1477 W Broadway now billed as a 40-storey tower in DP stage. Comment period open until July 4th. Updated diagrams show that shadow studies used in rezoning stage were wrong.

1477 W Broadway Development Permit

The Development Permit application for 1477 W Broadway is now billed as a 40-storey tower with an 8-storey podium. During the rezoning stage, the tower was referred to as being 39-storeys in height. The applicant has added another storey in the upper floors of the tower by varying height (above level 36). A Public Comment period is open until July 4th. A Development Permit Board meeting has been scheduled for September 6, 2022 to review this proposal. A total of 226 rental units are proposed in the tower (up from 223 in the rezoning stage). Further details about the proposal can be found on the ShapeYourCity webpage for 1477 West Broadway.

The shadow studies that were used at the Public Hearing and all through the rezoning stage were wrong (see our previous post for a detailed analysis). Now the architects, Musson Cattel Mackey Partnership (MCM), have submitted shadow studies that contradict their earlier work. The new shadow studies are more in line for what might be expected for this site. Here’s a comparison between the rezoning application and development application of MCM’s renderings for one of the times used in the shadow study (spring equinox 10am):

There’s an open question of how incorrect shadow studies sailed through the rezoning stage without even a whimper from staff. Why did City staff refuse to correct the shadow studies after the errors were repeatedly pointed out during the rezoning process and at the Public Hearing? These shadows studies were done by an architecture office. Only architects who are members of the Architectural Institute of British Columbia (AIBC) can practice in BC. A professional body such as the AIBC is allowed to self regulate, and it has a crucial role to protect the public interest.

The rezoning and now development permit application for the site at 1477 W Broadway has gone through many changes and iterations. The development permit board has previously approved a five-storey mixed office and commercial building at this location on December 9, 2019. There is also the curious sale of City land for $3.795 million that now has been integrated into the site (was it sold for well below market value?). We’ve included a list of several posts to provide further details about this site at 1477 West Broadway:

Compare the upper part of the south elevation drawing from the rezoning application (left) with the development permit application drawing (right). Click to enlarge.

Compare real world photo (left) with rendering provided by the applicant (right)

 

City staff want to remove funding for outdoor pool in Mt Pleasant Park from Capital Plan (Wed, June 29th)

Mount Pleasant Pool was demolished in 2010 under a Park Board with a Vision Vancouver majority

The City Manager and the Director of Finance are recommending that the Outdoor Pool in Mount Pleasant Park not be funded in the upcoming 2023-2016 Capital Plan. There’s a Special Meeting of Council regarding the 2023-2026 Capital Plan on Wednesday, June 29th starting at 9:30am. Please note that interested speakers need to sign up before 8:30am (on Wednesday).

The estimated cost of the Mount Pleasant Pool was $11,439,100 according to the Outdoor Pool Study that was reviewed by Park Board on November 15, 2021. Now City of Vancouver staff are claiming the following:

Cost estimate – $15-20 million (including cost escalation) based on the 2021 study and the new outdoor pool at Oak Park.”

There’s no explanation about how an $11.4 million cost estimate suddenly balloons to $15-20 million.

Perhaps the lack of funding for the Outdoor Pool in Mount Pleasant highlights the absolute lack of scrutiny over the 2023-2026 Draft Capital Plan. The allocation of $3.5 billion in capital investment over 4 years will be for the most part determined at the upcoming Special Meeting of Council. For more details on the Capital Plan, please see our preview of Council meetings on June 28th and 29th.

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Scot Hein’s analysis of three-tower rezoning proposal at 1780 E Broadway and Commercial (Safeway site). Public hearing July 7th

Above: Click to view the video

Scot Hein is an adjunct professor in the master of urban design program at University of British Columbia. He was previously the senior urban designer with the City of Vancouver.

Scot Hein’s presentation, featured in this post, was originally done in preparation for a meeting that was scheduled with Mayor Stewart on May 10, 2022. Unfortunately, that meeting ended up as a presentation to a only couple of City staffers, with no mayor present. The video of the presentation was recorded at a Public Forum of the Grandview-Woodland Area Council on June 6, 2022. In the presentation, he examines “the accountability and integrity of the public process” still believes that a “win-win” scenario is possible, but that it will take “huge political will” to make it happen. He outlines a number of key areas that show a “public process disconnection / breach of trust”. Notably, he ran the City of Vancouver’s Urban Design Studio for the last 10 years of his 20 year tenure at the CoV, before leaving in 2014, and shifting over to teach urban design at UBC.

