Community garden at corner of Davie St and 1157 Burrard in West End to be replaced by 469-ft 47-storey tower. Public input til Aug 12 on development permit application DP-2022-00461.

ABOVE: Applicant’s rendering of proposed tower at 1157 Burrard Street at northwest corner with Davie Street, beside the current St Paul’s Hospital.

City Council approved this rezoning on October 19, 2021. Now it is moving to the next step, a development permit application (DP-2022-00461). The public has the opportunity to provide input before a final decision is made at the desk of the current director of planning, Theresa O’Donnell. Below is some official information plus CityHallWatch commentary and related reading.

Rezoning information is here (approved in 2021): https://shapeyourcity.ca/1157-burrard-st

Public hearing (12-Oct-2021): https://council.vancouver.ca/20211012/phea20211012ag.htm

Development application (click here to provide public comments): https://shapeyourcity.ca/1157-burrard-st-2

Excerpt of official text: Merrick Architecture has applied to the City of Vancouver to develop on this site a new 47-storey, mixed-use building with an additional partial storey for an amenity and mechanical room, consisting of Retail use on Level 1, Office use on Levels 2 and 4 (including an arts and culture hub), a 37-space childcare facility on Level 3 and Dwelling uses (289 Market Strata Units) on Levels 4 to 47. The density (FSR) is 13.37 (283,833 sq.ft.), height 469 feet, with eight levels of underground parking with 297 parking stalls having vehicular access from See-Em-La Lane. This application is “conditional” so it may be permitted, however, it requires the Council enactment of the CD-1 By-law, approval of the Form of Development and decision by the Director of Planning.

Above: Location of the site, from applicant documents

Just to give a sense of the relevance from the business side, at a very rough final market valuation of $2000/sq foot, this would be a $568 million project. Registered owner of the property at the time of the rezoning was Prima Properties (135) Ltd. The current valuation for this address does not come up on BC Assessment (1157 Burrard Street [PID 009- 432-795; Lot A (Reference Plan 10023) Block 10 District Lot 185 Plan 822]).

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Development applications snapshot 1-Aug-2022

Example of a development application information sign

As a free public service CityHallWatch has for many years been taking a monthly snapshot of rezoning and development applications from the City of Vancouver website and making them available on our website.

The City has stopped updating its rezoning (vancouver.ca/rezapps) and development application (vancouver.ca/devapps) web pages and shifted to a very different format called “Shape Your City.” Some changes may make it more user friendly, but some have reduced transparency and accessibility. On Shape Your City, you only see the applications the City wants you to see right now, in the way they want you to see it, and the rest of the information disappears. No handy lists, no archives prior to 2020.

If you see any items of concern, please spread the word to anyone who might be affected or interested. Our archive goes back years and is not available anywhere else. Even the City does not provide this information.

The City has also stopped publicly providing a map showing applications, so we continue to fill in the gap by creating our own static snapshot version using Google Maps. Click HERE to see the current map. If you feel the City should modify how it presents development and rezoning applications, feel free to write Mayor and Council, or director of planning.

Here’s a comment regarding our post in March 2022:

The way the City now provides for expressing your opinions about developments and making your comments via “Shape Your City” is very unsatisfying as well. What they do with your well-thought-out comments is to summarize and anonymize them before they are forwarded to the decision-makers. You never see how your comments are summarized. It’s really very disempowering.

Listed below (generated by CityHallWatch)

The following DP applications are new and were posted last month:

Here’s the complete list of DP applications: Continue reading

Rezoning applications snapshot, 1-Aug-2022

Example of a rezoning application information sign

As a free public service CityHallWatch has for many years been taking a monthly snapshot of rezoning and development applications from the City of Vancouver website and making them available on our website.

The lists contain valuable information on each application (all now being done online during the era of COVID). If you see any of concern, please spread the word to anyone who might be affected or interested. Our archive goes back years and is not available anywhere else. Even the City does not provide this information.

The City has stopped updating its rezoning (vancouver.ca/rezapps) and development application (vancouver.ca/devapps) web pages and shifted to a very different format called “Shape Your City.” Some changes may make it more user friendly, but some have reduced transparency and accessibility. On Shape Your City, you only see the applications the City wants you to see right now, in the way they want you to see it, and the rest of the information disappears. No handy lists, no archives prior to 2020.

