Where’s the public plaza? A look back at Westbank towers at 2220 Kingsway: Compare built form with planning documents.

2200 Kingsway and Norquay Plan

Recent photo (top left). Plus illustration (right) and text (centre) from 2010 Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan (still the official version in 2020).

It is worth looking back to see how a planning document approved by the City of Vancouver was actually implemented. Below is a prominent example by prolific developer Westbank Projects Corp. [warning: heavy graphics] (CEO Ian Gillespie), whose current slogan is “We explain to the world who we are through the things we do.”

We invite readers to compare for themselves the final built form of Westbank’s 2220 Kingsway project, known as “Kensington Gardens.” It is pictured (recent photo above, left), along with an illustration from the Council-adopted Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan (above right, from p 53) and text (above center, from p 52) that pertains to this site.

Where indeed is the large plaza that the plan calls for? (It does not exist.)

By what process did this requirement get removed from Westbank development project?

Compare the implementation and the plan (PDF, 78 pages, search for “Canadian Tire”).
https://vancouver.ca/docs/planning/norquay-community-plan-2010.pdf

The official plan says that “any redevelopment on these two sites [one being 2220 Kingsway] will be required to provide a large (approximately 6,000 – 8,000 square feet) and fully landscaped public plaza which will be activated by retail uses on the edges.” By quick calculation if it was in the shape of a square, that would be a square about 75 to 90 feet  on each side.

Further information about this development (on the site of a former Canadian Tire store) is documented in great detail on Eye on Norquay, which has done more than 40 posts regarding 2220 Kingsway. (https://eyeonnorquay.wordpress.com/category/2220-kingsway/)

Past behaviour of an institution is often an indication of what is likely to come. The municipal government is currently at the early stages of a city-wide plan. Now is an important time to review how the City and development industry have acted in reality after a community or neighbhourhood plan has been consulted, formulated, and officially adopted. It is an important time to ask senior personnel at the City, and elected mayor and council, what guarantees they will put in place so that residents can be confident their precious time and effort providing input on the city plan will actually be reflected in the plan, and once adopted, what assurances do we have the City will faithfully implement them?

As mentioned, it is helpful to look at specific past cases and examine exactly why the final outcome was so different from the approved plan. On this particular case, CityHallWatch will write Westbank and invite an explanation. Stay tuned for their response.

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