The Public Hearing for the rezoning at 1780 East Broadway is scheduled for Thursday, July 7th at 6pm. Speaker registration and comments are now open on the public hearing agenda page. More information about the rezoning application can be found on the City’s ShapeYourCity portal and a grassroots community group analysis of the proposal is available at No Safeway Megatowers.

Above: Former City of Vancouver Senior Urban Designer Scot Hein presented a detailed history and analysis of the Safeway site rezoning at 1780 East Broadway

Scot has also published a book in 2022 entitled Zoning Must Evolve. Some of his material is also available on Spacing Vancouver (http://spacing.ca/). A recent article is “Broadway and Commercial: A Public Process Failure?” (June 14, 2022)

Council Preview June 28-29: Public Hearing 2086-2096 West 7th/Arbutus tower, $735 million borrowing for 2023-2026 Capital Plan, 2970 Rupert and 156-180 West 2nd

Above: Massing model of tower proposed for W7th Avenue and Arbutus. Public Hearing scheduled for June 28th 6pm

There are two meetings of Council scheduled for the upcoming week.

The week will start off with a Public Hearing on June 28th (6pm) that will include the tower proposed at West 7th and Arbutus. If the Public Hearing doesn’t complete on June 28th, then Council has reserved possible dates on June 29th and June 30th (6pm start) for the meeting to reconvene. See more on the Public Hearing below.

Next is a Special Meeting on the 2023-2026 Capital Plan with a 9:30am start on Wednesday, June 29th. A total of $735 million in new borrowing by the City of Vancouver is recommended by staff to pay for part of the proposed 2023-2026 Capital Plan. This works out to $1,109.86 per resident (2021 Census) in new debt. A total of $3.5 billion in capital investment is being contemplated. The City expects development contributions to make up $862 million of this total.

Back to the Public Hearing, the third and final item is the rezoning proposal at 2086-2098 West 7th Avenue, and 2091 West 8th Avenue and it’s likely the one that will be most contested. We’ve included photos of a demonstration against this tower rezoning further down in this post. One speaker there, Dr. Julian Somers emphasized that this proposed approach to social housing has been proven to fail, and calls on officials to reject the application and look at systemic changes to the Province’s entire underlying approach to housing vulnerable populations. This tower is ground zero. This proposed tower would provide 129 units of single occupancy housing that would include a low-barrier component. While it’s billed as a 13-storey tower, due to the unusually high floor to floor height, it would be the equivalent in height to a 17 or 18-storey tower (when counted based on typical floor height for a residential tower). There are a number of urban design concerns, such as very little provision for a typical building setback from Arbutus Street, the shading of an adjacent school yard, and the shading of Delamont Park. For further details, please see these posts:

Shadows would fall on the schoolyard across form the rezoning on June 21 at 9am (W8th and Arbutus). The tower massing model is textured using the elevation drawings that are included in the staff policy report

Rally against tower at Arbutus and West 7th Avenue (June 22, 2022)

Going back up to the top of the Public Hearing agenda, the first item is a tower rezoning by Westbank for the Citytv site at 156-180 West 2nd Avenue. This is directly across the street from residential housing in Olympic Village. A height of 46.5m / 150 feet and a Floor Space Ratio of 6.0 are being requested. Shockingly for the planning profession, the rezoning application does not indicate any design for the project and merely reproduces three possible block diagrams for a future development. How did this get through the planning department all the way to a Public Hearing given the intricacies of this site? In any event, a substantial building on this site would have significant urban design impacts and result in some shading of residential housing units across the street in the fall and winter. Further information on this application can be found in the following post:

Site of rezoning at Columbia and West 2nd Avenue

Figure 6: Conceptual build out of mixed-use industrial and office projects along W 2nd Avenue” City of Vancouver I-C1 report (cropped, address and street labels added for clarity)

