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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.

 
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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

 
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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
 

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Written by eyeonnorquay

29 October 2018 at 3:09 pm

Rezoning of RS for Duplex

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Submission to Mayor and Council Re: Public Hearing 18 September 2018 — Agenda Item 5
REZONING: Amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law for Most RS Zones
to Allow Two-Family Dwellings (Duplexes) to Increase Housing Choice

 
Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre in East Vancouver includes 1.5 sq km or 370 acres. Since 2013, 1911 lots in Norquay have been rezoned from RS-1 to new low density housing zones that allow for duplexes, triplexes, rowhouses, stacked townhouses and 4-storey apartments. All of the new zones permit duplexes to be built outright on single lots. During the last 5 years more than 60 duplexes have been built or have started construction. Today Norquay amounts to a City of Vancouver demonstration project.

Most Norquay residents do not object to allowing duplexes in our community. There is a completed duplex on our block. We are fine with this.

However, Norquay’s experience shows that more regulation for outright duplexes is needed. There are three major concerns.

One problem has been very large lock-off units. We have seen several lock-off units that are really one-bedroom suites. Appendix B of today’s Report proposes a maximum size of 350 sq. ft. for lock-off units. We support this change. But two other major problems remain unaddressed.

First, living rooms and bedrooms are usually too small. Living rooms typically accommodate only a couch (and sometimes a chair). Second and third bedrooms often measure less than 60 sq. ft. We saw one unit with 4 bedrooms all measuring 8 x 7. These are not livable family dwellings. At present, no regulations govern room sizes in Vancouver. The 1992 High Density Housing for Families with Children Guidelines document is being updated. But these guidelines apply only to apartments, not to lower density housing forms.

The second problem is inadequate attention to external design. The External Design criteria now proposed for all RS zones are essentially the same as what is being applied in Norquay today. These requirements are a good start, and they have resulted in acceptable external design for approximately 80% of our new duplexes. But that is not good enough. Our Norquay neighbourhood deteriorates when 1 out of 5 new duplexes is an eyesore.

Look at these paired pictures of duplexes built outright in Norquay — visual successes and visual failures.

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

Staff have confirmed that building duplexes in RS zones will not provide substantially more housing units or increase affordability. This is all about increasing housing choice. Is this worthwhile goal urgent enough to sideline the two major problems that I have described? No. Before approving any proposal to build duplexes outright in RS zones, Council needs to direct staff to develop and bring forward for approval (1) guidelines for room sizes that apply to low density housing forms, and (2) additional regulations to govern external design.

 
Jeanette and Joseph Jones

17 September 2018
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

17 September 2018 at 9:29 pm

Posted in Photos, Statements

Rezoning of KCC RT-10

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Submission to Mayor and Council Re: Public Hearing 18 September 2018 – Agenda Item 6
REZONING: Amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law for RT-7 and RT-8 Zones (Kitsilano)
and RT-10 and RT-10N Zones (Kensington-Cedar Cottage) to Increase Housing Choice

 
The City of Vancouver proposes to rezone the RT-10 District of the Kingsway-Knight Neighbourhood Centre to RT-11. The Report Summary states that this change “will address the concurrent citywide goals of simplifying and consolidating regulations and providing more of the right supply of housing while reflecting different contexts of neighbourhoods.”

The RT-10 zoning schedule requires updating to make it consistent with citywide regulations that have been adopted since 2005. Some RT-11 regulations could be carried back into the RT-10 District. But a wholesale rezoning of the entire RT-10 District to RT-11 fails in “reflecting different contexts of neighbourhoods.”

We live in the small portion of Kensington-Cedar Cottage (KCC) that was rezoned to RT-11 five years ago under planning for the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre. We are part of both Norquay and Kensington-Cedar Cottage. But these two neighbourhoods are quite different. The same rules cannot indiscriminately be applied to both.

Here are three probable outcomes of rezoning the RT-10 District to RT-11.

 
1 — Many more character houses will be demolished.

        RT-11 zoning will imperil the 491 pre-1940 houses — more than 40% of the total — in the
        KCC RT-10 District. The Report states: “The increase to the permitted density for development to
        0.75 FSR may lead to demolition of older homes in favor of a more viable duplex development” (p. 14).
        The large number of character houses in good condition in Kingsway-Knight will face much
        greater risk of being replaced by duplexes. In Norquay’s RT-11 District, most of the older
        houses already have been demolished. Many of the 67 that remain either would not qualify as
        character houses or are in poor condition. Report focus on trade-off ignores this stark asymmetry.

