Residents write Council on flawed process, opposing rezoning in Grandview Woodland (Nanaimo Street C-1 & C-2): Council decision July 10 (Tues)

[Updated July 10, with additional background info at the bottom. We include them here for others’ reference, as the City’s bad habits and problems with community consultation are evident in a large number of rezonings and developments we have followed over the past ten years. Will things improve with a new regime at City Hall?]

We have received this group letter from 29 concerned residents, with a request to post online for others to see. It is a follow-up to the Public Hearing that concluded on June 26 (2. REZONING: Increasing Housing Choice in Grandview-Woodland – Proposed Amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law). City Council is now set for their final discussion and voting at a Regular Council meeting tomorrow, on Tuesday, July 10 (Unfinished Business, Item 1).

They are not happy with the City’s process. Stated concerns include insufficient community consultation, data manipulation and unclear communication. “This decision has too many negative ramifications for our community and should not be rushed. In light of recent changes made in the Policy Report, more time is required for further community consultation and information gathering before a final decision for redevelopment is made.” 

As CityHallWatch, we note that their observations regarding the City’s rezoning, consultation, and Public Hearing processes seem to be a recurrent theme of at least the past ten years, time after time.

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July 8, 2018

Mayor and Council

Cc: Andrew Pask, Chani Joseph

Re: Proposed Nanaimo Street C-1 & C-2 Re-zonings [note: part of the so-called “REZONING: Increasing Housing Choice in Grandview-Woodland – Proposed Amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law”]

This letter speaks of the concerns of numerous members of the community as listed below.

We are vehemently opposed to the proposed to the rezoning changes affecting Nanaimo Street and 2400 block Kitchener Street and Charles Street.

We stress that Council vote against the proposed rezoning changes on July 10, 2018. We feel that there is insufficient community consultation, data manipulation and unclear communication. This decision has too many negative ramifications for our community and should not be rushed. In light of recent changes made in the Policy Report, more time is required for further community consultation and information gathering before a final decision for redevelopment is made.

Insufficient Community Consultation

· Community members who had early input into community development feel betrayed when their concerns about Commercial development were ignored in the final stages of the approval process. Community consultation regarding C-2 zoning on Nanaimo Street has had no community consultation.

· The only information of proposed changes was a mailed postcard flyer and link to the Policy Report slipped in before the June 26 , 2018 Public Hearing.

· Community residents have been inadequately informed of proposed rezoning changes.

Data Manipulation

· The City’s web page showing Support and Opposition incorrectly reads 3 opposed on June 26. One of the three items is a signed petition of 26 signatures opposed to the rezoning changes. The number of opposed to the proposed rezoning changes greatly exceed those in support of the changes. This is not shown in the council report.

· Another letter of opposed to the rezoning changes was sent in a timely manner to the City for Council’s consideration. This letter was not presented to Council as it was found in the City’s ‘spam’ box. We ask how many more letters sent to the Clerk’s office have gone astray and not counted? How can the community trust all information is being considered?

· Those in support of the rezoning changes are generally industry insiders, realtors and homeowners who will be selling their homes in land assemblies for future development. Supporters are those who stand to gain financially, and are not invested in the community. Clearly these people only have a financial interest with the future state of this community.

As an example;

· One household has 3 letters of support from their children. These children however, do not reside in the community. As a family, they will gain financially if the rezoning is approved through an inflated sale of their parent’s home.

· The same situation is repeated with two other households. There are two other letters of support from children of homeowners. Again, these children do not reside in the community. And they too, stand to gain financially if the family home is sold for development.

All their letters have been counted individually as letters of support. This is clearly a manipulation of data.

Unclear Communication

· The City has a basic responsibility to inform residents of the community.

· Community members need more transparent and clearer communication on the proposed rezoning changes.

· Community members need to quantitative data to see how percentages of support and opposed are determined.

This is a community, and we feel strongly the current actions of the City are not fitting the best interest of the neighbourhood. We urge that Council needs to vote against the proposed rezoning changes on July 10, 2018.

