (Smaller lots in Norquay, especially shallow lots with wider frontage, have been zoned for RM-7 Rowhouse/Stacked Townhouse.)

Only 5 of 27 projects have involved assembly.

Only 5 of 27 projects have been built on lots with 33 feet of frontage. Most RT-11 development occurs on lots that are both wider and deeper.

No applications have involved retention and/or multiple conversion of a character house. There are few character houses in Norquay. The one 2015 application that included retention and multiple conversion of one of Norquay’s two heritage houses appears to have stalled.

Most redevelopment on 33 ft. lots consists of outright duplexes. Since Norquay’s RT-11 zoning came into effect in 2013, at least two-thirds of all projects have been outright duplexes.

Under the too-lax RT-11 Exterior Design Guidelines, many duplexes are new eyesores. Pictures of Norquay duplex development — both successes and failures — can be seen at:
http://www.vcn.bc.ca/norquay/duplex-2018.html

Duplexes on lots 33 x 120 ft. or smaller often result in small units with undesirably small rooms. A disproportionate amount of space is required for stairways.


 
Detailed Description of the RT-10 Zone

The recent planning initiative to rezone the RT-10 zone in Kensington-Cedar Cottage to RT-11 inspired a walk-through of that entire area as well. What we discovered is a very diverse “neighbourhood centre.” Sub-areas of the RT-10 zone vary widely by lot size, by age and character of the housing, and by the amount and type of small house/duplex development that has occurred under RT-10 zoning since 2005. Unlike the RT-11 zone, the area currently zoned RT-10 contains many character houses in good condition.

Here are the sub-areas of the RT-10 zone that we have identified. Map references are to the maps in Appendix A of the Report dated July 6, 2018 and referred to Public Hearing on July 24, 2018. The Report can be found at:

https://council.vancouver.ca/20180724/documents/p3.pdf

 
Sub-Area 1: West of Knight Street and North of Kingsway (map: Appendix A, p. 9)

Almost all lots are 122 feet long. Width varies from 25 feet to 50 feet; most lots are 33 feet or wider. Little redevelopment took place here before 2005. The prevalent built form is well cared for, large pre-1940’s houses with mature landscaping. Most would qualify as character houses.

Under RT-10 zoning, we counted 6 new duplexes and only 1 single-lot small house/duplex development. A number of multiple conversions appear to have taken place, but it is difficult to count them by looking at the houses from the street.

 
Sub-Area 2: West of Clark Drive Between Kingsway and King Edward Avenue (map: Appendix A, pp. 10 and 15)

Lots are generally oriented north/south and are 33 x 122 ft. However, along Glen Drive, Inverness Street, and Clark Drive shorter lots are oriented east/west so that all streets have facing houses. Blocks are short. Little redevelopment took place here before 2005. Most houses are pre-1940, 1 or 1 ½ storey character houses. Mature landscaping often includes planted boulevards. This is one of the most charming areas of the city.

 
Sub-Area 3: West of Knight Street Between King Edward Avenue and East 28th Avenue (map: Appendix A, p. 11)

East of Inverness Street, this sub-area consists of long blocks of 33 x 122 ft. lots. West of Inverness Street blocks are shorter, and most lots are shorter and wider. Redevelopment seems to have proceeded at a fairly steady pace. As a result, the area includes generally well-kept houses from multiple decades.

Redevelopment under RT-10 zoning has been primarily as duplex, with a few multiple conversions. We counted 18 new duplexes, and no redevelopment as small house/duplex.

 
Sub-Area 4: East of Knight Street and North of East 22nd Avenue (map: Appendix A, p. 12)

Most lots measure approximately 33 x 122 ft., except for the southeast sector where lots tend to be shorter and wider. Some blocks are very long. The northern part of this sub-area contains steep hills. Like Sub-Area 3, this sub-area has seen steady redevelopment and now includes well-kept houses from every decade.

Redevelopment under RT-10 zoning includes at least 11 duplexes and 8 small house/duplex developments on 2 or 3 lots. Only 1 project was observed to include retention of a character house.

 
Sub-Area 4: East of Knight Street and North of East 22nd Avenue (map: Appendix A, p. 12)

Most lots measure approximately 33 x 122 ft., except for the southeast sector where lots tend to be shorter and wider. Some blocks are very long. The northern part of this sub-area contains steep hills. Like Sub-Area 4, this sub-area has seen steady redevelopment and now includes well-kept houses from every decade.

