[Revised, updated] INTRO: After the summer hiatus, City Hall is moving quickly on many topics this week, with two Council meetings and a Public Hearing. Here is an important topic relating to “heritage density.” More public scrutiny and analysis is important here. We are not aware of any public consultation on this proposal, or any contact with neighbourhood associations in the affected neighbourhoods, or any media coverage. There also appears to have been no independent scrutiny or assessment from the taxpayer perspective of the prices staff are proposing by which developers can purchase additional density.
MAIN STORY: The September 19 (Tuesday) Public Hearing includes Item 7 (TEXT AMENDMENT: Heritage Density Bank Update and Zoning Amendments to Support Heritage Conservation), proposing to allow a 10% increase in density (FSR, or floor space ratio), to be approved by the Director of Planning, in exchange for the developer paying $86 per sq ft ($925 per sq m).
If a developer cannot find enough heritage density to buy, it can simply make the financial contribution to the City. This proposed amount appears to be cheap considering the size of potential profits the developer can make in return.
The proposal will affect Central Broadway C3A, West End commercial C5, West End apartment areas RM5, RM5A, RM5B, RM5C, RM5D, and the Downtown Official Development Plan. Developers can already purchase heritage density for these areas, if they can find another developer that wants to sell, but the new thing here is permitting developers to buy density outright if they cannot find a vendor.
From staff report: [T]his report recommends amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law to allow for increases up to 10 percent over the permitted floor space ratio to be purchased through heritage amenity shares on a per square metre basis with contributions going to the City’s Heritage Conservation Fund.