So far, the opposition has the momentum – to newer, denser development in the region.
The District of North Vancouver Council turning down the Delbrook and Edgemont Village rezonings is the most jaw-dropping. But similar responses are seen in Port Moody and White Rock. In Vancouver, it’s unclear.
What will happen when significant development proposals come forward that aim to address the housing crisis? Willwe then hear this message from councils: ‘No, this is too much, too fast – and, actually, we’re not in so much of a crisis that we can’t take time to rethink and replan. This could take years. So in the meantime, we’re not going to approve more projects that are opposed in the community and become controversial.’
Oh look, there’s one now.
2538 Birch Street – the Denny’s site not far from Granville and Broadway.
Some in the surrounding community are mobilizing. Here’s their website – 28floors.com
Some of your neighbours are actively questioning the proposal going to the City for a new mixed-use development at Broadway and Birch. The original approved plan called for a height of 16 floors – this developer is now going back to the City for an increase to 28 floors.
This will change our Fairview, Kitsilano, South Granville neighbourhood’s distinctive features and impact livability. Most importantly, it will create a precedent for future development along the Broadway Corridor.
Michael Geller has written about the project in his Courier column. He reports that the ask from the developer is for “rezoning approval for an even higher 28-storey, 10.7 FSR building containing 262 market rental units under a new Moderate-Income Rental Housing Pilot Program that will come into effect in 2019.”
So: a big increase in density under a program designed to encourage this kind of moderately-priced rental housing stock – pretty much what every candidate said we needed more of. However, decisions trump promises. Whatever the City Council decides will reflect their actual priorities, not their campaign ones.
If the decision is to reject, postpone or refer until after the completion of the Broadway Corridor Plan, somehow to be integrated with the multi-year cityplan, then it won’t much matter if Council says that, nonetheless, it will continue to entertain rezonings in the future for affordable housing.
If there’s a message that significant change in the short term (yes, spot rezonings!) won’t be well received, then that’s a satisfactory outcome for the preservationist side. No will be the word heard by the community – the development community in particular – until such time as we hear ‘Yes, this is what’s acceptable to us.’
Michael Geller, having been a proponent of more change in the city than most, still opposes the Birch Street project. That’s his No. His Yes for the whole future station area at Broadway and Granville would be Downtown South. At about 5+ FSR, it’s a scale and density that have worked pretty well. But if not that, then what? What would you say Yes to? Without specifics, it’s still a No.
Add this project as another data point on the Bushfield-Prest Chart, another small project with a very big message attached.