We’ve created our own static snapshot version map using Google Maps. Click to see the current map for August 2022. New rezoning applications include the following:

817-837 W 28th Avenue and 4375 Willow Street (RM-8A, 1.2 FSR)

Below is our list of rezoning applications created as of 1-Aug-2022.

Proposed rezonings

Continue reading

Vancouver Fraser Port Authority: Active Vessel Traffic Management Program survey + July 27th webinar

For general information, we’re passing along details about a survey and webinar related to vessel traffic management. There’s an opportunity to sign up for the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority webinar on July 27 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. and take their online survey by Aug 31. More details below.

Active Vessel Traffic Management Program

Public engagement updates

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority invites you to learn about our work to develop a better active vessel traffic management system and share your ideas.

This summer, we’re sharing information about how vessel traffic and anchorages are managed today. Between July 11 and August 31, 2022, we invite you to learn more about:

  • How ship traffic and anchorages are currently managed
  • Roles of the port authority, Transport Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard
  • How increased efficiency will help better manage effects of anchorages on Southern Gulf Island communities
  • What initiatives are underway to improve efficiency
  • Upcoming opportunities to participate in the active vessel traffic management system design

Share your ideas through the online survey.

We will consider this input as we continue planning the new system. In fall 2022, we’ll invite input and feedback on potential solutions for:

  • How anchorages are assigned
  • Minimizing noise and light effects
  • Understanding environmental impacts
  • Enhancing port efficiency and vessel safety
  • Information sharing and complaint resolution

How to participate

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Public Hearing on Arbutus and 7th/8th Ave low-barrier social housing tower: Decision today, starts 3 pm. Big implications for City vs Province power relationship, and who listens to the community.

Above: Our massing model of the proposed building, as seen from the across the street.

Update: The outcome of the vote is…

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Today is the sixth day of a Public Hearing for the rezoning of a site between 7th and 8th Avenues and Arbutus in Kitsilano for a controversial proposed low-barrier 13-storey social housing tower. Having heard from nearly 300 registered speakers with the vast majority opposed, and having received about 2,100 items of correspondence, with opposed versus support at a three to one ratio of opposed versus support, Council is now set to hear final statements from staff and the applicant. The 11-member Council will then vote to decide. This is the second last Public Hearing decision of this City Council (one more, regarding 2009-2037 Stainsbury Avenue, July 28), and the next one is slated for the next Council on October 25, after the October 15 civic election.

This decision today merits high scrutiny for many reasons, not the least the fact that statements by the mayor Kennedy Stewart at the Public Hearing have made it clear that David Eby, who has stepped down as B.C.’s attorney general and housing minister to be anointed as the new premier of the province after John Horgan steps this fall, is effectively holding Vancouver City Council hostage with the threat of taking away funding if Council does not approve this project. Similarly, Eby intends to empower new housing minister Murray Rankin go ahead with steps that could eliminate public hearings entirely in Vancouver, if the Vancouver Plan is declared the City’s Official Community Plan. (More on that later.) The votes by the mayor and each of the ten councillors on this application, will be a sign of what’s in store if they remain on Council after the October 15 election. (All members of the current council are seeking reelection.) Will they listen to their own electors? Or will they bow to pressure from the provincial government?

Public Hearing page and official documents: https://council.vancouver.ca/20220628/phea20220628ag.htm

This Council previously made a decision to not reconvene Public Hearings before 6pm. Yet this Public Hearing is reconvening at 3 pm. The daytime Public Hearing was brought in under Vision Vancouver; previously Public Hearings usually started at 6pm, 7pm or 7:30pm.

Here are some items of night five of the Public Hearing, as selected/told by Kitsilano Coalition.

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Last night’s hearing for the rezoning of W7th/W8th and Arbutus was one of the most compelling and insightful in recent memory. Notable well-informed speakers opposed to the rezoning mapped out the flaws, and concerns, and asked for a better option for Social Housing for the site.

Here is a summary of the speaker presentations with links to view yourself.

Cheryl Grant for Kitsilano Coalition spoke to an “alternate concept” for the site, which was put together via collaboration and volunteer effort by the community. 

Watch Cheryl Grant’s presentation: YouTube link.

Short clip showing social housing option, could have been built by now with no new Public Hearing, as it complies with zoning approved in 2019.

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Where are the details? (CC#66: More than 10% of Vancouver’s current spot rezonings are mysteries without any design.) by Brian Palmquist

(City Conversation #66 was first published 22-July-2022)
(For a list of City Conversations by Brian Palmquist on CityHallWatch, please visit this page.)

