Council and Park Board Preview (Jan 24-26): Park co-management, assessment rolls, zero emissions heating, 6 units per residential lot motion, public hearing, and much more

This will be the first full week of meetings of Vancouver City Council this year. A Regular Meeting of Council on Tuesday (Jan 25), a Committee meeting (Jan 26) and a Public Hearing (Jan 25) are scheduled. There’s also a Park Board meeting on Monday night (Jan 24).

Park Board will receive updates on the condition of the Stanley Park seawall and of damage done by the recent storm surge (for example, damage to the Jericho Pier, which is slated to be reconstructed). Commissioner Mackinnon’s motion, Co-Management of Vancouver Parklands with the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, will be discussed. There should be further clarity if there are any limitations on this motion from the Vancouver Charter. It is not clear whether the Park Board will schedule speakers from the public at a future date. This is such an important topic, we think that opportunity is crucial. See our post on this motion here.

On Tuesday, January 25th, City Council will receive the annual YVR report that will include plans for the airport authority going forward. There’s an item on Community-base Crisis Management. Council is scheduled to appoint KPMG, yet again, as the External Auditor for 2022. There’s a series of Cultural Grants for 2022 that will be considered; Council is set to dispense almost $14 million in grants this year.

A total of 9 motions on notice are on the agenda. The motions include more options for car sharing and Mayor Stewart’s motion for allowing 6 units of housing on a single residential lot. He has been out promoting this aggressively with robocalls, e-mails, data collection for his re-election campaign via his campaign website linked to this “Making Home” motion. Yet the details of his proposal are scant, and some experts are looking at the details and say it won’t work. See Brian Palmquist’s detailed analysis in “Making Hay with Making Home” and “Making Home or Sharing Home—Choose One.” The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) has written in, opposed to the motion

The Public Hearing for Tuesday night (January 25) includes four items. The first item at 622-688 SW Marine Drive is a rezoning proposal for two towers at 28 and 32 storeys in height and a 6-storey podium. A total of 573 rental units (with 20% ‘below market’) are proposed with a FSR of 6.84, commercial uses at grade and private childcare. The height of 96.2m (316 feet) is a little more than what would be expected for 32 storeys (as a result of large floor heights); it’s worth noting that at a DP Stage more ‘floors’ can be squeezed into this height as there’s only a dimensional measurement that’s being considered by Council for the CD-1 (and not the number of floors). The Marpole Community Plan provided direction on this site for towers of 12 and 16 storeys in height (compare with the 28 and 32 storeys in this rezoning).

Marpole Community Plan (12 & 16 storeys) vs. Rezoning Proposal (28 & 32 storeys)

The other two items at the Public Hearing are 2037-2061 East Broadway (6-storeys, 54 strata units, sequestered CAC), 7929-7949 Cambie Street (6-storeys, 33 strata units) and a CD-1 text amendment for 118-150 Robson Street (10.33 FSR).

The City Council Committee Meeting on Wednesday, January 26th will hear from speakers for any items on a motion that had registered speakers (note: speakers need to register before 8:30am on Tuesday). Council will receive a presentation on the BC Assessment Rolls (property assessments). There’s a report that recommends requiring space heating and domestic hot water to be electrified (impacting new as well as existing units that need to renovating or have heating systems replaced). There’s a 138-page document for Guidelines for C-2 Residential Rental buildings around local shopping areas on the agenda. Motions on notice that were previously referred to this meeting will also be debated; these include Councillor Dominato’s motion for Budget Transparency and Accountability in Municipal Election Years. This motion seeks to give enough time for an incoming administration to properly review the budget before the upcoming fiscal year (note: expect indirect opposition and obstruction from staff). Council only needs to approve a budget before an upcoming fiscal year (by the end of March).

