Eye on Norquay

Looking Out for East Vancouver

Norquay Park  (2011)

Renewal of Norquay Park:
A Case Study in Misrepresentation

•   Timeline analysis demonstrates that Norquay Park capital planning preceded Norquay Neighbourhood Centre planning
•   Under the current and previous two cycles of capital planning, fifteen other parks have enjoyed major park renewals without imposition of “neighbourhood centre” planning
•   None of the four parks within the boundaries of the first “neighbourhood centre” at Kingsway & Knight have yet realized the “benefit” of major park renewal
•   Comparison with Grandview-Woodland reveals that a local area “planned” thirty years ago has just received two far more intensive major renewals for side-by-side parks

Untrue claims (detailed in Appendix A) are being made about the upgrading of Norquay Park under the 2009-2011 capital plan. The Norquay area is supposed to have obtained the renewal as a “benefit” of the 4 November 2010 imposition of the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan. This attempt at amenities legerdemain does not respect Norquay. Neither does it foster trust in city planning assurances that benefits will come to the community in step with acceleration of development. So far, city planners grasp at every stray straw to justify what they have forced onto Norquay, at the direction of developers and their servant politicians.

The City of Vancouver’s three-year cycle of normal capital planning includes a park component. The outline for current park capital planning [2] for 2009-2011 describes a program category of “major park renewal” in Appendix A (p. 5). The final capital allocation for 2009-2011 [4] identified renewals for eight of Vancouver’s 220 parks. Norquay Park happened to be among those eight parks (p. 5). Likewise listed in the renewal category for the preceding 2006-2008 capital plan are eight parks.

It seems clear that the Norquay Park renewal reflects little more than the ordinary ongoing operations of Vancouver Park Board. Fifteen other concurrent park renewals have taken place without imposition of a neighbourhood centre on the local community. Note also that not one of the four parks that fall within the boundaries of the first neighbourhood centre mass rezoning at Kingsway & Knight has yet realized the same “benefit” of a major park renewal.

Initially the 2009-2011 Capital Plan allocated $300,000 to Norquay Park renewal. Federal funding [5] suddenly became available through recession-response stimulus directed toward “shovel-ready” municipal projects. An additional $500,000 subsequently went toward Norquay Park renewal [7]. This was far more a result of happenstance than of planning. The final allocations under the 2009-2011 capital plan occurred while Norquay planning was still in an eighteen-month limbo — after strong community rejection of a June 2007 Draft Plan, before restart of Norquay planning at the end of November 2008. The failed June 2007 Norquay Plan confined itself to a proposal to mass rezone 2400 residential properties on a crude and aggressive adaptation of the pattern recently applied to 1600 residential properties at Kingsway & Knight. That June 2007 planning proposed no definition of amenity or benefit — and that same nothing is exactly what has accrued so far to the first “neighbourhood centre” plan at Kingsway & Knight.

Comparison (detailed in Appendix B) of Norquay Park planning with the planning for two major park renewals in Grandview-Woodland casts further strong doubts both on claims of entailed benefit and on equity in the allocation process.

The amenity needs and deserts of Norquay have been considered at some length in the 15 February 2011 Eye on Norquay comment in Show Norquay the Amenities! Although a treatment specific to the present context would be desirable, that earlier account must be left to serve the purpose.

* * *

Appendix A:  City of Vancouver Statements about Norquay Park:
Renewal as a “benefit” resulting from the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan

Panel 21 [8] presented at the three Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre open houses in June 2010 stated:

The original vision for the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre identified Norquay Park as the proposed ‘heart’ of the Village. Since then, a new plan to improve Norquay Park has been presented to the community and funding has been committed.

The Norquay Plan of October 2010 [9] states at 6.2:

Initially considered part of the Neighbourhood Centre, planning for improvements to Norquay park was accelerated to take advantage of funding opportunities and construction is scheduled to start near the time of writing. (p. 35)

Panel 13 [10] presented at the April 2011 open house stated:

Many of the planned and anticipated benefits are listed below. …
Norquay Park upgrades include public plaza and sitting areas (completion this summer)

The main Norquay Village web site [11] promotes the 20 July 2011 opening of the renewed Norquay Park:

The Plan intends to create a ‘heart’ in the park and it looks like this has been achieved.

City planner email of 18 July 2011 [12] to unspecified persons associated with Norquay claims Norquay Park renewal as:

The first public amenity improvement project in Norquay.

* * *

Appendix B:  Comparison between Norquay Park and Grandview Park:
Renewal under the same 2009-2011 capital plan

The initiative for renewal of Grandview Park originated with a submission made by Friends of Grandview Park [3] that requested allocation of $1 million. Grandview Park became designated for that amount. Note that nearby Victoria Park — at a distance of one city block diagonally — in the same neighborhood enjoyed renewal in the immediately previous capital funding cycle [1]. When additional stimulus funding became available, a further $500,000 went to the Grandview project [6]. The Local Area Plan for Grandview-Woodland has been in place since 1979-1983. If major park renewal can be claimed as direct benefit of recent area planning for density increase, this history indicates otherwise.

This comparison can be taken further, with a comparison of ratios. $625,000 allocated to the 0.9 hectares of Victoria Park ($694,000 per hectare). $1.5 million allocated to the 0.89 hectares of Grandview Park ($1,685,000 per hectare). $800,000 allocated to the 2.23 hectares of Norquay Park ($359,000 per hectare).

More than once, city planners asked Norquay Working Group during 2009 planning: “Wouldn’t you like for your stretch of Kingsway to become like Commercial Drive?” One response was: “Yes, let our area evolve organically the way that Commercial Drive was allowed to.” It needs to be remarked also that the Grandview Park planning rode over considerable local objection.

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Web Site

Project Information — Norquay Park

Documents in Chronological Order

2 January 2007
[1]  Park Improvement — Victoria Park / Vancouver Park Board

30 January 2008
[2]  2009-2011 Parks Capital Plan Preparation / Vancouver Park Board

(Friends of Grandview doc)
29 February 2008
[3]  Park Board Capital Plan 2009-2011 Submissions from Public

19 September 2008
[4]  2009-2011 Capital Plan: Final Allocation / Vancouver Park Board

15 June 2009
[5]  4. Recreation Infrastructure Canada (RInC) Funding Applications
[Links to two 2 June 2009 reports to Park Board and to City Council.]

21 January 2010
[6]  Approval of Concept and Consultancy Award — Grandview Park Upgrade / Vancouver Park Board

21 January 2010
[7]  Approval of Concept and Consultancy Award — Norquay Park Upgrade / Vancouver Park Board

12 June 2010
[8]  Parks and Open Space [Panel 21] — Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Open House
http://vancouver.ca/commsvcs/planning/neighcentres/norquay/pdf/june-10/Panel 21.pdf

19 October 2010
[9]  Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan — Appendix A

30 April 2011
[10]  Emerging Public Benefits Strategy: Creating a Complete Community [Panel 13] — Information Session: Zoning for New Housing Types

?July? 2011
[11]  Norquay Village Plan Implementation Update — Public Benefits
[Not a stable link: top of site only.]

18 July 2011
[12]  Update re: Implemention of the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan

Written by eyeonnorquay

19 July 2011 at 1:26 am