Redevelopment under RT-10 zoning includes at least 11 duplexes and 8 small house/duplex developments on 2 or 3 lots. Only 1 project was observed to include retention of a character house.

 
Sub-Area 5: East of Knight Street Between East 22nd Avenue and East 28th Avenue (map: Appendix A, pp. 13 and 14)

Almost all lots are at least 30 feet wide, but many are shorter than 122 feet. Lots on several streets are double-fronted. Quite a few lots lack lane access. Blocks tend to be very long. In the eastern part of this area, boulevards are very narrow or non-existent. Many houses are pre-1940, but most of them would not qualify as character houses.

Redevelopment under RT-10 zoning has primarily been in the form of duplexes. We counted 14 duplexes and 4 small house/duplex developments.


 
Likely Outcomes of Rezoning the RT-10 Zone to RT-11

1 — Most redevelopment will be in the form of outright duplexes. Making duplexes outright and increasing the FSR from .60 to .75 will encourage duplex development. Only Sub-Area 1 contains the large lots that developers prefer for RT-11 small house/duplex development.

2 — Many character houses in good condition, together with much mature landscaping, will be demolished. Outright duplex development does not require retention of character houses.

3 — Much of the new development would be unattractive and would not fit with the existing neighbourhood. Norquay provides numerous examples of new duplexes built outright under RT-11 zoning that are eyesores. Increasing FSR and height of buildings (from 1.5/2.0 storeys to 2.5 storeys with or without basement) will result in more massive buildings and reduced open space.

4 — Small duplexes built on small lots may lack liveability. Rooms will likely be tiny. CoV needs to develop guidelines for room sizes that apply to low density housing forms.


 
Recommendations

Sub-Area 1:  This sub-area is very similar in character to the adjacent area of Mount Pleasant that has recently been rezoned to RT-5. The City of Vancouver should extend RT-5 zoning to this portion of Kensington-Cedar Cottage.

Sub-Areas 2, 3 and 4:  RT-10 zoning appears to have been successful in Sub-Areas 2 and 4. The amount of take-up has been considerable. The height and density specified by RT-10 regulations have ensured that new development fits in well with neighbouring single-family character houses. Any newer zoning needs to build on that success. Section 4.7.3 in the RT-5 District Schedule reads: ” … where a Character House is demolished in order to allow for new development, the floor space ratio shall not exceed 0.50 and the use is limited to a One-Family Dwelling or a One-Family Dwelling with Secondary Suite, and Laneway House.”

If Sub-Areas 2, 3 and 4 are rezoned to RT-11, a regulation like this one needs to be added to the current RT-11 District Schedule to discourage the demolition of character houses and their replacement by large outright duplexes.

Given the very small number of character houses in the current RT-11 zone, this provision would apply almost exclusively in the area currently zoned RT-10.

Sub-Area 5: This area presents many challenges: double-fronted streets, lots without lane access, long blocks, and narrow streets with little or no boulevard allowance. Careful study is needed to determine effective zoning regulations. RT-11 regulations and guidelines are inappropriate here.

General

1 — External Design Guidelines for RT-11 zoning need to be strengthened. Otherwise, new development will continue to bring in eyesores.

2 — City-wide guidelines need to be developed for room sizes in low density housing forms. Otherwise, new development will continue to provide very small bedrooms and inadequate living rooms.


 
Conclusion

A broad brush was used in 2005 to rezone residential areas of the Kingsway-Knight Neighbourhood Centre. Narrow strips on either side of Kingsway and of Knight Street were rezoned to RM-1; everything else was rezoned to RT-10. A wholesale rezoning of the RT-10 zone to RT-11 would amount to using an even broader brush on a very diverse area. The City of Vancouver needs to use the opportunity provided by the postponement of this rezoning for more detailed study. A more nuanced rezoning would result in a better outcome for both area residents and for the city as a whole.

Jeanette and Joseph Jones

 
•   •   •   •   •   •   •   •   •   •   •   •
 

Oct 10, 2018, 9:36 AM

Addressed to Appropriate City of Vancouver Planning Staff

We recognize the Planning Department’s desire to simplify and consolidate regulations. But after walking through the entire RT-10 district, we have become convinced that rezoning the district to RT-11 is not a straightforward housekeeping operation. The area currently zoned RT-10 contains very diverse sub-areas. The area as a whole differs greatly from the area zoned RT-11 in Norquay. A wholesale rezoning of RT-10 to RT-11 could create more problems than it solves. We provide a more detailed analysis below.

