Vancouver Council 11 Feb (Tue) & 12 Feb (Wed): Agendas, links, commentary

COV council in chambers 2018

Official City Council photo circa 2018. Credit: CoV

Vancouver City Clerk (@vancityclerk) has posted City Council agenda for Tuesday Feb 11 and Wednesday Feb 12.

 

It can be hard to sift through everything, so as a service to citizens, below CityHallWatch provide excerpts of the agendas and will populate this page with relevant links and commentary if/when they come to us. We generally highlight items relating to urban planning plus accountability at City Hall. We encourage citizens to communicate with Council on topics that concern you. See the agenda links for how to watch and contact Council.

You can always check the official past and future agendas and minutes here:
https://vancouver.ca/your-government/city-council-meetings-and-decisions.aspx

The official agendas for the coming week are as follows:

1. Regular Council, Tuesday, 11-Feb-2020
https://council.vancouver.ca/20200211/regu20200211ag.htm

Some items of special note:

  • Debate/decision on Motion “Making it Easier for the Public to Speak at Council Meetings” and Motion “Election Finance: Transparent Funding in Local Politics
  • Several admin motions for developments, including 1906 W4th, 431 West King Edward, 1500 West Georgia/1515 Alberni, 589 W59th (Pearson Dogwood Parcel E)
  • Council motions (partial):
    3. Transparency and Accountability at Little Mountain
    4. Cultural Spaces Rent Bank
    5. Including Pedestrians in Vancouver’s Snow Protocol and Response
    6. Recognizing January 27th as International Holocaust Remembrance Day
    7. City of Vancouver LGBTQ2+ Advisory Committee – Renaming Consideration
    8. Independent Auditor General Sub-Committee

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2. Standing Committee on Policy and Strategic Priorities
https://council.vancouver.ca/20200212/pspc20200212ag.htm

Item of special note:

  • Approval of Change Order to Construction Agreement PS20190021 –
    Construction Services for the Granville Bridge Rehabilitation

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Opinion: TransLink SkyTrain Business Case Hoax – letter sent to PM & Premier on SkyTrain to UBC proposal

Arbutus to UBC SkyTrain map 2020

This proposed costly Arbutus to UBC Skytrain extension to UBC is definitely NOT supported by everyone.

CHW obtained a copy of this letter from Malcom Johnston, a 35-year advocate for user friendly, cost effective transit), sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and others, before Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart headed to Ottawa seeking federal money for a “SkyTrain to UBC” as announced in Jan 29 joint media event (reported here).  At the media event, the Mayor said is next task was to raise money to study the business case for SkyTrain to UBC.

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“TransLink SkyTrain Business Case Hoax”

[Sent 3-Feb-2020 to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Federal Minister of Transport Marc Garneau, BC Premier John Horgan, BC Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Claire Trevena, and BC Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson.]

“It is interesting how TransLink has used this cunning method of manipulating analysis to justify SkyTrain in corridor after corridor, and has thus succeeded in keeping its proprietary rail system expanding. In the US, all new transit projects that seek federal support are now subjected to scrutiny by a panel of transit peers, selected and monitored by the federal government, to ensure that projects are analyzed honestly, and the taxpayer interests are protected. No SkyTrain project has ever passed this scrutiny in the US.”

The preceding is the final paragraph of a letter in which American transit expert, Gerald Fox, shredded the Evergreen Line’s so called business case in 2008

The same is true today for the business case to extend SkyTrain in Surrey and Vancouver.

There can be no honest business case for SkyTrain since 1982, when the Toronto Transit Commission’s ART Study was released, which showed that ICTS (the first name of what is erroneously called SkyTrain) “could cost up to ten times more to install than light rail, for about the same capacity

No business case because modern light rail would always be cheaper, more user-friendly and just as efficient, with the bonus of having higher capacity and far more flexibility in operation, which is so important in today’s transit planning. Continue reading

Sudden increase? Westbank ?? storey tower revised proposal for Broadway & Alma: Rezoning open house 13-Feb-2020 (Thu)

3701-3743 West Broadway at Alma rezoning image Feb 2020

City Rezoning Open House for 3701-3743 West Broadway (at Alma St.)
February 13, 2020 (Thursday)
5 – 8 pm
St. James Community Square (3214 West 10th Avenue)

Intro: The public and professionals in the urban development community have the right to get some clear answers on this proposed project by Westbank Projects Corp. What discussions have gone on behind the scenes? It’s time for some spotlights. The project was initially proposed and public input sought for 6 storeys. Quietly, the proposal later rose to 12 and now 14 storeys. The city’s website currently indicates a height of 172 feet (that would typically be equivalent to 17 storeys, and indeed the drawings appear to show 17 storeys). When we first made our post, the City’s feedback form and developer’s drawings indicated 220 feet (equivalent to 22 storeys). Upon inquiry, on Feb 10 we got a response that the feedback page was incorrect, will be corrected, and that the proposal is for 52.63 m (172.7 ft) and that represents 14 storeys. Further clarification is awaited from the City regarding the height, counted in number of storeys, in the application.

