Architecture
November 22, 2019

Rental Apartment Rezoning: Place Your Bets

When Councillors consider this report on November 26 – Rental Incentives Review Phase II – “to create new zoning districts for residential rental tenure, for use in ‘off-the-shelf’ rezonings for RS and RT zoned sites in low density transition areas that are on and near arterial roads and close to parks, schools and shopping areas”, they will:

(1) Instruct staff “to prepare the amending by-law.”

(2) Refer it to the City-wide Planning process.

(3) Other.

 

Sun reporter Dan Fumano reports:

Another change would allow four-storey rental apartment or townhouse buildings in “low-density transition areas” — defined as residential blocks within 150 metres from an arterial street. Some Vancouver neighbourhoods, such as Kitsilano and Mount Pleasant, already include many such buildings off of arterial streets. But the proposed change would open up many more parts of Vancouver to these buildings, including much of the less-dense southern half of the city, on both the east and west sides.

Asked if he expects some homeowners and neighbourhood associations might object to apartment buildings on side streets, Stewart said: “I think it’s something to digest. But all of us on council say we’re in the middle of a housing crisis, and if you’re in a crisis, you have to do something new.”

 

 

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Yes, another podcast on Vancouver, its times and its issues – this one from Courier columnist Mike Klassen.  He calls it Vancouver Overcast.

The name is not just a riff on the persistent grey weather conditions we endure here. My goal is to establish a channel where listeners can discover more about Vancouver and hear from some of its thought leaders.

News out of San Francisco:

PriceTalks did an in-depth interview with Jeff Tumlim this last March – lots of insights into Jeff and his thinking, especially relevant now that he will be helping to shape one of the world’s great cities.

 

 

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In the Grand Bargain that has shaped growth in Metro Vancouver for the last half century, brownfield sites have played a crucial role: Usually large in area, often under single-ownership, located near waterfront or transportation corridors, capable of being comprehensively planned without requiring significant displacement, offering the prospect of new amenities and connections while also triggering environmental clean-up, and, since separate from established communities, capable of accommodating density and development often unacceptable elsewhere. . While the City of Vancouver has been the location for many of the high-profile brownfield conversions in the last few decades, opportunities are emerging throughout Metro and in the province.  This webinar explores examples here and elsewhere in Canada (like the West Don Lands in Toronto, below) and how to achieve best results. . . PIBC 2019 Webinar #9 – Brownfield Renewal: Local Government as a Catalyst for Change . This webinar explores how local government can be the catalyst for the renewal of contaminated and derelict land.  Through a number of case studies, our speakers will share best practices and lessons learned that would be applicable to any under-utilized brownfield or waterfront site in the province.   Speakers will also discuss funding incentive programs available through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).

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Carla Guerrera   CEO & Founder, 
Purpose Driven Development & Planning

Benjamin Koczwarski, Advisor, Programs Outreach
Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM)

 

November 27

12 – 1:30 pm

CPL Units: 1.5

REGISTER HERE

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When we think of our city as a whole, it is important that it sustains a strong sense of identity for the diversity of people who live here.

The recent City of Vancouver Arts and Culture Plan proposes actions for the incorporation of new approaches to both intangible and tangible heritage. For the purposes of ongoing cultural vitality, redress and equity, it also proposes integration of intangible heritage into the City’s existing heritage program which up to now has mainly focused on the preservation of buildings.

Our final talk for 2019 will look at the opportunity for how a new City-wide plan might carve out a larger role for heritage and integrate current heritage thinking into a wide range of the City’s social aims.

 

Michael Gordon – Former Senior Downtown Planner, City of Vancouver, Vancouver Heritage Commissioner

A year ago, City Council appointed Michael to the Vancouver Heritage Commission. Until 2018, he was Senior Downtown Planner for the City of Vancouver primarily focused on planning in the downtown peninsula and the West End.

 

Elijah Sabadlan – Heritage Consultant & Conservation Specialist

Elijah views heritage architecture as palimpsest in the continuing evolution of urban environments. As a Heritage Consultant with Donald Luxton & Associates, he provides heritage design and technical advice to the project team, from planning to construction.