Update on Stanley Park seawall repairs will be provided at the Park Board meeting (Extreme Weather Impacts & Damages)

The meeting agendas have been reproduced below:

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An entire block of dog parks on properties assessed at $250 million (1600 W Georgia). Are the massive tax breaks worth it?

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An entire city block of temporary dog parks in the West End may appear to be an oddity. The combined property assessment values for the lots on this block exceed $250 million. Are the dog parks there to address a specific need? Can you have too much of a good thing? Or have the temporary gravel dog parks been created solely for tax breaks?

According to the BC Assessment website, the three properties on this block have been assessed for 2022 as follows:

1698 W Georgia is assessed at $77,372,500.

1616 W Georgia is assessed at $117,316,000.

1608 W Georgia is assessed at $55,443,400.


The combined 2022 property assessments for these 3 properties is $250,131,900.

East Park Pollinator Meadow: Then and Now

The East Park Pollinator Meadow opened in the fall of 2020. At the time we documented the opening with a series of photographs. Today, much of the new urban park is fenced off. Included above is a comparison of the park at the time it opened with its current state. Is the cost of reworking the park at this time warranted? The pollinator meadow was meant to be a temporary placeholder. A final design for the park is still in a public consultation phase.

More information on East Park is available on the City’s website: vancouver.ca/eastpark

Plans to heat the East Fraserlands in Vancouver with a waste incinerator in Burnaby: A look at the pros and cons

Above: Incinerator at 5150 Riverbend Drive, Burnaby (Metro Vancouver Waste-to-Energy Facility)

Metro Vancouver recently announced that the River District in the East Fraserlands at the southern edge of Vancouver, on the Fraser River, is set to become the first customer of their District Energy Project. A company owned by Wesgroup Properties (River District Energy) plans to purchase up to 10 megawatts of heat generated by the region’s incinerator in Burnaby. Hot water would be piped from the incinerator to a future Community Energy Centre for distribution in the River District. Metro Vancouver estimates that this project would become operational by 2025. The estimated cost of the project is $55 million. The press release touts the fact the Waste-to-Energy facility already generates around 22 megawatts of electricity that’s sold to BC Hydro (an amount that can power 16,000 homes).

Currently about 25% of Metro Vancouver’s waste is incinerated at this plant. While incineration does keep a lot of waste out of landfills (apart from residue), a considerable volume ends up going into the air with the exhaust plumes along with CO2. Waste to energy plants need to burn fuels like natural gas, so it can be misleading to let people have the impression that all the power is generated just by burning garbage. There’s an input of energy needed to run an incinerator. Once there’s a dependency on an incinerator for heat energy, then there’s a need to continue burning waste to keep the plant going. In an earthquake-prone zone like Metro Vancouver, there are also concerns related to resilience after a natural disaster. A single plant to supply heating to thousands of homes also makes for a single point of failure. There’s also the possibility of future price-gouging by a monopoly (no competition for delivering heat to residents).

The project may be counterproductive to achieving zero waste. Many problems were identified in the following article: Still time to halt Burnaby’s waste incinerator heating project, advocate says (by Dustin Godfrey, Burnaby Beacon,  January 10, 2022). The article quotes Sue Maxwell, who co-authored a report on achieving zero waste in the province, saying that going ahead with the project was “a terrible idea.” Her report, A Zero Waste Agenda for BC, calls for phasing out waste incineration altogether “and closing other loopholes for waste disposal.”

We’ve included many links to articles at the end of this post to encompass a number of different viewpoints.

The district energy model is used in parts of Europe. One example that’s often held up is the Viennese Spittelau Hundertwasser incinerator (a few original photos are included below; this plant provides district heating to 60,000 households):

Spittelau incinerator in Vienna

Spittelau incinerator in Vienna

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Public Hearing Preview, Tuesday, Jan 18, 2022. Three rental buildings and 174 rental units at this year’s first public hearing.

