A rezoning for a 14-storey tower at 1111-1123 Kingsway is on the agenda of the July 7th Public Hearing (6pm). This site is at the corner of Glen Drive and Kingsway, in a part of the City designated as Little Saigon. It exposes some of the big problems with the City’s MIRHPP program.
The 14-storey tower, with 131 rental units includes 20% of the units for ‘moderate income’ under the Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program (MIRHPP). The proposal would be 150 ft in height and have a Floor Space Ratio of 5.38. There would be commercial uses at grade. A total of 94 underground parking spots are proposed.
Other recent developments around this site have been 4-storey C-2, although there currently are other rezonings for 6-storeys nearby.
The applicant is a numbered company 1076164 B.C. Ltd. (Peterson Group). See below for more on this company.
This tower would be height and density precedent for the immediate area, and if approved would probably mark the beginning large changes in Little Saigon. It could accelerate the gentrification of the area and fuel further redevelopment. The developments in the area have in the past been guided by the Kensington-Cedar Cottage (KCC) Community Vision CityPlan.
Former COPE City Councillor Anne Roberts spent years as a volunteer taking part in the development of the CityPlan for KCC. A letter to Council from Anne Roberts is reproduced further below (with permission). She points out how the application is an outright distortion of the formally adopted community vision, indicates the other forms of development (e.g, rowhouses, triplexes, six-plexes in single-family areas) that ARE supported by the community vision.
See other correspondence to Council on the Public Hearing page for July 7, which includes instructions on how to write or speak to Council.
The application has been largely under the radar, but this article in The Tyee raises many issues, augmented by interviews with locals in the community.
“Vancouver’s Little Saigon Facing Gentrification? Developers get density, city gets rentals. What could go wrong?” (Zachary Hyde, 29 Jan 2020)
Update: Note that Peterson appears to have violated an important zoning bylaw for many years while the City’s enforcement officers, senior officials, and elected officials looked the other way. On Alberni Street downtown Vancouver, Peterson operated 96 units in the Carmana Plaza building as a hotel. It was zoned as a rental building. In effect, the company was profiting from higher income as a hotel. It was only through persistent and repeated citizen detective work, inquiries and formal complaints that the City finally took action: Rather than forcing Peterson to return the units to the rental market, it approved a development application to reclassify the building as a hotel. No information was ever provided to the public regarding whether back-taxes were ever collected or fines imposed. At the public hearing, we encourage members of City Council to ask both senior staff (ideally, the chief planner) and the developer/applicant to describe and answer questions on this topic.
Letter from Anne Roberts to City Council:
I am writing to oppose the proposed CD-1 rezoning of 1111-1123 Kingsway.
I’ve lived in Kensington-Cedar Cottage for 40 years. My kids attended the nearby Charles Dickens Elementary, where I was chair of the parents committee for several years. I also served as the co-chair of the KCC CityPlan Committee, working with hundreds of residents over several years to develop the Vision that was eventually approved by the community and then adopted by council. https://vancouver.ca/docs/planning/kensington-cedar-cottage-community-vision-full-report.pdf
Let me say that the summary presented in the staff report (see below in bold) is an outright distortion of the Vision that was adopted as official city policy to guide development in our community:
“Kensington-Cedar Cottage Community Vision — In July 1998, Council approved the Kensington-Cedar Cottage Community Vision, which recognizes the potential for additional developments to provide housing, strengthen local shopping areas and improve safety by adding “eyes on the street”.
I urge you to read the actual KCC Vision before voting whether to allow yet another high-rise tower. They are sprouting like weeds along Kingsway. From East 10th, to one block east of Victoria, there are now 8 tall towers already built, being constructed, or in some stage of planning. (Peterson, Neighbourhood Context, p. 6) All in complete contradiction to KCC’s Vision!
KCC Vision Highlights clearly illustrates that the community welcomed reasonable densification (rowhouses, triplexes, six-plexes) in single-family areas to provide a range of housing types that would be affordable to all income levels. This diverse housing was to be built within walking distance of neighbourhood centres that would provide sufficient services — such as the library, transit, food, shopping, entertainment, etc. — that residents’ needs could be mostly met close to home. Here is an excerpt:
Single Family Neighbourhoods
Most single-family areas should be kept as now, maintaining the sense of community that residents value. In areas with character (e.g., pre-1940s buildings), there should be incentives to renovate and preserve, and design review for new buildings to help maintain the neighbourhood character. Rental suites are already allowed in all areas, and City regulations should be changed to make them more feasible.
Three Neighbourhood Centres
The shopping areas at Broadway and Commercial, at Knight and Kingsway, and at Victoria and 41st, should become neighbourhood centres to provide a range of shops, services, jobs, and housing. Each centre should be unique in character. New three to four storey mixed-use buildings, with commercial and housing, will continue to replace older, smaller buildings, but the new buildings should be better designed and more neighbourly. These centres should also have safe and attractive pedestrian crossings, landscaping, and other features that reduce the impacts of traffic.
New Housing Choices
In addition to new three to four storey mixed use buildings, mainly along Kingsway and Victoria, there should be new forms of housing around the Knight and Kingsway and Victoria and 41st neighbourhood centres. This would include rowhouses, four- and six-plexes, and duplexes, and housing designed for seniors, to provide a greater range of housing choices for all ages. This new housing should be attractive and fit into existing neighbourhoods.”
It’s quite shocking to find that KCC’s Vision of environmentally sustainable neighbourhood centres was tossed aside in favour of the worst kind of sprawl along one of the city’s busiest arterials. There seems to be no end in sight. We know that these towers will now become the standard for Kingsway, and other developers will justify their own proposals for ever-higher towers stretching all the way to Burnaby in terms of fitting in with the Neighbourhood Context or character. The developer for this project has already anticipated this in the drawing of the massing of the building that allows room for two more projects of equal size on the same block!
It also disturbs me to see yet another proposal to house large numbers of people where they will be exposed to large quantities of toxic pollution known to cause serious, life-threatening diseases such as asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease and adverse effects on birth and child development. It’s been one year since council passed a motion giving clear direction to staff “to examine the city’s zoning, building codes, and planning policies and practices, such as prioritizing placement of multi-family buildings on arterials, to determine that the same standards of health and safety are applied equally to all residents.” Yet, this project is put before you without even one recommendation regarding mitigating the impacts let alone reducing or eliminating them.
Thank you for your careful consideration of this matter.