City Council Preview Sept 21-22, 2021: First week back, staff aim to reduce public access, towers for West End and Kits, spotlight Westbank, YITBYs, holes in ground, friendship city programme, etc.

(To be updated…) The first Park Board meeting of this fall season will be on Monday, September 27, 2021 (revised date). The agenda will go online several days in advance.

This week, Vancouver City Council will resume its first regular meetings after the summer break, with three meetings this week — a regular Council meeting on Tuesday, September 21st, a Public Hearing the same evening, and a committee meeting on Wednesday, September 22nd. Below we highlight selected topics, and further below provide the full meeting agendas (check the City website for updates).

Regular Council meeting on Tuesday, September 21st will consider

Among the key topics this day, we see the following:

  • Staff are proposing changes that, if approved, will make it more difficult for some people to address Council – in two agenda items: “2022 Council Meetings Schedule” and “Amendments to Procedure By-law No. 12577.” Related post: “Why are City staff trying to limit public access? Council to consider *daytime* public hearings and shorter time window for citizens to register to speak (Sept 21)
  • Internal Development Application and Permitting Modernization Task Force – Zoning and Development By-law Amendments to Enable Issuance of a Building Permit for Excavation and Shoring Before a Development Permit. We covered this topic when first proposed by staff a few months ago. Now it has come forward for – Related post: “Staff recommend (Jul 20) letting developers dig big holes in ground before they have development permits. What could go wrong?”
  • Several major referral reports (staff recommending rezoning applications get into the pipeline for a Public Hearing). Council can make a few comments or ask questions of staff, but the next opportunity for public comment is at the Public Hearing, likely to occur within several weeks. However, this is a good chance for concerned persons/groups to have a good look at what planning staff are proposing:
    • CD-1 Rezoning: 1157 Burrard Street – (West End) Current site of Burrard & Davie Community Garden site in the West End, 47-storey condo, 469 ft height, 13.37 FSR (exceeding the Higher Buildings Policy of 375 ft). By having a “community garden” on the site, this developer has saved millions of dollars in property taxes (putting the burden on other taxpayers) by while the land value skyrocketed. The height is far above what was originally envisioned by the already-high “Higher Buildings Policy” adopted under Vision Vancouver. Enabled by the West End Community Plan, adopted in 2013 under Vision Vancouver.
    • CD-1 Rezoning: 1450 West Georgia Street (West End) at West Georgia and Nicola, a 49-storey, 497 ft mixed condo/market rental tower (162 rental / 193 condo), FSR 14.14. Enabled by the West End Community Plan.
    • Rezoning: 427-477 West 49th Avenue (Between Cambie & Alberta on West 49th, currently zoned RS-1,
      166 ft building + podium, 3.99 FSR). Appears to violate some aspects of the Cambie Corridor Plan.
    • Rezoning: 328-360 West 2nd Avenue (and Alberta) – 152.5 ft, 6FSR in the area in the Mount Pleasant Industrial zone on 2nd Avenue that saw recent changes (up from a 60 ft height limit). 
    • CD-1 Rezoning: 4575 Granville Street – Townhouses on a site beside hospice (this is a new application after the extremely rare Council rejection of the previous application on this site)
  • Another item that may draw attention is an administrative motion by staff, Approval of Form of Development – 3701 West Broadway. This is a controversial tower at Broadway and Alma, proposed by Westbank (CEO Ian Gillespie). It already went through a Public Hearing. Nearly 4,000 people have signed a petition against it. This is the final stage of Council oversight and approval. It has undergone several iterations of bait and switch. Original public consultation was for one 6- storey building. Then it became 12. At the public hearing it was presented as a 14-storey building. The documents going before Council now present it at 17 storeys. What has changed since the public hearing? What relaxations and concessions have been negotiated and accepted by the planning department? This project merits the spotlight right now as Westbank has many past and current projects, and progressed under the oversight of previous chief planner Gil Kelley and currently Theresa O’Donnell. The document package does not provide Council or the public enough information to really scrutinize/understand the outcome.  A separate CHW post is coming on this one.
  • Motions by Council (a selection)
    • Acting on the Climate Emergency by Opposing the Tilbury LNG Phase Two Expansion Project” (by Clr Christine Boyle).  Calls on Council to take a stand to oppose this project in Delta on the Fraser River due to its climate impacts. CityHallWatch has covered the topic (Proposed LNG production/storage increase, and  Stop Tilbury LNG expansion)
    • Establishing a Friendship City Program in the City of Vancouver” (by Mayor Kennedy Stewart): Our comment. Nice idea, but with all the other issues facing Vancouver, and the current loads on City staff, do we need this now? At this point, it feels like virtue signaling.
    • Effective and Equitable Staffing for Council” (Clr Melissa De Genova): Takes aim at the Mayor’s staff privileges and huge slush fund, his opaque and nont-transparent “discretionary budget” and seeks to get more

