River District Vancouver (East Fraser Lands): Large forested area was clearcut, development proceeds

(Updated) The forest is already gone and even the topsoil scraped away, but it’s all part of a master plan approved in 2008. The Urban Design Panel has a special workshop at 4 pm on June 18, which we announced in East Fraserlands Town Square, Parcel development at UDP June 18, 2014. Land previously a woodlot. We encourage the public to observe the meeting — to get a good sense of how these processes work. Below is a City’s aerial image of the site before clearcutting, and then several photos taken just today on site. ParkLane is the major project proponent, and Polygon Homes is the first builder partner.

Agenda - Urban Design Panel: 2014 Jun 18

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According to the notice board, this River District is a master planned community located between Kerr Street and Boundary Road, Marine Way and the Fraser River. The plans include homes for approximately 15,000 people, childcare centres, a community centre and school … and approximately 25 acres of park and open space….The trees being cleared in this area will allow for site preparation to begin for the Town Square neighbourhood…. shrubs and other plantings will be planted in the area…The rezoning application for East Fraser Lands (Town Square, Park and Waterfront Precincts) was approved by City Council at a Public Hearing in September 2008. This appears to be the main project website:

River District Vancouver: www.riverdistrict.ca

CityHallWatch notes that these decisions were made under the previous regime at Vancouver City Hall (the NPA) and are being implemented now by Vision Vancouver regime. It would be interesting to review the discussions and issues at that time, and the process that got us to here today.  

This is one of the largest single developments ever conducted in Vancouver, so it is worthy of some additional public attention. We welcome comments and information from readers — on this page, or by e-mail to citizenYVR@gmail.com.

You are also encouraged to attend the UDP meeting on June 18.

COMPANIES INVOLVED

Principal companies involved are: ParkLane Homes, Wesgroup, and Polygon Homes. As they are major players in development in the region, the public has a right to know about them. Here is our basic analysis of their corporate governance.

Parklane Homes: Developer specialising in residential home building in Metro Vancouver for over thirty years. ParkLane has built more than 6,000 homes in over 100 communities since 1980. (From website)
Statement of corporate values and ethics: not indicated on website, but the site does list efforts to give back to communities they serve through a variety of local non-profit organizations and initiatives.
Listing of ownership, executives and directors: not listed on website.

Wesgroup Properties: Real estate company specialising in the development of sustainable, mixed-use spaces. Founded in Vancouver over 50 years ago. Current land holdings stand at over 2.3 million square feet in British Columbia and Alberta. (From website)
Statement of corporate values: http://www.wesgroup.ca/our_company/our_story_values.htm.
Corporate responsibility program details listed here: http://www.wesgroup.ca/our_company/our_story_contributions.htm List of senior management can be found here: http://www.wesgroup.ca/our_company/our_story_values.htm
Listing of ownership: Not indicated on website

Polygon Homes Ltd: Locally owned and operated since 1980, the Polygon family of companies has built more than 22,000 homes in the lower mainland, ranging from concrete high-rises to wood-frame condos. Sister company to Morningstar Homes (Lower Mainland Homebuilder- link: http://www.mstarhomes.com/?page_id=214).
Core Values and company philosophy are listed as Trust, Sincere Care, Forward Thinking and Environment Responsibility. Each value is further expanded.
Details on senior management: http://www.polyhomes.com/about/company/management

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POLITICAL DONATIONS

All of the above have been political donors to Vision Vancouver election campaigns.  Wesgroup Income Properties LP donated at least $27,500 to Vision Vancouver during the official election period for the 2011 civic election. Polygon homes, at least $13,450. Park Lane homes at least $26,350. The donations are evidence of a political relationship. This money is not given for charitable purposes.

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USEFUL READING

The River District “In The News” page carries some interesting stories. For example.

RIVER DISTRICT VANCOUVER MEETS THE MEDIA – AND SPEAKS TO THE CITY (June 9, 2011). Excerpt: It’s not every day that a city wakes up to find a new 130-acre community on its doorstep. But that’s just what happened at the official press conference for River District Vancouver on Monday 16th May, 2011, attended by Mayor Gregor Robertson, municipal officials, project consultants, and journalists from Global TV, CTV, Omni, Fairchild and many more…. Mayor Gregor Robertson echoed the sentiments of ParkLane and Polygon, calling the announcement ‘a momentous occasion’ that opens ‘a new chapter in the story of Vancouver.’ Mayor Robertson emphasized how the scale of the project will impact on his administration’s long-term housing policies.

River District breathes life into South Vancouver: A former industrial area along the Fraser River is being transformed into a complete community that will house about 15,000 residents, by Charlie Smith, The Georgia Straight (February 22, 2012).

Comment: The article itself is more like a sponsored advertisement, but perhaps more interesting are the comments to the article, raising concerns about transportation, infrastructure, sprawl, greenwashing, climate change/sealevel rise and flood hazard, the loss of jobs and industry, difficult road access, taxpayer costs, earthquake hazard on this land, the need to restore green space along the river. Perhaps these have all been addressed in the master plan, but this requires further analysis by committed individuals looking beyond the marketing materials.

Andrès Duany, Riverfront Gambler: Planning guru guiding Vancouver’s East Fraserlands fends off critics. A Tyee interview.
By Adele Weder, 16 Jan 2007, TheTyee.ca. http://thetyee.ca/Views/2007/01/16/Duany/

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CITYHALLWATCH ANALYSIS OF PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT IN PUBLIC HEARING IN JULY 2008. AREA 1.

