Controversial 105 Keefer (Chinatown) rezoning goes to public hearing tonight (Tues, May 23): Beedie Group, 12-storeys

105-keefer-v5, credit changincitybook-com

105 Keefer proposed design. Does the developer’s image make building look smaller than it would really be?

Sparks are set to fly at a controversial public hearing scheduled for tonight, Tuesday, May 23 (with reserve night set for May 25 if time runs out). The proposal by Beedie Group and designed by Merrick Architecture is strongly opposed by the community.

Rezoning info (official City site): http://rezoning.vancouver.ca/applications/105keefer/index.htm
Public hearing info: http://council.vancouver.ca/20170523/phea20170523ag.htm

#SaveChinatownYVR is a campaign that aims to inform and activate citizens to take action for Vancouver’s Chinatown. https://savechinatownyvr.herokuapp.com/campaigns/oppose-105-keefer-rezoning

This is a complex case with many angles, but here are their top seven points:

  1. Taxpayers should not be funding a developer’s profits
  2. Unaffordable for locals
  3. Economic displacement
  4. Lack of design merit
  5. Inappropriate use of culturally sensitive site
  6. Height and mass unfit for area
  7. Rejected by community

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Short term rentals: City of Vancouver announces crack-down on illegal rentals of 3 major operators

City HallInformation Bulletin from City of Vancouver.

May 19, 2017

City cracks down on illegal short-term rentals

The City of Vancouver has escalated enforcement on three high profile residential operators illegally operating short-term rentals at a commercial scale.

The Level, located at 1022 Seymour Street, was issued orders related to illegal operations and has paid fines totaling $24,000. Bylaw violations by Vancouver Extended Stay and Carmana Plaza have been referred to prosecution.

In April, media outlets reported to the City that these operators were renting multiple units as short-term rentals. The City investigated these cases and gathered evidence to confirm the illegal rental activity. The City has been in contact with the owners of each building and pursued enforcement actions based on the response.

Onni operates the Level. The company has agreed to immediately stop short-term rentals and to pay fines related to activity over the past six months, the legal statute of limitations.

Vancouver Extended Stay offers property management services to owners of suites at 1288 West Georgia Street and 1200 Alberni Street. They have also agreed to immediately stop short-term rentals, however the property management service and the suite owners must all obtain business licenses to come into by-law compliance.

Carmana Plaza located at 1128 Alberni Street has received zoning approval to convert 96 suites to hotel use. The conversion process is not complete as the company must obtain occupancy permits and a business license. Short-term rentals in the 96 suites remain illegal until the process is complete. Carmana Plaza has agreed to stop accepting new short-term rental reservations, but the company is not willing to cancel existing future short-term rental reservations. Continue reading

Heads up: Write Council NOW about VGH bike lane and bypassing council to delegate authority to City Engineer

City HallCity Council resumes at 12:45 pm today to discuss agenda items. We are seeing considerable concern about two items in particular (#6 – Complete Streets Policy Framework and Related By-law Changes, and #7 -10th Avenue Health Precinct Street Improvements):
http://council.vancouver.ca/20170517/cfsc20170517ag.htm

Item #7 is slated to start at 2 pm. Follow progress of the meeting on Twitter via @vancityclerk.

To write Mayor and Council:

mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca
clrcarr@vancouver.ca, clraffleck@vancouver.ca, clrball@vancouver.ca, clrdeal@vancouver.ca, clrjang@vancouver.ca, clrlouie@vancouver.ca, clrmeggs@vancouver.ca, clrreimer@vancouver.ca, clrstevenson@vancouver.ca, CLRdegenova@vancouver.ca

In brief:

Item 6:  Vancouver Charter change:  Removing public consultations & Council’s authority  – for input & decisions on street use
– If passed – The City Engineer will have exclusive authority, bypassing Council.  This applies for transit, road use including main & side streets, bikelanes and more.
See an article in the Vancouver Sun by Councillor George Affleck:  http://vancouversun.com/opinion/op-ed/opinion-keep-city-councillors-accountable-to-vancouverites
Item 7: Approving VGH West 10th Avenue bike lanes – This includes removal of 75 street parking spaces (leaving only 2 metered parking spaces). Over 3800 people per day visit Vancouver General Hospital and other facilities.   Only 11 disabled spots will remain, plus limited “drop off spots” with a 3-minute time limit.
We have received comments from readers that the material and survey results used by the City are skewed, prioritizing cyclists over patients. Only approx 1,800 respondents were surveyed while hundreds of thousands visit and use the area annually. The target survey group was supposedly seniors and the general population but the respondent demographic is reportedly mostly 30-39 year old cyclists, and over 46% of respondents do not use medical facilities in the area.
We are aware of other aspects of incomplete and flawed notification to affected parties. Will report more on that in the future.

