Arbutus Shopping Centre (4255 Arbutus St) – rezoned

What follows is a report (July 31, 2011) from Arbutus Ridge Concerned Residents’ Association (ARCCA, but note, name later changed to Arbutus Ridge Community Association, at http://www.arbutusridgecommunity.org/) following the controversial rezoning on July 14, 2011, for 4255 Arbutus Street.

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Rezoning – 4255 Arbutus Street – Arbutus Shopping Centre

On July 14th, after two long nights of Public Hearings, Council voted unanimously for the Larco Investment’s plan for the Centre.

ARCCA had opposed the rezoning for these reasons:

  • The density on these seven acres is 3 times that approved in the ARKS City Plan.
    See http://vancouver.ca/commsvcs/planning/cityplan/visions/arks/vision.htm
  • The height of the 4 buildings – 7, 8 and 9 storeys – exceeds the approved 4 storeys in the ARKS Plan.
  • The lack of sunlight on the public square due to the height of the 4 buildings.
  • Diversion of water from the underground streams under the site.  Other developments in the area have caused the water level in the area to rise.  Three floors of underground parking could create major diversion of the streams.
  • The 9 storey building intrudes into the view line from Quilchena Park.
  • Lack of sufficient shops and offices for the growing community.  A larger Safeway and liquor store means less square footage for commercial development.
  • “Maybe” status of the recreation centre for the Villagers.
  • Extension of Yew Street into the Centre.
  • Traffic and safety hazards at Nanton and Arbutus. Approximately 1000 more residents and at least 500 more cars.

Although 6958 people signed a petition for commercial-only use of the property, ARCCA did design a compromise plan to Larco and the Planning Department. It had just over 200 residential units, more shops and offices and much more open space. Larco refused to consider the plan.

Summary of Councillors’ Remarks at the Public Hearing:

  • All supported the 100 units of social housing – 20% (of 500) is the City’s requirement.
  • All supported the neighbourhood house.
  • All supported ASK, the adult daycare facility.
  • They were impressed that Toderian said the plan matched North America’s best practices.
  • They all saw the development as an exciting project.
  • They saw the plan as an improvement to the community – more neighbourliness. Great gathering place to meet people.
  • They welcomed better access to the Park.
  • They suggested that many families would be moving into the new market housing.
  • Most were not concerned about the 9 storey building cutting the view from Quilchena Park. They thought the extra height was supportable.
  • They lauded the $46 million(CAC) in amenities from Larco which includes:

–          $1 million for upgrading the park

–          $6.65 million is still unallocated. Some suggested the Kerrisdale pool needed upgrading.

Summary of Reservations Expressed by Councillors:

  • Negative impact on the community during 8+ years of construction – traffic, noise and dust. Larco said it would not be too noisy “because most of the construction will be indoor work”.
  • Water damage – Larco said they are taking more tests and plan to construct an underground well to contain the water.
  • Height of the residential condos will intrude into the view from Quilchena Park and also block sunlight into the ground level of the Centre. Larco said they might consider more terracing of the floors of some of the buildings.
  • Access to bike lanes, especially Nanton, and the City park.  Larco promised to resolve conflicts with bike routes.
  • Access and safety in the underground parking lot.

Larco also promised:

  • Every concern would be addressed.
  • More viable commercial including a restaurant. The space set aside in the Plan for commercial was minimum, not maximum. Safeway would house some independent businesses as well – fast foods.
  • Taking responsibility for any damage to the neighbourhood.
  • The bank will take less space so more space for stores.

Councillors’ Individual Comments as they Voted:

  • Louie: Very pleased with the social housing.  Developer made adjustments to the plan – shows flexibility.
  • Woodsworth: Buildings are too high and there should be more green; 20% allocated to social housing is commendable.
  • Meggs: Happy it is not 100% commercial;  plan is striking and dramatically improved – credit to staff; there should be more retail and the recreation centre should be for the public.
  • Chow:  Looking forward to improvement in the retail; likes the diversified housing.
  • Reimer: Noted that the neighbourhood was under-serviced with amenities – commended the developer for compensating the community.
  • Jang:  Retail-only should be built when there are enough people to shop there. Unrealistic to be 100% commercial in this location.
  • Stevenson: The Centre was really viable when Woodwards owned it – now it is dead. Likes the new plan.
  • Anton:  Likes the public plaza – lots of sunshine for sitting out drinking coffee and socializing – good for the community.  Developer has heeded community concerns. Took issue with the height and hoped there could be more terracing but otherwise the plan has met the policy statement of 2008.
  • Cadman: Policy statement of 2008 has been satisfied.  Likes the social housing and the adult Centre.  Commercial-only is not viable but hopes there can be more retail. Pleased the developer will protect the bike route and be responsible for any water problems.
  • Deal: Exciting project.  High density is good for our City. Not concerned about the minimal view intrusion. Neighbourhood concerns have been met.
  • Mayor Robertson: Developer made the appropriate changes. It is not perfect but a good compromise – definitely the plan is a model for new developments in the city. Some improvement can still be made. Thanked all parties for their contribution.

The Recreation Centre for the Village:

  • Larco has promised to rebuild the Recreation Centre for the residents of the Village – old and new – but because the lease expires for the Stratas in 2013, the year Larco starts construction, and because Block D, where the Rec. Centre is now located, will be constructed before Block C, where the new Rec. Centre is to be housed, the Villagers will be without their Rec. Centre for at least 2 years, maybe forever.  As Larco had said earlier, “Block C will be built if market conditions prevail”.

Note:

Spokesperson for Larco – Art Phillips (not the former mayor)

Spokespersons for Planning Dept. – Dwayne Drobot and Brent Toderian, Head Planner

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