Public Hearing on Arbutus and 7th/8th Ave low-barrier social housing tower: Decision today, starts 3 pm. Big implications for City vs Province power relationship, and who listens to the community.

Above: Our massing model of the proposed building, as seen from the across the street.

Update: The outcome of the vote is…

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Today is the sixth day of a Public Hearing for the rezoning of a site between 7th and 8th Avenues and Arbutus in Kitsilano for a controversial proposed low-barrier 13-storey social housing tower. Having heard from nearly 300 registered speakers with the vast majority opposed, and having received about 2,100 items of correspondence, with opposed versus support at a three to one ratio of opposed versus support, Council is now set to hear final statements from staff and the applicant. The 11-member Council will then vote to decide. This is the second last Public Hearing decision of this City Council (one more, regarding 2009-2037 Stainsbury Avenue, July 28), and the next one is slated for the next Council on October 25, after the October 15 civic election.

This decision today merits high scrutiny for many reasons, not the least the fact that statements by the mayor Kennedy Stewart at the Public Hearing have made it clear that David Eby, who has stepped down as B.C.’s attorney general and housing minister to be anointed as the new premier of the province after John Horgan steps this fall, is effectively holding Vancouver City Council hostage with the threat of taking away funding if Council does not approve this project. Similarly, Eby intends to empower new housing minister Murray Rankin go ahead with steps that could eliminate public hearings entirely in Vancouver, if the Vancouver Plan is declared the City’s Official Community Plan. (More on that later.) The votes by the mayor and each of the ten councillors on this application, will be a sign of what’s in store if they remain on Council after the October 15 election. (All members of the current council are seeking reelection.) Will they listen to their own electors? Or will they bow to pressure from the provincial government?

Public Hearing page and official documents: https://council.vancouver.ca/20220628/phea20220628ag.htm

This Council previously made a decision to not reconvene Public Hearings before 6pm. Yet this Public Hearing is reconvening at 3 pm. The daytime Public Hearing was brought in under Vision Vancouver; previously Public Hearings usually started at 6pm, 7pm or 7:30pm.

Here are some items of night five of the Public Hearing, as selected/told by Kitsilano Coalition.

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Last night’s hearing for the rezoning of W7th/W8th and Arbutus was one of the most compelling and insightful in recent memory. Notable well-informed speakers opposed to the rezoning mapped out the flaws, and concerns, and asked for a better option for Social Housing for the site.

Here is a summary of the speaker presentations with links to view yourself.

Cheryl Grant for Kitsilano Coalition spoke to an “alternate concept” for the site, which was put together via collaboration and volunteer effort by the community. 

Watch Cheryl Grant’s presentation: YouTube link.

Short clip showing social housing option, could have been built by now with no new Public Hearing, as it complies with zoning approved in 2019.

Please also see our blog for a look at this concept with an animation.

A community concept for social housing
https://www.kitsilanocoalition.org/blog/a-community-concept-for-social-housing

Also last night, Judge Gove highlighted a compelling discussion, as to why this model does not work, based on real-world experience working in the DTES for 25+ years.

See Judge Gove’s speech. YouTube link.

Dr. Julian Somers spoke at length, with questions for nearly all Councillors and Mayor, about the science, research, and data for why he opposes this rezoning and wants something better for the hardest to house. 

See Dr. Julian Somers’ presentation: YouTube link.

A highlight here also was Mayor Kennedy Stewart claiming that BC Housing will take away funding.

See Mayor Kennedy’s question: YouTube link.
CHW note: Here he exposes the stark choice (as he sees it) – approve the project and get the money, or reject it and get no money. Response by Dr. Somers exposes the real options.

Please also see our Media Release on the Mayor’s statement and our response:

Media Release: Mayor Kennedy Claims Funding will Disappear
Link: https://www.kitsilanocoalition.org/blog/kennedy-claims-funding-will-disappear

The public hearing reconvenes at 3 pm

With all 295 speakers now completed, the final component of this Public Hearing will commence at 3 pm. This session will involve staff questions and answers, council debate, and a decision on the rezoning application.

You can tune into the session on the City of Vancouver website starting at 3 pm:

Watch the live broadcast July 26, 2022, starting 3 pm: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIwVYXEL7yw

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One thought on “Public Hearing on Arbutus and 7th/8th Ave low-barrier social housing tower: Decision today, starts 3 pm. Big implications for City vs Province power relationship, and who listens to the community.

  1. I have been NDP most if my election life. I am so opposed to David Eby being our new Premier without a vite from the public so I will not be voting for NDP. Will be looking for a new party. Also the city is being blackmailed by the province to accept this housing project after 300 community members opposed it.

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