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July 22, 2022—How can Vancouver City Council approve spot rezoning projects where almost nothing is known about what will result? What does that say about the public’s right to know what’s going on in their neighbourhoods?

A typical rezoning sign these days—a mid-block image from the “Streamlining Rental” report—unfortunately this is a corner site, but who’s paying attention anyway?

As I was methodically compiling my Homes for Whom database, I began to notice something I thought was odd—several of the spot rezoning projects I was looking at had no form of development either on their site sign (see above) or on their Shape Your City website, which is supposed to have all the details of a proposed spot rezoning.

Let’s stop for a vocabulary moment:

  • Form of development is what a proposed building looks like. It’s most often an artist’s rendering of a proposed new project. Even where there is no rendering, the details are usually available on the city’s project website, called
  • Shape Your City is where the city planning department keeps details of projects in process and approved. They may be proposed spot rezonings, or the Development Applications and Permits that follow when a rezoning is approved.
  • spot rezoning is where an applicant proposes to change the zoning on an existing city site, sometimes to another (usually more dense) existing zoning, or most often, to a CD-1 Comprehensive Development, which is whatever the city approves after a public hearing. Note that in Vancouver city, a CD-1 spot rezoning that increases density usually involves the applicant negotiating a Community Amenity Contribution (CAC) with city staff—a dollar amount that is ostensible designated for community amenities such as schools, parks and community centres. This Council has forgiven (i.e., charged nothing) for most spot rezonings involving rental housing.
  • Development Applications and Permits (DA and DP) are what follow spot rezonings. Where an applicant is proposing no change to an existing zoning, then they skip a rezoning and go straight to a DA, which when approved is a DP.
  • Floor Space Ratio (FSR) is a measure of how much you can build on a property. For example, RS (former single family) and RT (former duplex) zones typically top out (after allowing discretionary increases based on design) at an FSR of 0.75. RM, while RM-3, one of the multiple residential zones that encompasses some of the short high-rises in Kerrisdale, for example, tops out at about 1.5 FSR. The proposal in the picture has a proposed FSR of 3.5, more than double traditional multiple residential zoning districts in the city.

Apologies for the verbiage, but it’s important.

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I’m done with the Vancouver Plan’s false math! (CC #65: correcting the omissions in city staff’s math.) by Brian Palmquist

(City Conversation #65 was first published 19-July-2022)
(For a list of City Conversations by Brian Palmquist on CityHallWatch, please visit this page.) The Council Committee on the subject of the Vancouver Plan continues on Friday, July 22.

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July 19, 2022—I’m tired of city staff ignoring my numbers at the city’s peril, so gloves off.

“One speaker (Brian Palmquist) said there’s enough zoning applications in our pipeline for 250,000 homes; enough to satisfy the need?”—question from a Councillor to staff

“No. There are approximately 51,000 units in the current pipeline that are projected to be constructed by 2031.”—Answer by city staff.

Actually I said 250,000 people, not homes, but I won’t quibble.

The above sentences are from the proposed amendments and answers to questions by Councillors leading up to the final discussions before Council votes on the Vancouver Plan on July 22nd. I may have the dubious distinction of being the only questioner named before having my concerns dismissed.

Some of you will know that in the absence of data from city staff, I have compiled a Homes for Whom database covering all of the spot rezonings I am aware of that have arisen during the current Council’s term. To do this I had to visit more than 380 individual Shape Your City city websites, one for each rezoning project. The phrase hiding in plain sight comes to mind. It’s worth noting that I undertook this thankless task because for the past two years city staff have refused to provide such statistics to Councillors, let alone the great unwashed public taxpayers.

I also had to visit a separate city building permit website in order to see which of these projects have received building permits. Today’s special number: 8,641 is the number of spot rezoned homes approved by this Council for which building permits have been issued. To be clear, other permits may have been issued for projects started before this Council, and this number does not include the permits for homes that did not require rezoning, so it’s a conservative number, but useful.

As for the rest? I am tired of having my numbers ignored or set aside with no contrary evidence, so today you get the lot. There are disclaimers, of course:

  1. The city does not tell anyone when they update their Shape Your City websites—they tell you on the site but nowhere else. So there may be some numbers in (minor) error;
  2. Similarly, the city’s building permit website does not advise when a permit is issued, so my 8,641 number may be shy—but I have the list of everything I am aware of that had been permitted at the time I visited their site;
  3. I know I have missed some entire sites. I rely on publicly available updates and individual readers telling me about what’s happening in their neighbourhood, which I then investigate and add to my database if I’ve not already caught it.

