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:

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

David Paterson, is the City’s rezoning planner responsible for this project ( 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

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.

Continue reading