 

Carmel Tanaka – Founder, Cross Cultural Strathcona Walking Tour

Carmel Tanaka was born to an Israeli mother and a Japanese Canadian father.  Carmel’s pro-diversity stance and open door policy stem from valuing both sides of her heritage, which she describes as “Jewpanese”. This base provides Carmel with the ability to sensitively manage and effectively mediate challenging projects involving multi-generational intersectional groups with mixed political, religious and social opinions.

 

Kamala Todd – Indigenous Arts and Culture Planner, City of Vancouver

Kamala Todd is a Metis-Cree mother, community planner, filmmaker, curator, and educator born and raised in the beautiful lands of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ and Skwxwú7mesh-speaking people, aka Vancouver.  She is the author of “This Many-storied Land”, in In This Together: Fifteen Stories of Truth and Reconciliation (2016),  and Truth-Telling: Indigenous perspectives on working with Municipal Governments (2017) for Vancouver Park Board.

 

 

Thursday, November 28

7-9 pm

SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts (SFU Woodwards): 149 West Hastings Street

Free, donations appreciated.  Reservations here.

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If you needed more evidence that environmental issues are no longer fringe issues, all you have to do is look at Vancouver Greens’ Adriane Carr.

Her 74,000 votes in the 2014 municipal election was the most by a Vancouver council candidate since 1996…and perhaps ever? Had she run for mayor in 2018, she might have won, and by as many as 20,000 votes.

Born at VGH and raised in east Van, Carr’s future political life began auspiciously — a Master’s degree in Geography under the tutelage of UBC’s David Ley and Walter Hardwick. Her thesis? On the role individuals play in community, specifically entitled, “The Development of Neighbourhood in Kitsilano : Ideas, Actors and the Landscape.”

Such fertile ground for our ‘meat and sizzle’ interlocutors Gord and Rob. And oh yes, they go there — the question of the role of individuals in shaping the community, the city, and city-wide planning.

But first, a few dozen questions…about such matters as what got her into politics? (Desperation….about wilderness protection.) How did she translate that ambition into the role of power broker? (By founding a provincial political party, of course.) What does she wish she had more of? (Power.) And once she made it into City Hall in 2011, who censured her, told her she wasn’t allowed to speak to staff? (Two people, and you’ll have to listen for that nugget.)

Perhaps the question of the decade for Carr, though, is whether she would like to be mayor. It’s also likely both the city’s worst kept secret, and best maintained electoral strategy — yes and no. (Sorry Hector, but you know the drill.)

Over the course of the discussion, the trio get into the big issues, like dealing with density, taxes, character, and tree cover, plus the distractions of public life in the digital era.

And if you thought age and authority would mellow out this green, wilderness warrior, think again. Carr still espouses civil disobedience — non-violent, mind you — as a key tactic to get people to acknowledge the kind of change we’re going to have to undertake to avert, or cope with, the climate emergency.

But do we really need to take another three years, and $16 million, to talk about it? Have a listen, and let us know what you think.

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From the CBC:

“I really think this is a real gift to the city,” said Stewart. “Everything we can do to make this project be successful is at the top of my list.”

 

Be careful.  If Senakw, the Squamish Burrard Bridge project, is a gift to the city, other proponents will come bearing gifts for similar considerations.

From Expo 86 to the 2010 Olympics, the City has seen almost a dozen megaprojects appear on the skyline – developer-driven, comprehensively designed and built, beginning with Concord Pacific in the late eighties.  All through the nineties, megaprojects sprouted – from Coal Harbour to Collingwood Village to Fraser Lands.

They all had to meet standards for complete communities, based originally on what we had learned when the City created the South Shore of False Creek, followed by Granville Island.  If a developer came to the City with a megaproject proposal, they came with a plan that met the council-approved megaproject standards.

The City extracted huge wealth from the value it created through those zoning approvals.  Lots of parkland and seawall extensions, in addition to the basic infrastructure – pipes, cables and roads.  As well: social amenities and necessities – schools, community centres, child care as a priority; housing percents for families with children, for social equity. There were design standards: for cycling, for sustainability, for the arts.  And more.  That’s what we meant by ‘complete communities’ – and you can go walk around in the results.