The overriding concern is that RT-11 zoning provides no incentives to retain character houses in the case of outright single-lot development. This is not a big issue in Norquay, since there are few remaining character houses and many of those are in poor condition. But in the RT-10 zone, there are hundreds of character houses in good condition that deserve stronger retention measures. Many contain secondary suites that provide affordable housing. We urge you to spend more time on the ground in this area.

Developers should not be allowed to demolish these character houses and replace them with much larger outright duplexes, many of them fated to be ugly without adequate design requirements. We ask that you look at this area more closely and add the regulations needed to prevent an unhappy outcome.

Jeanette and Joseph Jones
 

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Written by eyeonnorquay

29 October 2018 at 3:09 pm

September to October 2018

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At the tail end of the Vision Vancouver era, two hasty measures galloped to public hearing on 18-19 September 2018 for “consideration” by a severely limping lame-duck council. The haste was so unseemly that Council found itself aborting the second item amid trying to deal with the first. The cause? Some combination of running out of time and fearing to face one more massive line-up of speakers. (All of this following on very plausible rumors of Council seeking to rejig meeting procedures to impede speakers to Council.)

 

 
https://council.vancouver.ca/20180918/phea20180918ag.htm
 

Only two members from 2014-2018 Council will return for the 2018-2022 term — Adriane Carr (Green) and Melissa De Genova (NPA) — following the municipal election held on 20 October 2018. Both of these councillors voted against Item 5:

5. REZONING: Amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law for Most RS Zones to Allow Two-Family Dwellings (Duplexes) to Increase Housing Choice

Together the NPA and Green parties now enjoy a majority vote of eight out of eleven on the newly elected council. It seems clear that an unfettered new council could smother Vision Vancouver’s last fetid gasp with a repeal. This power was confirmed at the time in a tweet issued by retired municipal lawyer Jonathan Baker:

 

 

On the other hand, today’s double hearsay suggests that the Green faction may wish to let the matter rest.

        Globe and Mail reporter Frances Bula, though, told me Tuesday that she’d asked Green leader
        Adriane Carr about this possibility last month. Carr said her party wouldn’t go so far as to reverse
        the duplex legalization after its passage.
        https://www.sightline.org/2018/10/24/bc-local-elections-housing-policy/

On the other other hand, though, Greens have started making new public noise about a “citywide plan”:

Naoibh O’Connor. Vancouver Green Party Councillors to Push for Citywide Plan. Vancouver Courier (23 Oct 2018) https://www.vancourier.com/real-estate/vancouver-green-party-councillors-to-push-for-citywide-plan-1.23473609

How realistic would it be to embark on a new citywide plan right after Vision Vancouver has mass rezoned for generally unaffordable duplex across “99% of the 68,000 RS zoned lots across the city”?
(p. 5 of https://council.vancouver.ca/20180724/documents/p6.pdf)

No backward glance equals missing a prime opportunity to signal a sharp break with the hoary Vision Vancouver tradition of do-it-yesterday and ram-it-right-through. To leave that warped plank askew across the platform would carry on with the botches and scotches that have been parading as “planning” in Vancouver during the past dozen years or so.

Whether the Vision Vancouver sayonara stands or not, one solid piece of evidence suggests that Duplex-into-RS is a shoot-from-the-hip dud:

 

 
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

24 October 2018 at 4:48 pm

Posted in News

Questions to Staff

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A Case Study in “Duplex” Impact on Norquay

 

 

 
Canning the Clarifications

At some undetermined point in the relatively recent past, Vancouver City Council streamlined the “process” of public hearing by having councillors direct “questions to staff” via email for later, canned, premeditated, bulk “response” by staff. This format often leaves the onlooker wondering what the “question” actually was. Most of the verbal exchange between councillor and staff has been killed in the interests of control and speed. This innovation typifies what Vision Vancouver has done to public hearing procedures over the past ten years. Some glutton for wonk could provide a great public service by timelining such changes in procedure.

What follows is a case study in the quality of planning staff response to questions. A comparison with detailed independent data leads to one frightening result. This result brings into question all of the newish mode of planning staff’s rapid-fire bulk-packaged response to “questions to staff.”

 
From and For the Record

On the evening of 19 September 2018, a member of planning staff delivered bulked planning staff answers to questions from councillors as part of the public hearing on

5. REZONING: Amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law for Most RS Zones to Allow
Two-Family Dwellings (Duplexes) to Increase Housing Choice
https://council.vancouver.ca/20180918/phea20180918ag.htm

Below are three transcriptions, in chronological order, of remarks made during the five minutes that run from 3:00 to 8:00 on the video record at

http://civic.neulion.com/cityofvancouver/index.php?clipid=3496176,005


At what price … Typically in the market we see a lot more of this product on the east side than the west side because zoning enables duplex in a lot more neighborhoods on the east side than the west side.

