Archive for the ‘Open Letters’ Category

Open Letter on Duplex

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     from:  Joseph Jones
       to:  Carr, Adriane ,
            Christine Boyle ,
            Colleen Hardwick ,
            De Genova, Melissa ,
            Jean Swanson ,
            Kennedy Stewart ,
            Lisa Dominato ,
            Michael Wiebe ,
            Pete Fry ,
            Rebecca Bligh ,
            Sarah Kirby-Yung 
       cc:  dan.garrison@vancouver.ca,
            gil.kelley@vancouver.ca,
            Jeanette Jones
     date:  Dec 15, 2018, 2:25 PM
  subject:  URGENT: Re Administrative Report #5 for
            Council Meeting of December 18

 
To:  Vancouver City Councillors
cc:  Dan Garrison, Assistant Director, Housing Policy & Regulation
cc:  Gil Kelley, General Manager, Planning, Urban Design & Sustainability

 
Re: Administrative Report #5 for Council Meeting of December 18: Costs of Consultation, Time Constraints and Impacts of Pursuing By-law Amendments to Remove Two-family Dwellings (Duplex) from RS Zones

https://council.vancouver.ca/20181218/documents/a5.pdf

 
We have read this report with interest. If Council decides to adopt the recommendation of staff to consider duplex as a trial housing option while Making Room proceeds, we ask that you consider making the following amendments to the suggested Council resolution (p. 9):

(a) That the proposed further discussion, field testing and evaluation over the next year include outright duplexes in all zones where they are allowed (RT-11, RM-7, RM-8, RT-5 and others if appropriate), and not focus exclusively on yet-unbuilt examples in only RS zones.

(b) That “exterior design” and “room sizes” be added to the list of specified features to be reviewed by staff (p. 9).

 
Rationale

1.  A monitoring of outright duplex development only in RS zones over the coming one-year period seems unlikely to provide any data that would enable Council to make “a future fact-based policy decision.” Norquay’s experience, based on continuous close observation for about five years, is that the time required for demolition of an existing house and construction of a duplex is close to one year. This does not include permitting time. We therefore expect that few if any duplexes could be completed in RS zones within one year, especially considering that only nine applications have been received to date.

2.  A large amount of data that could be used to evaluate outright duplexes is already available. Duplexes built outright under regulations almost identical to those approved for RS zones have already been completed in other areas of Vancouver. Outright duplexes have been allowed on single lots in Norquay’s RT-11 and RM-7 zones since 2013, in Marpole’s RM-8 zone since 2014, and in the RT-5 zones in Grandview-Woodland and Mount Pleasant since January 2018. In Norquay alone, approximately 60 outright duplexes have been completed or are very close to completion. To our knowledge, CoV has undertaken no formal process for any evaluation of these existing duplexes. We have been conducting our own evaluation of all new development in Norquay by regularly walking every street, monitoring applications, and attending open houses.

3.  Our monitoring has identified exterior design and room size as significant problems in new Norquay outright duplex development. The existing Exterior Design Guidelines are an important first step, but they need to be refined and strengthened. Approximately 20% of outright duplexes in Norquay are eyesores. * Room sizes are often inadequate for family housing, especially in duplexes built on small lots. We have seen bedrooms as small as 8 x 7, living rooms that can only accommodate a couch, and “dining areas” that consist of two stools at a kitchen counter because there is no room for a table.

Like most Norquay residents, we did not oppose duplexes in our neighbourhood at the time of rezoning and we do not oppose them now. We support the Planning Department’s proposal to evaluate the performance of new housing forms. The absence of any reference to Norquay in either the original staff report on duplexes dated June 27, 2018 or in the current report dated December 5, 2018 is disappointing. If the City of Vancouver reviews outright duplexes, Norquay’s extensive recent experience should feature prominently in that undertaking.

 
Jeanette and Joseph Jones

 
* Examples of external design successes and failures in Norquay can be viewed at:

http://www.vcn.bc.ca/norquay/duplex-2018.html
 
 

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Written by eyeonnorquay

16 December 2018 at 12:23 pm

Posted in Open Letters

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
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

29 October 2018 at 3:09 pm

Submission to Park Board

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Re Draft Capital Plan 2019-2022

20 June 2018

 
We unfortunately were unable to attend the June 12 consultation session, as we were out of town at that point. However, we have looked at the Park Board Draft Capital Plan 2019-2022 and we submit our comment in writing.