The second item at the June 28th Public Hearing is a 6-storey proposal for 2970 Kingsway. This rezoning calls for a building with 127 rental units and commercial uses at grade. A Floor Space Ratio of 3.96 is proposed with a total gross floor area of 103,450 sq.ft. (9,610 sq.m.). The total height of 80.7 feet or 24.6 metres seems to be a touch high for a 6-storey building. The property is currently zoned as C-2 (maximum 45ft., 2.5 FSR). A total of 97 vehicle parking spaces along with 253 bicycle spaces are proposed on this triangular site between Kingsway, Rupert Street and School Avenue. This proposal was not reviewed by the Urban Design Panel. The applicant has not yet applied for a DCL waiver (DCLs are listed at $2,691,000). Without a DCL waiver, the rents can be set at whatever the market will bear.

The staff reports note that this design is being put forward by Formosis Architecture Inc., on behalf of 1289838 B.C. LTD. (Beneficially owned and controlled by Kerkhoff (Kingsway) Limited Partnership). Further information on 2970 Kingsway can be found on the ShapeYourCity Portal.

2970 Kingsway rezoning

At Wednesday’s Special Meeting of Council (June 29), staff are recommending that the City of Vancouver borrow a total of $735 million to support the 2023-2026 Capital Plan. Of this total, $240 million in borrowing would be for water, sewer and energy utilities (this component doesn’t need approval by the electorate). For the remaining parts of the Capital Plan, there’s a proposal to borrow $495 million to help fund part of the cost. This part of the borrowing (on the plebiscite) works out to about $747.45 per resident of the City (2021 Census). In an environment of rising interest rates, is going further into debt a wise move for the City? Voters will get a chance to weigh in on the three Capital Plan borrowing plebiscite questions on the ballot in October.

It’s worth noting that the Special Meeting on the Capital Plan is being called by the Mayor with a 9:30am start time. Does holding the Final Capital Plan discussions during the daytime discourage public participation? There was once a time when Capital Plan items were discussed by Council in the evening. The following table from the staff report notes the breakdown of the allocation of $3.5 billion in capital investment:

Breakdown of 2023-2026 Capital Plan spending (staff report)

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Broadway Plan debate (Wednesday, June 22, 2022)

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The debate on the Broadway Plan is set to resume at 9:30am on Wednesday, June 22nd. City Council will continue to look at amendments to the plan. What will the final outcome of the Broadway Plan be? We’ve included a possible scenario in the slideshow above showing a theoretical build out.

At the previous Broadway Plan meeting on June 9th, there was an amendment proposed (that later failed) to change the boundaries of the plan area to include the Safeway site on W4th Avenue on the west side of Vine. The Broadway Plan area extends only to the east side of Vine Street.

Above: Safeway site at Vine and West 4th. The boundary of the Broadway Plan area falls on Vine Street. Councillor DeGenova brought forward a last-minute surprise amendment that would have included this site in the Broadway Plan by changing the plan boundaries (the amendment failed).

There were attempts to change the number of towers permitted in a residential block. Planning staff had said that usually up to two towers per block would be allowed. There was an attempt to remove this restriction (by Councillor De Genova), which was turned down, and instead an amendment (by Councillor Kirby-Yung) to allow up to 3 towers per residential block was adopted. The reduction in the minimum frontage for a tower site was also reduced from 150 feet to 99 feet. These are very significant changes made on the fly, after all public consultation, after all speakers were heard, on the floor of Council. Is there a better way to make a plan for 500 blocks in Vancouver than planning by last minute amendment? Should these changes be reversed by a future Council due to breach of fair public process? These may become topics for the coming civic election as the public looks at the behaviour of individuals in this current City Council.

Above: Illustration to show three towers per block (amendment by Councillor Kirby-Yung). Pictured are a number of theoretical towers around Yew Street and Vine Street, north of West 8th Avenue in residential apartment zone.