 
2 — The quality of exterior design will deteriorate.

        At present the RT-10 District has extensive Design Guidelines, even for duplexes. Most new
        development there looks attractive. Replacement of those guidelines with the bare-bones
        RT-11 External Design regulations would lead to the outcome already perceptible in Norquay:
        approximately 1 in 5 duplexes built outright is an eyesore.

 
3 — Very little conditional development will occur, and many of the small house/duplex projects
       that are built will have problems.

        RT-11 zoning regulations were tailored to areas of Norquay where most parcels are wider than the usual
        33 feet and/or longer than the usual 122 feet. Only one of the 26 conditional development applications
        in Norquay so far has been for an assembly of lots that measure 33 x 122 or smaller.

        Conditional RT-11 development on a single lot most commonly results in a duplex plus a laneway
        house. This works well on wider lots (side-by-side duplex), or on longer 33 ft lots (front/back duplex).
        In the two instances where duplex-plus-laneway has been built on 33 x 122 parcels, the duplexes are
        side-by-side. Units are less than 12 ft. wide. Rooms are narrow and dark, and hallways consume a
        lot of living area.

        Relatively few parcels in Norquay’s RT-11 District measure 33 x 122 or smaller. This is fortunate,
        and may reflect good planning. Lot size would become a much greater problem factor in the
        KCC RT-10 District, where more than half the lots measure 33 x 122 feet and many of the remainder
        are even smaller.

When we take all of these considerations together, we can see an unhappy future for the RT-10 District if the proposal to rezone wholesale to RT-11 is approved. One. There will be very few conditional applications. Two. Character houses, most of them in good condition, will be demolished at an even faster rate and replaced by duplexes built outright. Three. Too many of these new duplexes on single lots will be eyesores.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Staff needs time to work out which RT-11 regulations are appropriate for the RT-10 District and which are not. Everybody needs to slow down. Much more work is required before Council approves the rezoning of the KCC RT-10 District.

 
Jeanette and Joseph Jones

17 September 2018
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

17 September 2018 at 9:15 pm

Posted in Statements

Picking on the Poor

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… to Serve Vancouver’s “Development” Industry

 
“Every neighbourhood needs to do their part in taking some of this housing [for the homeless] and helping care for and engage that population”  — Gil Kelley, General Manager of Planning, Urban Design & Sustainability, City of Vancouver (27 Nov 2017)

 
 
Of Diversions and Displacement

Smoke from localized brush fires over the siting of “temporary modular housing” (TMH) should not divert an onlooker’s gaze from Vancouver’s main social conflagration. For well over a decade, the City of Vancouver, in the service of the development industry, has conducted overt war on the poor. In 2006 Project Civil City marked an early low point for this new century.

Who are the frontline casualties in this conflict? The latest count of 2,138 persons recognized as homeless. What is the current main diversionary tactic? A bureaucracy that sets off skirmishes in Vancouver’s second-tier poor neighborhoods and then accuses those areas of being filled with selfish NIMBYs.

The starting point for all of this is 2,138 homeless people

         Who find themselves perpetually moved along on the sidewalk
         Who often have their few belongings taken away and thrown out by city functionaries
         Whose right to set up a tent and to congregate for safety is subjected to constant challenge

Homeless people fall at the extreme end of a larger spectrum of deliberate displacement. At the more fortunate end are people who can leave Vancouver because they see no reasonable future for themselves in a city being sold out to globalized wealth. All are persons victimized by an ethos of greed that traces back to the corporate agendas underlying Expo 86 and the 2010 Olympics. [1]

The inevitable counterpart of this greed is the fear suffered by people who get exploited and/or shoved out of their familiar surroundings. In a trickle-out phenomenon, the homeless provoke anxieties and defensiveness in every neighborhood that lies beyond the greater Downtown Eastside area. Why is this happening now? Proximity to Vancouver’s urban core has turned the Downtown Eastside, a longstanding haven for the city’s poorest, into a prime target for gentrification — and for the resulting severest degree of displacement, no home at all.