We are disappointed to see that the renewal of General Brock Park is not included in the Draft Capital Plan. Under the 2013 Norquay Village Neighbourhood Public Benefits Strategy:

         General Brock Park is considered to be the first priority
         for upgrading in the first 10 years of the Strategy (p. 9)

Time is running out for the City of Vancouver to live up to its commitment.

General Brock Park is the closest neighbourhood park for the largest number of residents in new developments resulting from the 2010 Norquay Plan. Nearby major projects recently completed, under construction, or approved include:
 

Location                Status                   Number of Units

2239 Kingsway           Completed 2011            94 units

2300 Kingsway           Completed 2013           346 units

2220 Kingsway           Completion in 2018       404 units

2395-2443 Kingsway      Approved Sept 2016       126 units

2153-2199 Kingsway      Approved May 2017        101 units

 
In addition, 77 units of family housing in Norquay’s new RT and RM zones as well as many duplexes are in process or already completed in the area. All of this development is within 400 metres of this park.

General Brock Park was established in 1977 and has had only minimal upgrades since that time. It is inadequate to serve the needs of existing and new Norquay residents. It provides a large open green space, some paved (sinking) walkways, and a small playground suitable for preschool children, but very little else.

Increasing densification of the area does not only bring many new residents. It also transfers many activities that have traditionally taken place in backyards to city parks. The new low-rise housing forms (duplex, rowhouse, stacked townhouse, small houses on shared lots) leave very little room for open space on the property. City parks are becoming the “shared backyard” where residents are looking to play, exercise, garden, and socialize. We are looking for picnic tables, exercise and play equipment for all ages, access to nature, and open space where we can run and play.

We recognize that the Norquay Plan and the Public Benefits Strategy provide for the acquisition of four parcels on Wenonah Street in order to incorporate them into the park. The Park Board is to be commended for the work they have done to purchase two of these four properties. However, the remaining two properties may well be unavailable for purchase for many years to come. Renewal of Brock Park cannot be put off until that opportunity occurs. We suggest a modular redesign, which could incorporate the four Wenonah Street properties when the Park Board is able to assemble all of them.

The City of Vancouver has repeatedly assured Norquay residents that development of parks will accompany the development of new housing. The renewal of Brock Park needs to be included in the 2019-2022 Capital Plan.

 
Jeanette and Joseph Jones
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

20 June 2018 at 8:19 pm

Posted in Open Letters

Two Major Deficiencies

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… Likely to Carry Over into Current Citywide Planning

 
The following open letter is sent to the following named City of Vancouver officials and simultaneously posted to the Eye on Norquay web site at https://eyeonnorquay.wordpress.com/2017/09/04/two-major-deficiencies/.

 

To:  Gil Kelley — Manager of Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability
     Kaye Krishna — Manager of Development, Buildings and Licensing
     Anita Molaro — Assistant Director: Urban Design
     Dan Garrison — Assistant Director: Housing Policy
     Kent Munro — Assistant Director: Vancouver Midtown
CC:  Sadhu Johnston — City Manager

From:  Jeanette and Joseph Jones

Subject: Two Major Deficiencies Evident in Norquay RT-11

Date:  4 September 2017

 

The Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre is the second large area of Vancouver to have all RS parcels rezoned to allow for new forms of low-density housing. Between 2013 and 2015 the City of Vancouver rezoned 1,912 parcels of land in the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre from RS-1 to three new specifications: RT-11 (small house/duplex), RM-7 (rowhouse/stacked townhouse), and RM-9A (4-storey apartment). As of 30 August 2017, fifty development applications have been posted on the City of Vancouver’s Development Applications web page. Eleven projects have been completed so far in the RT-11 zoned areas and two in the RM-7 zoned areas. The first RM-9A project on assembled parcels has recently begun construction.

In this way, our entire neighbourhood has become a demonstration project for the City of Vancouver designated “missing middle” housing forms that seem destined for other RS-1 zoned areas across the city. Problems associated with these new housing types are showing up first in Norquay.

At this point, two major deficiencies are clearly evident in many of the completed projects.

