City agendas for week of Dec 12: City Council, Park Board, Urban Design Panel, DPB: JOA, 2017 budget, appointments, DCL waivers, public hearing, Joyce, transpo, art gallery…

Captain VancouverBelow are links to agendas for the week of December 12, 2016. Later we will add more content.

We encourage citizens to scan through agendas for any items important to them.

Conspicuously absent is an important task force report that was expected in December (see Vancouver’s Independent Election Task Force: What’s happening now?). Also it seems Council has never received the report back from a former senior staffer who was sent to Ottawa on taxpayer funds to lobby the federal government for Vancouver (see Where’s Mike (Magee)? Former City Chief of Staff, current “Special Advisor to the Mayor.” Time up Sept 1?).

Today we would also like to give special mention to Metro Vancouver (GVRD). The December 9 Board meeting was cancelled, and the official website calendar for 2017 is entirely blank of meetings. Twenty four hours after a direct inquiry, Metro Vancouver still has been unable to respond by providing the dates of board meetings for January 2017 and beyond.

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Vancouver Park Board, Monday, Dec 12, 2016 (7 pm)
http://parkboardmeetings.vancouver.ca/2016/20161212/index.htm

  • Main item: Community Centre Association Joint Operating Agreement (download PDF).

CHW comment: This is very controversial, with a long history, and has had a lot of media coverage. See our recent post: Community Centre Associations disappointed with Vancouver Park Board’s ‘continued refusal to address community needs’ in draft Joint Operating Agreement. We hope the Park Board will be be fair in its dealings. If you have a comment for your elected Park Board Commissioners, perhaps send them a note (see contact list here).

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Vancouver City Council – Regular Council, Tuesday, Dec 13, 2016, 9:30 am
http://council.vancouver.ca/20161213/regu20161213ag.htm

Selected topics (see official agenda for all, about 50 items in total, including bylaws):

 

  • 2017 Capital and Operating Budget
  • Appointments for January 1 to December 31, 2017: Standing Committee Chairs and Vice-Chairs, and Nomination Sub-Committee; Council Representatives to Vancouver Public Library Board and Statutory Committees; Council Representatives to Regional Bodies; Deputy Mayor, Acting Mayor, and Roster of Councillors to Represent Council
  • Funding Applications for Active Transportation Projects and Community Energy Project
  • Temporary Heritage Protection of 4255 West 12th Avenue
  • Facilitating Growth in Vancouver’s Innovation Economy – Railtown – Zoning and Development By-law Amendments for I-4 (Historic Industrial) District
  • New Street Name – Maxine Lane

MOTIONS

  • Culture: Fourth Pillar of Sustainability
  • Action to Speed Refugee Arrivals
  • Investigating DCL Waivers  (Councillor Adriane Carr)
  • Update Special Events Policy
  • DCL Waiver Independent Third Party Inquiry (Councillor George Affleck)

Continue reading

City releases investigation findings on mistaken $1.5 million DCL waiver for Onni

SadhuJohnston, CoV photo, web, Mar-2016

Sadhu Johnston, City Manager

This is part of a developing story. The City of Vancouver has released its official report about a waiver of $1.5 million in development cost levies (DCLs) which should have never been granted to Onni Developments.

 

The City Manager (Sadhu Johnston) deserves kudos for facing this issue, acting promptly, and making the result public quickly. The timing of this report is important, as there are two motions for City Council next Tuesday (see agenda) calling for an investigation. At the same meeting, City Council is to approve the 2017 city budget, with tax increases. Taxpayers will want to know that developers have all been charged the proper fees and levies.

Further below we provide the text of the City’s official statement plus the seven-page report by the City’s Chief Risk Officer.

For background, see our previous post, which includes media links and background (Councillor Carr to ask City Council to investigate in context of “mysterious” $1.5 million DCL waiver for developer, 6-Dec-2016).

To be quick here are tweets by investigative reporter Tanya Beja (Global News) who broke the original story, showing her tweeted responses to the report. A crucial point is that the person who wrongly granted the $1.5 million waiver was not interviewed for this review. Public trust is based on trust and verify. Perhaps further investigation is needed to verify that all is proper. Note also that the review of 29 projects that received waivers under the rental construction incentive program is to be completed in January 2017.

