Renderings, standards and human perception. A look at the 105 Keefer Street rezoning

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. The photograph above is of Columbia Street. It is very much in line with how a person with normal human vision would experience it.

Here is the area of the photograph located in a white box (lower left) within the rendering produced by the applicant (Beedie Group) for the 105 Keefer rezoning:

Does the applicant’s rendering portray scale in a manner or context that the average citizen can clearly understand? Not really.

There are no before / after shots provided with the rendering for a comparison. Could the City make sure that comparisons similar to the following one are provided for scale and context purposes? We think it should.

The architect’s rendering adds excessively tall trees that mask the true height of the proposed building. Here is a comparison of a wide angle photo taken in the field (on left) and the corresponding section of the rendering (on right); note the height of the trees in relation to the monument (lower right):

The before / after shots could be provided with a camera focal length that is in line with human vision. Here’s a crop of the rendering that is approximately in line with our photograph below (top is “before” and bottom is “after”): Continue reading

Silencing the citizens: Did Mayor Robertson go “nuclear” on 105 Keefer with 9:30am Monday Public Hearing?

[Mini-epilogue: Council finished the fourth day of the public hearing on Monday, May 29, 2017. Council is set to vote on this 105 Keefer rezoning application during a daytime regular council meeting on June 13.]

[Journalist Frances Bula reported on Twitter that she asked City staff for the final count on speakers for #105keefer. Of 324 people registered to speak, 196 spoke (that means 128 or 40% of the total did not). Of the speakers, 150 were opposed, 46 in favour. That’s a ratio of 3 to 1. Twitter discussions pointed out that several of the speakers in favour worked in the development industry.]

Does Mayor Robertson really want to hear from everyone who wants to speak at the Public Hearing on the future of Chinatown?

After three nights of public input, it appears he’s hit the “nuclear” button on the Public Hearing, to potentially to ram it through with great expedience. [As popularized recently by President Trump, “go nuclear” refers to resorting to drastic measures in an attempt to undermine an opponent.]

Vision has employed a strategy to exhaust the speakers list. They have decided to reconvene the Public Hearing at probably the most inconvenient time, during regular office hours on a weekday. If a person who has signed up to speak is not physically in the room when their name is called, they miss their chance. Normally they can go back on at the end of the list. When the end of the speaker’s list is reached, then Council can just go ahead and vote on it (thus effectively skipping many people who had signed up to speak).

The practice of holding part of a Public Hearing during working hours on a weekday is extremely rare in Vancouver. One example was in March of 2014, with the Oakridge Centre Public Hearing.

Alert! City Hall quietly shifts Public Hearings to daytime, working hours — another step down the slippery slope (CityHallWatch, February 23, 2014)

Public Hearings started at 7:30pm… then were moved to 7pm starts and 6pm under the present administration (it is harder for some people to make it after work to 6pm than 7:30pm).

Is it a nasty tactic for the Mayor to suddenly announced that the public hearing will reconvene at 9:30am on a Monday morning? Does it show a blatant disregard and disrespect to residents of Vancouver? Is the Mayor deliberately silencing the voices of the community, and preventing members of the public from speaking?

As a sign of good faith, the Mayor could announce publicly that Council will NOT vote on the 105 Keefer application on Monday, but will reconvene on a weeknight later in the week or the following week. That would enable more of the speakers who wished to speak to have their chance to address council. This will permit people to have their voice (who can’t leave their workplaces during working hours on a weekday)

There’s been a steady erosion of rights of citizens to speak to Council. In the middle of the Rize Public Hearing, the Vision dominated Council changed the rules governing the meeting. Previously all members of Council who voted had to be present for the entire length of the Public Hearing, now they can skip out of the meeting and still vote at the end. As well, members of the public could ask to speak a second time at the end of the speakers list (if they would not have enough time).

CityHallWatch writes Council: Procedures Bylaw amendments will reduce Vancouver’s democracy, weaken public Hearings (in Council 27-March-2012)

The rules for Council meetings are set forth in the Procedure Bylaw and the Vancouver Charter.

Council added extra backup dates for Public Hearings earlier this year, but it appears that Monday, May 29th was not previously scheduled as a backup date: Continue reading

Statistics Canada releases breakdown of dwelling units and population age from 2016 Census

The latest data release from Statistics Canada provides a breakdown of the number of single family houses, apartments and other types of dwelling units in Vancouver from the 2016 Census. As well, a breakdown of population by age was also published (the full list is available here).

The initial 2016 Census figures were released in February of 2017; further details are contained in our previous post: Vancouver population 631,486 in 2016 Census, and 25,502 unoccupied dwelling units .

Out of a total of 309,418 private dwelling units in the City of Vancouver, a total of 283,916 were occupied by usual residents. Out of the occupied dwelling units, a total of 41,330 single-detached houses were recorded. There were 83,250 apartments in buildings with 5 or more storeys. 91,385 apartments were in buildings with fewer than five storeys. The 2016 Census found 9,845 row house units, 4,480 units in semi-detached houses, and 635 ‘other single-attached’ housing units. Finally, 25 mobile housing units were recorded.

Statistics Canada will continue to provide further data releases from the 2016 Census later this year.

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Council and Park Preview April 10-12, 2017: CCA-JOA decision, City salaries, homelessness count, DTES update, procurement, finances, Railtown

Vancouver City Hall has a relatively busy schedule this week, with some major topics and reports. Meetings include City Council (two meetings), a Public Hearing, Park Board, and the Vancouver City Planning Commission. The Urban Design Panel is set to meet next week on April 19 (no agenda yet), and the Development Permit Board on May 1. Busy people may wish to scan our summary below for items of interest.