The Public Hearing scheduled for the evening of Tuesday, September 21st, will look at six items: (1) Internal Development Application and Permitting Modernization Task Force – Zoning and Development By-law Amendments to Enable Issuance of a Building Permit for Excavation and Shoring Before a Development Permit, (2) 835-837 Beatty Street – Anglo-Canadian Warehouse Company Building – Heritage Designation, (3) Rezoning at 515 West 60th Avenue (townhouse development with a maximum FSR of 1.2), (4) Rezoning at 721-735 West 49th Avenue (to permit a townhouse development with a maximum FSR 1.20), (5) CD-1 Rezoning: 4426-4464 Knight Street and 1406 East 28th Avenue, and (6) CD-1 Rezoning: 3449-3479 West 41st Avenue and 5664 Collingwood Street. Further details of the rezonings can be found at ShapeYourCity.ca. You are encouraged to write or speak to Council if you have any comments or concerns.

Regarding the Public Hearing…
Item 1 (Building Permit for Excavation and Shoring Before a Development Permit), CityHallWatch has done a previous post. Staff recommend (Jul 20) letting developers dig big holes in ground before they have development permits. What could go wrong?” We’ve covered before what could happen if a hole is left in the ground for too long when ground collapsed at a construction site (https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2020/02/03/138-east-8th-wall-collapse/). Council needs to ensure the public safety and public coffers are protected. Perhaps developers taking this path should be required to post big bonds to cover any problems.
Item 2 (Anglo-Canadian Warehouse Company Building) is covered by Carlito Pablo in a Georgia Straight article.
Item 5 (4426-4464 Knight Street and 1406 East 28th Avenue) is to permit the development of a 6-storey residential building with 72 secured market rental housing units, including 10 live-work units. A height of 20 m (66 ft.) and FSR of 3.1. In the Georgia Straight, Carlito Pablo has looked at the expensive rental units being created despite sweet subsidies for developers.
Item 6 (3449-3479 West 41st Avenue and 5664 Collingwood Street) is to permit the development of a 6-storey residential building with 109 secured market rental housing units. A height of 21 m (69 ft.) and FSR 2.73. Interestingly, correspondence posted Sept 16 (up to 4 pm) had 74 letters in support, 0 opposed. It is interesting to note the the vast majority of support letters are from people outside the neighbourhood or outside of Vancouver, suggesting that this is really a case of YITBY activism (Yes In THEIR Back Yard). We suspect the correspondence was generated by a letter generator and invite reader tips on a link to that generator for a future CityHallWatch story to have a look at how the letters came about.

The Council Committee meeting for Wednesday, September 22nd will hear registered speakers on agenda items from the previous day, after handling Vancouver Patios and Road Reallocation Updates, Regal Hotel – Injunction and Notice on Title, Downtown East Side Special Enterprise Program – Allocation of Grant Funding to Implementers, and First United Church and Lookout Powell Street Getaway Grant Funding Recommendation.

Regarding the Regal Hotel item, some side reading: “Dan Fumano: The end of SROs in Vancouver? Minister, mayor and CEO agree. Analysis: Vancouver’s mayor, B.C.’s housing minister and a major operator of single-room occupancy hotels say SROs should be phased out.” (The Province, Dan Fumano, 20-Sep-2021)

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For reference, the meeting agendas are reproduced below:

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City Conversations No More? (City Conversations No One Else is Having #8, Brian Palmquist)

Brian is a guest writer for CityHallWatch. An architect whose career in Vancouver has spanned four decades, with projects ranging from first proposing the laneway-housing concept to serving as the managing architect on major multi-building development plans, personally designing more than 1,000 social and co-op housing units, and consulting on thousands more. Please visit this page for a list of all his articles, including this 2021 series “City Conversations No One Else is Having.”