The property at 460 East 6th Avenue is around 132 ft in width (in the category of being under 150 feet in width but greater than 99 feet)

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Council and Park Board preview (June 20-23): Broadway Plan, 450-496 Prior (Strathcona) rezoning, Metro 2050 Regional Growth Strategy, Marpole Community Centre Renewal & Outdoor Pool Updates

Above: A possible build-out scenario under the Broadway Plan (aerial view near Vine Street and West 5th)

A very busy week is up ahead Vancouver City Council and Park Board as they try to complete business before the summer break, with the civic elections slated for October 15. Council has two Public Hearings with significant rezonings, a Regular Council meeting that includes the Metro 2050 Regional Growth Strategy, and a Committee meeting that includes the all-important Broadway Plan. More below on them.

As for Park Board, on Monday, June 20th, the Commissioners will review a number of items including the following:

  • a presentation on the current status of the Marpole Community Centre Renewal and Outdoor Pool
  • Symphony at Sunset sponsorship request: “THAT the Vancouver Park Board approve a contribution of up to $100,000 from the Corporate Sponsorship Fund to support the delivery of the Symphony at Sunset concert event at Sunset Beach Park on July 2, 2022.”
  • requested Development Cost Levys for Park allocation: “Overall, the DCL Update report proposes a significant increase in the City-wide DCL allocation for Parks (from 18% to 34.5%). While this increase returns the City-wide DCL allocation closer to the previous 41%, other aspects of the DCL framework impact the total amount of City-wide DCL available.”

Vancouver City Council will begin the week with a Regular Meeting on Tuesday, June 21st. Highlights of the meeting include:

  • the Metro Vancouver 2050 Regional District Regional Growth Strategy (speakers will be allowed)
  • Grants: 2022 Homelessness Action Week, Heritage Conservation, Resilient Neighbourhoods
  • Auditor General Committee Recommendations re. Whistleblower Study
  • Motion on Notice: Street Care, Not Street Sweeps
  • Motion on Notice: Clearly define eligible and prohibited uses of discretionary funds

Focusing for a moment on the Metro Vancouver 2050 Regional District Regional Growth Strategy (RGS), we note again that civic reporters for our region appear to have given zero analysis and coverage to the topic. This despite the fact that the RGS is intended to guide development in Vancouver and the entire region for the next thirty years, with significant impacts on housing, neighbourhoods, transit and the look and feel of our city. The Broadway Plan and Vancouver Plan are just part of a high-level scenario for the region. The City of Vancouver has dozen zero consultation with neighbourhoods and the public specifically regarding input into the Vancouver’s part of the RGS. No notices, events, presentations, statements, articles, invitations for public comment. Metro Vancouver held one regional public hearing on April 20, for the entire region with 2.8 million residents. Only a handful of people were actually in the room. From our tally, only three people spoke from Vancouver. That event was essentially unadvertised, except for two posts by CityHallWatch (See “Heads Up” and “Full Tally of Media Coverage“). Basically, for the city of Vancouver, in terms of urban development, this RGS perpetuates the shift from an emphasis on “livability” to “growth” for the region, Vancouver’s input being represented by a series of chief planners from Brent Toderian, to Brian Jackson, then Gil Kelley and now Theresa O’Donnell. It is done with minimal public engagement, away from public attention. But once adopted, it is used as a basis for development planning in Vancouver. The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) has written to both the Metro Vancouver Board and Vancouver Council (most recently, June 20, link here) critiquing the dominant and underlying approaches in the RGS and calling for alternative approaches, with specific suggestions for transportation and development.

The first of two Public Hearings for the week is scheduled for 6pm on Tuesday, June 21st. We have more details for the first two items, in this post: Housing, yes. Affordable? That’s debatable. (Twin 33-storey towers 1065 Harwood & 1332 Thurlow, and 1066-1078 Harwood in West End – Public Hearing June 21/Tues). The following four items are on the agenda:

  • 1332 Thurlow Street and 1065 Harwood Street
  • 1066-1078 Harwood Street
  • 495 West 41st Avenue
  • CD-1 Amendment: 809 West 41st Avenue

The Committee Meeting on Wednesday, June 22nd will start with the Broadway Plan as the first item on the agenda (this item is reconvening from June 9, 2022, with the debate starting on May 18th). City Council will continue to consider a very long list of 40 plus amendments to the draft plan. Other agenda items for Wednesday include the following:

  • Vancouver Development Cost Levy By-law Updates (2023-2032)
  • Contract Award for the Provision of Mobility Services and Devices for the City of Vancouver
  • plus, any referred Motions on Notice (from Tuesday’s Council meeting, referred to hear from speakers)