At the public hearing there were three related items. Below we summarize info from the minutes on correspondence and speakers. Note that this is probably the largest single development ever done in Vancouver. Where was the public involvement in the Public Hearing? Were Vancouver citizens adequately involved in the planning process? Was there an adequate public discussion of all the factors mentioned in the comments to the Straight article?

Agenda 7. Text Amendment: Southeast False Creek Amendments, Area 3C

Summary of Correspondence: There was no correspondence received on this application since referral to Public Hearing.

Speakers: Only 1 person. Rob Fiorvento, Director, Beedie Development Corporation, owners of a site within Area 3C, expressed concern that their site is not included in the recommendation to increase the maximum allowed heights for some buildings within Area 3C. Immediately afterword, Councillor Raymond Louie moved to adjust the maximum and optimum building heights, and by increasing the allowed floor space in Area 3C. Council approved it unanimously.

Agenda 8. CD-1 Rezoning: East Fraser Lands Interim Rezoning
Summary of Correspondence: There was no correspondence received on this application since referral to Public Hearing.

Speakers: The Mayor called for speakers for and against the application and none were present.

Agenda 9. CD-1 Rezoning: East Fraser Lands (Town Square, Park and Waterfront Precincts)

Summary of Correspondence: Council received one letter and one email expressing support for daylighting salmon spawning habitat in the water courses proposed within the application since the date the application was referred to Public Hearing.

Speakers: The following spoke in general support of the application, two of whom addressed the issue of salmon habitat rehabilitation on the site:
Terry Slack (brief distributed – on file)
Steve Lloyd, Co-Vice-Chair, East Fraserlands Committee
Milt Bowling, Co-Vice-Chair, East Fraserlands Committee
John Werring, David Suzuki Foundation

It may be worth searching to find a list of all members of the East Fraserlands Committee. Was the public really involved?

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For the East Fraser Lands, documents and video of the Public Hearing and July 2008 Policy Meeting are on the City of Vancouver website at these links further below.

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http://www.riverdistrict.ca/about-here/development-process/

DEVELOPMENT PROCESS

The Official Development Plan (ODP) for the community was unanimously approved by Vancouver City Council in November 2006.  The ODP reflects the collaborative efforts of Vancouver City staff, ParkLane Homes, the East Fraserlands Committee, Wesgroup Properties and other members of the community.

According to City of Vancouver staff, this is the largest and most complex rezoning the City of Vancouver has ever processed. Rezoning for Area 1 was approved unanimously on September 16, 2008.

TIME FOR CHANGE—A TIMELINE OF PROGRESS

December 2003
East Fraserlands site is acquired by ParkLane.

December 2004

The East Fraserlands Policy Statement is unanimously adopted by the Vancouver City Council.

April 2005
The Official Development Plan (ODP) process begins, as ParkLane and the City of Vancouver organize a comprehensive eight-day Design Charette.

November 2006
The East Fraserlands ODP receives unanimous approval by Vancouver City Council.

April 2007

East Fraserlands Master Plan wins Canadian Institute of Planners Award for Excellence.

June 2007

East Fraserlands wins the BC Smart Growth Award for best development proposal, presented by the Smart Growth BC Foundation.

September 2008
Area 1 Rezoning is unanimously approved.

January 2010
Area 2 Rezoning is unanimously approved.

August 2010
Construction on Kerr Street and the Experience Centre begins.

April 2011
Development permit for first residential buildings is approved.
Parklane announces Polygon Homes as their first builder partner
The community is officially named River District Vancouver.

June 2011
River District Centre opens to the public.

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Note that Area 2 of East Fraser Lands went to Public Hearing on January 19, 2010.

Agenda, minutes, documents, and video:
http://former.vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20100119/phea20100119ag.htm

6. REZONING/TEXT AMENDMENT: East Fraser Lands – Area 2 and Kerr Street Properties

Summary of Correspondence: Council received the following correspondence since the application was referred to Public Hearing: 􀂃 1 email in support, 􀂃 2 letters and 2 emails in opposition.

Speakers: There were NO speakers in support, and the following spoke in opposition to the application or offered recommendations to increase support:
Keith Jacobson, President, Killarney Community Centre Society
Milt Bowling, Co-Chair, East Fraser Lands Committee
George Grant, Chair, Victoria Fraserview Killarney (VFK) Visions Implementation Committee
Derek Thompson
Simon Eteen

 

 

 

 

One thought on “River District Vancouver (East Fraser Lands): Large forested area was clearcut, development proceeds

  1. Life is NOT being breathed into the River District – Wesgroup & the City has it backwards; the life is being TAKEN OUT of the River District. WE DO NOT WANT OR LIKE YOUR PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT PLANS FOR THIS DISTRICT; IT IS BEING SHOVED DOWN OUR THROATS. WE DO NOT WANT TO LIVE IN A CONCRETE JUNGLE WITH TONS OF PEOPLE ; THIS IS WHY WE MOVED DOWN HERE IN THE FIRST PLACE! WE WANT TO BE SURROUNDED BY NATURE; WILDLIFE AND NO DENSIFICATION!! Our way of life & well-being, will change in a bad way forever. In my opinion, what is happening in this River District is nothing short of DISGUSTING.

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