 
Scatter and Social Mix

It is telling that the City of Vancouver is making its first moves to “scatter” TMH into the poorest areas of the rest of the city. The notion of TMH “scattered across the city” emerges in Cheryl Chan’s July 2017 reporting on an interview with Kathleen Llewellyn-Thomas, General Manager of Community Services. [2] A report that went to City Council on that same day to expedite the spread of TMH offers up this contradictory perspective: “The proposed authority does not extend to single-family (RS) zones” (page 2). [3] Thus is a strong degree of class privilege protection built into a measure that might otherwise promote a possibilty for genuine citywide equity.

The concept of “scatter” is a first cousin to the concept of “social mix.” A revealing instance of the phrase “social mix” occurs in the context of a September 2013 review of four simultaneous “community plans” — for Downtown Eastside, West End, Marpole, and Grandview-Woodland (pdf 18 / A3). [4] Only in the planning for Downtown Eastside does “social mix” emerge as a concern. The City of Vancouver seems to raise the issue of “social mix” mainly in the context of gentrifying areas that house the poor. “Social mix” thus acquires a special restricted Vancouver meaning: to displace poorer people in order to provide opportunity for richer people.

In this same vein, the City of Vancouver also professed a policy of “social mix” for “publicly-owned lands in Southeast False Creek, and defined that aspiration as a ⅓ affordable housing, ⅓ modest market and ⅓ market housing mix” (page 15). [5]

David Hulchanski’s recent income mapping of Vancouver [6] shows Marpole as the lowest-income area on the west side of Vancouver (slide 24):

 

 

A City of Vancouver document from May 2006 provides 2001 census data tailored to the 479 acres that then comprised the Norquay Village study area (this encompassed the 4410 Kaslo site newly proposed for TMH on 1 December 2017). Notable figures include a Chinese population of 48.1% and a “population in low income households” at 32.0% of 10,905. At that point Norquay organically had already achieved the low-income end of the ⅓ ⅓ ⅓ “mix” touted as desirable. It seems certain that Norquay’s subsequent planning and development has destroyed that existing balance. In a period of about four years about 11% of Norquay’s mass-rezoned 1,912 properties have been redeveloped. This change usually amounts to eliminating the oldest and most affordable housing stock and replacing it with the newest and least affordable.

 

 

Not coincidentally, both of these two local areas — Marpole and Norquay — were subjected to planning for mass rezonings during the past decade. Real estate interests have viewed both neighborhoods as de facto “brownfields” ripe for harvesting profits in, since easy build-out opportunities on former industrial lands are ceasing to exist.

 
Problems, Problems

A good candidate for Vancouver’s top problem is 2,138 people who have no home. That specific number has to be a lowball figure. As veteran housing activist Jean Swanson has put it:

 

 

So far, TMH has amounted to an intermittent and stopgap approach to attempting to provide even a temporary solution to this major problem. The TMH initiative fumbled big-time at its very inception. On 13 December 2016, City of Vancouver yanked the four specific proposed sites off the table at the last minute via a “yellow memo.” [8] Council went on to approve the new policy, but as policy suddenly left with no ground to stand on.

A time very close to Christmas can be a good time to minimize the scrutiny that increases embarrassment. The coincidence here is striking. It will be one year to the very day that City of Vancouver staff will be bringing their “Community Information Session” on TMH at 4410 Kaslo to Norquay and to other area residents.

 

 

No wonder the City of Vancouver web site for TMH fails to link to the backstory information that would permit easy discovery of previous fails. A month later, on 31 January 2017 the City of Vancouver fired Mukhtar Latif, “chief housing officer and CEO of the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency.” Upper echelon bureaucrat Latif had spent well over three years in delivering nothing but a snafu. [9]

During another year of bumbling onward, what more has the City of Vancouver produced? One demonstration project of 40 units located at 220 Terminal Avenue, and one massive blowback situation in Marpole.

 
Solution

Any genuine solution must start by incorporating solid input from persons directly affected by homelessness, and from persons who have the trust of homeless people and are intimately connected with their circumstances on an ongoing basis. This by definition excludes City of Vancouver staff.

