Lack of public scrutiny of omnibus bylaw changes: Public Hearing Tues (tonight, 6pm) April 5

Omnibus bylaw changes - watch outThe first item on the agenda for the Public Hearing with Vancouver City Council tonight (Tuesday, April 5) is an omnibus set of bylaw changes:

TEXT AMENDMENT: Miscellaneous Amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law, the Downtown Official Development Plan, the Downtown-Eastside/ Oppenheimer Official Development Plan, the RM-7 and RM-7N Guidelines and the License By-law

The text was first made the public when the documents went online just a few days ago. The City website currently lists no correspondence received on the topic, so we suspect public awareness is low, although MANY areas of the City are affected. There might be a staff presentation of the content during the Public Hearing, but other than that, nothing for the public. Was any of this presented to affected groups and communities in advance? Probably not. In fact, we know that some of the most affected parties did not even know this item was on the agenda at a Public Hearing. (Proponents of IAP2 consultation guidelines, take note!)

And look at some of the key words:

  • “increase the allowable projection of covered porches into the front yard”
  • “increase in the maximum number of storeys from two and partial third storey to three and a partial fourth storey”
  • “…definition and regulations for Neighbourhood Grocery Store”
  • “…relaxation of the maximum floor space ratio of a building”
  • “…allow a relaxation to the floor area distribution requirement for the first and second storeys for new development located in a floodplain”
  • “…laneway house”

Districts specifically mentioned include RM-7/7N, RM-8/8N, C-3A, C- 5, C-5A, C-6, FC-1, RS-6, RT-10, RT-10N, HA-1, HA-1A, HA-2, plus Downtown Official Development Plan (DODP) and the Downtown-Eastside/ Oppenheimer Official Development Plan (DEOD ODP). (Download Vancouver zoning map here.) Do people affected by these changes have any idea what is being proposed?

In fact, the text is clearly not written for public consumption, and we are not aware of any explanation having been provided in layperson’s terms.

One reader wrote us saying this: It’s “interesting” that the material that the City provides continues to describe changes in as obtuse a way as possible, often requiring the reader to refer to the previous document (not included) in order to understand the meaning of the change. It’s almost as if they’re trying to hide what they’re doing. Almost all of the changes are in line with what I see as the City’s focus on addressing affordability issues almost exclusively by increasing the supply, and doing so almost exclusively by relaxing requirements that had been there to support livability. Increasing supply hasn’t worked yet, so it’s dubious that continuing in this direction will have a different effect. And relaxing provisions designed to ensure livability will have a predicable effect on livabilityIn short, I don’t like where this is going.

What are the implications over time?

Below we copy the main points of the changes, for the record. If any readers are concerned or have comments, we encourage you to write to City Council or speak the Public Hearing.

(For our summary of all items on Council agendas this week (including rezonings on this Public Hearing agenda) please see our previous post: City Council Preview April 5-6: Emergency Preparedness, Neighbourhood Grocery Stores, AirBnB, Council salary raise, 6505 Main rezoning and more.)

One component of the omnibus bylaw changes is to allow Neighbourhood Grocery Stores (such as Le Marché St. George) to sell coffee and prepared foods. This is the result of a grassroots campaign will probably be popular.

However, in the “omnibus bill” style of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, it appears that several other tricky items have been slipped in. The documents are voluminous and filled with jargon. One approved, City Hall will justify future decision by simply these are official policy. But the implications of all the components thrown in here have not been analyzed independently for their impacts and implications, and the creation of winners and losers from the changes.

*******

1. TEXT AMENDMENT: Miscellaneous Amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law, the Downtown Official Development Plan, the Downtown-Eastside/ Oppenheimer Official Development Plan, the RM-7 and RM-7N Guidelines and the License By-law

Summary and Recommendation PDF

Policy Report dated February 10, 2016 PDF

Draft By-law – Zoning and Development PDF

Draft By-law – Downtown Official Development Plan (DODP) PDF

Draft By-law – Downtown-Eastside/Oppenheimer Official Development Plan (DEODP) PDF

Excerpt of Summary and Recommendation

A. … amend the Zoning and Development By-law to:

  1. increase the allowable projection of covered porches into the front yard, and the basement area directly below, for multiple dwellings, in the RM-7/7N and RM-8/8N districts;
  2. allow an increase in the maximum number of storeys from two and partial third storey to three and a partial fourth storey for multiple dwellings with 4 or more dwelling units on sloping sites in the RM-7/7N district to improve liveability; 3)
  3.  add a definition for Theatre use in Section 2 Cultural and Recreational Uses to ensure consistency of interpretation and to provide clarification;
  4.  amend the definition and regulations for Neighbourhood Grocery Store to establish the sale of groceries and convenience goods as the primary purpose and permit the selling and serving of prepared food as an ancillary use;
  5.  clarify that a relaxation of the maximum floor space ratio of a building may be considered in exchange for the provision of a cultural facility in the C-3A, C- 5, C-5A and C-6 and FC-1 districts;
  6.  amend the RM-8/8N Districts Schedule to clarify that the maximum floor space ratio achievable through payment of amenity/affordable housing shares must comply with the District Schedule and the Zoning and Development By-law;
  7.  allow a relaxation to the floor area distribution requirement for the first and second storeys for new development located in a floodplain in the RS-6 District Schedule;
  8.  clarify that a laneway house is permitted only in conjunction with an existing one-family dwelling or onefamily dwelling with a secondary suite;
  9.  amend the RT-10 and RT-10N Districts Schedule to correct a referencing error; and
  10.  amend the HA-1 and HA-1A and HA-2 District Schedules to correct a section numbering error.

B. To amend the Downtown Official Development Plan (DODP) and the Downtown-Eastside/ Oppenheimer Official Development Plan (DEOD ODP) to clarify that a relaxation of the maximum floor space ratio of a building may be considered in exchange for the provision of a cultural facility.

C. To amend the RM-7 and RM-7N Guidelines to ensure that the guidelines are consistent with the above amendments to the RM-7/7N and RM-8/8N Districts Schedule.

 

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