(Updated: More comments at bottom) City of Vancouver planning staff will be recommending that Vancouver City Council on Tuesday, February 3, 2015, refer an application for a major development at Marine Gardens (445 Southwest Marine Drive) to the next stage — a Public Hearing.
Proponent Concord Pacific is requesting that the City rezone the site to permit a 582 residential dwelling units in residential two towers (27 and 21 storeys), a seven-storey building (market rental housing), and a childcare facility.
Jillian Skeet, long time resident and member of the Marine Gardens’ Residents’ Association has provided CityHallWatch with a copy of her letter to Mayor and Council, asking City Council not go go ahead with the rezoning process.
She cites many serious concerns, including …
- inappropriate response to affordable housing crisis,
- misrepresentation of facts,
- violation of legal/democratic process (City in conflict of interest),
- lack of meaningful public consultation,
- need to protect wildlife corridor,
- missing land title,
- traffic concerns, and
- schools already at capacity.
With such serious concerns being posed, would the City of Vancouver be acting in good faith and the public interest if it accepted as-is the staff report (by Brian Jackson, General Manager of Planning and Development Services), and decide on Feb. 3 to move ahead to the Public Hearing phase? Perhaps City staff should address all of the concerns, on record in the Council Chambers, before our elected officials even consider sending this onward to a Public Hearing, lest the B.C. Supreme Court have to intervene in yet another expensive conflict between citizens and City Hall.
Below is a copy of the letter by Jillian Skeet, plus supporting documents. For information about the proponent, see our previous story: “Concord Pacific: Corporate social responsibility, integrity and governance.”
- Agenda for the meeting: http://former.vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20150203/regu20150203ag.htm (instructions are here for anyone wishing to write or speak to City Council, specifically regarding “readiness” for the application to go to a Public Hearing: sufficient notice, comprehensible to the public, inconsistencies, irregularities, conflicts with legislation, etc.)
- Policy report (PDF, 48 pages): “CD-1 Rezoning – 445 Southwest Marine Drive (Marine Gardens)“
- Coverage in Vancouver Courier http://www.vancourier.com/news/developing-story-marine-gardens-rezoning-proposal-goes-before-council-1.1745407
TEXT OF LETTER FROM BRIAN JACKSON (General Manager, Planning and Development Services) to Jillian Skeet
December 20, 2013
Jillian Skeet, Marine Gardens’ Residents’ Association
Dear Ms. Skeet:
RE: Demolition of Marine Gardens Townhouse Community
Thank you for your letter to Mayor Robertson regarding Marine Gardens and the proposed redevelopment. I understand staff have been in contact with you regarding the latest development proposal for the site.
We recognize that Marine Gardens has provided valuable and affordable rental housing in the city since its development in the 1970’s, as well as in its current important function of providing lower-cost rental housing within the Marpole community.
Council has not made any decisions regarding the rezoning for Marine Gardens. However, staff have been very forthcoming about the City’s goals to densify near transit stations, as set out in the Cambie Corridor Plan and as was re-iterated at the two rezoning open houses held by staff. Council’s goal is also to provide a range of housing options for all incomes, which is why staff included the clause of replacing the rental housing on a one-to-one basis in 2011 when we approved the Cambie Corridor Plan. Staff are continuing their discussions with the developer (Concord Pacific) to review the potential rents for the 70 units of rental housing, including any options to make the units as affordable as possible.
Staff are also committed to working with the residents and the developer to come up with a tenant relocation plan satisfactory to the residents of Marine Gardens. While saving the townhouses as requested in your letter would not be considered an option, staff will work with your association to develop a relocation plan that considers the needs of the residents.
Thank you for your input. I hope that you will continue to provide feedback on how we can ensure that our existing communities can remain vibrant, and you remain involved in the process moving forward.
For further information or any questions, please contact Kent Munro, Assistant Director of Current Planning, at 604-873-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brian Jackson, MCIP
General Manager, Planning and Development Services
cc: Mayor Gregor Robertson, Mayor’s Office
Mike Magee, Chief of Staff, Mayor’s Office
Ken Munro, Assistant Director, Current Planning
VANCOUVER CHARTER [SBC 1953] CHAPTER 55
Part XXVII — Planning and Development
Amendment or repeal of zoning by-law
- (1) The Council shall not make, amend, or repeal a zoning by-law until it has held a public hearing thereon, and an application for rezoning shall be treated as an application to amend a zoning by-law.
(2) Council may by by-law require every person applying for an amendment to the zoning by-law to accompany the application with a fee to be prescribed by by-law.
(2.1) A fee under subsection (2) may vary depending on the size of the area covered by the proposed rezoning, and the by-law establishing the fee may provide for a reduction of the fee depending upon the complexity or scope of the proposed amendment.
(2.2) A fee under subsection (2) must not exceed the average costs of processing, inspection, advertising and administration that are usually related to a zoning by-law amendment of the kind to which the fee relates.
(3) Notice of the hearing, stating
(a) the time and place of the hearing, and
(b) the place where and the times when a copy of the proposed by-law may be inspected,
shall be published in accordance with section 3, with the last publication appearing at least 7 days and not more than 14 days before the date of the hearing.
(4) At the hearing all persons who deem themselves affected by the proposed by-law shall be afforded an opportunity to be heard in matters contained in the proposed by-law, and the hearing may be adjourned from time to time.
(5) After the conclusion of the public hearing, the Council may pass the proposed by-law in its original form or as altered to give effect to such representations made at the hearing as the Council deems fit.
