Garden courtyard apartments are one of the housing forms considered in the proposed new RM-9A zoning for Norquay. This is a relatively uncommon building typology in Vancouver. A fine example of an apartment with a courtyard entrance is “View Court” located at 12 West 10th Avenue.
Two different styles of garden courtyards are under consideration for Norquay. One of the forms would allow a courtyard with a 24-foot (7.3m) width between two parallel buildings. The other form is the “C-shaped” typology like View Court, with a street facing entrance courtyard. The entrance courtyard would have a minimum width of 26 feet (8 metres); however the proviso of “may be relaxed” under “certain conditions” is also included in the description.
One of the weaknesses in the City of Vancouver’s process of developing new zoning types is the lack of involvement of outside experts. Many countries all around the world have traditions in building housing forms that are uncommon in Vancouver; these include garden courtyard apartments as well as rowhouses. Could a better zoning district schedule be achieved by external review and input?
The full technical details of the proposed new zoning are being kept under wraps. The City of Vancouver is refusing to release drafts of the proposed RM-9A zoning or design guidelines. Apart from the greatly simplified descriptions of the proposed new zoning on a few information panels shown at a September 2015 Open House, the specifics of the draft RM-9A are not available. The City has no intention of making the draft zoning available until the time the zoning is referred to a Public Hearing, and by then it is too late for input. The Council majority will just rubber-stamp the draft zoning document without any changes.
Do planning staff truly believe that members of the public have nothing at all to contribute to a new District Schedule, and that there are no experts outside of the confines of City Hall that have anything worthwhile to say about zoning? The secrecy has to stop. The Norquay neighbourhood needs to be given a chance to have a meaningful opportunity to have a fair say in a new area wide zoning for their community. Top-down City Planning has to stop.