Distrust starts at the top. Recent Vancouver homeless history provides a singular instance of a meeting where Mayor Gregor Robertson personally signed a pledge that the City of Vancouver would provide “100% welfare/pension rate community-controlled social housing at 58 West Hastings.” [10]

 

 

At about the same time, the preceding decade of history for that especially contentious and historic site was written up. [11] What has happened in the year since? Gregor Robertson has once again added to his personal dishonor by reneging on this public pledge. [12]

Any genuine solution must amount to something more than portable SROs shoved randomly and opportunistically into sometimes hostile environments, with City of Vancouver officials like Mayor Gregor Robertson occasionally showing up to finger-wag at local residents about how they should play nice.

Homelessness is a major problem that has to be owned up to honestly by every resident of Vancouver. Appropriate funding must be allocated to the situation. The City of Vancouver can always find money for what it really wants to do. Big money fast, like the untold hundreds of millions to bail out the Malek developers of Olympic Village. [13] Big money fast, like $55 million to buy the Arbutus strip of land from Canadian Pacific. [14] The City of Vancouver has to stop crying poor whenever it comes to spending money to house the poor.

Through recently completed planning, Norquay is already slated to provide 100 units of non-market housing at the 2400 Motel site on Kingsway. This is land that the City of Vancouver already owns. Eye on Norquay has specifically brought this matter to the attention of senior planning officials, both in person and through formal correspondence on 19 June 2017. All Norquay residents deserve an explanation as to why the sudden makeshift measures of TMH should take priority over the results of an extensive formal planning process that concluded seven years ago.

Who would want 50 temporary portable SRO units when they could have 100 permanent purpose-built dwelling units? This is a matter of logic. The emotionalism of finger-pointing and name-calling that the City of Vancouver directs at singled-out poorer neighborhoods needs to stop now. Misdirection is a shameful substitute for considered and transparent planning.
 

 
[1]  Two revealing quotations:

“If the Olympic bid wasn’t happening we would have to invent something.”  — Jack Poole, Vancouver real estate developer and VANOC chair
Frank O’Brien. Western perspective: Taxpayers reluctant skeleton in 2010 bid. Western Investor (June 2002) A6

“Nobody wants to admit it, but Vancouver has become a resort city where rich foreigners live a few months per year … It’s a $6-billion ad buy [with the Olympics]. There’s never been anything like it. It will change Vancouver, forever.”  — Bob Rennie, Vancouver condominium marketer
Miro Cernetig. The views from on high are nice, but not many can afford them. Vancouver Sun (25 Jan 2010) A1

[2]  Cheryl Chan. Vancouver wants more modular housing built to help homeless. Vancouver Sun (26 July 2017)
Vancouver wants more modular housing built to help homeless

[3]  Council Report: Zoning and Development By-law No. 3575 – Amendment to the General Regulations to Delegate Discretionary Relaxation Powers to Expedite the Delivery of Low Cost Housing for Persons Receiving Assistance (26 July 2017)
http://council.vancouver.ca/20170726/documents/pspc-UrgentBusiness1.pdf

[4]  Council Report: Community Plans: Next Steps (25 Sept 2013)
http://council.vancouver.ca/20130925/documents/cfsc1.pdf

[5]  Sustainable Community Assessment for Southeast False Creek (28 Jan 2005)
http://council.vancouver.ca/20050201/ym3a.pdf

[6]  J. David Hulchanski. What is Happening to My Neighbourhood? The Socio-Spatial Restructuring of Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal 1970 to 2015 (Dec 2017)
http://neighbourhoodchange.ca/documents/2017/12/van-cal-tor-mont-1970-2015.pdf

[7]  Council Agenda: Item 2. Temporary Modular Housing Definition And Regulations: Proposed Amendments To Existing City-Owned Cd-1 Sites, And Design Guidelines (13 Dec 2016)
Includes: Policy Report, Staff Presentation, Summary and Recommendation, and Memorandum
http://council.vancouver.ca/20161213/phea20161213ag.htm

[8]  Matt Kieltyka. Vancouver’s chief housing officer Mukhtar Latif fired. Vancouver Metro (31 Jan 2017)
http://www.metronews.ca/news/vancouver/2017/01/31/vancouver-chief-housing-officer-mukhtar-latif-fired.html

