Council meeting agendas for Dec 4 (Tue) and Dec 5 (Wed) – Renovictions, lobbyists, conflicts of interest, taxes, water, climate and more

CoV Vancouver City Council 2018 credit CoV[Update: Click on the City link for the minutes and video of this meeting.]

With the new mayor and City Council there are two more sets of meetings (Regular Council + Standing Committee) — this week and then the week of Dec 17. For posterity, here are the agendas and document links (abridged) for this week. We start by listing a few topics to bring to your attention. Note that the Public Hearing date of Dec 18 has been cancelled. One other Council meeting is on December 11, a Special Council meeting for the 2019 budget. Please to to the City website for the official updated agendas.

Dec 4 (Tues) Regular Council – some highlights

  • The motion on “Protecting Tenants from Renovictions and Aggressive Buy-Outs” goes to a vote, now that Council has heard many speakers.
  • Staff are recommending this topic NOT go to public hearing: Zoning and Development By-law for RT 7 and RT-8 Zones (Kitsilano) and RT-10 and RT-10N (Kensington-Cedar Cottage)
  • Motion B1 by Mayor Stewart on revising “Conflict of Interest Rules”
  • Motion B2 by Mayor Stewart on creating a “Lobbyist Registry for the City of Vancouver
  • Motion B3 on “Possible Amendments to By-law 6066 to Allow for Safe and Licensed Ride Sharing in Vancouver”
  • Motion B4 on “Building a Family Friendly Vancouver: Affordable Child Care
  • Motion B5 on “Land Value Capture in the City of Vancouver
  • Motion B6 on “Calling for 600 More Units of Modular Housing in 2019″
  • Motion B7 on “Call for the ABC Plan for an Accountable, Bold and Comprehensive Poverty Reduction Plan for British Columbia”
  • Motion B8. on “A Proposed Alternative to Provincial Encroachment on the City of Vancouver’s Municipal Tax Base
  • Motion B9 on “Mayor’s Office Budget Review
  • Motion B10 on “Creating a ‘Baseline Review’ Task Force

Dec 5 (Wed) Standing Committed – some highlights

  • Report – 2018 Climate Change Adaptation Strategy Update [Timely with COP24 starting this week in Poland]
  • Report –  Water Use in Buildings: Enhanced Public Safety, Efficiency and Long-Term Resiliency Measures

Related media coverage: Continue reading

Deadline 3-Dec-2018 (Mon) for public input on Ports Modernization Review by federal government: Key concerns

MetroVanWatch

PortBanner Ports Moderniation Review credit GoC Nov 2018Transport Canada wants to hear from key partners and stakeholders, including Canada Port Authorities, Indigenous groups, provincial and municipal governments, industry; academia and experts; and associations/groups that have a particular interest in port activities.” (Image and caption credit: Transport Canada website)

The ports around Metro Vancouver have a huge impact on transportation, road and marine traffic, the environment, employment, farmland, and the quality of life. It is important that the public provide input into this review process. Many aspects of the  Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) are invisible to the public, but this material below sheds a lot of light on things.

Susan Jones of the Boundary Bay Conservation Committee has done a huge amount of research and work on these topics. Below we share text on recommended points to make in public input, plus a copy of the BBCC’s detailed submission to the Port Modernization Review.

Here…

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Consultation begins on Vancouver’s 2019 City budget ($1.5 billion operating + $568 million capital): Briefing Dec 3, meeting Dec 11, vote Dec 18

 

 

 

 

 

[Updated – Nov 28, with mention of upcoming motions in Council. Also, we might be co-hosting a citizens’ meeting to discuss the budget some time between Dec 3 and 11. Please write citizenYVR@gmail.com if interested.]

The City of Vancouver is inviting public input on our 2019 budget. Below is text from an official release from the “Civic Engagement and Communications” department.

This is big stuff. The draft 2019 operating budget is $1.516 BILLION and capital expenditure budget is $568 MILLION (including new and ongoing capital projects).

This is important as the first opportunity for public input on the civic finances since Vision Vancouver was ousted from City Hall. Thus, it is a chance for fresh analysis, examination, dialogue, and public impact on how your money is spent and reported.

Main web page for Vancouver budget: vancouver.ca/budget. 

See direct links for budget-related documents at bottom of this post.