Sincerely,

29 local residents, represented by Mark DesRochers and Ron Anstey

Other names abridged for this web post

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ADDITIONAL INFO ADDED JULY 10, 2018

The following sheds a bit more light on how the City of Vancouver processed this rezoning, and the challenges and issues the local residents had to deal with.

They told CityHallWatch that this rezoning came in connection with the “Grandview Woodlands Community Plan, and we did not know that it would negatively impact the hastings sunrise community in which we all live.” So that suggests a failure of the City to adequately notify and consult with the affected community.

And below in italics is an excerpt from the residents to City Council and the planner in charge. We are not sure if they received answers to the questions. But we include the excerpt below, as it shows the level of detail local residents sometimes have to dig in order to understand and respond on a development proposal.

******

Excerpt from residents’ letter to the City of Vancouver, July 2018. Bold is by CityHallWatch, for emphasis.

Further to your points:

  • Please provide your “policy” that justifies C-1 6-storey, and indicate how a defining criteria such as a District Schedule can be overridden
  • If the Nanaimo Shopping Nodes are not City-initiated, and the District Schedule can be overridden, please indicate how Privately-initiated zonings will be regulated.  For example, what will the limiting factors, and who will be the authority to allow deviations from what is set out in the District Schedule; or does the developer have a free reign?
  • We understand, and strongly object to the “long term objective” incorporating 5 additional blocks of C-2 4-storey between the shopping nodes.  Unfortunately, this late implementation change seem ill-conceived and not thought through
    • The proposed C-2 4-storey is predominantly on the Hasting Sunrise side of Nanaimo.
    • The step downs to the adjacent RS-5 and RS-7 neighbourhoods just doesn’t exist in the Plan and Policy Report. …and a laneway is not a buffer.
    • We find the assumption that C-2 infill will support the Shopping Nodes to be speculative and unsubstantiated, especially when considering the many empty commercial spaces on Kingsway and Hastings. They certainly don’t add vitality to their respective neighbourhoods.
    • In the opinion of local residents, we feel well served by local commercial establishments.  Additional C-1 3-storey is appropriate to the adjoining neighbourhoods and blends well with RT & RM zoning.  
    • In support of retaining the RM & RT zoning, I would like to reiterate a point brought up to Council, that there is a relative abundance of apartment & condo units in the city, but a lack family oriental residential construction. Large multi-storey developments are not appropriate in a community well served by local schools.

Regarding “Community Consultation”

  • We find that Community Consultation to be lacking.  The information sessions at Lord Nelson School and the WISE Hall were superficial and did not illustrate the depth of the impact to this community.
  • Changes in the Policy Report had little to no exposure to the community.

Regarding “Community Support”:

Our findings are not in line with your claim of community supportPlease provide quantifiable data showing “support” and those “against”.   We canvassed our community and received overwhelming feedback that the residents were unaware, and once made aware, were completely against the changes.

  • We have recorded instances where emailed letters have been submitted within the appropriate time window, but are not on the record.  How many more were missed?
  • We have noted 10 supporting letters on record, 5 came from persons not in this community (thus not directly affected)  and 5 came from children, even three from children in the same household.
  • Our initial petition was submitted at the Public Hearing, but has been recorded by the City as “neutral” rather than “against”.

We entrust City staff and politicians to act in good faith to the benefit of current and future citizens of Vancouver.

Members of this local community generally support reasonable densification, and as stakeholders in the community, we demand to be kept informed and be allowed input into our community’s development. What we have seen is token consultation with the community, with significant amendments buried in massive documents that are inaccessible to most community membersMany members in this community are frustrated by a process that is not accountable, either by a Council that is ready to retire, or a planning staff that is taking direction from developers

We state again that C-1 6-storey  and C-2 4-storey in the 5 addition blocks on Nanaimo Street is not acceptable.  We support a reasonable increase of densification with C-1 3-storey as set out in the District Schedule along with RT & RM infills.  The proposed changes need to be halted and followed by proper community consultation.

Furthermore: We’ve just discovered (confirmed by [city clerk]) that at least one neighbour sent in an email opposing the changes and found eventually by your IT department in a “spam” folder.

How many other opposition emails have not been registered correctly?

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