Archive for the ‘News’ Category
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
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
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
2470 E 37th Ave $745,000 802 sq.ft. New
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.
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
• 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.
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.
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)
More Abuse from Westbank at 2220 Kingsway
View of Westbank’s 2220 Kingsway: Looking West along East 30th Avenue
On Friday 24 February Eye on Norquay received an email about new overnight construction noise at Westbank’s 2220 Kingsway construction site. Three fourteen-storey towers are being built on top of a podium that covers most of the 2.3 acres. An on-site observation at 9:45 pm, standing in front of the house at 2220 East 30th Avenue, confirmed a continuous, loud, low-pitched noise emanating from the south tower, which now stands at four of fourteen storeys.
Looking East Down East 30th Avenue
According to the email, this noise started on the preceding night of 23/24 February. The writer of the email attributes the noise to a large propane heater, and states: “My whole family cannot sleep at all because of this.”
The City of Vancouver’s Noise Control By-Law No. 6555
addresses such construction noise in sections 15 and 16 and 17. Section 15 limits continuous sound level to 85 decibels. (On occasions during the daytime, the site emits continuous noise that can be heard three blocks away.) Section 16 limits construction noise to weekdays from 7:30 am to 8:00 pm and 10:00 am to 8:00 pm on Saturday, with quiet for Sunday and holidays. Section 17 provides for relaxations.
The Noisiest Spot: Standing at Curbside of 2220 East 30th
This particular noise may exceed the allowed sound level. In any case, the noise is not allowed between 8:00 pm and 7:30 am. It seems unlikely that relaxation has been granted, and if so, this information has not been communicated to adjacent residents.
It would appear that the use of a large noisy propane heater serves only the purpose of reducing construction time. If the temperature is too low to pour, then the developer should wait for acceptable conditions. Speeding up the profits should not justify the continuous overnight impact on local area residents who already are having to put up with an incredible amount of noise, dirt, and traffic to accommodate the construction of these buildings.
The foregoing concern is being forwarded to relevant City of Vancouver authorities by Eye on Norquay. If and when a response is received, it will be appended to this posting.
• • • • • • •
Update Monday Feb 27 AM
Sat 25 Feb AM –
Account of situation posted to Eye on Norquay, together with tweet-out (including @westbankcorp) and four helpful retweets
Sat 25 Feb Evening –
Detailed email of complaint to City of Vancouver Noise By-Law Enforcement with cc to three senior city administrators
Sun 26 Midday –
Affected resident reported end of noise
Mon 27 AM –
Two separate conversations with City of Vancouver staff. Case file established. Confirmation that 2220 Kingsway site had no formal exception to permit emission of continuous loud noise over period extending for 2-3 days. Request that any resumption of this continuous noise during allowed construction hours be checked for permissible decibel level.
The More That Followed
For district building inspector report back of 3 March 2017, followed by repeat offence two days later, see Repeat Offender.
The 2010 Norquay mass rezoning set as an objective for the local area “to evolve incrementally and organically.” Planners revel in such glib fantasies. Build in mechanisms to address plan consequences? Never.
At the start of 2017 a big newish Norquay house is up for … REDEVELOPMENT. This house was built in the year that Norquay planning started — 2006. Ten short years.
In the greenest city, you are now invited to fork over $3.2 million for the privilege of sending a quite serviceable house straight to the landfill. Well, maybe six bedrooms and 2800 square feet are both too much and not enough? Or maybe a greedy developer got whiplashed in the 2016 turnaround, and is getting desperate to flip?
For that $3.2 million, you get an almost-new house to tear down. Besides that you get a Halloween 2016 (check that date) development application to build two new duplexes:
Everybody likes new, right? Ten years. So OLD. Just think how incremental and organic it could be to cram two of these boxes (see below) onto one lot. And set a fine precedent for all those surrounding teardowns.
Here’s hoping that incrementalism is taking hold, and that a #vanre crash is underway that will shut down this nonsense. P.S. This property sold on 17 January 2016 for $2,405,000. The 1 July 2016 assessment was $2,497,000 (land at $1,982,000 and buildings at $515,000).