The neighborhood that is most likely for duplexes to work is in the northeast quadrant
[followed by specific mention of Grandview-Woodland]

In our experience on the east side of Vancouver, where we see a lot more of duplex zoning in place in neighborhoods such as Norquay for example, the uptake of building duplexes in zones where duplex is enabled is quite low, about 1% annually since 2013. It’s happening slowly.

 
Eye on Norquay Direct-Observation Data

 

    New-Build Applications by Type / Zonings (excluding RM-9A)

    Outright Duplexes    Conditional RT-11    Conditional RM-7


2014         26                    5                    5

2015         14                    8                    9

2016          5                    3                    8

2017         13                    4                    3

Totals       58                   20                   25


Note: Conditional RT-11 and conditional RM-7 = More than a duplex

Note: Total land parcels in RT-11 and RM-7 = 1648




       Land Parcels Assembled for Conditional Projects

          20 Assembled RT-11      25 Assembled RM-7
    
          One    Two              One   Two   Three   Four

2014       3      2                2     2      1

2015       6      2                2     6      1

2016       2      1                      7             1

2017       3      1                1     1      1

Totals    14     12  =  26         5    32      9      4  =  50


Total of  20  Building Sites Assembled for RT-11
    from  26  component parcels

Total of  25  Building Sites Assembled for Conditional RM-7
    from  50  component parcels 

 

 
Comments on Assertions and Data

In the “answers to questions,” there seems to be a lack of clarity operating between (1) report on actual experience with duplex in Vancouver, and (2) projection of impact of duplex into existing RS zoning.

It appears that planners anticipate that East Vancouver will continue to be the primary area for construction of duplex, even after the possibility of duplex has been extended citywide. This accords with previous Eye on Norquay analysis in The Duplex Set-Up. The obvious question is, why would City of Vancouver plan for such continuance of inequitable distribution? The most apparent answer is that planning has designed RS duplex specifications to perpetuate inequity in order to avoid or minimize west side blowback.

The 1% per year statistic for Norquay seems decontextualized, minimized, and misleading. If 58 parcels have accommodated outright duplex 2014-2017, there remain an unmentioned additional 45 parcels / assemblies that have accommodated yet more new development. The component number of parcels for those other 45 new strata developments actually calculates to 76. Thus an overall total of 58 + 76 parcels have been affected by new development over the four-year period of 2014-2017. That total of 134 as a proportion of 1648 yields a redevelopment percentage of 8.1%, which annualizes to 2% — double the figure provided by staff. A factor of 100% difference in reported result is not a minor difference. Norquay’s on-the-ground experience is that conversion of more affordable old to far-less-affordable new is NOT “happening slowly.”

Further note that our tabulated data excludes 2013 and 2018. Beyond that, the foregoing analysis takes no account of the other larger-scale redevelopments that have taken place under RM-9A (5 projects) and CD-1 (very large projects = 3 during period and 2 underway) — projects that have added well upward of 500 more dwelling units to the same local area.
 
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

27 September 2018 at 9:52 am

Posted in East & West, Events, News

The Duplex Set-Up

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Who Benefits?

 
Does this photo of Gregor Robertson look woolly? It was grabbed from defective City Council video on the evening of 18 Sept 2018 during a public hearing on duplex housing in “most RS zones.” What wool is being pulled over whose eyes, and to conceal what?

 

 

First of all, a declaration. Residents of Norquay have little skin in the game when it comes to duplexing the sixty-some thousands of RS (single-family) zoned properties that remain across Vancouver. Norquay and next-door cousin Kingsway-Knight were mass-rezoned out of RS in 2010 and 2004 respectively. The number of those parcels totaled around 3400. This was one-twentieth of the RS that has remained until now. Two working-class immigrant neighbourhoods were conscripted for experimentation. The two adjacent areas constitute the geographic heart of East Vancouver, and sit at the eye of Vancouver’s gentrification hurricane.

That said, it is true that an expanded playing field of sixty-some thousand additional properties might diffuse the speculation frenzy that a series of “new community plans” has fomented over the past decade. Perhaps the storm of noise and traffic and dirt might slacken by finally doing a “Go West” that reduces the concentration effect? Alas, the apparent Duplex Set-Up stratagem suggests otherwise.