 
1.  Living rooms and bedrooms are often too small.

A large number of units, especially in the RT-11 zoned area, are 3–bedroom units expected to house families. In small house, duplex and townhouse units of less than 1500 sq. ft., the kitchen area and the living/dining area usually occupy a single room. After space has been allocated to the kitchen and dining functions, the remaining space can often only hold a 3-seater sofa. This amount of living room is inadequate for families.

Bedrooms in these units tend to be extremely small. A recent RT-11 application shows bedrooms that are 8 x 6 ft. or 8 x 7 ft. This space is barely large enough to accommodate a single bed. Many 3-bedroom units have at least one bedroom smaller than the 92 sq. ft. specified in the BC Housing Design Guidelines as a minimum bedroom size for social housing units.

It seems that no guidelines govern room sizes in Norquay’s RT-11 zone or in the proposed RT-5/5A and RT-6 zones for Grandview-Woodland and Mount Pleasant. The city’s Housing Design and Technical Guidelines apply only to social housing units. The High-Density Housing for Families with Children Guidelines apply only to “residential development, both market and non-market, of 75 and more units per hectare in density.” (p. 1) Units in the RT-11 zone and in the proposed RT-5/5N and RT-6 zones have a maximum unit density of 74 per hectare. The City of Vancouver urgently needs a new set of guidelines for low-density housing forms.

 
2.  Landscaping is not being maintained.

For the most part, landscaped areas are being planted with drought-tolerant plants. But these new plantings are not being properly watered. In some cases, the developer fails to water and the landscaping shows signs of severe stress even before the units are ever occupied [photos 1 and 2]. In other cases, the new residents fail to water the plantings, either through ignorance or lack of interest [photo 3]. In a worst-case scenario, both the developer and residents have failed to water. Irrigation systems usually have not been required. Failure to water and otherwise care for the landscaping is especially evident where there is shared “semi-private” open space. No one appears to feel responsible for these, or for city boulevards [photos 4 and 5].

Much of the sod that has been laid down does not look as if it will survive [photo 6]. Many trees have dead branches, and some entire trees have died but have not been replaced [photos 7 and 8]. While established plantings may recover to a large extent after a hot summer like this one, new plantings are much more vulnerable.

These problems can be anticipated to be even more acute in the RM zones, where units are likely to be smaller and virtually all ground-level open space will be semi-private shared space.

RT-11 zoning is referenced in the report “Increasing Housing Choice and Character Retention Incentives in the Mount Pleasant and Grandview-Woodland Communities – Proposed Amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law,” as presented to Council on 13 July 2017 and referred to Public Hearing of September 19. What is happening in the RT-11 and RM-7 zones will also be relevant when the final Housing Reset strategy is presented to Council later this year.

Solutions need to be found to the two serious problems outlined above before these new housing forms are allowed in other areas of Vancouver. Staff have assured us that these problems are “on the radar,” but they need to become more than a blip. They need to be given urgent priority. We understand that cooperative effort between staff working in different areas may be required, and workable solutions may take some time to find. In the meantime, substandard projects proliferate in Norquay, exacerbated by failed plantings that are never remediated. Failure to address these issues in a timely fashion could spread similar degradation across Vancouver.

Please keep us updated on what is being done to ensure that living rooms and bedrooms are adequately sized and that landscaping is maintained in low-density housing developments.

Note: Photos are provided only on the web site version of the letter and may be viewed at https://eyeonnorquay.wordpress.com/2017/09/04/two-major-deficiencies/.
 

 
Photos

 

 
     Photo 1 — 22 Aug 2017 — 2297 East 37th Avenue
 

 

 
     Photo 2 — 22 Aug 2017 — 5197 Clarendon Street
 

 

 
     Photo 3 — 22 Aug 2017 — 4573 Slocan Street
 

 

 
     Photo 4 — 22 Aug 2017 — 2297 East 37th Avenue
 

 

 
     Photo 5 — 22 Aug 2017 — 2273/2275/2277 Slocan Street
 

 

 
     Photo 6 — 16 May 2016 — 4521 Nanaimo Street
 

 

 
     Photo 7 — 16 May 2016 — Killarney Street at East 41st Avenue
 

 

 
     Photo 8 — 16 May 2016 — 5689 Killarney Street
 
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

4 September 2017 at 10:11 pm

Compromised Public Spaces

with 2 comments

 

To:  Sadhu Johnston, City Manager
     Gil Kelley, Manager of Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability
     Kent Munro, Assistant Director of Planning, Vancouver Midtown
     Karen Hoese, Acting Assistant Director of Planning, Vancouver Downtown

cc:  Mayor and Council

Re:  Compromised Public Spaces

 

 
We support the City of Vancouver’s desire to create new public spaces in areas of the city that are undergoing rapid redevelopment. We note that current planning processes usually include planning for public spaces in the form of parks and plazas.

