Modular Housing proposed at Larwill Park (688 Cambie): Open House May 15 (Tues). Some points to consider.

No notification signs have been posted regarding Open House (photo: Sunday May 13th, 2018)

The City of Vancouver is holding an Open House for a proposal to put approximately 100 units of modular housing on the Larwill Park site (688 Cambie Street). This site is identified as the future location of the new Vancouver Art Gallery.

Here’s the information from the City of Vancouver’s website:

Proposed Temporary Modular Housing – Open House
Tuesday, May 15, 2018, 4 – 7pm

Location        Vancouver Public Library – Alice MacKay Room
350 West Georgia Street (lower level), Vancouver BC, V6B6B1

Join us for a community information session on the proposed temporary modular housing project at 688 Cambie Street to learn more about the project and share your feedback.

http://vancouver.ca/news-calendar/calendar-of-events.aspx#/?i=1

http://vancouver.ca/news-calendar/688-cambie-street-being-considered-as-a-site-for-temporary-modular-housing.aspx

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On Sunday, May 13th, there appeared to be no signs posted anywhere around the site about the upcoming Open House at the Vancouver Public Library. That is not acceptable — a lack of public notification.

The current EasyPark parking lot is also used for cultural events as well as normal parking for large events at BC Place and Rogers Arena (concerts, plus Canucks and Whitecaps games).

The lot is also a key staging ground for film crews, as it is one of the few sites left in the downtown core where large vehicles can park (unlike underground parking or parking garages, film productions need open space for big trucks and tents). The loss of Larwill Park for film production use could have negative impacts on hundreds or thousands of jobs, by making filming in downtown Vancouver even more difficult. Film making is an important industry in the region.

There is a strong general public acknowledgement that housing solutions are needed. But our policy makers need to juggle many tradeoffs.

What options are there for other large lots for modular housing downtown? There could be a number of suitable alternatives worth considering, such as the former site of the Continental Hotel (Granville Loops, City-owned land), as well as 601 Beach Crescent (also City-owned land). Continue reading

Will Councillor Hector Bremner recuse himself from vote on changes to liquor bylaws at April 17 (Tues) Public Hearing? Potential conflict of interest?

bremner

Corporate lobbyist, NPA City Councillor and mayoral hopeful, Hector Bremner

(Epilogue: During the meeting, he recused himself from this vote. Related article: Conflict of interest complaint against Vancouver councillor has merit: watchdog. Mayoral hopeful works for PR firm that represents real estate developers and other industries, by Jen St. Denis, StarMetro Vancouver)

Who is he working for — Vancouver citizens? Or his corporate clients?

City Councillor Hector Bremner is hoping to be chosen as the NPA’s mayoral candidate in a May 29 decision by his civic party members.

But more immediately, as Councillor he will be at a Public Hearing on Tuesday, April 17, from which clients of his employer, the lobbying and communications firm Pace Group, may benefit financially. Will Bremner do the right thing, declare conflict of interest, and recuse himself from participating in discussion and voting on this item? He should. This could be considered a test, and people should also watch to see how he conducts himself.

 

The April 17 problem relates to this Public Hearing item: “Minor Amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law to Enable Liquor Retail Stores in Grocery Stores.” If approved by Council vote, the proposed bylaw will limit liquor sales to only very large footprint grocery stores (over 929 square meters) and exclude small and mid-sized stores. If approved, the bylaw changes will benefit his firm’s clients.

Incidentally this is not the first case of potential conflict of interest for him. On April 12, theBreaker reported about other areas of concern with Bremner. “NPA mayoral hopeful Bremner accused of conflict of interest: NPA Coun. Hector Bremner’s continued vice-presidency of a firm that lobbies for real estate, construction and retail companies has sparked a citizen’s complaint to city hall that the rookie politician is breaching the code of conduct.”

