(Updated 10 pm, August 16, 2012) The presence of a yellow rezoning sign is perhaps the most direct way that neighbours and residents find out about a new development application. Yet on a number of sites around the city these signs are simply missing. This same problem also comes up in the development permit process; the ‘white signs’ for Development Permit Applications are not always posted on properties that have ongoing proposals.
ACTION: At the very least, if you are concerned about any site or project in Vancouver, CityHallWatch urges you to contact the city at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 311. Urge them to ensure that accurate and adequate information is posted and provided to the public in a timely way. Also, you could contact Mayor and Council (email@example.com) and ask them to review guidelines for providing rezoning/development information and adopt and enforce Canada’s best practices.
A quick spot check shows that currently there is no yellow rezoning sign to be found anywhere around the site for the mega-project proposed at 2220 Kingsway. Given the closure of the Canadian Tire on this property at Kingsway and Gladstone, a rezoning sign would provide clarity on the owners’ wishes for the site (for more project details please see the Straight.com and Eye on Norquay). Further north along Kingsway there is no yellow sign either at the corner of 963 East 19th Avenue. Similarly the white sign is missing for a 4-storey development proposed at 3939 Knight. There is not even a link to the application DE415903 anywhere on the city’s website yet the proposal at 3939 Knight is active and has been reviewed by the UDP. The City of Vancouver has a responsibility to follow through and ensure that the yellow or white information signs are actually posted and kept up-to-date and to make sure that the information on their website is also up-to-date. Otherwise the public is not adequately informed of current development proposals. Are city staff neglecting their responsibilities? Or just overworked?
The existing signs of course also leave a lot to be desired. In New Westminster there are information signs that contain elevations so that residents see a visual representation of the scale of a proposal (see photo). Vancouver’s signs are more cryptic and are illustrated with a plan and accompanied with a written description in planner-speak. Also, when there are changes in proposals, when a public hearing is scheduled or reconvened, or if an open house is scheduled, there are a significant number of information signs in Vancouver are either not updated at all or not updated in a timely fashion. Hopefully this isn’t just a ‘minor detail’ that’s lost on the city. They do have the means to enforce the Zoning and Development By-law.
A list of current rezoning applications and development permit applications should be available on the city’s old website at the following two links:
CityHallWatch is aware of many other specific cases of problems with the city’s provision of information. Rezoning signs in Vancouver typically fail to indicate what the current zoning allows (e.g. outright zoning, maximum conditional zoning). The average person is not going to know that a DD designation for 320 Granville Street means a maximum FSR of 9.0 (versus the 25.5 FSR being requested). And even when a sign is posted, it is sometimes placed where it will attract the least attention (side road in the case of Maxine’s rezoning at 1215 Bidwell for Millennium in 2009), and in some cases the date of the public hearing is never posted on the sign (same rezoning in December 2009). Another related topic is the city’s practice of only mailing owners in the immediate two blocks near the proposed site. And renters rarely receive the notices. Does this indicate less respect from City Hall for renters?
Who is to be held accountable when signs lack accurate information, are out of date or not posted at all? Is it up to citizens to happen to notice the problems and complain? We believe that formally it is the applicant’s responsibility to post the information. Does the city have any system of oversight and guidelines? These questions require more attention? These issues require more attention.