[9]  Stefania Seccia. West Hastings ‘tent city’ could be around for years. Megaphone Magazine/Tyee (4 Aug 2016)
https://thetyee.ca/News/2016/08/04/West-Hastings-Tent-City/

[10]  Kai Rajala / Nathan Crompton. Battle of 58 West Hastings: The History of a Fight for Housing, 2007–Present. Mainlander (27 July 2016)
http://themainlander.com/2016/07/27/battleof58/

[11]  City screws DTES again: 58 W Hastings Protest & news conference (24 Oct 2017)
http://www.carnegieaction.org/2017/10/24/city-screws-dtes-58-w-hastings-protest-news-conference/

[12]  Bob Mackin. City stands firm on Olympic Village loss. Vancouver Courier (21 Oct 2011) 19
http://www.vancourier.com/news/city-stands-firm-on-olympic-village-loss-1.377596

[13]  Frances Bula. Vancouver acquires Arbutus rail corridor from CP for $55-million. Globe and Mail (7 Mar 2016)
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/vancouver-settles-dispute-over-arbutus-corridor-with-55-million-payment-to-cp-rail/article29049229/
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

12 December 2017 at 4:31 pm

No Legitimate Basis

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for Joyce Precinct Review

 
The following formal comment on Joyce Precinct Review has been forwarded to City of Vancouver.

 
Re: Joyce Precinct Review
To: Michelle Yip / JoyceStationReview@vancouver.ca
From: Joseph and Jeanette Jones
Date: 28 November 2015

 
Summary:

The Joyce Precinct planning lacks legitimacy because of

•  Failure to communicate in Chinese
•  Contamination of options by an already-submitted development application
•  Disregard of Renfrew-Collingwood’s existing Norquay planning
•  Inadequate assessment of amenity deficit in the local area
•  Discriminatory disparity in allocation of Vancouver population density

Therefore the Joyce Precinct planning needs to go forward by undertaking adequate consultation with a
local-area working group (e.g. Norquay, Downtown Eastside) before presenting further information to the community.

 
Detailed Comment:

The 20 information panels presented at the 21 October 2015 open house show contempt for the Renfrew-Collingwood community and therefore provide no legitimate basis for further planning.

Lack of Communication —  English-only information panels are provided to a diverse ethnic community. At a minimum, all information should always be provided in Chinese for that substantial component.

Misrepresentation —  The City of Vancouver web site at http://vancouver.ca/news-calendar/renfrew.aspx presents Renfrew-Collingwood as “primarily a residential area” with “easy access to services and amenities.” Astonishingly, the only introductory planning reference is to adjacent Grandview-Woodland.

Norquay Planning —  The reality is shown on panel 7. Right next door to the west, still in Renfrew-Collingwood, lies Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre, still an active process. The document for that mass rezoning of 1912 properties and approximately half a square mile stated:

        It should also be noted that by planning for new housing types in the neighbourhood centre,
        the existing RS-1 zoning is maintained for the majority of the surrounding areas.
        (p. 19, Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan, 4 Nov 2010)

To almost immediately propose to eliminate yet more RS-1 in Renfrew-Collingwood — especially after having facilitated the 2011 assemblage into CD-1 of 33 individual parcels at 5515-5665 Boundary Road, 5448-5666 Ormidale Street and 3690 Vanness Avenue — shows that City of Vancouver regards Renfrew-Collingwood as little more than an ongoing density dump.

Existing Density —  Figures show that for 1996-2006, among the 22 Vancouver neighborhoods, Renfrew-Collingwood ranked second only to Downtown in rate of population increase at 17% and in rate of dwelling increase at 26.5%. With 61.6 persons per hectare in 2011 in Renfrew- Collingwood, only six other Vancouver neighborhoods rank as denser: West End, Downtown, Fairview, Kitsilano, Mount Pleasant, Kensington-Cedar Cottage (descending order).

Amenity Deficit —  In light of the foregoing, it seems preposterous for panel 19 to assert that “Joyce-Collingwood is generally well-served by existing and planned facilities.” Consider those other denser neighborhoods and what they offer in their immediate areas. Renfrew-Collingwood is clearly already overpopulated and underserved in comparison.

