The City of Vancouver is organizing an Open House for feedback on the Apartment Transition Zone that is part of the Norquay Plan. The Open House will be held on Wednesday, September 23rd, between 5 and 8pm at Norquay Elementary School (4710 Slocan).
Proposed developments in the Apartment Transition Zone near Kingsway currently go through a rezoning process. Proposals can be up to 4-storeys (45 feet) in height and have a Floor Space Ratio of up to 2. Housing in this area is mostly zoned as RS-1 (single family residential). [Update Sept 15,2015] Planners
have apparently mistakenly enlarged the Apartment Transition Zone map (the original map had the area extended south along Earles and Dundee Street); the map has quietly been updated on the City’s website.
The goal of the City is to create a new zoning for the Apartment Transition Zone (with a RM-9A designation) and mass rezone this section of Norquay. If the area-wide rezoning is enacted by City Council, then future 4-storey projects would only have to go through a Development Permit process. In this manner, the decision to allow future 4-storey developments could be done behind closed doors, with Brian Jackson, or his successor making the final decision. The public would have the right to write letters to the Planning Department as part of the “public consultation” stage of a Development Permit process.
While the City is asking for public input on new apartment zoning, it has not released any draft documents for the proposed RM-9A zoning (District Schedule) or for the RM-9A Design Guidelines. The actual text of these two documents will determine the legal parameters of the new zoning. It’s essential information that is not being shared by City of Vancouver staff for public comment.
City staff did not share the drafts of previous zoning for Norquay with the public (in that case, RM-7 & RT-11) until the time of referral (this means the staff present a report to Council with recommendations that it be “referred” to a Public Hearing). After the items were referred, City Council simply passed the new zoning without any changes. If Planning staff want to make a demonstration of good faith to Norquay residents, then certainly releasing the draft apartment transition zoning documents to public scrutiny would be a step in the right direction. Would the new zoning include a role for the Development Permit Board in reviewing applications? Or would the Director of Planning make all decisions behind closed doors? We simply don’t know.
[Updated] It’s worth noting that the City’s maps do not include the other zoning in Norquay. The high density zones along Kingsway, the townhouse and duplex zones are not on the map to show the context. Does the City keep track of how many new housing units are already coming as a result of massive rezonings such as 2220 Kingsway (three 14-storey towers)? How much of the City’s population growth targets have been met for the area? This is essential information that is needed for discussion about the future of Norquay. How can the City expect meaningful public input at the upcoming Open House if they won’t release basic statistics on the current status of the neighbourhood, or release the drafts of the proposed zoning? Could anyone come to the conclusion that the Open House essentially a sham? Stay tuned.
Norquay Village Community Plan: http://vancouver.ca/docs/planning/norquay-community-plan-2010.pdf