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Proposed bylaw change would let Vancouver city engineers make changes to roads without seeking council approval: City Council May 16 (Tues)

City HallAn important staff report goes to City Council on Tuesday, May 16, 2017.

Complete Streets Policy Framework and Related By-law Changes
Dale Bracewell, Branch Manager, Transportation Planning, to present on the Administrative Report dated April 19, 2017.
http://council.vancouver.ca/20170516/documents/rr2.pdf

Anyone with an opinion on this can write or speak to City Council. For e-mail, write mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca.

The word usage of “complete streets” sounds very positive, but careful review of the contents is needed to understand what is going on. In the article cited below, Council is set to make a decision that would let Vancouver city engineers make changes to roads without seeking council approval. That would make decisions easier to fly “under the radar,” and our elected officials could evade public pressure. Meanwhile, we have witnessed the extreme pressure on staff, which could result in even top managers fired on a moment’s notice without any convincing public explanation. If the Vision Vancouver majority on Council votes as  a bloc on this proposal and lets it go ahead, it could be unleashing significant consequences down the road, whether under the current regime, or future political regimes.

This delegation trend is similar to what the West End has witnessed with rezoning approvals for major towers in large sections of the community — public involvement being severely curtailed, and decisions being made internally by just three staff members in the Development Permit Board. Also, until West End Neighbours won a court case, Council was delegating authority to the City Manager to waive development levies.

Here is what Elvira, one civic activist, wrote to council: I’m not in favour of City By-Law changes giving City Engineers and the Transportation Dept the authority to make changes to roads and sidewalks without approval from council. Such changes could include REMOVING TRAFFIC LANES OR PARKING SPACES to make room for WIDENED SIDEWALKS or cycling infrastructure. This is heading down a slippery slope. We did not elect the Engineers, we elected the Council. Yes, the current process might seem more bureaucratic and time consuming, but that is the price we pay for living in a democracy. These decisions should be made by the elected representatives who are answerable to the electorate, not the bureaucrats, even with their “so-called” public consultation promises.

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‘Buck stops here’: Vancouver councillor taken aback by staff request for authority over road use decisions — Proposed bylaw changes would let Vancouver city engineers make changes to roads without seeking council approval.
(by Matt Kieltyka, Metro News Vancouver, 11-May-2007)
http://www.metronews.ca/news/vancouver/2017/05/11/vancouver-council-against-staff-authority-for-road-decisions.html

Excerpts: Continue reading

How Vancouver city hall exacerbates affordability crisis: “Look no further than … rezoning of 105 Keefer” (Nathalie Baker, opinion – Vancouver Sun)

105 keefer rendering beedie 5-May-2016 in Vancouver SunA must read regarding fundamental issues affecting Vancouver’s affordability crisis. This relates to the rezoning for 105 Keefer Street and 544 Columbia going to the Public Hearing slated for May 23, 2017. See the staff report there. Full page on the rezoning here. Incidentally two developments are proposed nearby: 129 Keefer (DE420078) and 137 Keefer (DP-2017-00379, going to the Development Permit Board on May 29).

Opinion: How Vancouver city hall exacerbates the affordability crisis (opinion in Vancouver Sun, 13-May-2017)
http://vancouversun.com/opinion/op-ed/opinion-how-the-city-exacerbates-the-affordability-crisis

For the original text please visit the Vancouver Sun.