However, we are disappointed to see many of these planned public open spaces become severely compromised when development later takes place.

 
2220 Kingsway / Kensington Gardens

We have experienced this compromise in Norquay at Kensington Gardens (2220 Kingsway), where the Norquay Plan called for a single plaza of 6000-8000 sq. ft. The developer was permitted to divide the space into a 4664 sq. ft. grocery store entrance on the northwest corner of the site, and a “park” of 7477 sq. ft. on the southwest corner of the site. Approximately half of the “park” (not the half containing exhaust vents from the underground parking area) now appears to have been clawed back, lowered to a different level, and walled off to function as outdoor seating for a planned restaurant. In return for these two impaired peripheral spaces, the developer gained 12 upper floors (4 extra storeys in each of 3 towers.) The contrast in value is appalling. A 2-storey podium topped by a large semi-private courtyard covers the interior of the site. There is no functional public plaza.

Two current planning initiatives seem to be following this unhappy precedent.

 
Safeway Site at Broadway and Commercial

The Grandview-Woodland Community Plan provides for a generous at-grade public plaza on this site. The developer recently proposed that the plaza be relocated to an alternate space above the Grandview cut. The location would be above the Millenium SkyTrain line and under and beside the Expo SkyTrain line. The proposed new site is markedly inferior, especially with regard to noise, elevation and air pollution. Once again, the same developer proposes a semi-private courtyard at the centre of the Broadway/Commercial Safeway site.

 
Creekside Park in Northeast False Creek

The original 1990 development plan for Creekside Park was for a contiguous east-west park alignment along the waterfront. The most recent proposal is for a north-south alignment of the park, allocating much more of the waterfront to development and much less to the park. The north-south alignment situates a part of the park under the SkyTrain line and next to the new 6-lane Pacific Avenue.

In all of these cases, the developer seeks to appropriate more desirable land that was designated as public open space in community plans, in order to convert that land into semi-private or private space. Public open space is being shifted to undesirable locations.

The reason that some of the most desirable land was originally allocated to public open space was to provide attractive shared gathering spaces for ordinary residents living in denser housing forms like townhouses and apartments. Approval of the proposed land-swaps would create attractive private playgrounds for the wealthy and the elite, while ordinary residents are left with the dregs.

We ask that both the plaza on the Broadway and Commercial Safeway site and Creekside Park in Northeast False Creek be situated in their originally proposed locations. Any parks or plazas that the City of Vancouver wishes to build under or over SkyTrain lines should be in addition to, and not instead of, the designated public open spaces already promised to individual neighbourhoods.

 
Jeanette and Joseph Jones
6 July 2017
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

6 July 2017 at 9:21 pm

Letter: The Big Promise

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19 June 2017


2400 Motel Site

To: Michael Chin – Manager, Property Development, Real Estate Services
    Michelle Schouls – Associate Director, Facilities Planning

cc: Gil Kelley – General Manager, Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability
    Kent Munro – Associate Director, Vancouver Midtown
    Kenny Gilbertson – Development Manager, Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency


The 2400 Motel site at 2400 Kingsway is a 3.5 acre property owned by the City of
Vancouver. The  2010 Norquay Plan recognizes "the opportunity to create a true
centre or 'heart' of the community in the triangle formed by Kingsway, Slocan
Street, East 33rd Avenue, and Nanaimo Street." (p. 58) A portion of the "triangle"
was redeveloped as 2300 Kingsway before the Norquay Plan was complete.  Most of
the larger, still undeveloped portion of the "triangle" is composed of the
2400 Motel site.

Redevelopment of that site will help to fulfill the stated goals of both the
community and the City of Vancouver.