The public is invited to …

  • Write questions and comments to Mayor and Council
  • Attend a briefing presented by City staff on Monday, December 3 from 5:30 to 7 pm at City Hall, Main Floor, Town Hall Room 110 (also streamed live on City’s Facebook page) [Tip from CityHallWatch: Free cookies, tea, and coffee. In recent years this briefing attracted just 5 or 10 citizens, so let’s show some serious interest this year, folks!]
  • Speak at a special City Council meeting December 11 when staff present the budget. [Tip: Business improvement associations and unions always show up here or at the next meeting, typically to discuss the money they expect to receive. It would be great to see taxPAYERS and citizens get more organized, analyzing the budget, preparing, attending, and speaking.]
  • Attend a Regular Council meeting on December 18 where our elected officials are scheduled to vote on the 2019 Budget. [Tip: The public should attend this meeting as well. Last year, Vision Vancouver proposed last-minute tax increases just minutes before the Council vote — increases that not even whispered about during all the prior public consultations. Unsurprisingly, Vision approved it.]

City Council wants and needs your input!

Click here for the Council meeting agendas and documents once they are posted a few days in advance.

CityHallWatch Wish List:

  1. More detail provided to the public about line items of the budget.
  2. More accountability and maybe a reduction in the mayor’s slush fund (see “Mayor Robertson’s $1 million ‘discretionary’ budget“).]

[Side note: Until about November 15, the “Civic Engagement and Communications” department was known as “Corporate Communications.” No announcement was made about the change in name. Another side note – the department is currently hiring a new “Communications Coordinator II” at $40.48 – $47.82 an hour, apply by Dec 2.]

Motions coming to City Council regarding the budget (added here Nov 28)

  • Motion “Creating a ‘Baseline Review’ Task Force” (Clr Hardwick): … that Council appoint a three (3) member, independent Oversight Commission to undertake a baseline review of all city finances; and direct staff to report back to Council by December 18, 2018 with draft Terms of Reference

Related:

Motion on reviewing the mayor’s discretionary budget –
https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/vancouver-mayors-office-budget-may-face-review-if-council-motion-okd

Taxpayer fatigue in Metro Vancouver –
https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/citing-taxpayer-fatigue-metro-vancouver-board-re-examines-regional-budget

Don Cayo: ‘It makes no sense’ how Surrey and Vancouver keep their books (with video) (Vancouver Sun, 18-Nov-2015). Excerpt: The financial figures bandied about by most City Halls don’t add up. Columnist Don Cayo explains why. Big Canadian cities, Surrey and Vancouver among them, are not only incredibly inconsistent in meeting their budget targets, but they muddy their accounting so badly that it is incredibly difficult to nail down just how far off-base their projections are.

While we’re at it…

Vancouver’s procurement policies are not transparent. A look at methods being used to circumvent accountability
(October 13, 2015).
https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2015/10/13/vancouvers-procurement-circumvent-accountability/

Indefensible  secrecy in City’s bid decisions? Compare Vancouver vs Toronto. Case in point: $8.51 million bid (3-year contract, supply of traffic control services)
https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2014/07/19/bid-secrecy-vancouver-vs-toronto-transparency/

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2019 City budget funds key priorities (Official Information Bulletin, 27-Nov-2018)

The City of Vancouver’s proposed $1,516 million operating budget and $371 million budget for new capital projects ensures that important services can be maintained and improved, while at the same time proposes priority new investments to help meet the future needs of a growing and changing city.

The total capital expenditure budget for 2019 is $568 million, including new and ongoing projects. Continue reading

Open house for 54-storey ‘Granville Gateway’ highrise (601 Beach Crescent) to straddle north end of bridge with ‘twisty tower’ Vancouver House: Mon 26-Nov-2018

Rendering granville gateway bldgs credit gbl architects

On the left is Westbank’s Granville House, now under construction. On the right it the proposed 54-storey tower, subject of today’s open house. Credit GBL Architects

Rezoning Open House
For proposed 54-storey “Granville Gateway” tower at 601 Beach Crescent
November 26, 2018 at 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Executive Hotel, Portofino Room, 1379 Howe Street

The applicant team and City of Vancouver staff will be present to answer questions. You can provide comments on this rezoning application by filling out the City’s online feedback form.