(5.1) A member of the Council who
(a) is entitled to vote on a proposed by-law that was the subject of a public hearing, and
(b) was not present at the public hearing
may vote on the passing of the proposed by-law if an oral or written report of the public hearing has been given to the member by the Director of Planning or another official of the city.
(6) Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, where any street or part thereof has been stopped up under the provisions of any Act and the ownership thereof is transferred to the owner of an adjoining parcel of land, then the land formerly comprising the street or part thereof so stopped up shall be deemed to be zoned for the same purpose for which the parcel of which it has become a part is already zoned unless the Council by resolution shall otherwise direct.
(7) Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, where any land zoned pursuant to this Part has been transferred to the city for street purposes, whether such street is established or opened up by the city or not, such land shall be deemed not to be zoned unless the Council by resolution shall otherwise direct.
1959-107-20; 1962-82-16; 1992-57-15; 1999-38-65; 2008-42-139; 2010-6-136.
A layperson’s observations of the policy statement:
1) The City seems to think larger, affordable townhouses with their own door to an outside courtyard are comparable to tiny little apartments, at double the price, in a 7 story building with elevators and hallways. This is comparing apples and oranges. The wording (in the policy report, copied below below) is vague but the only similarity is that they are rentals. To call them a ‘similar unit type’ is beyond a stretch.
From the policy document:
“The Cambie Plan requires that any redevelopment of this site must deliver replacement rental units of a similar unit type,”
2) Some people may say that the City hasn’t violated Article 566 with Brian Jackson’s letter because of the Cambie Plan. The vague references in the Cambie Plan in no way supercede the Vancouver Charter and the requirements for a rezoning application.
From the policy document:
“While the Cambie Plan does not give specific guidance on form of development for the site, it does call for any proposal to transition from the adjacent site to the west.”
3) What’s with the $10,000,000 in the CACs for off-site? Why were the 70 units not at least made affordable?
From the policy document:
“$10,000,000 to the Affordable Housing Reserve, for use off site to increase the City’s affordable housing supply.”
4) The main vehicular entrance in and out of the new development is on Marine Drive half-way between Cambie and Yukon. Could this be a recipe for traffic chaos?
From the policy document:
“A secondary entry to the site is being proposed (by the developers) from Yukon Street. While staff are encouraging the applicant to eliminate this entry and have all parking accessed from Marine Drive”…
5) The policy report is only allowing for 0.4 cars per unit yet this is supposed to provide housing for families. Any family that has $2,100 per month for a tiny 920 sq. ft. 3 bedroom apartment is likely going to have a car. But on the other hand, parents with kids might have to be desperate to pay $2,100 for 920 sq. ft. cut up into three bedrooms.
From the policy document: (re MG replacement units)
“Replicating the preexisting mix of two-and three-bedroom units will allow this site to continue to accommodate families in units built to current standards for safety and liveability…”
Question: How is it going to be for families living in tiny apartments with elevators and hallways and no cars?
6) As far back as we are aware the City has misrepresented the project as containing 70 affordable units – screen-shots from the City website can prove it. Despite it being pointed out, the information was never corrected.
From the policy document:
“The City of Vancouver Rezoning Centre webpage included notification and information about the application, as well as an online comment form. Notification signs were also posted on the site”
7) Many people believe Marine Gardens should be declared a heritage site. One such suggestion was sent in to City Hall, but it disappeared into a black hole.
From the policy document:
“Heritage Density — On September 25, 2013, City Council approved amendments to the Transfer of Density Policy and Procedure to allow for the transfer of heritage amenity to be considered in rezonings on a city-wide basis. The applicant has offered to purchase heritage amenity density with a value of $3,249,870 — equivalent to approximately 49,998 sq. ft. of floor area. The purchase would support city-wide heritage conservation efforts.” (The proponent even has to provide a guarantee of this before the rezoning goes to a public hearing as one of two preconditions.)
8) The policy document says that current rents are low because of age and condition of the Marine Garden townhouses. But in fact, they are low because the townhouse community was build as a model of affordable, family-oriented, community living. (That is why it became a showcase for Habitat and a model for the co-ops that followed). It was not built for profit.
The policy document says:
“Given the current age and condition of this 40-year-old development, existing market rents for these units are generally at or below average market rents seen elsewhere in the Marpole community…”
9) It was in 2011 (May?) that Concord bought Marine Gardens. The previous owners were not interested in redeveloping it.
The policy documents says:
“The Policy for this area is the Cambie Corridor Plan which was adopted by Council in May 2011. At the time there wasn’t any information on Marine Gardens as it wasn’t being considered for redevelopment but staff did indicate that they would look at a rezoning for the site.”
(When word of redevelopment first started circulating, Jillian Skeet wrote to Mayor Gregor Robertson. This below is an excerpt from one of the four letters to him that the Mayor never acknowledged or answered…. So much for an “Engaged City.” The citizens are engaged and trying to communicate. The City is not engaged. Not listening. Not responding.)
June 7th, 2010
Mayor Gregor Robertson
Re: Marine Gateway Project
I am devastated to learn that my 70 unit townhouse unit, Marine Gardens, has been slated for demolition – to be replaced by a hi-rise as part of the Marine Gateway Project.
At the recent Open House on June 5th, I was provided with a comment form that seemed to focus solely on whether this project would provide more bike lanes and alternative transportation, with no questions whatsoever about affordable accommodation, family-oriented residential development or providing a healthy environment for children.
While I support efforts to be more eco-friendly, this cannot be the sole factor in determining new development in our neighbourhood or the City as a whole. I wish to draw your attention to a number of factors that, in my discussions with City Planners, appear to be either unknown or ignored. Some of these are specific to my townhouse, many relate to the larger issue of creating a healthy and sustainable society. ….