Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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 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


     Details from Temporary Modular Housing Contract Approval  (4 Oct 2017)

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

Allison Dunnett
Senior Planner, Housing Policy and Projects

Ethel Whitty
Director, Homelessness Services

Luke Harrison
Director/Chief Executive Officer, Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency (VAHA)

David Williams
Project Director, Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency (VAHA)

Brenda Prosken
Regional Director, BC Housing

Janice Abbott
Chief Executive Officer, Atira Women’s Resource Society

Jennifer Gray-Grant
Executive Director, Collingwood Neighbourhood House

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

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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


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

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

2751 Kingsway / Harvey’s

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Pre-Application Open House on 21 June 2017



A pre-application open house to present a development proposal for 2751 Kingsway (the Harvey’s site) will be held 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm on 21 June 2017 at Cunningham School (2330 East 37th Avenue). A building of 10 storeys on Kingsway and 4 storeys on Duke Street is proposed. This is consistent with the Norquay plan.

The pre-application open house is the first step in community consultation for a rezoning proposal. Although only residents living very near the site receive official notification, the even is open to all.

Suggestions for changes to development proposals have greatest effect at this first public stage of the process. Come to the open house and submit written comments.


Written by eyeonnorquay

15 June 2017 at 9:48 am

Posted in Events, News

More Affordable?

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In essence, the 2010 Norquay Plan intended for accelerated replacement of the most affordable existing older housing to provide opportunities for developers to sell brand-new units to a different demographic. The City of Vancouver refused to carry out a social impact analysis for the local area as part of the planning.



The following price data for new housing types in the Norquay area was assembled on 19 March 2017, and reflects observations collected from Multiple Listing Service during the first quarter of 2017.


     2737 Duke St           $1,128,000     1271 sq.ft.     Resale (3 yrs old)

     4672 Clarendon St      $1,248,000     1647 sq.ft.     New

     2466/2468 E 37th Ave   $1,338,000     1462 sq.ft.     New

     5678/5680 Rhodes St    $1,388,800     1873 sq.ft.     New


Small House

Both of these are infill houses on large lots in the RT-11 zone, separated from the main duplex and from the laneway house by 8 ft. Only two developments have been built with this configuration, and neither infill house has sold after more than a year on the market.

     2355 E 41st Ave         $973,000      1548 sq.ft.     New

     5512 Dundee St          $825,000      1330 sq.ft.     New


Stacked Townhouse

     4575 Slocan St           $869,000     1271 sq.ft.     New

     5184-2601 E 37th Ave     $858,000     1274 sq.ft.     Presale

     5188-2601 E 37th Ave     $588,000      841 sq.ft.     Presale

     5186-2601 E 37th Ave     $488,000      649 sq.ft.     Presale


Laneway House

     2470 E 37th Ave          $745,000      802 sq.ft.     New



Written by eyeonnorquay

1 April 2017 at 11:55 am

Posted in News, Price Data

Repeat Offender

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Westbank Jet-Engines Again at 2220 Kingsway

The following posting includes an update to the Sleepless posting of a week ago.

On Sunday afternoon 5 March 2017 Westbank at 2220 Kingsway once again operates a large jet-engine-noisy propane heater on the twelfth-floor of the east tower that is now under construction. The noise is audible through closed windows from over 400 feet away. There is an ordinary house right across the lane from the disturbance.


This abuse occurs only two days after the responsible district building inspector telephoned to say that this kind of outside-allowable-hours construction noise should not occur again. She reported that she had conferred with a “certified professional” for the project. Professional what? Apologist who effects no compliance? It now seems obvious that Westbank has no respect for construction noise regulations, or for the neighborhood that it seeks to extract value from.


On a mid-afternoon site inspection to confirm the source of the noise, this stash of about twenty large propane bottles was observed. Is this legitimate storage? Should this quantity of propane be in this location? Could there be a massive explosion? Westbank does not seem to care about that either.


Written by eyeonnorquay

5 March 2017 at 3:57 pm

Failing City

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Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson stirred up local media with a 1 March 2017 annual keynote address to the Urban Land Institute.