[Update 5 – See discussion on height in the comments section. We await a written response from the City and/or Westbank official explanation/confirmation of the facts. Meanwhile, more content added below.]

This rezoning would set a major precedent for the neighbourhood. Is the public consultation going to be adequate in extent and in good faith? Within just a couple blocks sit two major development sites currently sitting empty except for so-called “community gardens,” which are saving the property owners millions of dollars in property taxes. What happens with this Westbank site at Broadway and Alma will likely set a precedent and lock-in developer expectations for those two sites, and many more along a hypothetical transit route. This project could trigger land price escalation in the entire area, driving out small businesses and driving up speculation. Council needs to discuss all of this with eyes wide open and put the long-term public interest first.  If the $4.6 billion (likely to dramatically increase) in funding for an Arbutus to UBC SkyTrain never comes due to the many competing transit priorities (federal, provincial, and regional), the local communities could be looking at many new towers, but no major transit improvements.

Does this proposal prove that a development frenzy is the guaranteed outcome of any talk about a Broadway subway? The application is being considered under the “Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program.”

The “Broadway Subway” segment from VCC Clark to Arbutus Street is still many years away.  The proposed SkyTrain extension to UBC is estimated now at $4.6 billion but likely to come in at double that amount if it ever gets built. Who pays for all this? Riders and taxpayers.

The proposed rezoning includes (from current data on City website):

  • a total of 153 secured rental units (with 20% of the residential floor area assigned to moderate income households);
  • commercial uses at grade;
  • a total floor space ratio (FSR) of 5.3;
  • a total floor area of 11,537.4 sq. m (124,187.5 sq. ft.);
  • a maximum height of 52.63 m (172.7 ft.)* ; and
  • 53 underground parking stalls and 301 bike spaces.

* CHW note updated: Drawings and feedback form initially showed height of 67.28 m (220.75 ft.) (equivalent to 22 storeys). Upon inquiry, the City replied that 52.63 m (172.7 ft) is the correct height and that represents 14 storeys. To be continued with further confirmation. Continue reading

Jak King’s comments on 3-Feb Clr Hardwick meeting with GWAC on density & city-planning, plus the Vision legacy

This below is reblogged from Jak King, Vancouver historian, prolific blogger, and civic watcher. We gave advance notice for this event in “Councillor Colleen Hardwick to seek input on density & citywide planning at GWAC 3-Feb Mon meeting.” Jak’s comments will be interesting for anyone who was not able to attend.

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Clr Hardwick at gwac Feb 2020

Councillor Colleen Hardwick at GWAC meeting. Photo: Stephen Bohus

Last Night’s GWAC Meeting (February 3, 2020), by Jak King

https://jaksview3.wordpress.com/2020/02/04/last-nights-gwac-meeting/

I attended the monthly GWAC meeting last night, along with about 60 others.  Councillor Colleen Hardwick gave an excellent presentation that took us through the history of urban planning in Vancouver, and then focused on some areas where she is determined to improve the consultation process.

In her historical review, Colleen moved forward from the Bartholomew Plan of 1927-1930, noting that the sale and subsequent development of the “Expo lands” was the tipping point for the commodification of land in our city. She noted that throughout the 1980s and 1990s, numerous local community plans and vision statements (City Plan) were developed. However, this historical knowledge was essentially lost with the wholesale replacement of senior City staff when Vision Vancouver took over Council and hired Penny Ballem as City Manager. City departments that had developed a deep understanding of the neighbourhoods of Vancouver were shuffled around, broken apart or lumped together, and fresh managers out in place. Continue reading

138 East 8th Avenue construction site wall collapses, Congee Noodle House Restaurant ordered to close

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One of the walls at a construction site collapsed during the evening of Friday, January 31st, at 138 East 8th Avenue. A portion of the parking lot for the adjacent Congee Noodle House Restaurant also collapsed into the excavated hole. No one was injured. WorkSafe BC has issued a work stop order on the site. The City of Vancouver forced the popular Congee Noodle House to close until further notice. The restaurant is located at 141 East Broadway, a few steps west of the Lee Building.

The construction site is located kitty corner from the 8 1/2 Restaurant at the laneway between Main Street and Quebec Street (City Councillor Michael Wiebe is in the ownership group of that restaurant). Is a further collapse of the wall possible? We’ve included a number of photos for reference. It appears that the site was already under construction in May 2019, as seen in a Google Earth archive photo. With the construction wall collapse, how many presales buyers have been left in limbo?