        New Community Space. The Norquay Plan specifies that redevelopment on
        this site is to include 15,000 sq. ft. of new indoor community space and
        20,000 sq. ft.of outdoor community space. At present, two elementary
        schools provide Norquay's only indoor community space. Norquay residents
        identified this community amenity as the most desired public benefit
        of the Plan. Provision of community space is necessary if the City of
        Vancouver is to realize the "livable, sustainable neighbourhoods"
        cited on the City's "Neighbourhood Planning" web page. As the Social
        Infrastructure Plan web page states,"Social infrastructure is an essential
        ingredient in building strong, resilient communities." Community space 
        must be provided if Norquay is to become a true community rather than a
        construct of the City of Vancouver.

        Affordable Housing. According to the Norquay Public Benefits
        Strategy, 100 of the projected 500 residential units on this site are
        to be non-market housing. Development of this site would be in line with
        the priorities identified on the Housing Vancouver web page to "create more
        of the right type of housing" and to "provide more City land to build
        rental housing."

A reliable unofficial source has told us that the City of Vancouver bought the 2400
Motel in the late 1980s for approximately $2 M. Given the site's windfall increase in
value, even with normal investment return to the Property Endowment Fund, there should
be great potential for these benefits to be realized. Additional funds are available
in the form of a cash CAC of $3M received for 2220 Kingsway (Kensington Gardens), which
was specifically allocated to "the future development of community amenities to be
located on the 2400 Kingsway site." (Council Report of February 26, 2013, p. 9)

We recognize that many of 2400 Motel units are currently being used to house recently
arrived Syrian refugees. This is a good interim use for the property, but it does not
advance implementation of the Norquay Plan. Even if work to redevelop the site began
immediately, several years would pass before construction could start. By that time
most refugees should have found permanent housing. Other refugees may be able to take
advantage of the non-market housing to be built on the site.

Development of identified large Kingsway sites in Norquay is already well underway.
(See listing of specific sites below.) In addition, more than 50 applications have
been approved under the Norquay Plan for lower density projects in the form of 4-storey
apartment buildings, rowhouses, stacked townhouses, and small house/duplex.  More than
60 duplexes are being built outright. The City-owned 2400 Motel site, the largest and
most important of all, so far shows no signs of delivering on the central promise made
to the Norquay community.

Planning staff have told us that in order for redevelopment to take place, it is
necessary for the Real Estate Department to release this property. We ask you to do
so as soon as possible so that the promised benefits of the Norquay Plan and the
stated goals of the City of Vancouver will be realized.


Jeanette and Joseph Jones




Recent Kingsway Development in Norquay (From 2200 to 2899 Kingsway)


2200 Kingsway               438 residential units           Expected completion 2018
                 
2239 Kingsway               94 residential units            Completed 2011

2300 Kingsway               346 residential units           Completed 2013

2395-2469 Kingsway          126 residential units           Approved 2016

2689 Kingsway               129 residential units           Completed 2013

2751 Kingsway               ?                               Application in process

2768-2784 Kingsway          ?                               Assembled site sold 2017



Written by eyeonnorquay

21 June 2017 at 9:50 am

Gladstone Secondary

with 2 comments

 
The following letter about the possible closure of Gladstone Secondary was sent to the Vancouver School Board on 19 September 2016. For things you can do see the appended letter sent out by MLA Adrian Dix.

 
To: Mike Lombardi (VSB Chair)
Joy Alexander, Patti Bacchus, Fraser Ballantyne, Janet Fraser, Penny Noble, Christopher Richardson, Stacy Robertson, Allan Wong, Timme Zhao (VSB Trustees)

 
As residents of the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre, we are concerned about the impact that the closure of Gladstone Secondary School would have on Norquay. An extensive recent City of Vancouver planning process has defined this area as an integrated new community.

The basic vision for the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre is for a complete community: a place where people have housing choices that meet their needs, where there are local shops and services that provide the goods of daily life, where there are public spaces and places for people to meet and engage in community life, and where people can move easily and without a car to access places to work, play, and shop. (Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan, Section 2.2, p. 14. Approved by Council November 2010.)

Norquay has not traditionally included the concentration of amenities and services that many neighbourhood shopping areas can boast. We have no library, no community centre or neighbourhood house, no swimming pool or ice rink.