City Conversations No One Else is Having #8
City Conversations No More?

By Brian Palmquist (first published 16-Sept-2021)

“How on earth am I going to get time off from work to speak to council at 9:30am on a weekday morning?” My son is not very political—I had never seen him so agitated.

He was talking about Vancouver city staff’s latest attempt to muzzle citizen participation in government. Just yesterday (September 15th), the city Council agendas for September 21st and 22nd had been published—yes, agendas are now regularly posted less than a week before the event. I will leave you to muse about who benefits from such a short fuse council meeting.

“I share your annoyance,” I responded. “Historically, we’ve had public hearings in the evenings so folks could sign up to be heard—in fact, the previous deadline to sign up to speak was 8:30am on the morning of such an evening meeting. It’s now being proposed as noon of the day before, including any accompanying visuals.”

“So what’s changed?” he asked, “And why has it changed—I can’t believe it’s as bad as you first laid it out.” I think he was beginning to regret our regular bike rides around False Creek—I always brought up the latest political outrage as we breakfasted before setting off.

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Why are City staff trying to limit public access? Council to consider *daytime* public hearings and shorter time window for citizens to register to speak (Sept 21)

(Update 2 – After considerable Council discussion plus calls in from Citizens, the result was that time windows to sign up to speak to Council were maintained at 1 hour before a meeting. It took a lot of effort to maintain the status quo. Thanks to all who contacted Mayor/Council on this. Regarding times for reconvened Council meetings, apparently, they remain as-is at 6 pm. More will be clear when the Council minutes are posted.) 

(Update 1 – There was indeed an error on the original City agenda page, and it appears to have been corrected. Now By-law No. “12577” is correctly indicated in the “Public Notice” at the top. CityHallWatch comment – even though this notice says that “Council will give consideration to amend Procedure By-law No. 12577 at the Council meeting on October 5, 2021” we believe the NOW is the time to oppose the changes being proposed. Read on, our revised post …)

Two important items are on the City Council agenda for September 21 that could have a big impact on the ability of the public to speak to Council.

See Communications (2. Changes to 2021 Council Meetings Schedule, and 3. 2022 Council Meetings Schedule): City staff are proposing changes in Council schedules for the balance of 2021 and for 2022 to allow reconvened Public Hearings (i.e., Public Hearing “Reserve” dates) to start as early as 9:30 am on a weekday.

Have a look at how staff are piling up so many reserve dates for July 2022 (below). What is going on here?

 

In October of 2020, staff had brought forward a meeting schedule that included daytime slots for reconvened Public Hearings. An amendment was passed by a thin majority on Council to ensure that reconvened Public Hearings would start at 6 pm or later (to apply to the 2021 Meeting Schedule). The minutes of the October 20, 2020 record that Councillors Boyle, Carr, Fry, Wiebe and Mayor Stewart were opposed to the amendment. Staff are now reviving their attempt by asking Council to approve a Council meeting schedule for 2022 that would include reconvened Public Hearings to be held during the daytime. For context, when a Public Hearing is packed with items and/or one item raises a lot of public concern, the meeting will not be able to finish during the originally scheduled time. The point is that people want their elected officials to hear them. Daytime meetings typically reduce the convenience for members of the public, though they may be more convenient for staff and elected officials. 

And for the next issue, see Reports (1. Amendments to Procedure By-law No. 12577): Staff are seeking Council approval to change the cutoff day and time for registration when a person wishes to speak to a motion or report in Council. Currently speakers can sign up one hour before the relevant Council meeting starts, but staff are proposing this be changed to noon of the previous day.

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‘The Killing of Alma Blackwell’: Jak King laments how upzoning affordable and mature housing stock can trigger demolition and displacement

Reprinted from original, with permission from Jak King. We have bolded a couple spots for emphasis and provided additional links and comments at bottom.

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The Killing of Alma Blackwell
(Post by Jak King, 14-Sept-2021)

In the early 1980s, a small group of women decided they needed a safe affordable place to live and to develop a community for women and their children. To achieve their ends, they established a Housing Society called “Entre Nous Femmes” which eventually built and developed the 46-unit Alma Blackwell housing project at 1656 Adanac Street, named after the grandmother of one of the group’s founders.

