Draft Grandview-Woodland Plan Open Houses – Initial Analysis by Elizabeth Murphy

GW plan scale
Three Open Houses have been scheduled by the City of Vancouver regarding the draft Grandview-Woodland Community Plan. These events will be held at the following times:

• June 29th (Wed) 5 – 9 pm, 1880 Triumph St (Maritime Labour Centre)
July 5th (Tues) 5 – 9 pm, 3250 Commercial Drive (Croatian Cultural Centre)
• July 9th (Sat) 1 – 5 pm, 1607 East Hastings (Aboriginal Friendship Centre, Gym)

The City will also announce a few ‘coffee talks’ to speak to residents about the plan after July 11. Further details and the full 247 page draft plan are available on the City’s website.

An initial analysis of the plan was made by Elizabeth Murphy (via email). Her comments are reproduced below with permission:

The Grandview Community Plan draft was released over the weekend. I only just looked at this proposed plan quickly and gave it a comparison to the original previously proposed plan (Emerging Directions June 2013). The following are my first impressions.

cedar coveThis current proposal seems significantly worse in many ways to the 2013 plan. The areas in the heart of both east and west of Commercial were previously show as to retain the existing zoning. Now there is so much 6 storey all over the west of Commercial, north of Venables and Cedar Cove neighbourhoods. Although the plan says that the intent is to retain existing affordable rentals and character buildings, the proposed scales of development will pretty much ensure that will not happen. They are proposing new RT and RM schedules and guidelines.

The obvious issue not addressed is that there is enough existing city-wide zoned capacity to meet future growth. So why is so much being added here in GW that has so much existing more affordable rentals, co-ops, and social housing buildings that could be put at risk?

GW HastingsThe amount of multi-storey residential along Hastings now allows up to 20 storeys whereas it previously was up to 15 storeys. Both proposals have loads of wiggle room with upward increases that will likely wall off the north west in particular.

Apartments and multi-family townhouses along 1st Ave. create a wall across the centre of the neighbourhood when 1st is a freeway not a transit route. No rationale to justify this increase and it will demolish existing affordable rentals west of Commercial and existing MCDs character houses to the east.

Britannia is slated for housing development so expect all currently open spaces to be covered with potentially high density since there is no height restrictions identified. If the housing is used to fund rebuilding of the schools or community centre, the amount of housing will be enormous.

Proposed bike lanes on Victoria Dr. could potentially lead to removal of parking for many multi-family housing buildings that currently do not have on-site options and some without back lanes.

safeway siteThe station area seems to have been tamed somewhat. Mostly midrise 10 storeys with 24 storeys on the Safeway site. But I wonder if CAC negotiations and TOD agreements could push this all upwards. Not clear.

Very little attention to the heritage character of the area. Although it mentions it often, the actual policies proposed are more about scales that will result in replacement with new development. Even by keeping the 4 storeys on the heart of Commercial will result in most of the heritage along the Drive to be redeveloped. Not much character will be left.

The Boffo development site at Venables and Commercial is still way too high at 9 storeys as it sets a precedent and it has too much wiggle room to go higher.

View protection is very limited. It doesn’t even protect the views from Grandview Park.

New RT schedules will allow lots of new development that is not prioritised to be as an incentive to retain existing character buildings.

If they allow increased development rights for new outright development this will not result in retention of character buildings.

Should be based on RT7, RT8, RT6, or RT3 type of zoning that reduces the outright and incentivises retention. Not like the Norquay RTs that are not about retention.

Heritage is treated like a city-wide issue rather than ensuring zoning is designed to protect and encourage retention.

It doesn’t even allow conversions of existing character houses to have two secondary suites so that it can have a top floor, main floor and basement suite under the secondary suite program. Many of the older houses are already operating this way but could be shut down because they have not been brought up to code to meet MCD standards or duplex rather than the more accommodating secondary suite program. Emphasis seems to be on infilll or duplex rather than secondary suites that are much less invasive and much easier to do for the average home owner.

It looks like design guidelines for both RT and RM zones are being removed and replaced with much less design requirements than the current ones that are designed to protect the heritage values of the area. Guidelines should be improved to promote better quality materials and detailing, not effectively removing them to allow modernist where it may ruin a streetscape.

Rezoning for commercial in residential areas could cause all kinds of problems. The little corner stores are not a typical commercial operation and they should not be used to implement larger scale operations or 4 storey apartment development.

There are no limits to site assemblies.

The Rate of Change policies, now called Rental Housing Stock ODP, are only limited to 5 projects of up to 150 existing units lost in 3 years. That is a lot of existing rental loss.

The non-conforming rental buildings in RT zones are not covered by Rate of Change but are open for spot rezonings as part of multifamily development in RT zones without limits to height.

Overall I think this new proposal will do more harm to GW area. It says all the right things but the policies do not reflect it. A lot of time spent that has in many ways not addressed the problems with the previous plan and in many ways made it worse.

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