A memorial service for Keith Jacobson packed a large gym space at Killarney Community Centre on the afternoon of Sunday 3 July 2016.
In a brief and moving message based on Galatians 2:20, Rev. Mark Chiang from Killarney Community Lutheran Church described Keith Jacobson as an “old-school Christian” who gave a great deal to his local community.
Norquay has benefitted from Keith’s involvement and support. Keith spoke to Vancouver City Council on 4 November 2010 before the Norquay Plan was approved. Some of his words on that occasion were incorporated into a 15 February 2011 Eye on Norquay posting:
Keith Jacobson, president of the Killarney Community Centre Society, characterized 15,000 square feet as “woefully inadequate” — Norquay needs a full-size community centre.
His words ring even more true today. Norquay has seen much growth of population through rezoning since 2010, with zero delivery of corresponding amenity. Keith understood this kind of ongoing struggle.
From the archives, the following piece of document shows that Keith did more than just show up once for Norquay:
If you never had the good fortune to cross paths with Keith Jacobson, here is one poor substitute for no longer having that opportunity:
Vancouver Courier (30 June 2016) A9
Bad Message: Density Means Increased Danger
The following letter has been sent to our Norquay mailing list. We believe that it identifies an important issue that has implications not only for Norquay, but for all RM-9 zones across Vancouver.
The City of Vancouver is trying to minimize the number of new zones. Rather than writing an entirely new set of zoning regulations and guidelines for each new zone, planning staff where possible are adding a few tweaks to existing regulations and identifying the new zone by a letter behind the number. Hence, RM-9/9N in Marpole, RM-9A-9AN in Norquay, and the proposed RM-9B/9BN in the Joyce Precinct. Any precedent set in one zone will affect all of these zones, as well as any future RM-9 zones. In the same way, precedent set by Norquay in the RM-7/7N zone would affect the proposed RM-7A/7AN zone in the Joyce Precinct.
Please redistribute this letter to your community networks.
• • • • • • • • • • •
••• Feel free to redistribute this email •••
Dear Friends of Norquay,
Two years ago, a precedent-setting development application proposed to fill a front yard with outside stairways to the second storey of the first stacked townhouse development in Norquay’s RM-7 zone. Thanks to letters of opposition from within Norquay and across the City, this proposal was turned around. All of the 20+ stacked townhouse development proposals that Norquay has seen since that time have interior stairways to the upper storeys. Let’s do it again!
The first application under Norquay’s new RM-9A zoning — for 4 storey apartment in the Kingsway transition zone — has been posted on the City of Vancouver Development Application web site. Implementations of a new housing type require close scrutiny, because damaging precedent can be set. Not all details are specified in zoning schedules. Information about this project for 4894 Slocan Street can be seen at:
We are particularly concerned that the applicant is proposing to lock off the entry courtyard behind a “secured gate.” [Shown in the site plan.] The required wide entry courtyard leading to the building entrance is one of the more attractive features of apartment buildings in RM-9 zones. One stated intent of this building form is “to encourage activation of residential street life.” [RM-9, RM-9A, RM-9N and RM-9AN Guidelines, Section 1.1(a)] To set up a locked barrier between this building and the City sidewalk on Slocan Street would do the opposite. This unfriendly and unneighbourly feature has no precedent in any comparable building project in Norquay.
The zoning regulations and guidelines do not expressly prohibit the “secured gate.” A large public outcry against the proposal is the only way to stop this unwelcome precedent being set not only in Norquay, but in all current and future RM-9 zones across the City. RM-9 type zoning has also been applied to Marpole, is proposed for Joyce Station area, and seems probable for Grandview-Woodland. This is a template zoning, with unspecified details likely to spread to all areas.
Please send your comments as soon as possible to:
Official deadline for comment is June 17, 2016, but comments are accepted and considered until the decision date. We expect that the decision on this first RM-9A application will take some time. Although we see the locked-off entry courtyard as the most urgent issue, we encourage you to include any other feedback you would like to give on this application. Our already submitted comment can be seen at:
Yours for a better Norquay,
Jeanette and Joseph Jones