Contaminated Options —  The legitimacy of this pretense at planning is also compromised by a curiously similar set of three options into which the local community has had no genuine input. Only two points need to be made about the options:

1.  Option 3 embeds an existing blockbuster development application for 5050 Joyce Street. This is reactivity, not planning.

2.  The highlighted statement on the first options panel (panel 8) defines the information and the process as pure jello:

        The following options are not exclusive options. Based on responses, staff will create a preferred option
        that may include components of each option.

These words could easily translate as: Staff will pick and choose from positive comment solicited from developer interests through our open house and then aggregate those into our preferred option to maximize both height and density.
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

28 November 2015 at 5:22 pm

Posted in Statements

Landscaping Concerns

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On 30 July 2015 the following formal comment was submitted to three City of Vancouver planners having responsibilities for urban landscape, urban design, and development planning.

 
Norquay’s residential zones are being redeveloped with duplexes, small houses, and townhouses. Since the new zoning came into effect in Spring 2013, more than 50 duplexes have been approved outright in Norquay, and more than 15 have been completed and landscaped. A few single family houses have also been built during this time. Construction has not yet begun on any projects in the RM-7 (rowhouse or stacked townhouse) zone. One 8-unit project is nearing completion and has been landscaped in the RT-11 (small house/duplex) zone. One 4-unit project on a single lot has been completed in the apartment transition zone.

These comments are based on observations of the front yard landscaping around these newly completed residences and on inferences from landscape plans of recently approved multi-family projects.

 
I.  Lawns

Most of the new front yard lawns that have been planted in Norquay within the past few months are now dead or dying. Virtually all grass that has been recently planted on boulevards has died. This was already happening when Vancouver’s watering restrictions were at Stage 1, as the picture below (taken on 24 June 2015) shows.

 
IMG_8241-640
 

In one completed project, the areas of grass in the front yards are green, but they have not been cut (possibly because they are too small to be cut with a lawnmower). The grass is now about 10 inches long.

 
Comment and Suggestions:

1.  Climate change increases the possibility of drought. Areas planted with grass should be kept to a minimum, especially in multi-family projects.

2.  Where grass is planted, the grassy area should be a reasonable size (no tiny pockets), be easy to access, and have a shape that facilitates mowing and edging. If the area is shady, a type of grass that grows well in shade should be planted. Grass should not be planted under conifers or under any large existing tree.

3.  Developers should be required to adequately water new landscaping before new residents move in. Perhaps during the hottest months of the year, landscaping should be deferred until cooler weather.

4.  Residents of newly landscaped properties should be given information about the care and maintenance of their landscaping when they move in. Specific instructions should be given about watering requirements and restrictions, and about how to apply for a special watering permit if a new lawn has been planted.

5.  It seems likely that many residents of new housing have no previous experience in gardening with ornamental plants and lawns, especially with newly planted ones {new plantings}. They may expect their brown lawns to recover in the fall. It would be beneficial for the City of Vancouver or the VSB to run a two-hour course in the spring in both English and Mandarin/Cantonese on caring for new lawns.

6.  Residents of new buildings should be made aware that they are responsible for the care and maintenance of the boulevard that borders their property, as well as for picking up any litter that collects on the boulevard or in the gutter. They need to be encouraged to water new boulevard trees.

 
II.  Trees and Shrubs

Few trees have been planted in front of duplexes or single family houses. Where shrubs have been planted, many of them are currently dead or dying. In the almost-completed RT-11 project at Killarney Ridge (East 41st and Killarney), many trees and shrubs on the south and west edges of the property have died even before the new residents have moved in.

In general, the landscaping plants being used in RT-11 and RM-7 projects seem to be appropriately low maintenance and reasonably drought tolerant. But new plantings need to be watered regularly until they are established.

In one completed project, an automatic watering system ensures that plantings are adequately watered.

 
Comment and Suggestions:

1.  If not already required, an automated watering system should be made mandatory for all planted areas in multi-family developments to ensure that they are adequately watered.

2.  It would be beneficial for the City of Vancouver or the VSB to run a night course of several sessions in late winter or early spring in both English and Mandarin/Cantonese on gardening with ornamental plants.

3.  Where the required 4 ft. allowance between buildings and the fence is not a walkway, this low- visibility area should be covered either in gravel placed over an effective weed inhibitor with a hardy ground cover such as periwinkle. Any other type of planting will be difficult to access and care for. There will be times people need to walk in this space, and to set up ladders and other equipment.