But Gladstone Secondary School is located only 1 block north of the Norquay boundary. Most of Norquay lies within the Gladstone catchment area, where 71% of Gladstone students live.

 
gladstonemap-1
 

The school acts as an important cohesive force in the Norquay community in several ways.

1.  Teens connect with other teens in their neighbourhood when they attend school classes and extra-curricular activities.

2.  Most Norquay students in the Gladstone catchment area live close enough to walk to school. They become more familiar with their neighbourhood en route.

3.  Families of students connect with other families in their neighbourhood through their involvement in school activities.

4.  Community space is available for meetings and other activities. Together with Norquay’s elementary schools (Norquay and Cunningham), Gladstone provides the only community space in the neighbourhood.

The Norquay Plan strongly encourages new housing types for families. Five thousand new residents are expected to move into the neighbourhood during its 30-year lifespan, a population increase of 50%. By rough estimate, more than 2000 of these expected new residents will be living in Norquay by 2020.

If Gladstone is closed, most Norquay secondary students will live in the extreme southwest corner of the new Windermere catchment area, too far away to walk to school. The Renfrew Ravine and the SkyTrain are barriers that limit access routes to Windermere from Norquay, and make the school feel even farther away than it appears to be on a map. Windermere can never be an effective focal point for Norquay.

We believe that Norquay needs the presence of Gladstone Secondary School to function as a “complete community.” We ask that you remove Gladstone from the list of schools to be considered for closure.
Sincerely,

Jeanette and Joseph Jones
 

 
 
Letter from Vancouver-Kingsway MLA Adrian Dix

19 September 2016

Dear Gladstone, Bruce and Carleton Supporter,

This is a crucial week for the future of Gladstone Secondary, Graham Bruce Elementary and Carleton Elementary. Next Monday September 26th at 7pm, the Vancouver Board of Education will be voting on whether to move our schools and others on the list onto the next stage of the school closure process. It is our first chance to remove Gladstone, Bruce and Carleton from the list and it is very important that we have a huge turnout.

What can you do?

1.  Attend the VSB meeting on Sept 26th! Bring signs and make your voices heard. Location: Charles Tupper Secondary (419 East 24th Ave), starting at 7 pm.

2.  Write a letter to trustees (by email). Their emails can be found here. There are many arguments that can be made for all the schools, please read the following three op-eds for more information on Gladstone, Bruce and Carleton.)

3.  Sign the Petition. Close to 13,000 people have signed so far!

4.  Take a lawn sign.

In response to the VSB’s staff report, we will be working with parents and students to write a detailed report and release it to the trustees and public by Thurs, Sept 22. Our report will address detailed issues of enrolment (current and future), catchments, development, programs, the vulnerability of school populations, traffic, child care and importance of these schools in the community. We will also be working to meet with trustees face-to-face to make our case.

Here is the schedule of other action items this week:

Tuesday September 20th, 2016 afternoon at Vancouver City Hall: The City Council will be voting on a motion opposing school closures.

Tuesday September 20th, 7 pm: A major rezoning and increase in density as part of the Joyce-Collingwood Precinct Plan will be voted on by Vancouver City Council. This has significant implications for the Graham Bruce, Grenfell and Carleton catchments.

Wednesday September 21st, Gladstone students/parents organizing meeting at Cedar Cottage Neighbourhood House, at 3:30pm. It’s immediately followed by a student-only “presentation skills” session led by Mimi Nguyen of Cedar Cottage.

Thursday September 22nd, Door-to-door petition and letter-writing drive to Save Gladstone. Starting at 4 pm from Nanaimo Skytrain Station.

Thursday/Friday September 22nd-23rd – Presentation of detailed responses, petition and letters to Trustees.

Sunday September 25th – Petition drive and preparation for meeting on Monday September 26th. Location to be determined.

Monday September 26th – VSB School Closure Meeting, Charles Tupper Secondary, 7 pm (419 East 24th Ave).

There are also many other petitioning and organizing meetings all week. Please stay tuned. And we need all of you at Charles Tupper on Monday!

Adrian

Adrian Dix, MLA Vancouver-Kingsway
5022 Joyce St, Vancouver, BC V5R 4G6 | Phone: 604-660-0314 | Fax: 604-660-1131
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

20 September 2016 at 9:00 am