 

Download “Review of DCL Waiver Issue for the Charleson Project,” by Robert Bartlett, Chief Risk Officer, City of Vancouver: cov-dcl-wavier-report-chief-risk-officer-8-dec-2016

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Information Bulletin by City of Vancouver, 9-Dec-2016 (bold is by CityHallWatch)

City releases its findings on DCL Waiver issue

The City of Vancouver has completed its review of the Development Cost Levy (DCL) Waiver issue for the Charleson Project located at 1396/1398 Richards Street and is releasing those findings including recommendations to ensure this does not happen again. Continue reading

Community Centre Associations disappointed with Vancouver Park Board’s ‘continued refusal to address community needs’ in draft Joint Operating Agreement

Killarney Community CentreCommunity centres play a precious role in Vancouver’s neighbourhoods and have a long history of volunteerism. There is a crucial relationship between the City (Park Board) and the associations that have for generations been intimately involved in their community centres.

After controversy and many months of negotiation, today the City of Vancouver is going public with a cheery announcement that “Vancouver Park Board delivers renewed Joint Operating Agreement document to Community Centre Association partners” (See link here). The Park Board is holding a briefing for media this morning. Here is the official link to the City’s web page on the draft JOA.

But not all is rosy. This has been a long road to get to here, and after arduous negotiations and a lawsuit against the City, 15 Community Centre Associations (CCAs) have issued a joint statement expressing disappointment in the current draft agreement (which the City has labelled as “final”). We provide text of the CCA statement below, which points out five main concerns: dispute resolution, membership, financial costs, multiple provisions for termination of the relationship, and association governance and autonomy.

Of note:

Related media coverage:

SCHEDULE: According to the City’s website, the agreement will be presented to the public and commissioners at the December 12 Park Board meeting (see agenda for PDF staff report). A special public meeting will be held on January 25 where speakers may be heard, after which the Board of Commissioners will vote on adopting the new agreement. If adopted, the signing deadline for CCAs is March 1 and with the new JOA slated to take effect June 1, 2017.

From Vancouver Sun article: “The 15 associations unhappy with the draft plan are Champlain, Douglas Park, False Creek, Hastings, Kerrisdale, Killarney, Kitsilano, Mount Pleasant, Renfrew, Roundhouse, Thunderbird, Trout Lake, Strathcona, West End and West Point Grey.” Also, … “the 15 associations had asked for a meeting with commissioners to discuss their concerns before the plan formally goes before the board Monday, but have been rebuffed.”

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Joint statement from 15 CCAs, 5-Dec-2016

Community Centre Associations cite disappointment over Vancouver Park Board’s continued refusal to address community needs in Joint Operating Agreement

From a Vancouver, B.C. – After a three-hour meeting over the weekend (Sat, Dec. 3) with Vancouver Park Board staff to review a Joint Operating Agreement (JOA), a group from 15 Community Centre Associations (CCAs) is publicly stating their disappointment that their extensive input and feedback has essentially been ignored. The CCAs say that they are worried about what happens next because, while progress has been made with the JOA, there is concern that the Park Board has identified this draft as “final” and CCAs have been told that if they don’t sign, they will be terminated. Continue reading

Councillor Carr to ask City Council to investigate in context of “mysterious” $1.5 million DCL waiver for developer

vancouver-greens-adriane-carr-photo-6-dec-2016The Green Party of Vancouver has issued a media advisory today saying that Councillor Adriane Carr has submitted a motion for the Vancouver City Council meeting of December 13, 2016 on the topic of the “mysterious” waiver of a Development Cost Levy (DCL) at 1396/1398 Richards Street.

The story was first exposed by Global TV journalist Tanya Beja on November 30 (City of Vancouver says it mistakenly gave $1.5M break to real estate developer, with video), and has since been covered by other media. In brief, Onni (a major developer in Vancouver and North America) received a waiver of $1.5 million dollars in DCLs it should have paid for approval to build the 43-storey Charleson building at the corner of Richards Street and Pacific Avenue in Vancouver. The firm did not officially request the waiver, and should not have received it.

According to Global TV, “The Charleson,” a mixed condo and rental project in downtown Vancouver, has been subsidized by taxpayers without their knowledge or city council’s consent. “The city’s Rental 100 policy offers builders waivers on their construction levies, known as DCLs, if their residential project is entirely rental. Onni’s project included strata condos, so it didn’t qualify.”