City inspectors left a legal notice on the site for graffiti removal, a day prior to the collapse of the wall:

The parties involved in this development include:

  • Ankenman Marchand Architects
  • Green Oak Development (as original applicant / original owner) greenoakdevelopment.com/Grand/
  • 1071073 BC Ltd. (incorporated April 7, 2016, ownership not publicly disclosed)
  • Prima West Construction Ltd.
  • Lisa King, Development Planner, City of Vancouver
  • City of Vancouver inspectors, engineering services, compliance and bylaw officers

There are many open questions.

Will anyone ever be held responsible? What will become of the popular Congee Noodle House Restaurant and its staff?

This is a serious safety incident. It is fortunate that no one was injured, but there are certainly major costs and implications for businesses and the neighbourhood. Collapses like this are not supposed to happen. Why did the collapse occur? What went wrong? Did systemic problems contribute to the failure? What needs to be improved to avoid such collapses in the future?

Global news report: Lot behind Vancouver restaurant caves in during condo construction work

CBC: Construction site wall caves in next to East Vancouver restaurant
(this piece includes video footage of the actual collapse)
Continue reading

Northeast False Creek buildings up to 30 storeys: Open House today 3-Feb-2020 (Mon)

Event notice for MAJOR development.

NEFC reched open house Feb 2020

 

Community Open House – NEW DATE
Harbour Event Centre, B105 – 750 Pacific Boulevard
4 – 8 pm, Monday, February 3, 2020

James KM Cheng Architects on behalf of Canadian Metropolitan Properties has applied to develop NEFC Sub-area 6B (750 Pacific Boulevard). The proposal includes the following:

  • a variety of terracing buildings up to 30 storeys;
  • commercial uses on the lower floors;
  • market and non-market residential uses on upper floors;
  • a Civic Centre including: a Community Centre, ice rink, music presentation centre
  • and a 69-space childcare facility; and
  • a new community plaza and seawall.

The Preliminary Development Permit is for the overall site and is expected to respond to the conditions of rezoning. This application will be reviewed by the Development Permit Board. Individual Development Permit applications will follow that will show detailed design for each building.

The Development Permit Board will decide on the preliminary development permit at a meeting on:
Vancouver City Hall, 453 West 12th Avenue
Ground Floor, Town Hall Meeting Room

Monday, March 16, 2020 at 3:00 pm

Anyone may register to speak on this item at the meeting. For details, visit: vancouver.ca/dp-board

The City welcomes your written comments on this application. For more information and updates, visit: https://development.vancouver.ca/750pacific/index.htm

Visit the Northeast False Creek webpage: vancouver.ca/nefc

View a map of the area, stay up to date with progress and view documents and details related to the Northeast False Creek planning process.

Dunsmuir connection open house Feb 2020

Councillor Colleen Hardwick to seek input on density & citywide planning at GWAC 3-Feb Mon meeting

Event notice.

Grandview Woodland Area Council (GWAC) will host Vancouver City Councillor Colleen Hardwick at its monthly meeting. Clr Colleen Hardwick

February 3 (THREE), 2020 (Monday), starting 7 pm
Britannia Community Centre in the ​Activity Room in the Ice Rink (1661 Parker Street)
(Note – This is not the usual meeting room at the LRC)
http://www.gwac.ca/news/councillor-hardwick-guest-at-monday-february-3rd-gwac-meeting

Councillor Hardwick is visiting all Vancouver neighbourhoods in 2020. Further details are on YouTube.

And in this article:
https://www.vancourier.com/real-estate/why-is-this-city-councillor-visiting-every-vancouver-neighbourhood-this-year-1.24051717

“Come to hear City Councillor Colleen Hardwick’s ambitious plan to understand Vancouver and its citizens, and to see Vancouver become more responsive and accountable!”

In 2019 the City approved the start of a process for an city-wide plan. It is understood that Vancouver needs to accommodate greater density within its boundaries, however the challenge and issue has been exactly where to locate this growing population in a way that is respectful of and sensitive to the neighbourhoods.

In 2020, Colleen plans to visit every neighbourhood within the boundaries of the City. She will meet with organizations within neighbourhood boundaries including but not limited to residents’ associations, BIAs, community centres, heritage, and faith-based groups to take a detailed look at where to best accommodate growth of approximately 1,000 new dwelling units per neighbourhood over the next decade.

She wants to hear what people have to say about where that density should be located and also related considerations including community amenities, mobility, green space, and economic activity. Everything Colleen learns will be delivered to the City of Vancouver Planning Department and be made available to the public.