Alma Blackwell rapidly became the community the founders hoped for. Many women in need and their children lived in the housing project, often for decades. It has continued to thrive as a community and its success created the ability for the Housing Society to build more and more similar projects until today, ENF has eleven buildings in Vancouver.

Although not legally structured as a co-op, the ENF project operated within that milieu: the residents helped build and maintain the buildings, and controlled the Society. However, as the years passed, the governance became more and more removed from the residents, more distant, until today the residents are not only not allowed to be directors of the society, and are routinely refused access to the Society’s minutes, they even find it difficult to find out who is a director of their Society.

That change in governance has been matched by the recent unwillingness of the Society to maintain the property in a fit and livable manner. Moreover, a number of vacancies have occurred over the last couple of years which the Society has seen fit not to fill — even while the City suffers its worst ever housing crisis. This led to suspicions that something big was afoot — but the Society would not explain to the residents except to suggest that the Society did not have the funds needed to keep the building in good repair. When asked for details of the repair costs, the Society refused to respond to residents’ requests.

In April this year, Vancouver City Council approved a motion [link to Public Hearing here] that doubled the height of buildings allowed in certain zones, including the RM-3A zone in which Alma Blackwell sits. Almost immediately thereafter, plans to demolish Alma Blackwell and replace it with a much larger building were bruited and the residents were given, by a consultant hired by the Society, an unofficial official eviction notice.

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All-candidates forum to tackle transportation and land-use issues (Monday, 13-Sept, 3 pm)

Image credit: Moving in a Livable Region

2021 Federal Election All Candidates’ Forum on Mobility and Land-Use in Metro Vancouver
Host: Moving in a Livable Region
When: Online, 3 pm, Monday, September 13, 2021
Who: NDP: Anjali Appadurai, Green Party: Imtiaz Popat, Liberal Party: Josh Vander Vies
Moderator: Shauna Sylvester

Link to sign up – https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/fed-elxn-2021-all-candidate-forum-mobility-and-land-use-in-metro-vancouver-tickets-168788341473

Vancouver Sun will livestream- https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/all-candidates-forum-to-tackle-transportation-and-land-use-issues

All-candidates forum to tackle transportation and land-use issues
This is a virtual event put on by SFU and Moving in a Livable Region, and will be live streamed on The Vancouver Sun’s website.

Representatives from the four major federal parties have been invited to participate in a virtual forum this Monday to discuss mobility and land-use issues in Metro Vancouver.

The all-candidates forum is being hosted by Moving In A Livable Region (https://www.movinginalivableregion.ca/), a consortium of local, regional and provincial representatives, transportation groups, environmental organizations, business groups, academics and others. Its goal is to build a more “resilient, equitable, economically strong and healthy” region.

As of Friday, three candidates had confirmed plans to attend: Anjali Appadurai, the NDP candidate in Vancouver-Granville; Imtiaz Popat, the Green candidate in Vancouver-Granville; and Josh Vander Vies, the Liberal Party representative in Vancouver-East.

Quoting from Vancouver Sun article: “The purpose of the event and what we’re hoping the public in Metro Vancouver walk away with is a deeper understanding of where the different parties lie with respect to mobility and land-use issues that mean the most to people and affect them on a day-to-day basis as they move, live, work, play in Metro Vancouver,” said Jude Crasta, program manager for Moving In A Livable Region.

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Bombshell: Vancouver’s chief planner admits City has no comprehensive inventory of zoned and development capacity on which to base policy (Ms. O’Donnell to Prof. Rose)

This could be one of our most important posts ever on CityHallWatch. It may seem rather like “inside baseball” and urban planning jargon, but it is deeply relevant to our housing, the shape and look of our communities and neighbourhoods, and to life itself in Vancouver.

At last, after months and years of requests, the City of Vancouver via its chief planner (Theresa O’Donnell) has dropped a bombshell, admitting that

“… the Planning Department does not have the robust analytics or data storage
of a fully functional GIS (geographical information system)
infrastructure for land use and policy.
I do not believe we have been clear on this fact.”