Developers paid for all this through direct provision of the benefits, like a child-care centre, or through ‘contributions’ – those CACs you hear about without quite understanding how they work.

In the case of Senakw, it could be the other way around.

Ginger Gosnell-Myers (Vancouver’s first aboriginal relations manager) said Senakw will give future Vancouverites the chance to live in the city and it’s up to the city to respond to concerns about infrastructure and capacity.

Stewart say he is up to the challenge, including working with the park board, the school board and the province to ensure community services are available when the neighbourhood’s new residents arrive.

At 10- to 12,000 residents, there is no way Senakw could meet some of the established standards.  Concord Pacific had to provide 2.75 acres of park for every thousand residents.  Senakw would need more than twice the area of its entire 11-acre site.  While it’s not yet clear what Senakw will  provide, it isn’t obligated.  Nor is it yet clear (or even negotiated), but the City looks like it’s committing itself to providing significant amenities and necessities – accepting density and paying for impacts.

So if the development itself – the thousands of market rental apartments – is the gift, then why would the City not be open to receiving more gifts from other developers.  Yes, Senakw is unique given its status as a reserve, so developers wouldn’t expect the same deal.  They’d just expect the amenity bar to be lowered.

How the relationship develops and negotiations occur is what reconciliation is seriously about – a relationship based on mutual interests levered for maximum value. One of the values of the City is the building of complete communities.  Squamish would point to their own history for examples.  It shouldn’t be hard to come to a consensus.

Squamish has an interest in a successful development in every respect.  The city has to demonstrate respect.  Together, they’re negotiating our collective interests.

This is the reality of reconciliation.  It’s not about gifts, or reparations.  It’s about building the latest version of a complete community, together.

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Steve Nicholls, former Director of Planning for the District of West Vancouver, will speak on municipal planning and the development of West Vancouver when he served as Senior Planner and as Director of Planning, Lands and Permits from 1979 to 2009.

During this time, West Vancouver pioneered in forging advanced policies in community planning, area planning and density transfer, green belt and creek preservation, and waterfront and parks acquisition,

A look at West Vancouver as it was, as it is, and as it can be, from a planning perspective.

Wednesday, November 20

7:30 pm

Marine Room, West Vancouver Seniors Activity Centre.

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Last week I attended the International Road Safety Symposium that was hosted by UBC’s Integrated Safety and Advanced Mobility Bureau as well as by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. This team brought in practitioners from Australia and the Netherlands, where policy work and research mirrors or is ahead of our local policy. A mix of physicians,  police officers , engineers and consultants presented and debated current issues and trends in road safety and active transportation, providing a very thoughtful discussion on how to make streets and roads safer for all users.

Speaker Dr. Fred Wegman is an emeritus professor of traffic safety at Delft University of Technology and is the individual credited with the development of the “safe systems” approach, “based on the principle that our life and health should not be compromised by our need to travel. No level of death or serious injury is acceptable in our road transport network.”

It was Fred  that described the tremendous gains in the Netherlands where there has been a 49 percent reduction in fatalities/serious injuries with the safe systems approach. He also noted the importance of reducing speed as a basic tenet for safety, and that politically elected officials would not be reducing speed to save lives, but would be doing it for basic sustainability reasons. And tied into a greener, cleaner environment and the future, such speed reductions would be accepted nationally.

We didn’t need to wait long to hear the result of Fred’s prediction. The BBC News has just reported that  in 2020 “the daytime speed limit on Dutch roads is to be cut to 100km/h (62mph) in a bid to tackle a nitrogen oxide pollution crisis” 

This information is still confidential, but the disclosed report suggests that the current speed limit of up to 130 km/h would be allowed only in  the night hours.

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If you’ve been following the plans by the Squamish nation to build 6000 units of housing near the Burrard Bridge, you’ll appreciate the sheer bravado of the local Tsleil-Waututh Nation.

Instead of waiting years for a District of North Vancouver council to finally approve a significant housing development, they’ve applied to the federal government to add the 45 hectares of the target property to their reserve lands. This would mean they could proceed without council approval.

Or, as one grouch on Twitter described it:

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