Below are links to recent media coverage (plus excerpts) on the rezoning application and storeys about the controversy with the site, originally owned by the citizens of Vancouver (via the City).

The two towers beside the north end of the Granville Bridge, one opening soon, and this one now going ahead for rezoning, could be considered a symbolic and prominent legacy of Vision Vancouver, which ruled with an absolute majority from 2008 until decimated in the October 2018 civic election.

CityHallWatch first started covering the Higher Buildings Policy, which enabled these towers and many more, in 2010. Through our FOI inquiries, we learned that the City sold the public land to Pinnacle for a fraction of what it is worth. (See 11-Sep-2018 story in TheBreaker News.)

Official information on the rezoning application is here:
Rezoning Application – 601 Beach Crescent
https://rezoning.vancouver.ca/applications/601beach/index.htm

The City of Vancouver has received an application from GBL Architects Ltd. to rezone the site to a new Comprehensive Development (CD-1) District to permit the development of a 54-storey mixed-use building which includes:

  • 303 market residential units and 152 social housing units;
  • a floor space ratio (FSR) of 7.23;
  • 2,094 sq. m (22,543 sq. ft.) of commercial space at grade;
  • a floor area of 41,755 sq. m (449,444 sq. ft.);
  • a building height of 163 m (535 ft.); and
  • 442 underground parking spaces and 970 bicycle spaces.
  • The application is being considered under the Higher Buildings Policy.

The applicant is Pinnacle International, based in Vancouver and with property here and in San Diego, Toronto, and Mississauga. “Pinnacle International is one of North America’s leading builders of luxury condominium residences, master-planned communities, hotels and commercial developments.” The website does not indicate who owns the company.

With a rezoning Public Hearing likely in the coming months, now is the chance for taxpayers and citizens to scrutinize the details and see if the City has gotten a fair deal from this public land on behalf of the people it serves, the people of Vancouver.  Continue reading

Open house for precedent-setting 28 storey tower concept – 1296 West Broadway (former Denny’s, now 2538 Birch St): Thurs 29-Nov-2018

1296 Broadway 2538 Birch open house 29-Nov-2018 invite

Pre-Application Open House for 28-storey tower at 2538 Birch (1296 W Broadway)
Event organized by Developer
– Thursday, November 29, 2018, 6 – 8 pm
– 2nd Floor, Holy Trinity Anglican Church
– 1440 – 12th Avenue, Vancouver (at Hemlock St.)

Background

After an extensive process and Public Hearing on January 16, 2018, a 16-storey rental tower with 153 market rental units was approved at 1296 West Broadway (address now changed to 2538 Birch Street), the former site of a Denny’s Restaurant. After the rezoning conditions were met, Council enacted By-law No. 12179, CD-1 (708), on July 24, 2018. With all that cleared, a development application (this time for 158 rental units) went ahead for the approved 16 storeys and is still active today, it seems (DP-2018-00425). So that is all very fresh.

Now the property owner is considering a whole new process, to start a new rezoning application for 28 storeys and they want public input about the idea of the extra 12 storeys, with two levels of retail and office, and approx. 262 rental apartments. “All units are to be secured as market rentals and twenty percent (20%) of the residential units are earmarked to households earning $30,000 to $80,000 per annum.”

An invitation to the pre-application open house from Jameson Broadway & Birch LP on behalf of Icon Properties of America (IPA, a A “family-owned business” based in Altamonte Springs, Florida) is being circulated in the neighbourhood. Hoping to expand on what was already approved, they seek to add 12 floors to provide more rental units for this “transit-oriented” location. The increase appears to be 104 units (from 158 up to 262). Continue reading

Vancouver’s Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program (MIRHP) – basic info for reference

We provide this here just for reference. A record of the City web page as of 26-Nov-2018.

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https://vancouver.ca/people-programs/creating-new-market-rental-housing.aspx

The Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program encourages development proposals for new buildings where:

  • 100% of the residential floor area is secured rental housing
  • At least 20% of the residential floor area is made available to moderate income households earning $30,000 to $80,000 per year

 

How the program works
The pilot program will select up to 20 proposals for submission of rezoning applications between January 1, 2018 and July 1, 2019. All applications will proceed through a full rezoning process, including public hearing.

