Archive for the ‘Parallels’ Category
The single greatest surprise ever experienced by Norquay residents probably came on 2 November 2009, when then Director of Planning Brent Toderian came back at Norquay with an entirely new team of city planners.
For four months, the City of Vancouver had left the Norquay Working Group dangling and wondering … “What next?” An awkward 9 July 2009 meeting had ended with City of Vancouver grudgingly receiving a plan that was supported by a two-thirds majority of members present. This happened only after city planning pursued every possible maneuver to avoid any acknowledgment of a resident-produced plan. Well-informed external observers provided crucial support at that meeting.
The shocker after four months of silence? Going forward, the northern area of Norquay (you can see the map) would be excluded from the planning process. (As would any further “participation” by Norquay Working Group.) This large irregular SkyTrain area stretched from Nanaimo Street to Rupert Street, an area where a substantial number of the Norquay Working Group happened to live. After over three and a half years of “planning,” the City of Vancouver lopped off about 28% of the designated Norquay area. Whack!
Why This History Matters to Grandview-Woodland
Grandview-Woodland planning is right now entering the eye of the hurricane. A “Citizens Assembly” restart process has been grinding along since September 2014. Two “sub-area workshops,” Cedar Cove on 29 November 2014 and Britannia-Woodland on 6 December 2014 —
Image from Vancouver Courier, 21 November 2014, A13
Two more sub-areas, Grandview on 10 January 2015 and Nanaimo Street on 17 January 2015, are in the process of getting the gears.
Image from Vancouver Courier, 9 January 2015, A13
Notice this. Of the four sub-area workshops scheduled so far, all of them deal with areas lying north of and outside of the primary site of contention.
Meanwhile, just-released previous plan sketches for the most contentious area have emerged from the dark archives of city planning and been rendered comprehensible by CityHallWatch analysis.
To repeat that well-worn question … “What next?”
Odds look ever stronger for instant replay of the carve-out tactic. City of Vancouver might say something like this:
It has become clear that Broadway/Commercial SkyTrain and the adjoining Safeway site need to be integrated into a transit corridor planning that stretches eastward to include the next two Millennium Line stations, Nanaimo and 29th Avenue. In the interests of timely completion of a new Grandview-Woodland Local Area Plan, this sub-area will be carved out.
Well, they won’t say “carve-out.” But this may very well be what they decide to do.
After all, they did a carve-out on Norquay after three and a half years. And General Manager of Planning and Development Brian Jackson said last year that return to Norquay sits high on the “planning” agenda.
All of this could be just the next scenario in an already delineated series of eerie parallels between Norquay and Grandview-Woodland.
In between Norquay 2009 and Grandview-Woodland 2015, City of Vancouver on 20 January 2011 went into panic mode — they themselves called it “emergency” — and did a fast carve-out on the Downtown Eastside. After years and years of planning.
Those politician-ridden planners wield a nasty, unpredictable knife. And a local area plan always has to become the arena for a fight. That’s just how Vancouver local area planning consistently fails to work, at least for its existing residents.
… Or, Spawn of Norquay
It is becoming apparent that Grandview-Woodland — in the one respect of indefinite process suspension — may be the neighborhood that comes closest to reproducing the excruciations that Norquay has suffered.
Only under the direction of a maestro of horror can Part II outdo Part I. The City of Vancouver has this demonstrated capability.
Just as color, props, and setting (a fortress shopping mall replacing an isolated farmhouse) made it possible for Dawn of the Dead (1978) to take the themes of Night of the Living Dead (1968) to an entirely new level, so too may the Grandview-Woodland production surpass that of Norquay, all played out in our ever more zombified city.
The common element in the two histories is stop-dead-in-tracks, followed by dragged-out fumble toward a restart destined to lead to predetermined closure. The G-W sequel has a blockbuster and publicly-known budget of $275,000.