Effectively, her letter states that
– a crucial piece of evidence presented to City Council (see Fig. 6.1), purportedly showing the City’s zoned and development capacity from 1991 to 2041, is misleading and based on essentially made-up information, and
– the City of Vancouver really has no comprehensive inventory (past, present, or estimated future) of zoned capacity and development capacity.

Why is this all so important? Because proper data is needed to develop proper policy and make proper decisions. The City of Vancouver is always engaged in a significant number of development and rezoning applications, and is currently considering many major planning initiatives — the citywide Vancouver Plan, the Broadway Corridor Plan, Streamlining Rental (to allow up to six stories within one block of all arterial streets), False Creek South, Marine Landing, Regulation Redesign, Metro Vancouver Regional Context Statement, and much, much more (for a sampling, see the Shape Your City website, https://shapeyourcity.ca/).

How can a municipal government push ahead with all of these major initiatives without having sound data for its policies and decisions?

Below, first we look at the importance of this August 20, 2021 letter from Theresa O’Donnell (General Manager, Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability, City of Vancouver) to John Rose (Professor, Kwantlen Polytechnic University). Then, the text of the letter, and finally, some more detailed commentary. For more background, please refer to our posts “Can we have the data now? Prof John Rose writes Vancouver’s new chief planner” (June 5, 2021) and “Show us the data! Planning staff failed to answer Council request for data on ‘Recalibrating the Housing Vancouver Strategy post COVID-19’ – Memo by Clr Hardwick” (18-Sept-2020).

The bigger story goes back a few elections, Councils, and chief planners. In fact, Vancouver is now on its fourth chief planner (after Brent Toderian, Brian Jackson, and Gil Kelley) since CityHallWatch was first launched in 2010, and Vancouver has seen a huge amount of rezoning and development, but this is the first time to get such an admission of the shortcomings of data being used as the basis for all planning in Vancouver.

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Development applications snapshot 1-Sept-2021

Example of a development application 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.

IMPORTANT: In recent months, the City has completely 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 changes have reduced information transparency and accessibility. On Shape Your City, you only see the applications the City wants you to see right now and the rest of the information disappears. We will do a separate analysis of that at a later date.

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 stopped providing a map showing applications, so we must now create our own static snapshot version using Google Maps. Click HERE to see the current map.

Listed below (generated by webscraping shapeyourcity.ca as the City no longer updates their addresses and links on development.vancouver.ca or vancouver.ca/devapps webpages): Continue reading

Rezoning applications snapshot, 1-Sept-2021

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.

IMPORTANT: In recent months, the City has completely 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 changes have reduced information transparency and accessibility. On Shape Your City, you only see the applications the City wants you to see right now and the rest of the information disappears. The City has essentially made it impossible for web crawlers their new “Shape Your City” portal. We will do a separate analysis of that at a later date.

We’ve created our own static snapshot version map using Google Maps. Click HERE to see the current map for Sept 2021.

Below is our list of rezoning applications created as of 1-Sept-2021. Continue reading

All About Affordability, Part 1 (City Conversations No One Else is Having #6, Brian Palmquist)

Brian is a guest writer for CityHallWatch. An architect whose career in Vancouver has spanned four decades, with projects ranging from first proposing the laneway-housing concept to serving as the managing architect on major multi-building development plans, personally designing more than 1,000 social and co-op housing units, and consulting on thousands more. Please visit this page for a list of all his articles, including this 2021 series “City Conversations No One Else is Having.”

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City Conversations No One Else is Having #6
All About Affordability, Part 1

By Brian Palmquist (first published 27-Aug-2021)

An Alternative Approach to Affordability

“What’s the most fundamental issue facing BC and Vancouver today?” our nominal chair asked. “Let’s go around the (Zoom) table.”

It was near the end of our weekly civic affairs Zoom happy hour…and who thought those words would ever appear together in the 21st century? The chair liked to enliven events with the occasional zinger.

There was a brief pause while folks gathered their thoughts.

“Transportation issues, everything from rapid transit to bike/car/pedestrian conflict.” Our thoughtful transportation member jumped in with focused assuredness.

“Drugs, the opioid crisis and homelessness,” added a member involved in those thankless areas.

“Poor land use and planning,” chimed in our self-described urban planning wonk.

“Climate change and action.” Several nodded at this one.

