(Update/Epilogue: Council approved this application, with two votes against (Clrs Hardwick and Swanson, who expressed concerns raised by residents of Strathcona). The applicant and planning staff gave unsatisfactory responses, in our view, simply whitewashing the questions and concerns expressed, but the majority on Council let it all pass.)
A Public Hearing is underway for 450-496 Prior Street, 550 Malkin Avenue and 1002 Station Street tonight for two 19-storey, residential towers including a 5-storey office podium. This is near the future site of St. Paul’s Hospital, on the False Creek Flats, but part of Strathcona neighbourhood.
Here is the Shape Your City consultation page: https://shapeyourcity.ca/456-prior-st
Public Hearing website: https://council.vancouver.ca/20220623/phea20220623ag.htm
The Strathcona Residents Association has submitted a letter signed by 55 residents articulating serious concerns about the application, including excessive building height, massing and density, lack of transition to the existing residential neighbourhood, vague community benefits, and concerns about artist studies. They make recommendations to Council, but in effect the recommendations amount to asking Council to reject this application in favour of a fresh start.
Even more vociferously, local resident Michael Sismey who has spent many months researching the application, will speak tonight in opposition, asking Council to reject the application to allow something more consistent with existing policy. He asserts the applicant and City planning staff have effectively lied to the public and City Council during the public consultation process regarding the height and density permitted on the site. Below are excerpts of his presentation.
… let me state for the record I support the False Creek Flats Area Plan 100 percent. Love it! Wouldn’t change a thing. So I’m confused as to why this stand-alone project that is the polar opposite of the Plan’s design intent and zoning is being presented as if it were a legitimate proposal to be seriously considered.
Based on my research and understanding the proposed Strand development application for 450-496 Prior Street is not consistent with the Area Plan’s current zoning, which cannot legally be altered [without due process] by this Council or anyone else, nor with the Plan’s intent for the site as a transition between St. Paul’s Hospital and the residential area of Strathcona.
Let me explain. What is being presented before you at this Public Hearing agenda is worlds apart from the Shape Your City version presented to the public for review and discussion. Most of the information we can read here for this meeting (item one) is new to the public.
What we were given to discuss instead (item two) was a site with one stakeholder, Strand Development, zoned 1-3 Industrial, and that the zoning request for a 210 ft building with 4.68 FSR is in accordance with the False Creek Flats Area Plan. This is not true.
The City’s planning staff reinforced this lie in answers to me at the 456 Prior Street open house last fall. For example (item four) my question asking how a 210 ft tower could be allowed in residential Strathcona was disingenuously answered with a description of all the time and effort and extensive public consultation that went into the Flats Plan creation (item 5).
Yes, it’s an excellent plan and unlike the Broadway Plan enjoys local community support, including myself advocating for it. The problem is that this project bears no relation to the current zoning which calls for a long low Strathcona oriented residential block with a maximum height of 100ft with 3.0 fsr if it includes 1.0 FSR of employment space. The application works very hard to attach itself instead to St Paul’s Hospital and its zoning height and mass with no plausible justification for being part of the hospital complex or its zoning. The hospital zoning has a height and mass that is unopposed because the trade off is it’s providing a public service for the greater good.
The City of Vancouver has a social contract with the public and you as our elected officials have a duty to honor the agreement currently in place.
We already had a public hearing deciding what we would build on this site in September 2017 (item 5) and it passed into law on October 3rd 2017 stating unequivocally how tall and how wide a building could be on this site (item 6).Continue reading