If you had coughed up $125 in good time, you could have gone to the Pinnacle Hotel Vancouver Harbourfront to hear Robertson’s latest wild stabs at gaining favor with the perceived voter. But if you weren’t a developer, you probably didn’t show up at that expensive scene.

Ordinary tax-paying residents are left to sift through skimpy news accounts to try to get a handle on this “preview of new directions the city is planning to take to produce housing for people, not investments.” That just-quoted gist comes from the caption to the story in Metro, a news source which has recently zoomed to the top of the heap for content and reliability.

Three points jump out from that Jen St. Denis coverage on the day of the speech:

     •  Find ways to increase density on lots without land assembly
     •  Attempt to encourage new housing that people will live in — not hold as
         under-occupied investments
     •  Encourage duplexes to multiply into four-plexes

What follows is a seasoned Norquay take on these febrile brain waves. In case you forgot, Norquay was mass-rezoned in 2010 to achieve some of these goals. Singled out. “Planned.” And promised alleviating amenity that shows almost no signs of ever being delivered in the lifetime of existing residents.

First and foremost, why would Robertson jump off in so many directions at once without making any attempt to assess the current state of the Norquay experiment? Our ADHD mayor hotfoots from homelessness to civic logos to EcoDensity™ cubed. Confidence wanes that he has any clue about what he is doing, other than scrambling to front for whatever he is advised to front for. A weird style of “leadership.”

Without Land Assembly

The Norquay mass rezoning set off a speculative wave of land assembly that is still reverberating. At one early stage Klein Group was hawking most of the south side of Duke Street between Duchess and Earles. Robertson imagines he can somehow rezone without rezoning?

One especially nasty early experiment at 2298 Galt Street demonstrated that “four-storey apartment” without land assembly was not a good idea. Planners subsequently recognized that fact in the zoning for RM-9A.

New Housing that People Will Live In

Here is a recent photo of 4565/4571/4585 Slocan Street, three sixplexes built under conditional RM-7 zoning as stacked townhouse.


On multiple recent occasions we have observed this new housing being marketed without advertised open house to sizeable groups of what are almost certainly offshore investors. These smaller investors may feel forced to rent the units to cover mortgage, thus sacrificing the purity of newness. But who can tell?

Double Duplex = Fourplex … On One Lot

The duplex form in Norquay has seen considerable take-up by developers. A new duplex, strata-titled on half the land, is not much cheaper than an existing fee simple house (not so new) on a whole lot. So duplex has not brought the promised new level of affordability. Besides that, as expected, rapid redevelopment has rushed the extermination of older more affordable housing, obliterating what would have been a more organic cycle. If the failed experiment at 2298 Galt is what Robertson means by “four-plex,” start to shudder.

On a less polemic note, Eye on Norquay has undertaken monitoring reviews of two new housing types, Duplex and Small House/Duplex. We know what we’re talking about.

Gregor Robertson is proposing to make a bold move on all of Vancouver — okay, probably never Shaughnessy and certain other special areas, because essential inequities must be maintained — a bold move based on an absolute jumble of notions. Perhaps he and his “planners” should start with a good stare at Norquay in the rearview mirror? But that is not where you can imagine a bright future, like you can when doing ninety miles an hour down a dead-end street.

Never forget the bottom line, whatever emits from Robertson’s mouth. The perennial task is to open up vast new tracts of already built-on Vancouver land for ever-increasing developer profits. And to do that in a tricky fashion, so the new lift value accrues mainly to the developer, not to the current property owner.

News Accounts

Frances Bula. The signs of a ‘failing city.’ Globe and mail BC ed (2 Mar 2017) S1-S2

Mike Howell. Housing options coming to single-family neighbourhoods. Vancouver courier (2 Mar 2017)

Matte Robinson. Robertson takes frank tone on housing crisis. Vancouver sun (2 Mar 2017) A3

Jen St. Denis. Emptying neighbourhoods sign of ‘failing city’: Vancouver mayor. Metro (1 Mar 2017)

Jen St. Denis. Can Vancouver avoid empty neighbourhood ‘death’ with gentle density? Metro (2 Mar 2017)


Written by eyeonnorquay

3 March 2017 at 11:21 pm

Posted in Context, News