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4869 Slocan Street

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Comment on Development Application DP-2019-00979
under RM-9A Zoning




17 March 2020

This is the second application for this site, submitted by a new applicant. We supported the original application (one of the first in the RM-9A zone), which we saw as a fulfillment of the intent of the zoning. We have several significant concerns about the current application.

Request for Relaxation.  The applicant requests that the maximum impermeable coverage regulation be relaxed to permit 87% of the site (rather than 75%) to be impermeable. This is unacceptable. The decrease in amount of permeable surface caused by more dense building forms is already a major problem in Vancouver. Granting this request would contradict CoV’s claims to encourage sustainability. Two 1-storey extensions at the rear of this building occupy considerable space that could otherwise be landscaped. These extensions should be incorporated into the main building.

Main Entrance and Ramps.  The impermeable ramps in front of the building also take up a large amount of space that could otherwise be landscaped. Using the entry courtyard as part of the ramp to access the bike lockers located on the northeast side of the building minimizes space for planters. The main entrance needs to be at grade, like the entrance to the completed building across the street at 4869 Slocan Street. An entrance at grade would eliminate the need for steps and ramps. Access to the bike lockers on the northeast side of the building should be from the rear, as it is for bike lockers on the southwest side. If this cannot be done, the bike lockers on the northeast side should be moved inside the building.

Unit Density.  The applicant has designed the building with 40 units instead of the permitted 39. While this seems like a small increment, it means that units that are already small will be even smaller. A consultant’s report by City Spaces has identified unit size as a liveability challenge (p. 52 of Appendix M of the Staff Report for the Rental Incentive Program Review, approved November 26, 2019). The number of units should be held at 39.

Lock-Off Units.  Of the 40 proposed units, 10 are to have lock-off units. This number is within the guidelines for RM-9A zoning (1 for every 3 units). But this guideline needs to be reexamined for the following reasons:

         Most lock-off units being built in Norquay are not fulfilling their intended purpose.
           They are being used as tailor-made Air B&B units.
         Many of the proposed lock-off units in this building are in small units.
         The presence of so many lock-off units, especially when they are (legally!) being used
           as Air B&B units, significantly changes the social character of the building.

Materials.  Red brick rather than white should be used on the front exterior.

Landscaping.  This is a building of considerable size, but design has minimized landscaping. A roof garden needs to be added. Plantings should cover the area now taken up by ramps and steps. More planters should be added to the entry courtyard.

Jeanette and Joseph Jones

[Posted 7 April 2020]

Written by eyeonnorquay

17 March 2020 at 11:11 am

Posted in RM-9A Comment

5056 Earles Street

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Comment on Development Application DP-2020-00921
under RM-9A Zoning




11 March 2020

We appreciate several features of this project, notably the size of the interior courtyard and the generous front setback (due mainly to the 7-foot road dedication). However, we have several concerns.

1 —  Design
The large number of white boxes of various sizes on the outside of the main building make the project look very busy. If a similar building is constructed at a later date on the remaining parcels of this 6-lot land assembly, this effect will be magnified. Design needs some articulation, but this should be simpler.

2 —  Main Entry
The main entry is situated above grade and reached by climbing steps or ascending a ramp. The ramp takes up approximately half of the space in the already minimally-sized entry courtyard. Very little space remains for planters. The main entry should be at grade, eliminating both steps and ramp. More space should be allocated to planters.

3 —  Bridge Between the Two Buildings
The upper level townhouse units in the building on the lane are accessed by a stairway at the end of the building and a ramp running along that third level. These access features eliminate the need for interior access stairs. A similar ramp gives access to townhouse units in the main building, which are otherwise not accessible from the elevator. We do not object to the ramps that face the courtyard, or to the exterior stairway in the second building.

However, the two ramps are joined by an unsightly bridge between the two buildings, with a stairway that runs from the bridge to the fourth level of the main building. This bridge and associated stairway need to be eliminated. If a secondary access to the townhouse units in the main building is required, a separate stairway at the end of the building should face the lane.

4 —  Parklng
We appreciate that the number of parking spaces slightly exceeds the current requirement. But the parkade exhaust grille is poorly located, next to both the patio of Unit 110 and to the walkway along the side of the building. It is also too close to the city sidewalk, where pedestrians will be disturbed by the noise and odours coming from the grille. The parkade exhaust should be moved to the rear of the site, next to the lane.

5 —  Materials
Norquay residents expressed a preference for the use of brick on apartment buildings. It would be good to see brick on this project, comparable to the building at 4888 Slocan Street, to respect that planning.

6 —  Landscaping
Dedication of a 7-foot strip at the front of the property for future road widening results in a fairly wide boulevard between the city sidewalk and the property line. The developer should be urged to landscape this area with shrubs and perennials. At the very least, ground cover should be used instead of lawn.

A fence is proposed on the northeast edge of the site. This is necessary so long as development is restricted to 3+ parcels of this 6-parcel assembly. But the fence should be designed to be easily removable. When the owner develops the remaining 2+ parcels, a single wide walkway should be specified to integrate the two projects.

The plantings appear to be appropriate. We note that the symbols for the trees have no legend. The names of the trees used are given, but it is not possible to ascertain the planting location for each species.

Jeanette and Joseph Jones

[Posted 7 April 2022]

Written by eyeonnorquay

11 March 2020 at 11:11 am

Posted in RM-9A Comment

2436 East 33rd Avenue

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Comment on Development Application DP-2018-00919
under RM-9A Zoning




15 March 2019

This project has some merits. Good features include:

         Indentations that make many corner units possible and break up the long façade
         Roof garden
         Retention of two of the mature trees on the site
         Significant landscaped area at the corner of East 33rd Avenue and Clarendon Street.
           We recommend adding a bench at this corner for public use.