 
East and West

News reporting on the approval of duplex in RS has raised a point that merits elaboration. The general point is stated by urban planner Andy Yan in a Vancouver Sun article of 21 September 2018 [1]:

 

 

More than five years ago Eye on Norquay quantified east-west population disparity in Vancouver [2]:

 

 

This new RS-to-duplex maneuver promises to widen that east-west population gap even further.

 
Supplyist Enthusiasms

A recent networking of supplyists has made a thing out of hit-squadding on public hearings. These activists profess a two-fold belief:

        Any form of denser new housing anywhere is a priori good.
        The economics and the social consequences do not matter, since housing is in crisis.

Supplyists front-loaded this public hearing, and may now revel in imagining that they have romped over the enemy in a major skirmish. Perhaps they have, assuming their creed is the only metric.

A bit further into the first evening, one supplyist (with academic background in study of airbnb) offered up a profusive hardshell trickledown credo, and lavished onto the duplex initiative a personal testimony of faith, love, and especially hope. The core of the expressed hope: anyone who buys a new duplex for around $1.5 million will free up other more affordable housing further down the cost ladder. But never mind about what is demolished to build the new. Systematic thinking would recognize that this fervor encompasses the general economics of neoliberal trickledown. But no question about that was put to the speaker.

 
A Few Devilish Details

In a nutshell. The application of duplex potential to existing RS zoning, as presently formulated, seems fated to languish with little uptake. What canny developer would rush to replace RS with duplex at FSR 0.7 [3] when they can instead pillage so much present (and near-term-future) RT zoning for

        7% MORE FSR?

That is 0.75 instead of 0.7. This differential looks like a sneaky way to appease pressures for increased density on paper, yet to maintain west-side privilege on the ground. Meanwhile naive supplyists subside into reveries of recent conquest.

Nailing down the specifics of the zoning details is mind-numbing and time-consuming work. First note that the RT zoning currently set at FSR 0.75 encompasses RT-5, RT-8, RT-9, and RT-11 [4]. Item 6 of the 18 September 2018 public hearing [5] — deferred into the indefinite future during the public hearing on the
RS-to-duplex Item 5 — would have upped to 0.75 the FSR in Kitsilano’s RT-7 and Cedar Cottage’s RT-10.

 
Heaping Density onto Existing Density

The net effect of the RS-to-duplex public hearing is to incentivize builders who operate under the new duplex zoning to zero in on the already denser RT zones.

 

 
     https://vancouver.ca/files/cov/Zoning-Map-Vancouver.pdf

 
On the 21 July 2016 zoning map displayed above (the seriously out-of-date version currently provided by City of Vancouver), RT zoning is the yellow sectors that collar the downtown core, stretch along Kingsway, and jump off into Marpole. Vancouver’s last decade of “new community planning” has consistently dumped new density onto existing density, in targeted local areas that already suffer disadvantage. The disparity trend continues under the guise of a specious universality.

 
Equity and “Next Steps”

A true concern for equity would suggest the simple solution of setting FSR at 0.75 for the RS-to-duplex, rather than the 0.7 that was proposed and approved. The problem with that approach is that the 7% increase would generate land lift — a result unwanted by the City — for some sixty thousand properties across Vancouver. That lift would go on top of the land price increase that already seems likely. A priori, how could adding two-for-one opportunity into existing zonings not result in some land value increase?

What is the bottom line of today’s apparent agenda? How to pretend to upzone widely, while preserving traditional east-west disparity. See? That little mass rezoning hardly made any difference at all. You silly fearful people. Now, what’ll we do next?

Sneak preview [3]:

        Floor area allowances combined with parking relaxations could be increased to incentivize
        duplex /triplex/fourplex development while floor area reduced to discourage new single-family
        homes (especially houses built without secondary suites)

 
•   •   •   •   •   •   •
 

[1]
Joanne Lee-Young. Developers, candidates and planners argue over Vancouver’s move to allow duplexes. Vancouver Sun (21 Sept 2018)
https://theprovince.com/business/local-business/developers-candidates-and-planners-argue-over-vancouver-councils-move-to-allow-duplexes/wcm/cd951f3a-48ba-4076-989e-57ad72448767

[2]
East Van Gentrification: Norquay at the Eye of the Hurricane
https://eyeonnorquay.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/gentrification/

