Consultations on Surrey light rail and Broadway subway to begin week of Jan 23: Translink

Simon Little reported this morning on CKNW that consultations on Surrey light rail and Broadway subway to begin next week. Please visit CKNW for the full story. Here are some excerpts. See bottom for references and links (to be expanded). Many unresolved issues are still out there regarding the proposed Broadway Subway, including the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods’ view that a grid of transit improvements in Vancouver would provide much greater benefit at at a lower cost.

Consultations on Surrey light rail and Broadway subway to begin next week
(News Talk 980 CKNW, Simon Little. 17-Jan-2017)
http://www.cknw.com/2017/01/17/consultations-on-surrey-light-rail-and-broadway-subway-to-begin-next-week/

  • The wheels are finally in motion for a pair of hotly anticipated Metro Vancouver mass transit projects.
  • TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond says consultation will begin next week on a light rail system for Surrey, and the Broadway subway.
  • Desmond made the announcement flanked by Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, as a part of an update on phase one of the Mayors’ 10-year transit plan. [See link to Translink media release at bottom.]

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Arbutus Village redevelopment about to begin (Naoibh O’Connor, Vancouver Courier 12-Jan-017)

arbutus-shopping-centre-google-maps-16-jan-2017

Location of Arbutus Village development site. Credit Google Maps

The Vancouver Courier and Business in Vancouver recently carried this article on a major development along Arbutus Street. We provide excerpts below. Please visit the website for the full article. For additional info from the community perspective visit the Arbutus Ridge Community Association. Liaison Councillors for the area are Heather Deal and Melissa De Genova.

Arbutus Village redevelopment about to begin
By Naoibh O’Connor/Vancouver Courier (and BIV), Jan. 12, 2017
http://www.vancourier.com/news/redevelopment-of-arbutus-village-about-to-begin-1.7151057

  • The upcoming redevelopment of Arbutus Village means neighbouring residents will be without a full-scale Safeway for about two years. Sobeys Inc., which owns Safeway, is downsizing the store during construction. The Safeway store closes Jan. 19, although the pharmacy will remain open throughout construction.
  • The project by Larco Investments Ltd. has been in the works for years. City council approved zoning to allow for a mixed-use development on the seven-acre site back in July of 2011. [CityHallWatch note – On July 13, 2011, City Council referred discussion and decision regarding the rezoning at 4255 Arbutus Street (Arbutus Centre) to Regular Council Meeting  July 14, 2011. Public Hearing agenda, video, documents here. Council meeting agenda, video, documents here.]
  • The overall project will feature 500 residential units, some of which will be affordable housing units managed by the City of Vancouver, office space, a grocery and liquor store and green space

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Heads up on Urban Design Panel, Jan 11 (Wed) 3 pm: 5733 Alberta, 105 Keefer, 1550 Alberni, sign bylaw

One of the first civic meetings of 2017 is the Urban Design Panel, on some important applications. See agenda here. For convenience, we provide the agenda below.

1. 3:15 pm Address: 5733 Alberta Street & 376–392 W 41st Avenue
Permit No.: RZ-2016-00029
Description: The proposal is for a 6-storey residential building comprised of 54 market dwelling units over 2 levels of underground parking (including 62 vehicle spaces and 84 bicycle spaces), with a maximum building height of 21.0 m (69 ft.) from grade and a floor space ratio (FSR) of 2.63. This application is being considered under the Cambie Corridor Plan.
Zoning: RS-1 to CD-1
Application Status: Rezoning Application
Review: First
Architect: GBL Architects (Daniel Eisenberg)
Staff: Zachary Bennett & Sailen Black Continue reading

New “Lonelyhomes.ca” site catalogs empty homes in Metro Vancouver region

lonelyhomes-top-page-screenshot

Screenshot of Lonelyhomes.ca website

CBC Radio this morning had an interview with Christine Boehringer, founder of Lonely Homes, a website (lonelyhomes.ca) that tracks empty homes (“positively identified houses or strata units … hat are not being lived in”) in the Greater Vancouver region. Information collected is “anonymized” to protect privacy and security, but this information could be a helpful tool to help develop a better understanding of the housing situation.

According to the website, the effort started by friends discussing the many ways lonely homes affect us. “No political party is driving it; we care about our community and want to maintain it. We are not affiliated with any government or real estate entity and we aren’t selling your email address. We’re just a small group of people who have followed all the newspaper stories and commentaries about housing in our communities.” They ask people to monitor their own neighbourhood and take two minutes to report lonely homes. The summary data by postal code “will be made available to local governments in Greater Vancouver to help drive policy and taxation planning.” As of today, 103 are indicated for the city of Vancouver.

Excerpt from site

Why are we doing this?
Lonely homes:

  • Inflate housing prices – Foreign buyers compete for homes and drive up prices well beyond the payscale of most British Columbians.
  • Raise property taxes – A higher home value means more property tax. Also, municipalities must provide services like water, sewer and garbage pick-up to vacant homes even if those services are not used. Municipalities could spend millions of tax dollars to build unnecessary infrastructure and services.

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Rezoning applications snapshot, 2-Jan-2017

105 Keefer rezoning sign

As a free public service we take a monthly snapshot of Rezoning Applications listed on the City of Vancouver website.