  • If you’d like to understand why the housing-affordability crisis continues in Vancouver, look no further than the recently posted City of Vancouver staff report in support of the rezoning of 105 Keefer/544 Columbia streets.
  • On May 2, city council referred the rezoning application to public hearing. The hearing will be held May 23. The contentious rezoning application, originally submitted by the Beedie Group in 2014, is for a 12 storey, mixed-use building in the heart of Chinatown and includes 106 residential strata units. According to the staff report, the developer’s application “will support and advance the objectives of the Housing and Homeless Strategy” because it will also include “25 social-housing units.” The additional density achieved through the rezoning, states the report, will be the city’s “contribution” toward the creation of more social housing.
  • But what is social housing in Vancouver? It’s not what you might think.
  • In 2014, council changed the definition of “social housing” to mean rental housing where 30 per cent of the units are affordable to households with incomes below Housing Income Limits (HIL). According to B.C. Housing, HIL “represents the income required to pay the average market rent for an appropriately sized unit in the private market.” The 2016 HIL in Vancouver are $38,500 for bachelors, $42,500 for one-bedrooms and $52,000 for two-bedrooms.
  • Where 30 per cent of the rental units are affordable to people with incomes below the HIL, the City of Vancouver considers 100 per cent of units to be “social housing.” In other words, social housing in Vancouver, by definition, now includes market rentals. Although the 91-page staff report doesn’t include proposed rents for the 25 units, the city’s report does state that “at least 30 per cent (eight) units will be geared to households within incomes below housing-income limits.” There is, however, no guarantee that rents for the remaining 17 social-housing units will have any measure of affordability. In fact, they could be expensive luxury rentals and still fall within the city’s definition of “social housing.”
  • This is hardly a public benefit worth touting.

Continue reading

Change in type of dwelling occupied by Vancouver residents (2011-2016): David Hulchanski (University of Toronto)

Change in Occupied Dwellings by Structural Type 2011-2016 Hulchanski

David Hulchanski (Twitter @Hulchanski) is a professor at the University of Toronto, and director of the Neighbourhood Change Research Partnership. Themes include divided cities, inequality, socio-spatial change, housing, and homelessness, etc. He has released some fascinating graphics based on analysis of the 2016 census. The above figure  (Change in the type of dwelling occupied by city of Vancouver residents, 2011-2016) is definitely worth studying, including the notes.

Website: NeighbourhoodChange.ca

 

 

Big changes coming to 10th Avenue Health Precinct (VHG) in Vancouver (City Council, Tues/Wed May 16/17): Bikes, access, mobility, parking, health, safety, etc.

CoV 10th Avenue Health Precinct, Oak to Cambie, May 2017(Updated with quote from BC Cancer Agency, more media links.)

Our priorities therefore must be to maintain and optimize traffic flow for our Vancouver Cancer Center and BC Cancer Research Centre to facilitate patient drop-off and pick-up, accessible parking and timely delivery of essential supplies and services. We recognize that any design of public space is met with competing interests. However, we appeal to the City of Vancouver to put the needs of cancer patients — particularly in this health precinct — above those needs that may normally take priority in other areas of the City.
Excerpt of letter from BC Cancer Agency, 2-May-2017 (Appendix C, p2/39)

Under the title of “10th Avenue Health Precinct Street Improvements,” big changes are being proposed for 10th Avenue on one side of Vancouver General Hospital, to feature a bicycle lane, major changes to access to health facilities off 10th, and increased traffic and turning on nearby arterial roads including Broadway and 12th Avenue. The proposed bicycle land crosses emergency vehicle crossings and semi-trailer truck entrances to the health facilities. Does the proposal give adequate consideration to safety, and to the special needs of this, a premier health district in western Canada?

Aside from having a better cycling route, there could be major implications on mobility for patients and other users of all the health facilities in this area. Changes like these could create winners and losers, benefits and costs, positives and negatives. Are the positives being overemphasized and have the negative impacts been given adequate consideration? Will our elected officials ultimately be wise in their final decision?

A staff presentation is slated for the Regular City Council meeting that starts at 9:30 am on Tuesday, May 16, 2017, and speakers who sign up to address Council will likely have the opportunity to address council at the Standing Committee on City Finance and Services on May 17. Citizens may also e-mail their comments to City Council (see instructions and web video info on the agenda pages).

Agenda for Council meetings: http://vancouver.ca/councilmeetings
The staff relevant report (PDF, 220 pages including all appendices): http://council.vancouver.ca/20170516/documents/rr4.pdf

Further information on this matter: Lon LaClaire (604-873-7336)
More info on the meetings: Clerk (604-873-7269)
Communicate with Mayor and Councillors: Visit vancouver.ca/your-government/contact-council.

From staff report introduction: 10th Avenue through the Health Precinct between Oak Street and Cambie Street is a unique street in Vancouver. It serves as a critical access point for Vancouver General Hospital and other health institutions, including emergency room access. It is also a busy walking street and the second busiest local street bike route in the city. Over recent years, the experience for all users of 10th Avenue has declined as the street has gotten busier with more people walking, cycling, and driving in the area.

Below are links to previous media coverage (in 2016) on the topic, plus a list of the top ten recommendations in the staff report going to Council on May 16, 2017.  Continue reading