“Better schools, daycare, supports for families and seniors.” That was a handful.

“Business support at all levels, including for neighbourhoods.” From the broad (climate) to the local, we were getting it all out there.

Meanwhile, I’d been thinking. I like to make things as simple as I can—that way I might begin to understand them.

“It’s all about affordability.” I like alliteration, three A’s appealed to me. There was a pause, then several spoke up with the garbledness that Zoom sometimes creates.

“Yes, affordability and livability; and walk/bike neighbourhoods; and viable local business; and the 10-minute walkable city.” I let the buzz die down.

“To repeat,” I continued, “It’s all about affordability. All those other elements are important, but without affordability they won’t exist in the long run, can’t be added, mitigated or maintained. I was talking with a younger person recently who I thought was passionate about climate change, until she interjected into our conversation, Climate change doesn’t matter if I can’t make rent! That took me aback and got me thinking outside my privileged boomer comfort.”

I was building up a head of steam now. “Does anybody here not know at least one friend or family, son, daughter or sibling who has been driven out of Vancouver by its unaffordability?” Quiet Zoom nods. “And it’s happening all across the country, accelerated by COVID-19—people moving from big cities to suburbs; suburbs to smaller cities and towns; smaller centres to rural enclaves. It’s one thing if people are choosing to move away for career or lifestyle reasons, quite another if they are forced to because they can’t afford to stay. There’s also a significant knock-on effect, where this diaspora then makes homes more expensive to buy or rent for existing residents of smaller centres.”

“That’s why I say it’s all about affordability. If we don’t solve that, we solve nothing else of lasting consequence.”

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When will it be too late for Vancouver? Part 2 (City Conversations No One Else is Having #5, Brian Palmquist)

Brian is a guest writer for CityHallWatch. An architect whose career in Vancouver has spanned four decades, with projects ranging from first proposing the laneway-housing concept to serving as the managing architect on major multi-building development plans, personally designing more than 1,000 social and co-op housing units, and consulting on thousands more. Please visit this page for a list of all his articles, including this 2021 series “City Conversations No One Else is Having.”

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City Conversations No One Else is Having #5
When Will it be too Late for Vancouver? – Part
2
By Brian Palmquist (first published 17-Aug-2021)

“When will it be too late for Vancouver?” Rob had asked during our regular Zoom meeting to discuss Vancouver happenings and politics. We had worked our way through the minefields of Community Amenity Contributions (CACs) and Development Cost Levies (DCLs), were now moving on to weightier subjects.

Rob observed, “So this CAC/DCL bait and switch may explain why neighbourhoods are confused and upset when they bear the costs of new or redevelopment, such as pressure on schools, parks and daycare, not to mention roads and transit. They may seldom see the benefits they assumed would flow to their neighbourhood from the CACs and DCLs charged for the privilege of adding new homes, offices or commercial development.”

“Got it in one,” I continued. “Until about 2009, the costs of running the city departments that grant Development and Building permits were pretty much covered by the fees charged for those permits—not the CACs or DCLs, just the development, building and trade permit fees for processing permits to design and construct, which are additional to CACs and DCLs. The detailed Development and Building permit fees, taken together, paid the cost of running the departments that managed the process. In fact, they often returned some excess revenue to the general city coffers. I hope you agree there is nothing wrong with a city department charging what it needs to cover its day-to-day operations, with a small rainy-day surplus to cover the lean years.” Rob nodded. “But that’s not how it’s turned out in the past decade.” I continued.

“By 2010, various city departments led by Planning started expanding their staff and programs dramatically, with their increased operational costs funded somewhat by increased property taxes, but mostly from the pot of CAC/DCL money, which had become general revenue in 2009 instead of being reserved for affected neighbourhoods. In just the past 5 years planning staff have increased by more than 200 full time positions—as a simple tax paying citizen, I can’t find out how many total staff they have, but 200 more is a lot!”

I was getting a head of steam now. “How to grow the pie to feed the staff and program proliferation? Grow the number and scale of projects, of course. And that’s been happening. In a recent analysis, I identified almost 32,000 new homes in various stages of development through rezoning, mostly comprised of mega projects—and I know I missed some, because folks keep telling me what I missed.”

Rob raised his Zoom hand, asked: “What’s important about the 32,000 number?”

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