Mount Pleasant Community Plan Implementation plan – in Council Oct 23 – “A Sham” – Serious problems of process and content

Mount Pleasant Main StreetBelow we share information received from some members of the Mount Pleasant Implementation Committee.

This is an important case, with lessons significant citywide. Mount Pleasant is near the end of a long, frustrating “consultation” saga on its community plan. Other neighbourhoods should take note of how City Hall functions.We believe what we are witnessing is a sign of deep systemic problems.

The Mount Pleasant Community Plan Implementation document goes before City Council as agenda #7 on the committee meeting starting 9:30 am on Wednesday, October 23, 2013. Citizens of Vancouver who feel affected and have an opinion are encouraged to write or speak to Council (instructions here). If you are short of time, it is worth sending even just a note saying the current plan should be tabled and the City should go back to the community with a revised time frame and dramatically improved Mount Pleasant Community Plan Implementation doc Oct 2013 coverconsultation process.

Detailed received from some members of the Mount Pleasant Implementation Committee is provided further below. Reading this, you can appreciate the degree of frustration and sense of betrayal at the actions of City Hall.

Some of our observations on this case:

  1. This is a significant case for everyone to watch, as it is an example of thousands of hours volunteered over many years in good faith by a community hoping to have positive input into its own future development.
  2. It appears that City Hall staff are not following ethical rules of engagement — misinformation, concealment of information, unfair treatment of the community.
  3. There are serious problems with both process and content of the plan.

Here are a few initial comments on the CONTENT of the Implementation Plan, which overwrites key parts of the officially-adopted Community Plan.

  1. Loose language has been inserted into the document for more height & density (more than in the Council-approved Community Plan), and clear language from the plan has been omitted in this Implementation Plan.
  2. The City failed to conduct any planning process for Main Street 2nd to 7th Avenues, although it was specified by Council direction in the Community Plan. Instead staff have opted for a spot rezoning approach. Heights in the Implementation Plan are greater than the “up to six storeys” stated in the Community Plan and densities are quite high.
  3. Broadway East (north side) has been given greater height and density (more spot rezonings) than in the Community Plan.
  4. Many of the features that the community wanted, such as an off-leash areas for dogs in a park or an outdoor swimming pool, are NOT in the Implementation Plan. Conversely, the Implementation Plan contains items that the community did not want.
  5. Half of the Main Street viewcone will be lost if the draft Implementation Plan report is approved. The fact that staff can’t point to an earlier council vote to modify the viewcone seems to be an indication that it may have been unilaterally changed by staff.
  6. For a detailed analysis, point-by-point, from the Mount Pleasant Implementation Committee, download the staff report to Council and jump to page 23/31 and particularly pages starting 28/31.
  7. For even more information, see this analysis too: Detailed review of the City’s Draft Mount Pleasant Community Plan Implementation. This work was submitted as a majority opinion by the MPIC at the final September 12th meeting. Many members of the committee worked on it.

Here is the link to the City Planning report on the implementation of the MPC Plan. MB) and Appendix (35.5 MB). And here is the link for the full package of information about the Mount Pleasant Community Plan process:

Some members of the Implementation Committee think that the Mount Pleasant Community Plan was not properly implemented since City Staff decided at the very beginning of the implementation process that they would change the intent of the Plan. We also think that the City Planning Staff gave incorrect information to the public at workshops and open houses and by doing that the community was not able to give accurate feedback to the City on the implementation of the MPC Plan.

The following are some of the reasons why the report should not be approved:

First, City Staff unilaterally changed how the MPCP was intended to be implemented and continued to present inaccurate information throughout the implementation process. As a result the community at large was misled by Staff at the workshops and Open Houses. Therefore the whole process is based on incorrect and/or misleading information and this MPCP Implementation Report dated Oct 16, 2013, with appendix A, should not be approved by Council.

The entire area of Main 2nd to 7th was to receive a new planning program. It did not. Staff has admitted changing the intent of the MPCP with regard to the Main from 2nd to 7th area.

Why is this MP Community Plan Implementation going before Council for approval when City Staff are clearly recommending things that do not follow the MPC Plan? Why would staff think that they can unilaterally change the Council approved MPC Plan from this intended implementation direction?

In an email of August 3, 2012 from Matt Shillito of Planning, he said he will change the Plan regarding rezoning and use only part of section 6.1, New Programs and Projects. He says,

“I appreciate that this approach is somewhat different from the City-initiated rezoning anticipated in the Plan, however I don’t believe that it will result in a fundamentally different outcome nor undermine the Plan objectives”.

How is it possible for the Planning Staff to know what the community would want in a planning program without asking them first? Was the final outcome of the implementation already predetermined by the Planning Staff before the implementation process began?

Staff, in an email dated August 10, 2012, admitted that the MPCP intended to do a City-initiated rezoning of the Main Street 2nd to 7th Avenue area.

“One of the implementation items identified in the Mount Pleasant Community Plan is a City-initiated rezoning of the sites fronting Main Street from 2nd to 7th Avenues. For the foreseeable future, the City is not in a position to undertake this complex, resource-intensive piece of work due to resource challenges in both Planning and other contributing departments which have arisen since the Plan was adopted. Neither can or should the City place a moratorium on rezoning in this area.”

“The Plan anticipates rezoning from IC-2, calling for the creation of an urban community along Main between 2nd and 7th with a mix of residential, office and retail uses.”

If there is no money in the City budget to do an area wide re-zoning to some other district schedule zoning then why doesn’t the current zoning of IC-2 remain in effect?