Above: 1369 Kingsway rendering (Item 1 at public hearing)

The last City Council meeting (Dec 14) feels like the ancient past. The future is now in 2022, and Vancouver’s first public hearing of the year (and first public meeting for Council members) is tonight, January 18, starting at 6 pm. This is the only meeting of Council this week, but everyone should fasten their seatbelts, as 2022 is a municipal election year (Oct 15) with all its political games, and before that many major consultation/planning initiatives are scheduled for completion and decisions (see a summary at “Fight consultation fatigue!“). The first regular council meeting is January 25

Though there has been some correspondence sent to the Public Hearing in support of or opposed to the three items, this meeting is not likely to be very controversial. Below we just point out a few highlights. It is up to City Council to hear from the public and determine if the applications are a good deal for Vancouver. Is the City getting enough in return for the opportunities being given to the developers? 

Agenda, documents, and instructions on how to write/speak to Council here: https://council.vancouver.ca/20220118/phea20220118ag.htm

Item 1. CD-1 Rezoning: 1369-1381 Kingsway (image at top of this post). To rezone to permit development of a six-storey mixed-use building with 49 secured market rental residential units and commercial space at-grade, with proposed height of 24.1 metres (79 feet) and floor space ratio (FSR) 3.80. The proponent is Yamamoto Architecture Inc. on behalf of Peterson Cedar Cottage BT Inc. More info: https://shapeyourcity.ca/1369-1381-kingsway 

3304 kingsway PH 18-Jan-2022

Item 2. CD-1 Rezoning: 3304 Kingsway (image above). To rezone to permit development of a six-storey mixed-use building, with commercial at grade and 79 secured market rental residential units, with proposed height of 24 m (78.7 ft.) and FSR 3.93. More information (includes promo video): https://shapeyourcity.ca/3304-kingsway

185-193 Southwest Marine Drive PH 18-Jan-2022

3. CD-1 Rezoning: 185-193 Southwest Marine Drive (image above). To rezone to permit the development of one six-storey residential building and one three-storey townhouse for a total of 46 secured market rental residential units, with proposed height of 17.4 metres (57 feet) and FSR 2.4. The proponent is Matthew Cheng Architect Inc., on behalf of the numbered company 1034903 B.C. LTD. More information (includes promo video): https://shapeyourcity.ca/185-193-sw-marine-dr

See the Shape Your City links or Public Hearing documents at the above links for more details. 

Regarding the second item (3304 Kingsway), Carlito Pablo at the Georgia Straight has written “Relatively small” homes in proposed East Vancouver rental start from 532 square feet for family units,” which garnered a lot of comments on social media about the shockingly small size of units. Two-bedroom units (“family units”) are proposed to be 532 – 733 square feet, one-bedroom units 395 – 490 square feet, and studios 320 square feet. The proponent, development company Hudson, through “Jam (3304 Kingsway) Holdings Inc.,” may later seek to qualify for a waiver of development cost levies (DCLs) valued at $857,879 for the rental component of the project. The location is currently occupied by a 7-Eleven store, and across Joyce Street from Sir Guy Carleton Elementary School. 

One observation we have is about information provided for each item. For the rezoning in Marpole rezoning (185-193 Southwest Marine Drive), but not for the Kensington-Cedar Cottage rezoning, the appendix in the document package includes population growth under the community plan. 


For reference, the meeting agenda has been reproduced below: Continue reading

Storm Crow Alehouse latest in line of Vancouver restaurant closures

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The Storm Crow Alehouse at 1619 West Broadway will be permanently closing on January 16, 2022. Another Storm Crow location on Commercial Drive closed in 2020, shortly after the start of the pandemic. There’s a Memorabilia Online Auction of props and decorations from the restaurant (open until Jan 14th). After this restaurant closure, the only remaining Storm Crow location will be in Toronto.

A number of restaurants around Vancouver have recently closed or are in the process of closing. These include The Whip Restaurant, Bishop’s, Bao Chau and The Slocan. Cafe Deux Soleils on Commercial Drive is for sale. We’ve included photos of these restaurants below.