However, we have major concerns with this application.

1 —  The 178′ frontage on 33rd Avenue exceeds the allowable frontage

Section 4.2 (c) of the Guidelines states:

        The districts schedule prescribes a maximum frontage width [50m or 165′] to encourage a variety
        of smaller developments. The Director of Planning can relax this maximum only to ensure
        that individual lots are not “locked in” or “orphaned” with no opportunity to consolidate
        and develop with other adjacent lots.

This is the first development application for any of the ten parcels along East 33rd Avenue that have been rezoned to RM-9A. The condition for relaxation of the maximum frontage is met only if the adjoining property at 2396 East 33rd Avenue is part of an existing land assembly. Please confirm if this is the case.

This building is too long and sets an extremely unacceptable precedent. If the entire site is to be developed, there should be two buildings.

2 —  No main entrance should face Clarendon Street

for the following reasons:

a.  Properties in the area of Norquay between East 32nd Avenue and East 34th Avenue front on the east/west avenues. No existing buildings between 34th Avenue and Kingsway have main entrances on Clarendon Street. The 5 existing houses on this site face East 33rd Avenue.

b.  The proposed main entrance to the building is well above grade. Although a ramp is shown on the landscape plan, persons with mobility challenges would find access easier at grade.

c.  The current design features an unwelcoming main entrance and produces an uninviting streetscape. Anyone walking along the city sidewalk on Clarendon Street will feel caught in a narrow space – traffic very close on one side and the building looming above on the other. The boulevard on Clarendon Street is very narrow and the street is only about 2 feet from the sidewalk. The property line is only a foot or two from the sidewalk on the other side. The (11?) steps needed to reach the front entrance to the building start at the property line. Dedication of land for street widening on East 33rd Avenue increases the distance between the building and the sidewalk. Consequently, a main entrance on that side of the building would be much more attractive and functional.

d.  The part of the building south of the entrance and facing Clarendon Street looks like the side of a building, not like part of the front.

e.  Locating the entrance with its associated lobby at one end of the building means that the elevator will also be at one end of the building, distant from many of the units. Main entrances should be centrally located.

Jeanette and Joseph Jones

Written by eyeonnorquay

15 March 2019 at 11:17 am

Posted in RM-9A Comment

2652 Duke Street

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Comment on Development Application DP-2017-00527
under RM-9A zoning




3 July 2017 / comment revised on 7 July 2017

We appreciate many features of this project, in particular the amount of brick on the exterior surface, the high percentage of 2 and 3 bedroom units, and the roof garden.

However, the application violates clear RM-9A Guidelines in a significant respect:

1.  The proposed site coverage is 12,315 sq ft (90%), far in excess of the allowable 7440 sq ft (65%). Section 4.8 of the Guidelines states:

        Generally the site coverage should not be relaxed, as provision of open space and landscaped surfaces
        are encouraged. However, for apartment buildings otherwise achieving the intent of the guidelines,
        the Director of Planning may increase the area of site coverage to 65 per cent of the site area.

2.  We also note that two narrow areas of grass are shown, the only grass areas on the site. Both the area between the front property line and the city sidewalk and the boulevard area have a northern exposure and will be shaded almost continuously by the building or the street trees. These grassy areas should be replaced by shade-tolerant plantings. A sprinkler system to water all plantings should be installed if it is not already specified.

We ask that the City of Vancouver address these concerns before approving this application.

[ Note: Comment of 3 July 2017 included concern about provision of exterior windows for all bedrooms. Further inspection of the one available floor plan has alleviated this concern. ]

Jeanette and Joseph Jones

Written by eyeonnorquay

3 July 2017 at 8:18 pm

Posted in RM-9A Comment

4869 Slocan Street

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Comment on Development Application DE420250
under RM-9A Zoning



16 September 2016

In general, we support this application. We appreciate especially the extent of brick on the exterior of the building, and the variety of layouts for the suites.

Our concerns are:

1.  Trees should be planted along the flanking lane to shade the south side of the building. This is being done for the building across the street at 4888 Slocan Street.

2.  An irrigation system is necessary for the landscaping.

3.  More amenity space needs to be provided for a building of this size. The plans show no indoor amenity space, and only a small outdoor amenity space on the rooftop.

Jeanette Jones and Joseph Jones

Written by eyeonnorquay

17 September 2016 at 10:17 am

Posted in RM-9A Comment

2688 Duke Street

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Comment on Development Application DP-2016-00092
under RM-9A Zoning



4 July 2016

In general, we like this application. Approximately 2/3 of the units are 2-bedroom or 3-bedroom units. The layouts shown at the 2015 pre-app open house (which we presume have not changed) make good use of space. The modern architecture fits in well with the two RM-7 rowhouse projects that have already been approved at 2631 Duke Street and 2759/2765 Duke Street.

The cobblestone around the entry courtyard, the diagonal ramp, and the coloured metal accent panels add visual interest to the exterior of the building. The colour scheme should be reconsidered. The rowhouse project at 2631 Duke Street and the large stacked townhouse development just a block north at 2715 Ward Street, both being built by ConWest, are using an identical colour scheme (black and white with orange accents). The use of a different colour scheme here would add variety to the streetscape.

The green wall and trellis near the entrance to the parking level is attractive. The roof garden will provide additional green space. The 7-foot pedestrian connection on the east side of the building provides at least a temporary solution until the Renfrew Ravine Linear Park is built.

We question the planting of blueberry bushes in front of the building. The smaller plantings that surround them will make it difficult to pick the fruit. But local residents seem likely to try, and may not be concerned about damaging the landscape.

Jeanette Jones and Joseph Jones

Written by eyeonnorquay

4 July 2016 at 11:00 am

Posted in RM-9A Comment