[3]
Page 6 of Amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law for Most RS Zones to Allow Two-Family Dwellings (Duplexes) to Increase Housing Choice
https://council.vancouver.ca/20180724/documents/p6.pdf

[4]
Zoning schedules (relevant section is 4.7.) are viewable at:
https://vancouver.ca/your-government/zoning-development-bylaw.aspx

[5]
Pages 7-8 and 10-11 of:
Amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law for RT-7 and RT-8 Zones (Kitsilano) and RT-10 and RT-10N Zones (Kensington-Cedar Cottage) to Increase Housing Choice
https://council.vancouver.ca/20180724/documents/p3.pdf
 
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

23 September 2018 at 4:20 pm

Posted in East & West, Events, Maps, News

Report on TMH Sessions

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Temporary Modular Housing Community Information Sessions
Held on 13 and 14 December 2017 for 4410 Kaslo Street Site

 
Our own specific formal comment to the City of Vancouver on the siting of Temporary Modular Housing at 4410 Kaslo Street is provided as a yet-to-come separate posting to Eye on Norquay. The purpose of the account that follows is to document with comment the two evenings of interaction between Norquay and area residents and the various officials.

 
Overall Impression

On 13 and 14 December 2017 Eye on Norquay observed and participated in the full three hours of both of the two “Community Information Sessions” about the new Temporary Modular Housing (TMH) proposed for 4410 Kaslo Street across from the 29th Avenue SkyTrain Station.

What became most apparent was that five bureaucratic entities are converging to try to deliver on multiple present and upcoming TMH projects, and themselves are in the early stages of ironing out their relationships. The consequence is that these sessions for the community offered very little solid and specific information.

 

 
     Panel 5 — Addressing the Immediate Needs of Homeless People
 

Perhaps the most extensive news reporting on the event came from CTV News Vancouver on 14 December 2017. That coverage highlighted the policing of the meeting. On the first evening Eye on Norquay noticed three security guards who tightly controlled entrance and exit, and two VPD, one in uniform and one undercover.

Some of this atmosphere carried over from officialdom’s serious miscalculation in its earlier approach to bringing TMH to Marpole. The short version of that failure is that five agencies paid no attention to the history of the particular recently mass-rezoned local area minefield that they were dashing into. They were too busy focusing on themselves and their joint rapid move on Marpole, apparently unaware that Marpole was already a remarkably self-organized local community.

 
Haste and Disregard

The most obvious word to describe the “process” for the Kaslo site would be haste. On 1 December 2017 the City of Vancouver unveiled the 4410 Kaslo Street site TMH proposal via a news release. At about the same time a notification sheet was distributed to houses adjacent to the site. This timing of no more than seven working days prior to the first session fell considerably short of the usual minimum of ten days. Add to that the setting of meeting dates for less than two weeks before Christmas.

An email sent to housing@vancouver.ca on the evening of 14 December 2017 asked for a posting of the presented materials to the TMH web site. Twenty-four hours later there had been no response — neither an email reply, nor a fulfillment of the request.

On this basis and in this circumstance, local area residents are expected to provide their “input” between 13 and 22 December 2017. This kind of treatment can only confirm the cynicism of many residents who expect that the City of Vancouver intends to race ahead and will show little respect for anything they may have to say.

 
The Materials

In written form, the sessions provided two written documents —

Temporary Modular Housing Factsheet  (2 p.)   [tailored to the 4410 Kaslo Street site]

Draft Operations Management Plan, 4410 Kaslo Street, Vancouver, Rapid Response to Homelessness, Temporary Modular Housing  /  Atira Women’s Resource Society  (6 p.)

— and 17 display panels.

Since Atira learned of its selection as operator only a few days prior to the information sessions, it seems plausible that its six-page “draft plan” consists of nothing more than a rapidly tweaked version of their initial boilerplate “expression of interest” to the City of Vancouver about becoming a TMH operator. The specifics of the agreement between the two parties have yet to be negotiated. This means that the “information” that could be presented to local area residents amounted to generic aspirations only. This would explain the unwillingness and/or inability of officials to provide any useful answer to the number one question: Who would be living in the 50 TMH units proposed for 4410 Kaslo Street?

