(Updated with references at bottom)
Consider this another mini-case study of how planning is currently being done in the City of Vancouver. It is by no means an exception these days.
Below is an open letter we received from the West Kitsilano Residents Association. The existing zoning in this area was the result of an extensive public consultation process over the course of years in the early 1990s, culminating in a mail-in referendum for 100% of residents. In contrast, in the final few months of the current regime in 2018, changes to zoning are buried in huge reports, come forward with no direct notification to affected residents, include important changes introduced by a last-minute motion by Mayor Robertson (not even fellow Councillors would have known it was coming), and could be quietly and quickly approved by City Council during the summer holiday season. Below is an analysis of the situation that could soon affect RT-7 and RT-8 zones within a matter of weeks. At present, no one knows exactly when this will go to a Public Hearing, there are guesses it could be as soon as late August after just one information meeting.
WKRA is raising concerns about a possible increase in demolitions, loss of existing affordable housing, loss of character homes and more. Stay tuned.
Excerpt: Many residents are open to the idea of reviewing the current RT-7 and RT-8 by-laws to determine if changes are needed, but we need an open process that gives residents a say in the kind of changes to be introduced and a deeper, more thoughtful analysis of the potential impacts of those changes. (West Kitsilano Residents Association)
“Residents react to stealthy zoning changes for their neighbourhood”
(Open letter from West Kitsilano Residents Association, July 14, 2018)
Have you heard of the City’s proposed changes to zoning regulations for Kitsilano and other areas? Would you like to be consulted before such changes are approved?
Over a period of several years in the 1990s, hundreds of Kitsilano residents took part in a neighbourhood zoning review and and worked with the city to create a new RT7 and RT8 zoning by-law that reflected the high value that residents placed on the character and heritage of their neighbourhood and that has governed development ever since.
This zoning was in response to the demolition of many character and heritage houses and their replacement with new duplexes that usually had fewer units and fewer people. The new zoning encouraged the reuse and recycling of character houses into multiple ground oriented units rather than their demolition and redevelopment.
Since their adoption, these by-laws turned the RT-7 and RT-8 zoned areas of Kitsilano (both West Kitsilano west of Larch and the Kitsilano Arbutus area east and west of Arbutus Street) into examples used by many urban commentators as to how density can be absorbed into a neighbourhood while retaining green space, character and heritage. The zoning has led to a variety of housing outcomes with some houses becoming strata conversions into 2 to 4 or 5 units per house and some on larger lots adding infill units. Others have various rental and ownership/rental combinations and many non-character sites have had new development. This RT-7 and RT-8 by-law dramatically slowed the loss of many affordable rental units. New development follows design guidelines in order to be compatible with the existing architecture. Continue reading