(Update – The Public Hearing ended on June 23, and the final Council decision is set to be made during Regular Council on Tuesday, June 28, 2016.)
A new Public Hearing will start tonight with one item on the agenda. This is one to watch, and participate in. After the four-year civic elections, Public Hearings are the next most direct chance to address elected officials. There have been lots of shenanigans by the City on this particular application, including violations of City policies and processes. There is much more going on with this case than meets the eye, and there are citywide implications for neighbourhoods and citizens in terms of both the City’s policy and processes.
Cedar Cottage Area Neighbours (CCAN) is planning a rally on the south steps of City Hall at 5:30 pm today (facing 12th Ave), before the Public Hearing starts at 6 pm.
Note that @jonesj is live tweeting from the meeting. Also, follow @vancityclerk.
Here are some key points.
- The application by Cressey Developments is to rezone 3365 Commercial Drive and 1695-1775 East 18th Avenue from RS-2 (Single Family Dwelling) District to CD-1 (Comprehensive Development) District. There are two proposed sub-areas, each with a separate and distinct development. Official rezoning page: http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/planning/rezoning/applications/3365commercial/index.htm
- The May 24 Public Hearing was well attended, with the vast majority of speakers and correspondence against the rezoning. That night, Vision Vancouver had a rare minority of votes that night, with only three members present, while the opposition had the majority with the NPA having three and Greens one. The meeting was at the final stage, just before the Council decision by voting. Two Councillors had already stated how they would vote (one for, one against). One Councillor (Stevenson) then proposed that the decision be postponed in order to get more information from staff. The Chair (Louie) accepted it, breaking from past practices at Public Hearing when the Chair would force a vote to go ahead. In protest, the four opposition Councillors walked out. Meanwhile, the video feed went dead. See Eye on Norquay for description of that night. See “Gong Show” (eyewitness) and “Council Chaos” (transcript).
- (A major thing to watch for at the Public Hearing will be the depth and extent of information provided to Council by staff regarding the many trees on the property. The absolute trigger for the May 24 hearing to go off the rails was Stevenson’s intense desire to postpone Council voting to another day in order to get more information from a City arborist.)
- On May 31, Council voided the May 24 hearing and called for a new one, which turns out to be June 23. The legal implications of this outcome and precedent still leave lots to be clarified.
- A core aspect of this rezoning is the Interim Rezoning Policy, which was adopted a few years ago by Council with no prior public input.
- In the intervening days, developer Cressey Development, which also happens to be a major political donor of the ruling Vision Vancouver, has reportedly been actively reaching out to encourage people to lobby Council to approve this rezoning, and individual who appear to be industry sponsored are active on social media trying to prop up support.
- Meanwhile correspondence sent to the first public hearing on May 24 has been forwarded to the second one on June 23, but any comments to speakers on May 24 are deemed by the City to have never been spoken.
CCAN issued a press release on this application on June 17, as follows.
City Council will hold a new Public Hearing on June 23 (Thurs.) after it voided the May 24 Public Hearing due to an unprecedented walk-out by Councillors protesting the handling of the meeting. Cedar Cottage Area Neighbours (CCAN) is warning other neighbourhoods that if Council approves the rezoning at 18th and Commercial Drive, Council may then use it as a precedent in Single Family (RS Zoned) neighbourhoods everywhere in Vancouver.
This project is proposed under the City’s Interim Rezoning Policy (IRP), which allows the construction of rental buildings up to six storeys on arterial streets. In this case however, the developers didn’t just set their sights on one lot on Commercial Drive. They scooped up the five connecting properties in this RS Zone and amalgamated them. Now the project includes a three and a half storey apartment building intruding into this single family neighbourhood, which until now would not have been permitted.
This application violates several of the policies and guidelines intended to protect Single Family (RS) Zones.
1. RS zones are not listed as eligible to receive extra density under
an IRP project.
2. The IRP policy permits only “ground oriented” housing within 100
meters of an arterial. “Ground oriented” generally means housing
that has direct access to the street or ground level (i.e., its own
3. The Mayor’s Affordable Housing Task Force: Roundtable on Building
Form and Design specifically recommended that to increase density in
RS single family zones, ground-oriented housing should be used.
4. New projects are supposed to reflect the character of the
Lee Chapelle of CCAN says, “We urge the City Council NOT to approve this rezoning. Too often, the Vision Vancouver majority uses rental housing to justify the violation of many principles. In this case, the principle is the protection of Vancouver’s single-family zoning and the preservation of the character of these neighbourhoods.
CCAN warns others that if this proposal goes through in its current form, then your neighbourhood could be next.
We encourage people to attend the Public Hearing on June 23rd at 6:00 pm to ask City Council to oppose this project at Commercial and East 18^th Avenue. Build ground-oriented styles of rental housing in RS zones.
* Mayor’s Affordable Housing Task Force: Roundtable on Building Form
* Project description
Cedar Cottage Area Neighbours (CCAN) is a non-profit coalition of neighbours who are striving to preserve the livability and unique character of this special community.