So much for disclaimers. Hopefully you’ll agree the effect of these is to dampen, not expand, the numbers which follow.

The Big Hitters

Of course the city’s 51,000 number probably does not include the following:

  • Broadway Plan—30,000 homes
  • Jericho Lands—10,000
  • Making Home—10,000. Note, I’m using the Mayor’s number here
  • Total—50,000 homes

The Quiet Projects

Unless you live in the immediate neighbourhood, you are forgiven for forgetting the following projects that appear to be done deals:

  • Langara Gardens—2,100 homes
  • Little Mountain—1,573 still to come
  • Northeast False Creek—3,400 still to come
  • Senakw’—6,000 in latest proposal
  • Skeena Terrace—1,700 hot off the press
  • East Fraser Lands—8,800 estimated (the planning team ignored my data requests so I looked at the ODP)
  • Total—23,573 homes

The Inevitable Projects

These are the projects that creep up over time—I have run their numbers out to 2050 based on data from the city:

  • Duplexing—4,500 additional homes by 2050 at current build rates
  • Laneways—12,000
  • Streamlining rental—4,700 from city staff estimates
  • Total—21,200 homes

For those not paying attention, we are up to 94,773 homes so far. But we’ve forgotten two chunks, one controversial, the other on the record:

Controversial numbers

The Broadway Plan and Jericho Lands words and numbers don’t match. We’ve shown the math in several articles, but as a reminder:

  • Jericho Lands—the plans illustrate 8,000 more homes than the planning words say, meaning 65 towers is not what they say it is—they’re shy about 8,000 homes;
  • Broadway Plan—this is even more egregious than Jericho. There are 3 sections to the Plan, which by the words could accommodate 49,000 more homes than the 30,000 I’ve noted above
  • Total—57,000 homes

The Nitty Gritty numbers

There’s no easy way to do this without being called a liar, so hereafter is the list of 350+ spot rezoned projects along with the number of units they include. Where the number is zero, it means there was no available city information on the quantity of homes proposed when I reviewed the Shape Your City website. This is the city’s approach in much of the Cambie Corridor and more recently, in the areas covered by their Streamlining Rental initiative which is generating many proposal already. Note that the list is in address numerical order, which is the way the city does it. After each address is a hyphen (-), then the number of homes of whatever type. Again, my apologies at the length of this list:

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Scot Hein: My top 10 reasons why I support New Vancouver Specials

With permission, we are reproducing a letter from Scot Hein in support of the New Vancouver Specials motion on notice up at Council today (Enabling the Next Generation of Vancouver Specials).

I strongly support Councillor Wiebe’s motion before Council today.  The affordability potential of this idea is substantive because:

1. Land assembly is not required

2. Opportunity to “zero out” on site parking towards higher unit count with more affordable tenure

3. Has prospect for contextual fit through thoughtful design of form and scale (“architectural character” is absolutely achievable without emphasizing over regulated expression and style)

4. Allows homeowners an opportunity to unlock “unearned” land equity towards the greater good

5. Will introduce much needed family oriented housing near schools

6. Introduces potential for small scale, on-site, community making including inter-generational support systems

7. Can be delivered without non-value added soft costs such as project marketing and land assembly speculation

8. Will liberate new small scale tenure arrangements including formal/in-formal co-housing

9. Supports local shopping with more intensive, proximic/walkable, residential land use

10. Potential for innovation with creative designers and industry groups, such as Small Housing BC, towards related quick approvals turnaround of pre-approved catalogue designs (let’s aim for 2 weeks from submission to building permit in hand)

Thank-you in advance for supporting.

Scot Hein
Retired MAIBC
Licensed Architect, USA
Urban Design Professor, UBC
Lecturer, SFU City Programme
Founding Board Member, Urbanarium
Board Member, Small Housing BC
RAIC Architectural Advocacy Award Recipient

Council and Park Board Preview July 18-22: Vancouver Plan, 2030 Olympic bid update, Skeena Terrace, Stanley Park mobility study and more

There are four meetings of City Council between Tuesday, July 19th and Friday, July 22nd. The final Park Board Meeting of the summer will take place on Monday, July 18th. This will be the final meeting of Park Board before the civic election. The Stanley Park Mobility study item will likely draw a fair deal of interest. Park Board is also looking at adopting an updated Code of Conduct Policy similar to the one adopted by City Council. However, should this be an item better suited for the incoming Park Board later this year?

