Here we will excerpts of interesting insights that have turned up.
On 24-Feb-2015, False Creek resident Patsy McMillan wrote to City Council on the Marine Gardens rezoning, pointing out some dynamics that we (CityHallWatch) think deserve attention in any public hearing:
After reading the comments to council currently on the website I note that the majority of the ” support ” letters are from employees ( Prompton real estate brokers ) of the developer. I would hope that this would be taken under advisement by council when you are reviewing the correspondence for this public hearing. Clearly there may be an alternative reason for their support.
When the public hearing for 5B West was before council there were many people from the dragon boat community who attended to speak in favour of the application because the dragon boaters were hopefully going to receive a substantial investment of CAC money towards new docks and boat storage facilities on False Creek. Many of the speakers did not even know what the rezoning application was, had no idea where 5b west was located, nor what the community impact would be from that amount of increased density and population without acquiring community assets i.e. CAC. I spoke with someone at a party in Sechelt over the summer who had attended that public hearing in support of the 5B west project. She lives in Sechelt, has a home in White Rock where she continues to work and is a dragon boater but did not know the first thing about the rezoning application in question. All she cared about was the money for dragon boating. I am saying this because it needs to be said and because it is important to listen to the people who are and will be affected by your decision.
Former city councillor Jonathan Baker provides interesting facts in a comment to a Georgia Straight article (Fate of Marine Gardens, Feb 24):
The developer of Marine Gardens was a Vancouver obstetrician named David Claiman. He thought of it as a legacy. He wanted to provide affordable homes that reflected current social thinking about public space. His intent from the start was to show that you could economically build rental housing for families of modest incomes and create an environment were small kids could play out doors in safety. The concern in the planning literature in those days was for ‘defensible space.’ Open space should, he said, be designed so that parents could look out the windows and see their children. That generally was not possible because of the rigidity of zoning bylaws. Dr. Claiman worked closely with the Vancouver’s Social Planning Department to carry it out. CD-1 flexible zoning had been brought in by Mayor Art Phillips at that time. It enabled the site to be developed in a way that could not happen otherwise. When his land was rezoned there was no significant opposition although a lot of people doubted it would work. Today the City talks about ‘extracting’ community amenity charges from developers. Claman hired the top landscape architect and was able to absorb the cost for a development that was truly affordable. He received no bonus and paid no CAC. Those were days before ‘new speak’ when affordable meant affordable. There was a small plaza associated with the complex. The City used to send musicians who were receiving federally funded LIP grants to perform. So now the City will demolish it …
Fern Jeffries, Co-Chair, False Creek Residents Association pointed out in a letter 24-Feb-2015 that despite denials, City Hall could exercise power over the proponent, Concord Pacific, which is recalcitrant in another part of the city:
… In addition to endorsing the objections filed by others, I wish to bring to your attention to the reality that this is yet another opportunity for City Council to ensure this developer lives up to its contractual commitments. Concord Pacific has committed to delivering a package of public amenities in exchange for densities granted in Northeast False Creek. The initial number of units of density was 7,650. The current build out has almost doubled this allocation. Still, Concord Pacific has not moved to deliver the 9.06 acres of public park that was part of the original deal. I am writing therefore on behalf of the over 1200 residents who are participating in the FCRA Green Light Campaign, to ask this City Council NOT to grant any of Concord’s requests until they prove to be actively engaged in meeting existing commitments. The FCRA wants to remind City Council that a number of Councillors have stated that they lack for levers to ensure the provision of Creekside Park. Here is one: the requested rezoning of 445 SW Marine Drive provides an important opportunity for Council to further the public interest both in northeast False Creek and on Marine Drive.