Multiple staffers had to sign off on the deal before the waiver was granted. City manager Sadhu Johnston was quoted saying the City will “look back at all the emails, the forms, the communications to understand where that slip-up may have happened.” Johnston also said the City will be reviewing all 30 projects that have gone through the waiver program (under Rental 100, an incentive program to build market-priced rentals).

If there were 30 mistakes at $1.5 million each, the shortfall in city coffers could be $45 million. City Council will hold a Special City Council meeting on the 2017 Capital and Operating Budget, starting 9:30 am on Wednesday, December 7, with live web video. Councillor Carr’s motion is for December 13, but taxpayers should hope that this topic of DCL waivers will come up in the meeting.

We note that prominent developers  can be involved in numerous major projects every year with each municipality, and the relationships can exist for decades (outlasting civic political regimes and city staff careers), so each city decision needs to be seen in the context of a much deeper, longer relationship.

Below we provide related media links, plus the actual text of Councillor Carr’s motion calling for an explanation of the discrepancy in addresses associated with the development approval versus DCL waiver and “which City staff, through what legal means, have discretionary authority to over-ride a Council decision on the matter of a DCL waiver.” Continue reading

Tips for citizens to reach City about snow and ice conditions

snowman at Trout Lake

An example of snow in Vancouver

This morning, the City of Vancouver issued a fresh information bulletin saying “Snow mitigation work continues overnight.” (See below for text.)

Some takeaways for citizens if you notice a problem:

  • Crews respond to “hot spots” and requests that came in through the 3-1-1 phone line.
  • Connect with the City of Vancouver on the go, 24 hours a day, seven days a week on the VanConnect App. Use the app to report snow causing flooding, issues with transit shelter access, uncleared sidewalks, and any other street maintenance issues. Download the app at the AppStore, Google Play, or for Blackberry at vancouver.ca/vanconnect.
  • More information about how to prepare for winter weather: vancouver.ca/snow.

Information Bulletin from City of Vancouver, 6-Dec-2016

With temperatures dropping to below freezing last night, City of Vancouver crews continued to add salt to roads and sidewalks to mitigate icy conditions for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists during today’s morning commute. Citizens are reminded to take extra time to get to where they are going and to be cautious. Continue reading

Rezoning applications snapshot, 1-Dec-2016

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 42 “proposed” (up from 41 last month), 56 “approved” (down from 60), 8 “enacted” (up from 7), 2 “open houses” mentioned (down from 3), and 6 “public hearings” (up from 4), and 1 “withdrawn” (same), and 6 “referred to public hearing.”

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

  • 4138 Cambie (6-storey condo, plus townhouses  – 22 units) – Tue, Dec 6, 2016
  • 5110 Cambie (6-storey condo – 12 units)  – Tue, Dec 6, 2016
  • 1715 Cook (220 West 1st Avenue) (10-storey residential building – 104 “secured market rental units”) – Mon, Jan 23, 2017

PUBLIC HEARINGS

  • 151-157 West 41st Ave (4 and 2.5 storeys, 15 units) – Tue, Dec 13
  • 1001-1015 Denman (change of street-level use, commercial) – Tue, Dec 13
  • 1030 Denman (Coast Plaza Hotel & Suites, enable conversion of second and third floors of existing building to a 68-room boutique hotel) – Tue, Dec 13
  • 5050-5080 Joyce (30-storey mixed-use building with 256 residential units) – Tue, Dec 13
  • 4066 Macdonald & 2785 Alamein (two 3-storey buildings, incl. 8 residential units) – Tue, Dec 13

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-1-dec-2016 Continue reading

Development applications snapshot, 1-Dec-2016

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 December 1, 2016 shows 64 “DE” applications (excluding 15 medical marijuana-related applications), 75 “DP” applications (excluding 1 medical marijuana-related). Of the total, 15 are “concurrent with rezoning,” 1 is revised, 1 is on hold, 3 are “unscheduled from the Development Permit Board,” and some may have also had a change of address.

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 today, only one item (1345 Davie, December 12) is on the DPB future schedule.

(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-1-dec-2016

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: Continue reading