Eligible City incentives for Moderate Income Rental Housing projects include:

  • Additional height and density beyond what is available under existing zoning
  • Development Cost Levy (DCL) waiver
  • Parking requirement reductions
  • Relaxation of minimum unit size and configuration requirements
  • Expedited processing

How the program creates affordable rentals
The incentives for this program are designed to encourage delivery of rental buildings where at least 20% of the residential floor area is made available to moderate income households.

Targeted rents in Moderate Income Rental units
Housing unit Monthly rent
Studio $950
1 bedroom $1,200
2 bedroom $1,600
3 bedroom $2,000
Each project owner or their designated property manager will administer the moderate income rental units, including tenant qualification and waitlisting.

Rent increases in the moderate income units will be capped according to the BC Residential Tenancy Act annual allowable increase, regardless of unit turnover.

Tenant eligibility for moderate income rental units will be verified by the building’s management at initial occupancy and on an ongoing basis.

  • For new tenants, household income cannot exceed 4 times the annual rent for the unit (at least 25% of income is spent on rent).
  • For existing tenants, household income cannot exceed 5 times the annual rent for the unit (at least 20% of income is spent on rent).
  • If an existing tenant no longer qualifies for their moderate income rental unit, the operator will issue a six-month notice to end tenancy, in accordance with the BC Residential Tenancy Act.

Learn more about the program [download from this page]

  • Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program bulletin PDF (300 KB)
  • Housing Vancouver Council report PDF (6.6 MB)
  • Family Room policy requirements for family units in secured market rental housing rezoning projects PDF (290 KB)
  • Rental Incentives Guidelines PDF (653 KB)
  • Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program FAQs (114 KB)

Apply to create rental housing through the program
Note The program is currently full [web page as of 26-Nov-2017] and we are not accepting additional pre-enquiry applications until further notice.

We accepted preliminary pre-enquiry applications for review from January 1 to February 16, 2018.

Vancouver launches new city-wide planning process – a historic moment

Vancouver zoning map screengrab VanMap 15-Nov-2018

Screengrab from City of Vancouver’s VanMap, 18-Nov-2018

As part of their first meetings, Vancouver City Council voted unanimously to launch a new process for a city-wide plan. This is a historic moment. For the record, here is the City’s official media release dated today, 15-Nov-2018.

It will be important for all stakeholders to be involved, and to ensure that Council gets balanced input, and reflects that input in the final outcome. Some effort will be needed to ensure that developers don’t have excessive direct or indirect influence in the process.

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Official media release – 15-Nov-2018

Vancouver to embark on new city plan process

Vancouver City Council has directed staff to expedite the development of a city-wide plan.

“Creating a long-term plan that takes into account the needs of all residents – current and future – is a positive and proactive way to collectively guide our future,” said Mayor Kennedy Stewart. “I would like to acknowledge Councillor Carr and Councillor Hardwick for bringing this forward to Council, and I have confidence in our capable Planning team as they take on this momentous effort.”

Throughout the City’s many conversations in developing recent plans such as the Housing Vancouver strategy, the initial phase of Making Room, and a number of local community area plans, residents and industry members have said they would like to see a clear, “big picture” city-wide framework for how we’re collectively moving forward as a city.

“A long-term, city-wide plan would establish a clear framework to address rising issues in Vancouver such as housing affordability, environmental and social health, the need for long-term clarity around land-use, leveraging long-term capital investments and programs with senior levels of government, and encouraging a culture of innovation,” said Gil Kelley, General Manager, Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability for the City of Vancouver.

Areas expected to be covered by a city plan would include:

  • the shape of neighbourhoods
  • resiliency in the face of climate change and earthquakes
  • the future of the economy and shared prosperity
  • harnessing technological transformations for enhanced livability and productivity
  • investments for improved transportation and mobility, housing options, equity and access to community amenities
  • social cohesion and inclusion
  • protection for renters
  • heritage and reconciliation
  • natural systems and assets
  • enjoyable, well-designed gathering places
  • ways to promote and express our unique arts and culture.

The development of a city plan will give Vancouver the opportunity to engage residents, youth, businesses, partner institutions, and civic organizations in a multi-year effort to create a clear and compelling vision of our desired future along with strategies that will position us to realize that vision.

This would be the first comprehensive, city-wide planning initiative since the 1990s when an earlier city plan effort was started but did not advance beyond high-level vision and directions. [See CityHallWatch note below.] Continue reading