The Park Board meets Monday, April 10 at 7 pm, while Tuesday April 11 has both a Regular Council meeting at 9:30 am and a Public Hearing at 6 pm. On Wednesday April 12 at 9:30 am Committee meeting on City Finance and Services is planned. The VCPC meets on Wednesday, April 12th at 3 pm.


Here are some items that caught our attention.

  • The Park Board is scheduled to make a decision on a Community Center Association – Joint Operating Agreement with Legal Considerations. Download the report from the agenda page (below). To follow the community perspective visit the group of associations (website, and on twitter @Vancouver_CCAs).
  • Regular City Council on Tuesday will cover a Homelessness Update, a Three-Year Progress Update of the Downtown Eastside Plan, Amendments to Design Guidelines for RT Zones in the Mount Pleasant Community, and a number of important financial reports (Annual Procurement Report 2016, Annual Financial Report 2016, 2016 Statement of Financial Information (SOFI), 2016 Council Remuneration and Expenses, and the 2017 Property Taxation – Distribution of Property Tax Levy).
  • The same Council meeting will decide to refer FIVE items to Public Hearings (rezonings at 210-262 West King Edward Ave, 3868-3898 Rupert St and 3304-3308 East 22nd Ave, 5469-5507 Willow St, and 2153-2199 Kingsway, and a “text amendment at 1101 West Waterfront Road (1199 West Cordova Street). It will also hear the Vancouver City Planning Commission 2016 Annual Report and 2017 Work Plan. 
  • Note that among other things the SOFI report covers suppliers above $25,000 in procurement value, and employees with salaries above $75,000. Interesting to review.
  • We see that the City spent $816,125,891 on suppliers in 2016, and $459,208,407 on remuneration for our public servants. That’s over $816 million, and $459 million, respectively. Of note, 918 City employees received more than $100,000 in pay in 2016. How does that compare with other municipalities per capita or other comparable measure? How does that compare with the private sector? A total of 2,368 staff earned more than $75,0000. The data is available in an Excel spreadsheet here:
  • For the Public Hearing, there is a rezoning at 4983 – 5007 Quebec Street, and “Facilitating Growth in Vancouver’s Innovation Economy – Railtown – Zoning and Developyment By-Law Amendments for I-4 (Historic Industrial) District.” The latter one is a hot topic, and in departure from regular practice, it appears Council is re-opening the speaker list. “Any person who has already spoken or submitted written comments may do so again.” We don’t see that very often.
  • For the Standing Committee meeting on Wednesday, items that catch the eye include “Prohibition of Non-recirculating Uses of Water and Enhanced Water Efficiency Requirements to Support Water Conservation,” and “City Sponsorship of Mass Participation Cycling Events.”

Media have already covered some of the topics. Search for the key words with Google News.

Agendas are provided below, for reference..

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Rezoning applications snapshot, 5-Apr-2017

As a free public service we take a monthly snapshot of Rezoning Applications listed on the City of Vancouver website.

Below is the snapshot from April 5, 2017. Listed here are 53 “proposed” rezonings; 62 “approved”; 12 “enacted”; 11 “open houses” (about double the recent average); 1 “public hearing”; 1 “withdrawn” application; 3 “updated information”; and 0 “referred to public hearing”.

Deserving of special attention are the open houses and public hearings. They are important chances for the public to obtain information and give feedback. Here are the upcoming ones listed at the time of this post:



If you as a reader see any of the rezoning applications that deserve public scrutiny, please feel free to send us an e-mail ( with your concerns and we’ll see if we can look into it further.

This list below is simply copied from the City’s Rezoning Centre website. There is no guarantee that the City’s links will continue working over time, so you are advised to download anything important. For the current official list, click: Note that the Archives link carries links to past rezonings from 2011 onward.

Download this list in PDF format: cov-rezoning-applications-5-apr-2017

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Development applications snapshot, 5-Apr-2017

As a free public service CityHallWatch takes a monthly snapshot of the Development Applications listed on the City of Vancouver website.

Our count for 5-Apr-2017 shows 43 “DE” applications and 90 “DP” applications (excluding 7 MMRU – Medical Marijuana-Related Use Development Applications). Of the 133 DE & DP numbers, 16 are “concurrent with rezoning.” The “Centerm Port Expansion Project” is listed without a number. Four applications are “revised,” none are “on hold,” and 1 item is “unscheduled from the Development Permit Board.” Some may have also had a change of address, a mysterious and tricky practice.

Anyone interested in these projects is also encouraged to periodically check the Urban Design Panel (UDP) and Development Permit Board (DPB) schedules, as many projects appear before them as part of the approval pipeline. Check often, as sometimes their agendas appear publicly online just the day of the meeting. As of April 5, the DPB website shows the next meeting on April 18. The “Current Development Applications Scheduled” page dated 31-Mar-2017 (the first update in many weeks), shows ten items, for April 3, May 1, May 29, June 12 and July 10, mostly major buildings by major developers. Download: cov-current-development-applications-development-permit-board-21-feb-2017

(We also take rezoning application snapshots. Search for “rezoning” and “snapshot” in the CityHallWatch search field.) If you are concerned about an application and would like to publicize it or get more info, send us an e-mail at, and we might be able to look deeper. The following information is simply copied as text from the City’s site. Many links will stop working over time. For current list, click:

Click here for the list in PDF format: cov-development-applications-5-apr-2017

If you as a citizen would like to do one small thing to make the City more accountable, consider writing Mayor and Council asking them to make Development Applications archives available online. The City website provides a list of archived Rezoning Applications (here) going back to 2011, so why not full information on past Development Applications too?

For reference, we’ve reproduced the full list of development applications below, as posted on the City of Vancouver website:

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