Back to the bylaw on liquor retail sales. Overwaitea Food Group (which includes Save on Foods) is a client of Pace Group. So is the BC Wine Institute. Bremner is on record having lobbied on the side of large grocers and liquor (BC Wine Institute). Continue reading

Analysis of 132 unit, 100% market rental housing at 95 West Hastings. Holborn proposal for DTES: Public Hearing Tuesday March 13, 2018

Holborn, the developer behind the Trump Tower in Vancouver and the Little Mountain Housing site, is seeking approval of a rezoning to construct a 10-storey, all market rental housing building at 95 West Hastings Street.

Here we look at the rezoning that City Council is being asked to approve, and the public is asked to comment on — tonight. This proposal is enabled by City of Vancouver policies, but from the public interest perspective, how does this proposal measure up? Does it serve the needs of its host neighbourhood, the Downtown Eastside (DTES)? The public is able to write or speak to Council with comments.

The Public Hearing on Tuesday, March 13th will review this proposal after 6pm. 95 West Hastings is the third item on the agenda: http://council.vancouver.ca/20180313/phea20180313ag.htm

Full details on the rezoning are available on the City’s webpage.

David Paterson, is the City’s rezoning planner responsible for this project (david.paterson@vancouver.ca) and the applicant contact is Gair Williamson, Gair Williamson Architect Inc.

The proposal calls for commercial uses at grade, with market rental housing on floors 2 to 10. A full waiver of community amenity contributions (CACs) is also proposed. An interesting note about the floor area is that at 99,073 sq ft, it is just below the 100,000 sq ft threshold, which means there’s no public art contribution. Otherwise there would be $1.98 / sq. ft. public art contribution (or approx $2 million).

95 West Hastings Holborn proposed site, hearing 13-Mar-2018

The 10-storey, 105′ tall development proposal at 95 West Hastings does not include a single unit of social housing. In this respect, Vision Vancouver City Councillor Andrea Reimer had a significant role to play, specifically affecting this proposal, to the benefit of Holborn. Her last-minute amendments on March 15, 2014 changed the definition of “social housing” and added “secured market rental housing” to the DTES Local Area Plan. (See further below for more about her amendments.) Continue reading

Council agenda preview (July 11-12): Meggs resignation letter, regulating short-term rentals, grant allocations. Plus UDP, Park Board, and more

Vancouver City Council will be in session on Tuesday July 11th and Wednesday July 12th. A report to regulate Short-Term rentals will be considered for referral to Public Hearing (in fall 2017, with regulations to be enacted by April 1, 2018). A letter of resignation from Vision Vancouver Councillor Geoff Meggs is included on the agenda; staff will provide updates on the upcoming byelection (expected in Sept.) at a later date. Grant allocations for Cultural Infrastructure, Theatre Rentals and Childcare Enhancement will be considered by Council. The Public Hearing on Tuesday, July 11th includes a 6-storey Cambie corridor rezoning (4138 Cambie) as well as the redevelopment of a rental site (7-storey building at 870 East 8th). There is also a Park Board meeting scheduled for Monday, July 10th; a report on the Strathcona CCA Funding Model – Interim Strategy will be reviewed.

The Urban Design Panel meets on Wednesday, July 12 (3 pm) for four projects: 1055 Harwood Street (RZ-2017-00024) for 32-storey residential building with 82 market residential units, and 44 social housing units, floor area 54,539 sq. m (178,974 sq. ft.), density 10.35 FSR; height 91.44 m (300 ft.); 1380–1382 Hornby Street (DP-2017-00305) for a 39 storey market residential building with 214 dwelling, and restore existing Heritage house (Leslie House), convert to commercial strata unit, with overall FSR 16.4; 801 Pacific Street (DP-2017-00497) for 7 storey arts and culture facility as part of CAC payable for rezoning 1380-1382 Hornby; and 2395–2443 Kingsway (DP-2017-00056) for a 12-storey and a 5-storey residential tower with 12 units of commercial.

The Development Permit Board is set to meet next on August 8. The Vancouver City Planning Commission meets next on August 2.

The full City Council meeting agendas are reproduced below: Continue reading

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