Beyond this, the panels disappointingly failed to provide information that did exist, could have been presented, and was being asked for by residents. Three prime examples:

 

 
     Map of Sites Already Announced
 

 

 
     Criteria for Site Selection
     http://council.vancouver.ca/20171004/documents/pspc2.pdf
 

 

 
     Details from Temporary Modular Housing Contract Approval  (4 Oct 2017)
     http://council.vancouver.ca/20171004/documents/pspc2.pdf
 

Eye on Norquay observed the person named in the above external documentation (tweet of 14 December 2017) aggressively deflecting and stonewalling on this particular frequently asked question. The City Council administrative report of 4 October 2017 constitutes relevant information that was actively withheld from the “Community Information Sessions.” Such an approach does not inspire trust.

 
The Timeline and Who “Decides”

Apart from panel 5 above, the panel image that follows is the only material that Eye on Norquay finds useful enough to reproduce here. The “next step” for the local community appears to consist of a single opportunity to react to an already-applied-for development permit.

 

 
     Panel 15 — Development Permit Process for Input
 

It is difficult to make sense of what this panel title could mean. Residents were told that General Manager of Planning Gil Kelley will make “a decision” following the second meeting. Few believe that this decision could be anything other than a yes.

Eye on Norquay has suggested to staff that the honest approach would be to say that Council has made the decision already, and that staff must act as the agent of Council. To displace that “decision” away from Council only fosters undeserved scorn for staff. No City Councillor made even a brief appearance at the contentious scene. For Councillors to avoid the difficult situations created by their decisions has become standard practice.

The disconnect between what TMH project leaders say and what can plainly be seen to be happening should embarrass all who speak to the issues. The official narrative maintains that what residents say matters, is taken very seriously, and might possibly even result in a decision to not locate TMH at 4410 Kaslo Street. The reality encompasses

        The politics of a growing homeless population that must be seen to be dealt with
        Few City of Vancouver sites that can satisfy the present criteria for TMH locations
        An initial $66 million that must be spent on TMH as quickly as possible
        Multiple agencies that by definition will prioritize behind-the-scenes “negotiating”
          of their own competing bureaucratic interests

 
Who Was in the Room?

The persons and departments/agencies at the sessions included:

Abi Bond
Director of Affordable Housing, Community Services
abigail.bond@vancouver.ca

Allison Dunnett
Senior Planner, Housing Policy and Projects
allison.dunnet@vancouver.ca

Ethel Whitty
Director, Homelessness Services
ethel.whitty@vancouver.ca

Luke Harrison
Director/Chief Executive Officer, Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency (VAHA)
luke.harrison@vaha.ca

David Williams
Project Director, Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency (VAHA)
david.williams@vaha.ca

Brenda Prosken
Regional Director, BC Housing
???

Janice Abbott
Chief Executive Officer, Atira Women’s Resource Society
janice_abbott@atira.bc.ca

Jennifer Gray-Grant
Executive Director, Collingwood Neighbourhood House
jgray-grant@cnh.bc.ca

Unspecified Person(s)
Vancouver Coastal Health

 
The Unspeakable Good News

The serious shortcomings outlined above add to the City of Vancouver’s ignominious reputation for mistreating its residents. At least a token acknowledgment of the recent planning context established for Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre would have been appropriate.

At the level of mere logic, the City would not serve its own interests well by flubbing any aspect of delivering TMH at this location. Mishaps would only further poison the well that the City must drink from extensively in 2018, with the start of the “station area planning” that is designated as a top priority of the Housing Vancouver Strategy approved in late November 2017.

Eye on Norquay senses that the implementation of TMH at 4410 Kaslo Street will significantly and specifically deal with fears that we heard expressed at the community information sessions. Perhaps the foremost fear is for the safety of children.

Our assessment is based on six to ten hours of two experienced persons listening carefully to what high-level staff (see listing above) had to say — and then putting all of that together and reading between the lines. There seems to be a reassuring background that the staff can barely hint at.

In a very unusual move, we judge it best in this particular case to avoid elaborating on the positives that we perceive. For the sake of the neighborhood, let’s all hope that our optimistic intuitions match up with the TMH realization.
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

16 December 2017 at 8:51 pm

Temporary Modular Housing

with 2 comments

 
4410 Kaslo Street Across from 29th Avenue SkyTrain Station

 
On Friday 1 December 2017 news came out that City of Vancouver looks to place “temporary modular housing” on the site of a community garden that lies just to the north of the Norquay area of East Vancouver. The three-storey structure(s) would contain “approximately 50 single-occupancy homes” and “be in place for up to five years, with the possibility to extend another five years” (notification sheet image below).