Scrutinize the parallels in this chart:
|Council initiates 21 November 2005||Council initiates 28 July 2011|
|One “kick-off” Open House March 2006||Two “launch” Open Houses May 2012|
|Norquay Village Draft Plan distributed May 2007||Broadway & Commercial workshop 6 July 2013|
|Ruckus w Toderian June 2007||Ruckus w Jackson June-July 2013|
|Indefinite suspension starting June 2007||Indefinite suspension starting August 2013|
|Municipal election 2008 — NPA decimated||Municipal election 2014 — ???|
|Open House restart late November 2008||“Citizens Assembly” restart September 2014|
|Unsupported plan imposed November 2010||??? 2015 ???|
The latest Grandview-Woodland face-off, appearing on the same date of 3 July 2014, sees hired-gun consultant Rachel Magnusson op-edding in the Vancouver Sun about jury democracy, while Grandview-Woodland defender Jak King over at the Georgia Straight takes the City of Vancouver to task.
Lessons of Possible Use to Grandview-Woodland
Norquay residents must have surprised the City of Vancouver by coming back in January 2009 with a sizeable group of committed persons who stuck it out through the whole slog — of what eventually proved to be only one phase of a “process” that ran for close to five years.
Altogether there were about four dozen individuals who connected with the Norquay Working Group throughout 2009 (notably, about that same number is scheduled for the upcoming Grandview-Woodland “Citizen’s Assembly”). Norquay’s faithful-attendance core settled down to around a dozen and a half. Within that group, the minority of City of Vancouver supporters tended either to have ties to development interests, stakes in networking for possible employment opportunities, or naive trust in what planners were pushing (that listing is in decreasing order).
In hindsight, it seems clear that the City of Vancouver had no idea how to deal with a group of local residents that really wanted to play a part in specifying their own future. The City of Vancouver abruptly terminated the Norquay Working Group in February 2011, shortly after Council approved an imposed plan. Norquay was not allowed to have a group to “implement” plan proposals. From that point forward, everything about us has been done without us. (Until the Norquay Village Plan Public Realm Workshop of 16 June 2014.)
People on the Mount Pleasant Implementation Committee (November 2012 to October 2013) had far more experience and competence than the Norquay group, and did their best to hold city planners accountable. They felt very frustrated throughout, and deeply disappointed in the results. That probably was the last voluntary local area planning group that the City of Vancouver will allow to exist. More control is the agenda.
The randomness or stratification or whatever happens with the impending selection of the engineered Grandview 48 will not be transparent, and probably will “represent” a lot of Vision Vancouver plants and picks.
Painful and hopeless as the task may seem, people with history and understanding in the Grandview-Woodland struggle should consider putting in their applications.
The 2009 Norquay experience suggests that the City of Vancouver will always have considerable difficulty in rounding up and sustaining a substantial number of compradors. Truth will out, especially if even a few informed and persistent individuals manage to find their way into the forum.
Since the time of Kingsway & Knight (in Kensington-Cedar Cottage) and Norquay (mostly in Renfrew-Collingwood), the City of Vancouver has abandoned the list of 19 projected “neighbourhood centres” and generally avoided messing with the other seven of the nine residential neighborhoods covered by community visions. (For the record, those seven are/were: Dunbar, Victoria/Fraserview/Killarney, Sunset, Hastings Sunrise, Arbutus Ridge/Kerrisdale/Shaughnessy, Riley Park/South Cambie, West Point Grey.)
[ Postcript above copied from
How is Norquay different from five other large areas that the City of Vancouver is subjecting to “new planning”? Why is Norquay the only neighborhood that is being allowed no participation through an ongoing community-based group?
Like a kid set loose in a candy store, the City of Vancouver (CoV) has gone on a rampage and left a huge planning mess in its wake. First it licked at the Norquay sucker a little and took a nibble off the side. Then it moved along to the Mount Pleasant candy bar, ripped off the wrapper, and has been chewing at one end. Then the possiblity of getting into three separate neighborhoods at the same time seemed appealing, so the CoV kid busted a big jar of sweets and stuffed its mouth full with Marpole, West End, and Grandview-Woodland. There seemed to be room left to cram yet one more piece in, so the CoV kid also managed to get a corner of its tongue wrapped around the Downtown Eastside. Five different candy flavors all together make for a colorful sticky face, but may not taste so good. Queasiness seems to have left the Norquay goodie dropped in a corner and covered with acid reflux.