The Regular Council Meeting on Tuesday, July 19th includes a total of 66 items to be enacted as bylaws. The Skeena Terrace policy statement seeks to support BC Housing in the redevelopment of the 10.8 acre site with three tall towers (up to 36-storeys) and with buildings in the range of 6 to 16 storeys. The site is bounded by Skeena, E 5th Avenue, Cassiar and Lougheed. The Skeena Terrace currently provides housing for around 600 residents.

Many development fee increases are recommended for approval in the agenda item 2023 Fee Increases for Rezoning, Development, Building, and Other Related Permits. The approval of the form of development for the enormous Lululemon HQ at 1980 Foley Street (at Great Northern Way) is on the agenda (see our previous post on this item here).

The Council Committee Meeting on Wednesday, July 20th includes an update on the 2030 Olympic bid. Staff raise a number of concerns about the bid, including the issue of current lack of federal or provincial government involvement to support and indemnify the City of Vancouver (for example, in the case of cost overruns).

The Public Hearing for Thursday, July 21st will look at item 6. CD-1 Rezoning: 906-982 West 18th Avenue and 907-969 West 19th Avenue. This Public Hearing is the continuation of the July 5th hearing. Council lost quorum when hearing from speakers on item #5 (2009-2037 Stainsbury Avenue), so that item has been rescheduled for another Public Hearing date on Thursday, July 28th.

The reconvened Council Committee Meeting on Friday, July 22nd will include debate and decision on the Vancouver Plan. Speakers were previously heard on this item on July 6th.

For reference, the meeting agendas have been reproduced below: Continue reading

Group calls for protest about upcoming ‘Stanley Park Mobility Study’ decision – Park Board meeting 18-Jul/Mon 6:30 pm

We’re sharing this notice from the Stanley Park for All Committee.

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Park Board Meeting Monday, July 18, 2022, 6:30 pm – Stanley Park Mobility Study

Meeting agenda/documents: https://parkboardmeetings.vancouver.ca/2022/20220718/index.htm

Vancouver Park Board,

The Park Board is bringing forward an interim report of the Stanley Park Mobility Study to approve guiding principles designed to permanently eliminate cars from Stanley Park. It is being rammed through at the last meeting of the outgoing board, on Monday, July 18, 2022, in an attempt to tie the hands of the next park board. (A copy of the Report is at this link – PDF.)

The Beach Ave entrance/exit to Stanley Park is still blocked to vehicles. One lane of Park Drive around Stanley Park is blocked off for bicycles and all vehicles are being funnelled out along North Lagoon Road onto busy Georgia Street, causing major congestion in Stanley Park. Last weekend the Park Board and City of Vancouver put up signs for motorists crossing the Lions Gate Bridge and Burrard Street Bridge not to drive to Stanley Park because of the congestion. When the work begins next year on the tunnel under Stanley Park to replace the Metro Vancouver water main, huge dump trucks using the one lane for traffic on Park Drive will make going to Stanley Park impossible for drivers.

Please do these 3 things:

1) Write to the Park Board Commissioners and the Park Board General Manager,

PBcommissioners@vancouver.capbgmo@vancouver.ca

2) Sign up online to speak in person at the Monday night Park Board meeting, 

link:  Speak at a Park Board meeting about an agenda item | City of Vancouver

3) Come to the Park Board office on Monday night at 6:30 to protest

2099 Beach Ave (Corner of Beach Ave and Park Lane)

If you can’t make it down to the Park Board office, please write and register to speak by phone.

Monday night’s agenda is packed and it’s the last agenda item as a strategy to wear us down, but please hang in there. It’s our last chance to save Stanley Park before it’s too late.

Tell the Park Board in your own words that:

  • You want Stanley Park returned NOW to the way it was!
  • You are tired of the public not being listened to, their surveys and targeted consultation are biased and written to achieve the results they wanted.
  • Nothing in the report or what they are talking about even mentions the traffic snarls that will be created when the work begins in Stanley Park next year to replace Metro Vancouver water main.

Please spread the word and get your friends to sign up online to speak and come out to protest. We need a huge turn out to get our message across before it’s too late. The people of Vancouver love Stanley Park and do not want it taken away from them.

Thank you for helping save Stanley Park

Stanley Park for All Committee