 
III.  Walkways

The surface for walkways should not be stepping stones or gravel. A surface of concrete or pavers is easier to maintain, to walk on and to shovel when there is snow.

 
Jeanette Jones
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

10 August 2015 at 10:28 am

Density × Density

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A development application for 2312-2328 Galt Street happens to be the first rezoning proposal under Norquay Village — Apartment Transition Area Rezoning Policy. The application seeks to benefit from the Rental 100 suite of developer handouts at the same time.

The City of Vancouver is allowing two new experimental densities to collide, and Norquay in the heart of East Vancouver suffers the toxic density fallout. It was already unfair to target one of Vancouver’s already denser neighborhoods for more population with no added amenity. It seems beyond unfair to layer a second density handout on top of the first.

 
 
Apartment Transition Zone
 

First of all, the Galt Street application seeks to benefit from incentives provided by the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan.

Here is the relevant portion (pdf 46 of 108) of what Vancouver City Council approved on 4 November 2010 over the objections of a majority of area residents:

 
apttranszone
 

Note the following three divergences from how this new “zone” was presented in 2010 — and what has happened since:

I.   Norquay was promised an Apartment Transition Zone. Instead, in 2013 it got an inflated loosey-goosey Apartment Transition Area Rezoning Policy.

II.  In 2010 a Basic Development Parameter was specificed as 72 dwelling units. Presumably this figure applied to “one parcel.” The 2013 version of the zoning upped this figure to 180 for two parcels and 240 for three parcels. That represents an inflation of 25% for two parcels and 11% for three parcels.

III.  The 2013 version of the zoning specifies at 2.4 that single parcels of less than 50 ft. ordinarily will not be eligible for rezoning. Land assembly is required. In the interim, however, City of Vancouver encouraged a misbegotten experiment on a 46.4 ft. parcel at 2298 Galt Street. Too bad planners had to see the face of Frankenstein before realizing that the monster needed to die. The four apartments in a nasty location have recently gone on the market at prices ranging from $878,000 to $998,800. (So much for Norquay’s vaunted new affordable housing.)

The 2010 Norquay Plan dropped significant additional density into RS-1 zones, and then the 2013 specifications stealthily pushed that density even higher.

 
 
Rental 100
 

The conclusion needs to go up front:

The City of Vancouver must make Norquay Apartment Transition Zone a no-go zone for additional Rental 100 handouts

This is not the place to get into all the details of the long, tangled, nasty history of Rental 100 incentives. Three points are enough:

 
ONE

The rental incentives “initiative” traces back to the 2008 economic downturn and a City of Vancouver effort to “stimulate” the construction and development activity that has become its only real business — apart from selling itself off as a global elite playground at the expense of most existing residents. This early account provides backstory:

Joseph Jones. The Ugly Story of Short Term Incentives for Rental. Vancouver Media Co-op (26 Aug 2010)
http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/story/ugly-story-short-term-incentives-rental/4519

 
TWO

What was “short term” in 2009 has turned into a permanent deep trough for developers to pig out on at taxpayer expense. A recent mainstream media account makes it clear that developers are now interested in building rental properties even without these incentives:

Tamsin McMahon. Canada’s rental unit landscape witnessing a resurgence. Globe and Mail (16 March 2015)
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/housing/canadas-rental-unit-landscape-witnessing-a-resurgence/article23465600/

 
THREE

In 2015 City of Vancouver budgeting, housing consumes 20% of capital budget and 35% of operating budget investments. Much of this “housing” consists of STIR and Rental 100 giveaways to developers. A correlate of this use of scarce resources is no amenity increase for the predominantly East Vancouver areas where the density is getting dumped.

 
pdf57of180-20150224-spec1presentation.pdf
 
     2015 Capital Budget Expenditures — $306.0 Million  (pdf 57 of 180)
 

 
pdf48of180-20150224-spec1presentation
 
     2015 Operating Budget Investments — $9.4 Million  (pdf 48 of 180)
 

Source:
2015 Budget Report DRAFT — Council Meeting February 24, 2015
http://former.vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20150224/documents/spec1presentation.pdf
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

17 April 2015 at 8:02 pm