On 3 February 2011 three planners met with nine Norquay Working Group (NWG) members and told them out of the blue that the group was “over.” NWG was also told that two February 2011 open houses would provide opportunity to sign up for participation in two new groups: public realm planning, development of amenities and benefits strategy. But two weeks later at the open houses, Norquay residents were told a flipflop different story: no sign-up sheets, and no participation. Twenty-one months later, Norquay just languishes in limbo while CoV avidly puts newer territories into play.
To parallel Norquay with Mount Pleasant is instructive. The development of the Norquay Plan ran from March 2006 to November 2010. The development of the Mount Pleasant Plan ran from May 2007 to November 2010. Despite this almost simultaneous planning, these two neighborhoods have been treated very differently. In clearest terms, Norquay lies further to the east of Vancouver’s great divide. Consistent differences probably can be found across factors like recency of immigration, extent of cultural integration, first language facility in English, and levels of education and income.
One striking and indisputable difference can be seen in CoV attitude toward ongoing neighborhood participation. In early 2012 city planners began meeting with Mount Pleasant about Terms of Reference for a Mount Pleasant Implementation Committee. The two specific groups that vanished overnight in Norquay are also explicitly named aspects of the ongoing Mount Pleasant public consultation. Compare below the extracted materials from CoV statements on Mount Pleasant and Norquay.
In the larger picture, the City of Vancouver is currently working with five local community planning groups in Mount Pleasant, Marpole, West End, Grandview-Woodland, and Downtown Eastside. Meanwhile, Norquay seems to have gotten segregated off into a special deprived category of residents to be excluded from any significant role in determining their own future.
Perhaps all CoV ever wanted out of Norquay was a phony process to meet the formalities required for a quickie mass rezoning. And now CoV seems to be getting ready to plow ahead with handover of 2.3 acres at 2220 Kingsway [fiat creation of a “property right” to FSR 3.8 and height of 14 storeys] to speculator profiteering while ignoring or shortchanging even the few ameliorations set forth in the broadly unsupported Norquay Plan. Somehow such “rights” do not seem to extend to the existing thousands of residents in the Norquay community.
• • • • • •
Mount Pleasant Community Planning Program
City staff and members of the Mount Pleasant Community are now working on implementation of the Mount Pleasant Community Plan. Work is being completed to finalize a Terms of Reference to guide the Mount Pleasant Implementation Committee (MPIC).
The MPIC will assist with Plan implementation including providing advice on public engagement, and helping with other implementation directions to develop a strategy for Broadway East revitalization, a community-wide public benefits and infrastructure strategy and a public realm plan for Mount Pleasant.
Mount Pleasant Community Plan — 6.2 Steps to Begin Community Plan Implementation [p. 32]
Public Benefits and Infrastructure Strategy
A Public Benefits and Infrastructure Strategy will be devised for Mount Pleasant to enable the delivery of multiple public benefits identified in the community plan. This Strategy will identify the capital costs for new public amenities and facilities requested in the community plan (e.g., childcare, parks, engineering infrastructure, cultural spaces including artist studios and live/work, affordable housing, and heritage retention), potential revenue expected from new development and other sources (e.g., DCLs, CACs, Capital Plan), and the allocation of that revenue to support the construction and operation of new amenities and facilities. The Strategy will also seek to ensure that new development on both City and private land pays a fair share towards public benefits needed to meet demands created by the new population.
Public Realm Plan
A Public Realm Plan will be drafted to co-ordinate the public realm improvements identified in the community plan. In general, the public realm plan should address issues of connectivity across Mount Pleasant (e.g., with pathways, bikeways, and Laneways), street vibrancy, provision and design of public spaces, and sustainability (e.g., rainwater management, wildlife habitat, and other ecological considerations). A key consideration will be approaches to daylighting and marking Mount Pleasant’s streams.