        Community Information Sessions
        4 pm to 7 pm  •  Wednesday 13 December 2017
        4 pm to 7 pm  •  Thursday 14 December 2017
        First Hungarian Presbyterian Church, 2791 East 27th Avenue

 

 
     Vancouver Courier/Dan Toulgoet Photo of 4410 Kaslo Street
 

 
Norquay and Then Not Norquay

This Kaslo Street site fell within the boundaries of Norquay for the first 3½ years of planning — from the outset in March 2006 until an abrupt cut-off, announced by then Director of Planning Brent Toderian to Norquay Working Group on 2 November 2009. City planners informed Norquay in writing on 30 Jan 2010:

        Input received through the Norquay Village planning process
        will be included in the [future] station area planning phase.

        (Open House Panel 3 — Station Area Planning in Norquay)

The Housing Vancouver Strategy adopted by City Council on 29 November 2017 sets the highest priority on launching “station area planning” early in 2018 for both the 29th Avenue and Nanaimo SkyTrain stations.

In July 2017 Cheryl Chan reported that City of Vancouver had hopes of seeing 600 modular units “scattered across the city at up to 15 under-used or vacant sites pending development.” As of early December 2017, the City of Vancouver web site identifies 7 locations: 220 Terminal Avenue, 650 West 57th Avenue, 1115 Franklin Street, 1131 Franklin Street, 1141 Franklin Street, 501 Powell Street, 4410 Kaslo Street. A mapping of those locations shows a dramatic skew in geographic distribution so far:

 

 
     Seven Vancouver Temporary Modular Housing Sites as of 3 Dec 2017
 

 
Poor Doors Escalate to Poor Areas

With 7 of perhaps 15 sites now designated for temporary modular housing, the process may have reached a half-way mark for the current round. The current “scatter” of temporary modular housing shows a distinct socioeconomic pattern. This particular new City of Vancouver “planning” effort apparently seeks to go citywide with the poor-door philosophy of shunning social mix. Planners have planned for, and Council or staff have approved, that same poor-door philosophy in controversial condo development projects like these:

•  Strathcona Village at 955 East Hastings — 18 September 2012 Public Hearing

•  The Jervis at 1171 Jervis Street — 4 May 2015 Development Permit Board

•  1068-1080 Burnaby Street and 1318 Thurlow Street — 22 November 2017 Open House

 
In other words, just as certain condo residents are expected to enter through a lower-class doorway, certain Vancouver residents are expected to find their housing in a lower-class neighbourhood. If this is how the city wants things to be, then specific property surtax should be levied on local areas that fail to shoulder their load in helping to house the homeless.

In September 2017 Jean Swanson, by-election candidate for City Council, and first runner-up in the election voting, said this to Global News:

        Six hundred units a year, for three years, that’s only 1,800.
        We already have 2,138 homeless people, so it’s not enough.

 

 

 
     Notification Sheet from City of Vancouver
 
 



 
 
Resources:

On 18 December 2017 Eye on Norquay moved this set of links to a separate posting as TMH Information Resources.
 
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

9 December 2017 at 11:53 am

Safeway at Broadway/Commercial

 
Pre-Application Open House

Tuesday, 27 June 2017
Croatian Cultural Centre, 3250 Commercial Drive

Doors: 5:30 pm
Presentation: 6:00 pm
Open House: 6:15 pm to 8:30 pm

http://www.broadwaycommercial.ca/app/uploads/2017/06/1594-Broadway-Commercial-June-27-OH-Flyer.pdf

 
The Broadway/Commercial Safeway (as well as the Safeway at 3410 Kingsway) are where many residents of Norquay go for their food shopping. The Norquay Plan has already seen developer Westbank plunder the plaza that was supposed to serve local residents on the 2220 Kingsway former Canadian Tire site Instead, we got a podium fortress with a parklet designed to serve underground air exhaust vents. Now Westbank seeks to eliminate a another plaza, a key element of the 2016 Grandview-Woodland Plan on the Safeway site at 1780 East Broadway. Come out to the June 27 event and tell Westbank’s consultants what you think.

The Broadway/Commercial Safeway site falls within the boundaries of Cedar Cottage, the Vancouver neighbourhood already heavily impacted by the two “neighbourhood centres” of Kingsway & Knight and Norquay Village. Though extreme for extent and multiplicity, the planning for Cedar Cottage has been anything but comprehensive. Flagrant abuse of the geographic center has been followed by grab-bag snatches at the perimeter: Norquay, 3365 Commercial, and now the Safeway site.

Also see Alternative Location Proposed for New Commercial Drive Public Plaza.

 

 

 

 
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

21 June 2017 at 11:14 am

Posted in Events, News