Crucial meeting cancelled at last minute: DPB approval of 18 & 19 storey towers Henriquez/Marcon project in West End was scheduled for today

1345-davie-render-1-changingcitybook

The Development Permit Board (DPB) meeting that was scheduled for today at 3 pm (December 12, 2016) was suddenly cancelled after 4 pm on Friday, with less than one business day advance notice. It was “deferred at the applicant’s request.” Public notification amounted to e-mails sent to anyone who had corresponded with the City on the application, plus a change to the web page at about 5 pm. Other than that, no one would know.

This post is for the record, to be noted especially by neighbourhoods undergoing community planning processes (and in fact, the entire city of Vancouver if we ever get a citywide plan).

It is rather exceptional for a DPB meeting to be cancelled like this at the last moment. A significant amount of effort goes into preparation on both sides (applicant and the City), and this has been scheduled months in advance. Delays come with costs. It also is another example of the neighbourhood put into a weak position when it comes to having a say in developments that affect them, especially in cases where no public hearing is held and instead the approval decision goes straight to the DPB. More on that below. Any citizens who had been preparing and planning to attend and speak to the meeting might have just showed up on the day, only to find the meeting cancelled. On the other hand, the delay provides more time for people to write to staff and attend the future meeting. As of this moment (noon on Dec 12), the long-term DPB schedule PDF still shows this meeting as happening.

What is the reason for the cancellation? Is this related to the ongoing internal and external reviews of the improper waiver of $1.5 million in DCLs (see “City releases investigation findings on mistaken $1.5 million DCL waiver for Onni“), which came up very unexpectedly? The public may never know the real reason.

CityHallWatch keeps track of upcoming meetings of the municipal government to support public involvement and engagement in City decisions.  As a result of “prezoning” of large sections of the West End (along Davie and Robson Streets) shortly after Council adopted the West End Community Plan in 2013, City Hall approvals for these areas go straight to the four-member Development Permit Board. Its members are senior staff. The public has no formal opportunity to address elected officials any more on projects  in these areas. So these DPB meetings take on a greater importance.

Added: As another example of public input being short-changed, rezonings require public hearings, which require advance notification, including publication in newspapers for two consecutive weeks. It would be rather extreme for an item to be added or removed from a public hearing agenda one business day in advance. Yet this is exactly what happens with agenda of the DPB.

If you are concerned about these processes, you may wish to contact Mayor and Council with your comments and suggestions.

A bit about the project in question…1345 Davie Street (DP-2016-00373). Henriquez Partners Architects applied on behalf of Marcon to the City of Vancouver for permission to develop this site with two new 18 and 19 storey residential buildings, over a 3 and 4 storey podium. The complete package of development application documents is  here. West End Neighbours has made some comments here. This is a major development for 153 market residential and 68 “social housing” units (note that this is strictly as defined by the City). Three final staff report documents are still posted on the DPB meeting page. The staff report/recommendation dated November 16, 2016 is here. An open house was held from on October 12, 2016 at The Coast Plaza Hotel to get public input.  The proposal was reviewed
by the Urban Design Panel on October 19, 2016 where it received support (10 votes in support, zero opposed.).

Public comments by November 16 (excerpt from staff report, p17): Twenty-eight people attended the open house and we received 8 written comment forms from that
evening. To date, a total of 17 written (including email) responses have been received. Three respondents requested additional information about the application; five expressed support for the project, (some of which expressed support for the social housing component of the project, stating that it will serve an important need in the community); and 9 respondents wrote either in direct opposition or with significant concerns. 

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Nice article about Marcon:

Developers, non-profits building social-purpose success: Social-purpose real estate has become more common in Metro Vancouver, driven in part by churches that own valuable land (by Jen St. Denis, Business in Vancouver, July 28, 2015). Principals: Marco Paolella, owner of Marcon Developments, with son Nic Paolella, development manager.

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As of December 12, 2016, Development Permit Board members are listed as follows:

http://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/development-permit-board.aspx

Board Members

Position Alternate(s)
Andrea Law
Assistant Director, Customer Service
Kent Munro
Assistant Director, Vancouver – Midtown
Any Assistant Director of Planning
Gil Kelley
General Manager, Planning, Urban Design & Sustainability
Anita Molaro
Assistant Director, Urban Design
Any Assistant Director of Planning
Jerry Dobrovolny
General Manager, Engineering Services
Cheryl Nelms
Deputy General Manager, Engineering Services
Paul Mochrie
Deputy City Manager
Kathleen Llewellyn-Thomas
General Manager, Community Services
Any other General Manager

DPB meetings scheduled for 2017…

  • January 09, 2017
  • January 23, 2017
  • February 6, 2017
  • February 20, 2017
  • March 6, 2017
  • March 20, 2017
  • April 3, 2017
  • April 18, 2017 (Tuesday)
  • May 1, 2017
  • May 15, 2017
  • May 29, 2017
  • June 12, 2017
  • June 26, 2017
  • July 10, 2017
  • July 24, 2017
  • August 8, 2017 (Tuesday)
  • August 21, 2017
  • September 5, 2017 (Tuesday)
  • September 18, 2017
  • October 2, 2017
  • October 16, 2017
  • October 30, 2017
  • November 14, 2017 (Tuesday)
  • November 27, 2017
    December 11, 2017
  • December 25, 2017

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