Below is the snapshot from December 1, 2016. Listed here are 47 “proposed” rezonings, 60 “approved,” 9 “enacted,” 3 “open houses,” 0 “public hearings” scheduled, 1 “withdrawn” application, and 5 “referred to public hearing” (but with no date set).

Deserving of special attention are the open houses and public hearings. They are important chances for the public to obtain information and give feedback. Here are the upcoming ones listed at the time of this post:

OPEN HOUSES

  • 105 Keefer Street and 544 Columbia Street (Merrick Architecture Borowski Sakumoto Fligg, for Beedie Living. This has been very controversial in the neighbourhood. Revised application. 12-storey mixed-use building with commercial uses on 1st flr, seniors’ cultural space, 25 senior social housing units on 2nd flr, 110 market residential units (i.e., condo units) from levels 3 to 12. Floor space ratio (FSR) 7.04.) – Tues, Jan 10, 2017
  • 1715 Cook (220 West 1st Avenue) (Chris Dikeakos for Cressey. 10-storey residential building – 104 “secured market rental units”) – Mon, Jan 23, 2017
  • 95 West Hastings Street (Holborn Developments, 10-storey mixed-use building. 132 units of secured market rental housing, commercial space, floor space ratio 7.62) – Thurs, 26 Jan, 2017

PUBLIC HEARINGS

  • 5 applications have been “referred to public hearing” but had no date set as of January 2, 2017.

If you as a reader see any of the rezoning applications that deserve public scrutiny, please feel free to send us an e-mail (citizenYVR@gmail.com) with your concerns and we’ll see if we can look into it further.

This list below is simply copied from the City’s Rezoning Centre website. There is no guarantee that the City’s links will continue working over time, so you are advised to download anything important. For the current official list, click: http://former.vancouver.ca/rezapps/. Note that the Archives link carries links to past rezonings from 2011 onward.

Download this list in PDF format: cov-rezoning-applications-2-jan-2017 Continue reading

Development applications snapshot, 2-Jan-2017

508 Helmcken DP sign
As a free public service CityHallWatch takes a monthly snapshot of the Development Applications listed on the City of Vancouver website.

Our count for 2-Jan-2017 shows 64 “DE” applications (excluding 18 medical marijuana-related applications), 87 “DP” applications, of which 14 are “concurrent with rezoning,” 1 revised, 1 on hold, 4 “unscheduled from the Development Permit Board.” Some may have also had a change of address, a mysterious and tricky practice.

Anyone interested in these projects is also encouraged to periodically check the Urban Design Panel (UDP) and Development Permit Board (DPB) schedules, as many projects appear before them as part of the approval pipeline. Check often, as sometimes their agendas appear publicly online just the day of the meeting. As of January 2. the DPB website shows the January 9 meeting as “cancelled,” but meetings set for Jan 23, Feb 6 and 20. The “Current Development Applications Scheduled” page, still dated Nov 4, 2016, shows nothing currently scheduled for the DPB.

(We also take rezoning application snapshots. Search for “rezoning” and “snapshot” in the CityHallWatch search field.) If you are concerned about an application and would like to publicize it or get more info, send us an e-mail at citizenyvr@gmail.com, and we might be able to look deeper. The following information is simply copied as text from the City’s site. Many links will stop working over time. For current list, click:
http://former.vancouver.ca/devapps/.

Click here for the list in PDF format: cov-development-applications-2-jan-2017

If you as a citizen would like to do one small thing to make the City more accountable, consider writing Mayor and Council asking them to make Development Applications archives available online. The City website provides a list of archived Rezoning Applications (here) going back to 2011, so why not full information on past Development Applications too?

For reference, we’ve reproduced the full list of development applications below:

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Airbnb to drop lawsuit on short-term rentals (New York, Bloomberg, 2-Dec-2016), while Vancouver reviews its own rules

The Lauren (1401 Comox)

The Lauren, at Comox and Broughton in the West End. Subsidized by taxpayers to create rental apartments, this building has been listed by Airbnb “hosts” renting out their “pied a terre.”

The “sharing economy” in some cases is underpinned by privately-held mega-corporations. Airbnb expends considerable effort lobbying politicians and influencing public opinion in order expand its market, but it creates winners and losers. After much delay, the City of Vancouver has proposed new rules for licensing short-term rentals like Airbnb (requiring owners to obtain rental permits, post them on the listing site, and pay a licensing fee). See bottom for some links.

Below are excepts of an article in Bloomberg on Airbnb dropping a lawsuit in New York.

Airbnb 

to Drop New York City Lawsuit Over Short-Term Rentals
by Joshua Brustein, Bloomberg, 2-Dec-2016
Full article: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-03/airbnb-to-drop-new-york-city-lawsuit-over-short-term-rentals

  • Official says regulators won’t go after the company directly
  • Hosts listing units for less than 30 days face $7,500 fine

Airbnb Inc. said it has agreed to drop a lawsuit against New York City challenging a law imposing penalties on people who post short-term apartment rentals in the company’s biggest U.S. market.

In exchange, regulators won’t seek to punish the company itself, said Linda Rosenthal, a state assembly member from Manhattan who has led the effort against Airbnb. Officials have said that the law was never intended to go after Airbnb directly anyway.

Rosenthal described the settlement as a full capitulation by the company. “This is an astounding about-face on the part of Airbnb, which clearly recognized that this was a foolhardy and frivolous lawsuit,” she said in an e-mailed statement. Continue reading