Public Engagement Review
The overarching goal of this review is to improve civic decision-making, addressing issues of representativeness, diversity, trust, and creativity in neighbourhood decision-making, while building community capacity to solve problems. It will involve an investigation into creating a governance structure and process mechanism to engage representatives of the Mount Pleasant community, design professionals, and the City to collaborate on design solutions and implementation strategies for the Mount Pleasant Community Plan. As a first step, various models and best practices used in other neighbourhoods and municipalities will be reviewed, including neighbourhood design panels and co-design processes. This would be followed by further dialogue with community stakeholders to jointly determine the best approach to adopt in Mount Pleasant. This review will be co-ordinated with the City’s own on-going review of public engagement practices.
• • • • • •
Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan
Public Amenities [p. 15, pdf 15]
Amenities, such as recreational facilities, parks and libraries, are important elements of a vibrant and livable community. As part of the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre planning process, the community identified a number of desired (and needed) public amenities which were then translated into a preliminary Public Benefits Strategy with directions and priorities for the delivery of amenities within the neighbourhood.
As part of the implementation phase, the City (in consultation with the community) will develop more detailed strategies for service and amenity improvements and ensure that new development on both City and private land pays a fair share towards public benefits to meet the demands created by the additional population.
NEXT STEPS [p. 23, pdf 23]
Following adoption of the proposed Plan, further steps are required to fully realize its potential. Primary among these steps are the two major components of the Implementation Plan:
Zoning By-law Development
The Neighbourhood Centre Plan proposes four new residential zones that require drafting, testing, and refining new District Schedules and Design Guidelines to implement. The new zoning documents will amend the Zoning and Development By-law to enable new ground- oriented housing to be developed in the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre without requiring rezoning approval. Development of these documents will also include public consultation to ensure they are well-calibrated to community preferences.
Public Amenities and Infrastructure Financing Strategy
More detailed work is required to develop a complete Public Amenities and Infrastructure Financing Strategy appropriate to the amount of new development planned in the Neighbourhood Centre. This includes more detailed analysis of Development Cost Levy and Community Amenity Contribution potential and mechanisms to ensure that the local area benefits from new development. Also included in this strategy will be consideration of other funding sources and steps, including Capital Plans, required to finance improvements needed to ensure a complete and sustainable Neighbourhood Centre.
Placemaking and Public Realm Plan
In addition to the Public Realm and Transportation Improvement Plan, further work is planned to develop more detailed Public Realm improvements and placemaking guidelines to fully realize the potential of the Kingsway shopping area. Included in this effort will be more detailed work to identify public art opportunities and to develop public realm elements specific to Norquay Village.
6.0 Community Amenities and Facilities [APPENDIX A, page 35 of 40; pdf 60]
Amenities — such as recreational facilities, parks and libraries are important elements of a vibrant and livable community. And as the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre grows and evolves over time, new amenities and facilities will be needed to ensure the continued livability and desirability of the area. This section outlines directions and priorities for future amenities within the Neighbourhood Centre, in response to needs and preferences identified by community members and forecasted demand. As well, this plan recognizes that new development should also contribute by paying a fair share towards public benefits to meet the demands created by the new population.
As part of the implementation program for this plan, a detailed public Amenity and Infrastructure Financing Strategy will be developed that outlines proposed funding and delivery of new amenities in the Neighbourhood Centre. The detailed Strategy will consider the impact of increased population and the mechanisms needed to pay for the benefits (i.e. capital expenditures, Development Cost Levies, and Community Amenity Contributions). This section will inform develop of that Strategy as well as rezonings completed in accordance with this plan. The section is divided into three main sub- areas: parks and Open Spaces, Community Gathering Spaces and Other Amenities and Services.
• • • • • •
[ Comment posted in response to: Tristan Markle. Cambie Street organizer critiques City’s planning process. Mainlander (31 May 2011) ]
Norm Dooley’s trenchant conclusion — that participation is useless — is corroborated by the Norquay experience of 2004-2010.
The developer-politician-planner axis counts on manipulating the hopes and rationality and decency of ordinary Vancouver residents to continue generating a simulacrum of working together … working together to realize their predetermined one-sided agenda!