There currently exists a site-by-site re-zoning policy for IC-2. The MPC Plan clearly says that new residential development could be artist live-work units which is an industrial use and would fit well on Main Street 2nd to 7th. These could easily be built as rental units through the current re-zoning policy on Main from 2nd to 7th.

Why has this not been the option presented for Main 2nd to 7th in this implementation report, especially when the Metro Core Jobs recommends building compatible residential uses on Main Street from 2nd to 7th in this Industrial Zone and Metro Core Jobs says create jobs in the area?

Why were purely residential uses strongly encouraged by Staff? Is this because the two developers who want re-zonings on Main & 2nd and Main & 7th want to build residential condos here?

Staff admitted that they decided to unilaterally change the MPC Plan which clearly says on page 30 & 31,

“New Programs and Projects – involving requests for new resources to implement the plan in cases where no resources are currently in place. Staff will report back to Council in instances where this support will be required in order to implement Mount Pleasant’s plans and policies. An example where a new planning program will be needed is the rezoning of Main 2nd to 7th Avenue. The community supports mixed use development of up to 6 storeys in this area. They also expressed concerns about allowing buildings above 6 storeys at the intersections of Main Street with 2nd Avenue and with 7th Avenue. The concern is in recognition of potential impacts on views – especially at Main and 7th Ave. – and overshadowing of adjacent areas, along with changes to the character of the street. There was also strong support for retaining the Main Street view cone, protecting existing views, and restricting development of higher buildings along the east side of Main Street. Further work to be done on these issues when the Main 2nd to 7th area enters a rezoning process”.

In some of the workshops there were 63% of the participants from the architecture teams of Francl and Arno Matis who plan re-zonings on Main & 2nd and Main & 7th. Both teams are considering rezonings above the 6 storeys anticipated in the MPCP. They are requesting re-zonings of 10 and 12 storey buildings with density in line with the Rize re-zoning which Council said was not to set a development precedent in Mount Pleasant.

How is the City providing ‘community’ input at its community planning workshop when 63% of the participants were from the architecture teams related to re-zonings in the area?

Further, at the implementation workshops the City staff presented to the Public that the Main Street View Cone was only on the east side of Main Street. They were adamant about that fact. The staff refused to entertain any other idea on the location of the view cone even when pressed at meetings to do so. Staff were so adamant about the location that they presented at a workshop, in a scolding manner, a two page letter that said they had proof that the cone was only on the east side of Main Street.

Only after all the open houses and workshops and two days before the MP Implementation Committee’s deadline to have their letters of advice to Planning staff for inclusion in the Council Report, then staff finally did admit that Council had in fact never changed the view cone from both the east and west sides of Main Street.

Presenting incorrect information to the Public is unacceptable and a breach of trust. The Public expects that the City will provide correct information and they did not in this case.

How does presenting incorrect information during workshops and at open houses allow community members to accurately fill out City comment forms or provide relevant feedback?

This report asks Council to change the #22 Main Street View Cone from its wider cone on both the east and west sides of Main Street to a narrow cone on only the east side on Main Street.

How can this view cone be changed without a Public Hearing to alert the community of a change to this threatened view?

The implementation of the Mount Pleasant Community Plan has been a sham. This Report dated October 16, 2013 with Appendix A is a Staff and Developer report. The participants in the implementation process were given incorrect information.

The developers of the two re-zonings on Main at 2nd and Main at 7th have had more influence over the input into the implementation of the Plan and the information in the report to Council than the ordinary citizens in the community.

This is proven by the MPCP Implementation report, appendix A on page 38 where the density here shows what the developers proposed for their re-zoning projects on Main Street at 2nd & 7th. The density in this report has been established to fall in line with the two re-zoning proposals. On page 37 of the MPCP Implementation report the definitions of low, mid and high rise buildings have been created to fall in line with the heights that the two re-zoning proposals at Main and 2nd & 7th have requested on the pretense that these are mid-rise buildings.

This is unacceptable and it cheats the community of having the MP Community Plan implemented as it should have been on pages 30 & 31 of the MPC Plan.

What is Staff’s justification for creating these height definitions for low, mid and high-rise buildings on Main from 2nd to 7th Avenues given that Staff have already said that these definitions should be based on the context, that is, the heights of buildings in the area which are 1 to 10 storeys tall (20 to 100 feet)?

At the MPIC meeting of September 2013 the majority of the Committee voted that their letters and other documents giving advice about the MPCP implementation should be included in the Council report regarding the implementation of the MPCP. The Committee based this request on the Terms of Reference for the MPIC which says, “3.8 MPIC advice will be conveyed verbatim to City Council through attachments to, or sections in, City staff reports or memos.”

Why has the Mount Pleasant Implementation Committee request to have their advice attached verbatim to this report not been complied with?


2 thoughts on “Mount Pleasant Community Plan Implementation plan – in Council Oct 23 – “A Sham” – Serious problems of process and content

  1. Reblogged this on MetroVanWatch and commented:

    Metro Vancouver region’s citizens in other municipalities need to know how things are going in Vancouver. Clearly the problems of top-down, opaque civic control, and frustration experienced by communities, are systemic problems across the region and within the bureaucracy of Metro Vancouver as well. One step toward fixing the ills is shining a spotlight on what is going on, and talking about the problems at the regional level.

  2. Does anyone else feel like when the communities push back, they are punished with a revised version that exacerbates all their initial concerns? I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist or a DOCTOR to figure out where this it’s better because we are sticking to our rhetoric attitude comes from.

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