What are some of the factors behind restaurant closures? How have high property taxes (‘highest and best use’), bureaucratic red tape, and restrictions and public health orders impacted the hospitality industry? Apart from allowing more outdoor patios, could further actions have been taken to help struggling restaurants? What more can be done to help those that are still hanging on? Restaurants are an important part of the community fabric for so many reasons.

The Whip Restaurant at Main and 6th

Bishop’s Restaurant close on West 4th Avenue

Cafe deux soleils is for sale (Commercial Drive)


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Snow removal challenges on roads, bike routes and sidewalks

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To document some of the issues with snow removal on bike routes, sidewalks and streets, we’ve included a number of photos in our slideshow. While there might be a narrative that bike routes are cleaned before sidewalks and pedestrian routes, a number of photos illustrate problems with many bike routes not being cleared properly of snow (photos on Adanac, W7th Avenue, 1st Avenue, Lakewood, Woodland, BC Parkway in Trout Lake). There are plenty of issues with snow and ice removal on side streets and arterial roads. This isn’t the first winter with snow in Vancouver and the same problems seem to crop up every year. Garbage and recycling pickups are missed, commutes to work are impacted and it becomes difficult to get around. Other large cities in Canada don’t come to a standstill after a snowfall. Could Vancouver make more progress coping with a little bit of snow?

Rezoning applications snapshot, 1-Jan-2022

Example of a rezoning application information sign

As a free public service CityHallWatch has for many years been taking a monthly snapshot of rezoning and development applications from the City of Vancouver website and making them available on our website.

The lists contain valuable information on each application (all now being done online during the era of COVID). If you see any of concern, please spread the word to anyone who might be affected or interested. Our archive goes back years and is not available anywhere else. Even the City does not provide this information.

The City has stopped updating its rezoning (vancouver.ca/rezapps) and development application (vancouver.ca/devapps) web pages and shifted to a very different format called “Shape Your City.” Some changes may make it more user friendly, but some have reduced transparency and accessibility. On Shape Your City, you only see the applications the City wants you to see right now, in the way they want you to see it, and the rest of the information disappears. No handy lists, no archives prior to 2020.

We’ve created our own static snapshot version map using Google Maps. Click to see the current map for January 2022. New rezoning applications include the following:

2009-2037 Stainsbury Ave  (7-storeys, 23.83m/78.18ft, 3.46 FSR, 123 social housing units on community garden site)
5455 Balsam St  (14-storeys, 39.62m/130ft., 3.63 FSR, 145 rental units, 142 parking spaces)
156-180 W 2nd Ave  (46.5m/152.5 ft., FSR 6.0, Citytv building site, see our post on the proposal here)

Below is our list of rezoning applications created as of 1-Jan-2022. Continue reading

Development applications snapshot 1-Jan-2022

Example of a development application information sign

As a free public service CityHallWatch has for many years been taking a monthly snapshot of rezoning and development applications from the City of Vancouver website and making them available on our website.

The City has stopped updating its rezoning (vancouver.ca/rezapps) and development application (vancouver.ca/devapps) web pages and shifted to a very different format called “Shape Your City.” Some changes may make it more user friendly, but some have reduced transparency and accessibility. On Shape Your City, you only see the applications the City wants you to see right now, in the way they want you to see it, and the rest of the information disappears. No handy lists, no archives prior to 2020.

If you see any items of concern, please spread the word to anyone who might be affected or interested. Our archive goes back years and is not available anywhere else. Even the City does not provide this information.

The City has also stopped publicly providing a map showing applications, so we continue to fill in the gap by creating our own static snapshot version using Google Maps. Click HERE to see the current map. If you feel the City should modify how it presents development and rezoning applications, feel free to write Mayor and Council, or director of planning.

Listed below (generated by CityHallWatch): Continue reading