Do not believe these people. Do not waste your time and energy. Just say NO!
Odd and illuminating situations sometimes pop up at City Council while a speaker passes time waiting for a different and later agenda item.
On Thursday 3 March 2011, the Proposed Amendment to Subdivision By-law No. 5208 — Reclassification at 4888 Pine Crescent (see the five-page report) provoked a few thoughts.
What follows is a story that could never be recovered from the official minutes for the item.
The owner of 4888 Pine Crescent (at the corner of West 33rd Avenue) was seeking to subdivide his lot having a 90 foot frontage. Except for three similar lots at the other corners of his block, the ten other lots all have a frontage of 66 feet. That block sits at the southwest corner of a Shaughnessy Heights area designated E, meaning that the minimum width of each property should be 75 feet. Right across West 33rd to the south is an area designated C, which requires minimum width of 50 feet (most lots in the block on that side are 50 or 55 feet). In 2005 a property two blocks east, also designated E, was allowed subdivision into two 44 foot frontages. So precedent for exception existed.
The seven councillors present (5 Vision, 1 NPA, 1 COPE) voted unanimously to support the recommendation of staff and to refuse the application. Councillors Anton and Jang sympathized with the owner’s situation, but felt constrained by existing policy.
The owner had stated that approval to subdivide would result in the construction of two new dwellings under the prevailing RS-5 zoning, that the new structures would be in keeping with surrounding dwellings, and that he would remain as resident in one of the properties. Refusal, however, meant that the entire property would be sold that day to an offshore buyer, who likely would replace the existing dwelling with a new 6400 square foot residence out of scale with surrounding homes.
The striking thing in this little case study is Council and planner respect
• For existing policy on lot size, lot distribution, and lot zoning
• For 75% opposition from 12 nearby neighbors who responded to questionnaire
• For the long-established character of Shaughnessy
Contrast this with Vision-NPA Council and planner disrespect
• For policy and process throughout the entire period Norquay has been put into play
• For quantitative assessment of what 10,000 affected residents would prefer
• For the long-established character of Norquay
In the larger picture, it is a matter for wonder whether the mass-rezoning atrocity of a “neighbourhood centre” would ever be imposed west of Main Street.
Norquay looks toward mass rezoning for nine dwelling units crammed onto two 33 foot lots – even though Renfrew-Collingwood Community Vision 15.5 states that sixplex form is Not Approved. Sixplex is there defined as “six units on two 33 foot lots.” Meanwhile, in Shaughnessy, a 90 foot lot is preserved for a single dwelling.
Members of the Norquay Working Group should experience strong déjà vu in reading a recent statement issued to the City of Vancouver about a Joint Working Group for planning Northeast False Creek. To judge by the extracts below, it appears that the False Creek Residents Association (FCRA) has endured an abuse that parallels — and possibly even exceeds — what Norquay has suffered.
One obvious difference is that the FCRA is up against Concord Pacific, a single developer that tends to hold the City of Vancouver in the palm of its hand. FCRA faces a complex set of proposals that went to City Council public hearing on February 17 as items 3, 4, 5, and 6. The package is still in process, to continue on March 7 with an epic set of sessions on the item 6 proposal to locate a casino complex in the area.
After considerable discussion and persuasion we were convinced to come back to the table and participate in the new process. We were assured that we would be heard. … FCRA members have devoted countless volunteer hours … we find ourselves back at the same point … staff recommendations to City Council fly in the face of everything our association has communicated with respect to community perspectives and concerns. …
There is nothing in the Community Benefits package that benefits the existing community, or the people who will be living in the proposed 4 new high rise towers. The Joint Working Group could have been and should have been a collaborative, transparent and open process. It has now deteriorated into secrecy and back room deals that have nothing to do with the community or its needs. In our view the City’s strategy has been to keep us busy with junior staff at various tables while senior staff negotiate the real deal.
Statement to the Joint Working Group, February 3, 2011 — Patsy McMillan and Fern Jeffries, Co-Chairs, False Creek Residents Association
[ Note: Emphases in original; Extracts from nine paragraph statement. ]