The coming week has one Park Board meeting, on Regular Council meetings, two electronic Public Hearings, and one Council Standing Committee meeting. Here are quick links to agenda, and further below are CityHallWatch comments on selected items, plus the full agendas (check City site for latest versions). We encourage concerned citizens and groups to communicate with Commissioners and Mayor and Council if you have comments on any item. The agenda pages indicate how you can provide comments. See also our contact page here.
Park Board, May 25, 2020 6:30 pm
Council Agenda, May 26, 2020 9:30 am https://council.vancouver.ca/20200526/regu20200526ag.htm
Council Committee Agenda, May 27, 2020 9:30 am https://council.vancouver.ca/20200527/pspc20200527ag.htm
Public Hearing Agenda, May 26, 2020 6:00 pm https://council.vancouver.ca/20200526/phea20200526ag.htm
Public Hearing Agenda, May 28, 2020 6:00 pm https://council.vancouver.ca/20200528/phea20200528ag.htm
Here are some selected items plus comments by CityHallWatch.
Regular Council May 25, 2020
- COVID-19 Pandemic Impacts: Financial Mitigation and Restoration of City Service Plan
Excerpt: Patrice Impey, General Manager, Finance, Risk and Supply Chain Management, to present the report dated May 19, 2020. Staff outline project priorities and cost implications.
- Sewage and Rainwater Management Plan for Vancouver
Excerpt: The 2019 to 2022 Capital Plan has allocated $137 million for the renewal and separation of aging sewer pipes as part of the City’s ongoing renewal program. A further $111 million was planned for upgrades triggered by growth as part of a new program to respond to development. Based on current estimates, the cost to complete the separation of aging combined sewer pipes throughout the city as part of the renewal program is approximately $3.7 billion.
CityHallWatch comment: The impacts of growth on infrastructure is enormous, especially where large amounts of density are concentrated like development corridors where the services need huge upgrades to service the growth.
COUNCIL MEMBERS’ MOTIONS
- Defining Social Housing Consistently and Transparently in the City of Vancouver
Motion by Clr. Fry to improve the definition of Social Housing. Worth a careful look.
Standing Committee of Council May 27
1. Development and Permit Process Improvements
a. Presentation – Development and Permit Process Improvements
b. Regulation Redesign – Amendments to Zoning & Development and Parking By-laws
- Staff Report PDF https://council.vancouver.ca/20200527/documents/pspc1b.pdf
- Appendices A-M PDF https://council.vancouver.ca/20200527/documents/pspc1b-Appendicies.pdf
CityHallWatch comment: These By-law amendments are significant for a number of reasons. The city is combining a large number of amendments on unrelated issues as an omnibus change to the Zoning and Development By-law for various zoning schedules, for various Official Development Plans, for the Parking By-Law and other land use documents. These are not minor text amendments, but are substantive changes to zoning and regulations, with a variety of impacts.
No “redline” documents are provided to show what is changed in context with the original by-law or a detailed explanation of what each amendment means in practical terms to the built forms or development process. This lack of transparency makes it difficult for Council and the public to really know what is changing.
Some of the issues that stand out appear to be changes to RS and RT zones that include variances allowed for character house retention and for increased intrusion of decks and porches into front and side yards by about 6 ft, without being related to adjacent buildings. It is not clear how this could apply to side yards that are usually less than 6 ft. on most lots.
There has been no public consultation on this item. The City’s approach in this case it that a Public Hearing is considered the public consultation, but there has been no opportunity for public input to be considered in the staff recommendations. Public would normally have a chance to give input prior to the staff’s recommendation for referral to a Public Hearing.
- Enabling Mass Timber Construction
CityHallWatch: This policy is to enable twelve-storey wood frame construction. Many considerations. See media coverage for more analysis.
- Recalibrating the Housing Vancouver Strategy post COVID-19
At the Council meeting on May 12, 2020, Council referred the following motion to the Standing Committee on City Finance and Services meeting on May 13, 2020, in order to hear from speakers. Subsequently, due to time constraints, the motion was deferred to the Standing Committee on Policy and Strategic Priorities meeting on May 27, 2020 to hear from speakers, and for the Committee to engage in debate and decision.
CityHallWatch comment: This motion asks for data to be made public regarding information to inform the reconsideration of the Housing Vancouver Strategy targets. There has been considerable media coverage about this topic. We support the motion!
Public Hearing May 26, 2020
- REZONING: 2776 Semlin Dr and 2025 East 12th Avenue
- Memorandum dated May 14, 2020
- Summary and Recommendation
- Draft By-Law – Zoning and Development
- Referral Report dated February 25, 2020
CityHallWatch comment: Note that in the proposal there will be 104 units and 32 will be to HILs rates. These break down as follows:
- Twenty-seven out of the 32 units are studios.
- These 27 units will be for renters with a gross household income of less than $51,500 per year.
- Using 30 percent for housing as a standard measure for affordability, an income of $51,500 means a person can afford to pay $1,287.48 in monthly rent.
- Five out of the 32 units are two-bedroom units.
- These five units will be for renters with a gross household income of less than $63,000 per year.
- Again using the 30 percent for housing as affordability measure, a household earning $63,000 can afford a monthly rent of $1,575.
Most of these units will be studios renting at $1,287/month. This is actually at market rates for the east side or even higher than market in many cases. Only five units will be 2 bedroom at $1,575/month. While this is below market for 2 bedrooms, it is not that much below. But more troubling, are these liveable? Now the city is allowing for rentals to have bedrooms without windows and to be so small that they can barely fit a bed inside. More like a closet or den.
Also for consideration, this project is the redevelopment of a church owned property that would have been exempt from property taxes for the entire time the church owned it. And since the church will be rebuilt on the main floor of the new building, this tax exemption will continue, at least for the church portion, and possibly for the rest of the rentals too since it is categorized as social housing.
On top of that, the project would also have development fees waived, both for CACs and DCLs. Further, it is getting a density bonus and height relaxation to six storeys.
Basically, it is a scandal that the city is “giving away the farm” for no real affordability for the people who need it most.
All church properties should be retained for non-profit community use, or the church should pay back to the city all previous tax exemptions it got waived prior to sale or any redevelopment approvals. This would reduce the land values of these properties and be a disincentive to selling them off to developers or for churches acting like developers.
Agendas have been reproduced below: