Hundred year old homes left unprotected in Vancouver. Case study: 378 East 14th Avenue

The house at 378 East 14th Avenue was built in 1910. Despite the advanced age of this building, it is not listed in the Heritage Register. As such, this home can be demolished at any time if a new development were to be proposed on the lot. It’s not considered “heritage” by the City. There are simply no protections in Vancouver for old building stock not listed in the Heritage Reigster. Buildings can be left to deteriorate. We’ve included a slideshow below of the house (location: East 14th Avenue and Prince Edward Street):

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A building at 348 East 7th Avenue was torn down in December of 2013; further details on this house can be found in the following post: 100-year old building set to be demolished. Fair game if not on Heritage Register? (CityHallWatch, Oct 15, 2013) Continue reading

Report of final night of Public Hearing (March 26) on DODP amendment and definition of “social housing”: Approved by 6 vs 4 Council vote

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Further to our article “Report/update on DODP Public Hearing (resumes 6 pm today): “Social housing” definition change could be devastating,” here is a report of the SECOND night of the Public Hearing on March 26, from a kind citizen who observed the entire thing. People concerned with the issues may find this information useful.

City website video clips of Public Hearing:

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There were no surprises when the votes were counted. All six Vision Vancouver members of Council present that day voted in favour of a slightly-amended motion, while one Green and three NPA councillors voted against. Six to four. Carried.

However, the comments made before the vote was taken, were informative.

David McLellan, retired deputy City Manager, spoke in favour of the proposal by stating that implementing the new definition of “social housing,” is the only way social housing will be built in the absence of funding from senor levels of government.

Joan Seidl, an administrator at Jubilee House, broke into tears as she stated that on behalf of the tenants, the work on their new homes has to resume. The new definition of “social housing” and “social housing” buildings suited her tenants and she did not express any concerns about other groups of residents who might be disadvantaged by implementation of these new definitions. When asked if staff from Jubilee House had consulted with CANY and other groups of neighbours, her response was “we went to all the Open Houses.” Continue reading

Special Committee on Local Elections Expense Limits

Here is an updated list (as of March 28) of meetings for the B.C. Provincial Special Committee on Local Elections Expense Limits. Note the cancelled sessions. For the Metro Vancouver Region there are two meetings (March 30 and April 9). Also, note that, unfortunately, this committee is ONLY talking about expenses. Political contributions and donations are being completely missed from this discussion.

Campaign Finance Reform Public Hearings

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Whatever happened to bike share in Vancouver? Is it indefinitely on hold?

London bike share

“In 2015, the City will launch a network of shared bicycles available for short-term use for a fee.” (source: City of Vancouver website, Public bike share system page, March 27, 2015)

Bike share stationThe City of Vancouver is almost certain to delay the launch of the bike share system yet again, likely by another year. The bike share roll out has been a moving target ever since the April 2011 request for proposals of interest. On July 23, 2013, Vancouver City Council approved a bike share system that would cost approximately $10 million to implement and run over a 5 year time period.

The Vancouver Courier reported in February that the bike share system “to provide 1,500 bikes and 125 stations more than two years ago is no closer to a launch date”  (Bike share program throws chain, Mike Howell, Feb 11, 2015). The selection of Alta Bike Share as the operator and BIXI as the supplier has been shrouded in secrecy. We’ve received word that the City’s FOI department has refused to release details on the bike share tender. Apparently a total of four proposals were received back in 2011 to implement the system. In a previous post from July 22, 2013, we raised a number of concerns about Alta:

“An open question is how was Alta chosen to run this system? There’s an alternate scenario for council to consider. There’s still enough time to have an open tender with all major bike share operators and to find a main sponsor for a system, and still have bike share in Vancouver up and running for a Spring 2014 launch. Perhaps it would be an appropriate time to open up the process for a competitive bid now that the system has a final specification in place.”

Bike share systems now operate in over 600 cities worldwide. If the system in Vancouver is to be up and running in 2015, the preparations for the docking station installation would have to be underway by now.

London bike share
bike share Budapest

The last update on the City’s website was on April 7, 2014, almost a year ago. For the record, we’ve reproduced two screenshots of the City’s webpage below (March 23, 2015):

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Report/update on DODP Public Hearing (resumes 6 pm today): “Social housing” definition change could be devastating

DODP amendments alert for hearing 24-Mar-2015(Outcome – late on March 26, this item was passed with 6 votes by Vision Vancouver for, and 4 votes opposed — 3 NPA and 1 green. The saga continues…) This case has vast and long-term implications for all of Vancouver. It is also complex and evolving. Day One of the Public Hearing (click for details/agenda) was held on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. Day Two starts tonight at 6 pm with speaker #18. In this post we attempt to put together bits and pieces from various sources over the past few days.

This whole thing relates to a B.C. Supreme Court decision on January 27, 2015, overturning a public hearing, a rezoning, and a development permit for 1099 Richards and 508 Helmcken Street — a case we have covered extensively. The City is racing to settle this issue through this Public Hearing, and on top of that, DODP boundaries from CoV documents

Updates:

  • Below we provide a kind citizen’s detailed commentary on Day 1 (March 24) of the the Public Hearing. Also, click here for the City’s complete video of that meeting.
  • The CANY petition “I am opposed to the proposed amendments to the Downtown Official Development Plan. Vote NO” garnered over 500 signatures in the first 24 hours and is currently at 665. You can still sign it now.
  • Community Association of New Yaletown has much information online (see “Say NO to Downtown Official Development Plan amendments“) explaining the key issues. Note that they still seek donations to fight City Hall’s appeal of the Supreme Court decision.
  • False Creek Residents Association’s Fern Jeffries gave an excellent presentation on Day 1. A transcript is available online: “Density Bonuses for Developers.” She nails the issue very well: (1) the need for democratic accountability in decision-making; and (2) the importance of accommodating deep core need residents in social housing across the city. Watch the video starting at around 2:14:00. Interesting discussion with Mayor about City Hall’s need to protect staff from suspicions of abuse or corruption.
  • Some observations about the role of Christchurch Cathedral in this matter
  • City Redefines “Social Housing” to Keep Out the Poor” by Garth Mullins is an excellent read. Excerpt: Definitions matter. In 1979, Margaret Thatcher sought to wipe out poverty in the UK by redefining the problem as one of absolute calories, not relative income. You have enough to eat, ergo you are not poor. Don’t have enough to eat? You’re dead, ergo, also not poor. Now, Vancouver wants more costly digs to be considered as social housing – the housing equivalent of greenwashing.
  • People may not have noticed, but City Council has referred 508 Helmcken back to a new public hearing. Date not yet made public. Decision was made at the March 24 Regular Council meeting. Staff report here. It will require careful public analysis!

A KIND CITIZEN’S DETAILED COMMENTARY on Day 1 (March 24) of the the Public Hearing. Click here for the City’s complete video of that meeting. Continue reading

Two rezonings in Little Mountain area: RPSCCVIP opposes rezoning at 5037, 5067, 5087 Main St (Public Hearing tonight also includes 126-168 East 35th Ave)

5037 main Google map screenshotTonight, Tuesday March 24, 2015, there are three important topics on the agenda. http://former.vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20150324/phea20150324ag.htm

The third item, Proposed Amendments to the Downtown Official Development Plan (DODP), has been a lightning rod for controversy (see Petition opposing this).

5037 MainThe others are for rezonings to build a total of 89 new residential units:
1. REZONING: 126, 136, 146, 156, 166 and 168 East 35th Avenue
2. REZONING: 5037, 5067 and 5087 Main Street

We have obtained a copy of a letter from Allan Buium, Chair of the Riley Park/ South Cambie Community Vision Implementation Committee, requesting that City Council not approve this proposed rezoning on account of the tenant relocation assistance plan, which the group views as inadequate and unacceptable. We copy the entire letter further below.

But first, the basic official info on these two items.

126-168 East 35th Avenue1. REZONING: 126, 136, 146, 156, 166 and 168 East 35th Avenue
http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/planning/rezoning/applications/126-168e35/index.htm

Rezoning from RS-1 (One-Family Dwelling) District to CD-1 (Comprehensive Development) District. The application is being considered under the Little Mountain Adjacent Area Rezoning Policy. This project will mean the demolition of several nice houses. The proposal is for a 6-storey apartment building and a 1-storey building along the lane that includes:

  • 48 residential units;
  • a building height of 20.6 m (67.5 ft.) from grade;
  • a floor space ratio (FSR) of 2.3;
  • 60 underground parking spaces; and
  • 67 bicycle spaces.

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CANY’s citywide online petition: Say NO to Downtown Official Development Plan amendments

CANY DODP petitionFor quick readers, here is the link to sign the petition:
https://www.change.org/p/vancouver-mayor-and-city-council-vote-no-to-the-proposed-amendments-to-the-downtown-official-development-plan-on-march-24-2015

On Tuesday, March 24, 2015, City Council will be voting on proposed amendments to the Downtown Official Development Plan (the Public Hearing starts 6 pm, and this is agenda item 3).

Despite what City officials are saying, these amendments (if approved) will not just change downtown. They will set a precedent that will affect neighbourhoods all across Vancouver. Forever. Your neighbourhood may be next.

The Community Association of New Yaletown has launched on online petition opposing the amendments. To see a quick list of key reasons to oppose the amendments, click this link (we have also copied the text at the bottom, for convenience). http://www.newyaletown.ca/2015/03/say-no-to-downtown-official-development-plan-amendments/

Among other serious issues, the City is proposing to change the definition of “social housing” to mean “rental housing” (actually, it already amended this in 2014 by Bylaw 10929 but few people knew about it, because the City quietly buried significant changes in the definition into the East End Community Plan). The B.C. Supreme Court order the City of Vancouver to do the process again.

Also, through Section 3.13 in the proposed amendment, the City is proposing to give the Development Permit Board the power to give developers whatever density increases they want (in FSR, or floor space ratio), despite the maximum FSR set out in the Official Development Plan. This will effectively give that Board “carte blanche” and completely bypass the Public Hearing process. For more see also City’s DODP amendments will redefine “social housing,” hurt low-income people, give developers carte blanche, eliminate public role (CityHallWatch, 18-March-2015).

According to CANY, your opportunity to stop the amendments is now. Next time, it may be too lateThe easiest way to take action is to sign the CANY petition on Change.org.

We have discovered that a church organization has (perhaps unwittingly, and possibly in violation of CRA regulations for charitable organizations) played a crucial role in supporting the amendments (by submitting 102 signatures of people who probably do not even understand the policy issues involved).

CityHallWatch has covered many aspects of this case in the past year. At the core is a B.C. Supreme Court decision overturning the City of Vancouver’s rezoning and policy changes at 508 Helmcken and 1099 Richards Street, plus major City policies.

Other actions recommended by CANY:

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