The Public Hearing on Thursday, June 23rd includes four items. The enormous two tower and podium development proposed for Strathcona at 450-496 Prior Street will likely garner most of the attention due to its proximity to the False Creek Flats and a future St. Paul’s Hospital. We are aware of significant concerns in the community about serious improprieties at the rezoning application stage. There’s also an upzoning requested for several buildings planned for the Pearson Dogwood site. The four items on the agenda are the following:

  • Heritage Designation – 365 Railway Street, Fleck Brothers Warehouse
  • CD-1 Text Amendment: 500-650 West 57th Avenue (Pearson Dogwood)
  • 524-526 Granville Street
  • 450-496 Prior Street, 550 Malkin Avenue and 1002 Station Street

450-496 Prior Street, 550 Malkin Avenue and 1002 Station Street rezoning

For reference, the Park Board and Council Meeting agendas have been reproduced below: Continue reading

326 Nanaimo Street: a new rental building replaced an old rental building. Two-bedroom unit now $3,650

At 326 Nanaimo Street a new rental building replaced an old rental building. What happened to the rents?

A new rental building at 326 Nanaimo Street replaced an older rental building that was demolished a few years ago. Tenants who were demovicted in 2019 were previously given the opportunity to return at a 20% discount over starting rents. According to the Vancouver Tenants Union, a two-bedroom apartment was previously around $1,100 a month. Given that starting rents are $3,650 for a two-bedroom, then even with a 20% discount, any returning tenants would see a rent increase of 265%. Apparently not a single demovicted renter has returned. If the Broadway Plan is passed, would similar stories be repeated over and over again for renters living in the apartment (RM & FM) zones?

Further information is available in a case study by the Vancouver Tenants Union: 326 Nanaimo: What we learned

New Brighton Park in need of repairs. A section of the waterfront still cordoned off after many months

A small section of the New Brighton Park waterfront is still cordoned off. We noted back in April that this section of seawall near the Ballantyne Pier memorial was fenced off, and had already been fenced off for months.

There’s still a ‘Closed until further notice’ sign on the fencing and no repairs appear to have been made.

New Brighton Park is arguably one of the most important parks in the eastern part of Vancouver. It’s the only park with oceanfront access east of Main Street. Here’s an open question: Would parks in other parts of the City be given a higher priority for repairs? We’ve included a few photos of the area below. Continue reading

Relief for commercial businesses impacted by Broadway Subway construction? A motion goes to Council June 16 (today)

Businesses along Broadway are bearing the brunt of subway construction.

The reconvened Council Committee meeting on Thursday, June 16th (3pm) will likely hear the motion on notice about assisting struggling businesses that have been affected by the subway construction. The motion on notice was submitted by Councillor Colleen Hardwick and it appears as Item: 13. Relief for Commercial Properties Impacted by the Broadway Subway Construction (Member Motion B.7). Full text of the motion is copied below. Link to PDF:

An open question is how did the construction reach the current stage without the City properly looking at ways to mitigate the economic impacts of the subway construction. Did the elected officials on Council, and TransLink, and provincial authorities seriously consider these impacts and were they properly articulated in consideration of the costs and benefits of the subway? Should businesses be forced to close because of an infrastructure project? We’ve taken a few photos to show the issues of access to certain retail sites below. It’s too late for a number of business that have already closed their doors. Anyone walking, driving, rolling, or busing along the construction zone can sense the scale of impacts on local shops and businesses. A petition entitled “Help Local Vancouver Businesses Survive the Broadway Subway Project” has nearly 2,000 signatures as of today. Patrons of stores along the way can talk to shop owners and staff and will quickly discover that business has plummeted. Staffing is being reduced. Business hours are being curtailed. There are nearly four years to go, as the current schedule (link) is for the subway to open in late 2025, though major work on some sections should end earlier. Certainly these businesses deserve support. But who should pay for it and what will it cost? Did former Mayor Gregor Robertson and Vision Vancouver seriously consider these impacts when they aggressively promoted the Broadway Subway when they were in power til 2018?

It’s a little too late for some businesses:

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