Mount Pleasant

Note: For the latest information on Mount Pleasant please visit the Residents Association Mount Pleasant (RAMP) website at rampvancouver.com.

Notice: CityHallWatch.ca is supporting a citizen’s forum on April 27 on the  tower development proposal in Mt Pleasant.
Download poster here: Citizens-forum-Kingsway-tower-27April-V3.
Download small flyer here: Citizens-forum-Kingsway-tower-handouts-27Apr

A public Open House was  held at Heritage Hall (3102 Main St) on Tues April 12, 2011 from 4pm-9pm on a proposal to change height restrictions in Mt Pleasant that would allow skyscrapers to come to Main & Broadway.

The concerns are a proposed 26-storey glass tower (at 2 to 3 times higher than any current hi-rise in Mt Pleasant) does not blend into the heritage feel of the area and does not serve as a suitable “iconic landmark” for Main & Broadway,  and the expensive community “benefits” included in the proposal (market rental units, large retail space & expensive artist space) will push up land value and push out local small businesses, and will set the wrong precedent for future development in and around Main. [Note that at the 12 April open house it was announced that the height was revised to 19 storeys.]

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On November 18, the “Mount Pleasant Community Plan” was adopted by  City Council after a detailed discussion. We will provide an analysis of the decision in due course, including its implications. Read on to find out why this plan is so significant for all of Vancouver.
(Agenda and staff report here.)

The best summary of the Council discussion on this Plan was by Jessica Barrett, in WE.
Mount Pleasant speaks out on its future (WE, 24-Nov-2010)
Excerpt: “[Residents] want to be involved in the design process of large-site developments at the earliest possible planning stages.

On November 4 Vancouver City Council adopted a motion by Clr Andrea Reimer regarding community planning processes, proposing that City staff look into the possibility of applying the “Community Plan” process to not just one but up to three neighbourhoods at a time. Mount Pleasant is at the end of this process, which in this case took input from thousands of residents at about 50 meetings, over about 4 years, and probably cost about a million dollars of taxpayers’ money. Before starting upon the path of a new “Community Plan” Vancouver would be wise to look at the achievements and lessons learned from Mount Pleasant.

Mt Pleasant map from City website

On this web page, CityHallWatch will do its best to provide readers with the critical info and resources to develop a balanced assessment of the Community Plan process as applied there, and lessons learned for the next such effort in our civic society. What were its costs? What did it achieve? How do residents feel about it? What lessons were learned? How do our public servants (elected and employed) at City Hall balance neighbourhood priorities with city-wide policies such as “eco-density,” Short-Term Incentives for Rental housing (STIR) and so on? Do certain city-wide policies need to be reviewed by a new Vancouver council after 2011, and should they be up for discussion during election year? If so, which ones are most problematic?

The official City webpages for this process are here: www.vancouver.ca/mountpleasant. Worth special attention are the pages about the terms of reference, the history, and the outcomes. The staff report for the Nov 18 Council meeting is expected to be made public any day now. We will ask for citizen reviews of the report as soon as it comes out.

Media coverage on this topic follows:

Too high a high-rise? (Jessica Barrett, WE, 3-Nov-2010) A fire-razed block at the intersection of Broadway and Kingsway may become the site of a large mixed-use complex that would include a 26-storey residential tower….Rize Alliance Properties … has submitted a rezoning application … seeking permission to build a substantial development that will encompass the entire block of Kingsway and Broadway, extending to 10th Avenue to the north and Watson Street to the west….The rental units would allow the application to be considered under the City’s Short Term Incentives for Rental (STIR) program….The height and bulk of the project would be a dramatic departure from much of the rest of Mount Pleasant, an area largely made up of heritage buildings, low-rise walk-ups, and infill….But one Mount Pleasant resident involved in the community consultation process says the developer should have initiated a dialogue with community members years ago…. Read full article here.

2 thoughts on “Mount Pleasant

  1. From UrbDeZine, a well-respected, independent urban design magazine, these planning principles are as taught in most design schools around the world, but the real question for Vancouver is whether they make sense to us, the residents of Vancouver, who are the primary stakeholders and funders of this city. Note especially Duany and Plater-Zyberk’s call for self-governing neighbourhoods.
    Bold is added for emphasis.
    ————————————
    10 Principles of Planning Pleasant Places, by Bill Adams
    There are many academic lists regarding the principles of urban planning, a sampling of which is included below. However, I’ve put together my own list about what creates a pleasant place in the built environment. Its based on nothing more than my personal observations.

    1) Narrow streets make nicer neighborhoods and shopping districts.
    2) Setbacks suck. (Compare all the places we are attracted to for vacations.)
    3) Great cities happen at the street level, not the skyline.
    4) Preserve the old buildings not just for architectural significance, but for diversity of architecture.
    5) Small lot development is smarter development. (i.e. large master planned developments lack soul)
    6) Build cities and towns for pedestrians and human scale – the drivers will find a way to get there.
    7) Plan for feeling, not for efficiency. (Wide streets, wide sidewalks, uniform traffic grid patterns – while all these things tend to make sense from a pure logical perspective, humans are not purely logical. As a result such planning tends to lead to blight.)
    8) Plan to foster unplanned organic development. (Think diversity, small lot development, creativity)
    9) Incorporate rather than create the topography.
    10) Most planning principles that create livable communities are counter-intuitive. Based on the human mind not efficiency.

    From Wikipedia, Principles of Urban Planning:
    Elements of New Urbanism
    According to Duany and Plater-Zyberk, the heart of New Urbanism is in the design of neighborhoods, which can be defined by thirteen elements:

    The neighborhood has a discernible center. This is often a square or a green and sometimes a busy or memorable street corner. A transit stop would be located at this center.
    Most of the dwellings are within a five-minute walk of the center, an average of roughly 1/4 mile or 1,320 feet (0.4 km).
    There are a variety of dwelling types — usually houses, rowhouses, and apartments — so that younger and older people, singles, and families, the poor, and the wealthy may find places to live.
    At the edge of the neighborhood, there are shops and offices of sufficiently varied types to supply the weekly needs of a household.
    A small ancillary building or garage apartment is permitted within the backyard of each house. It may be used as a rental unit or place to work (for example, an office or craft workshop).
    An elementary school is close enough so that most children can walk from their home.
    There are small playgrounds accessible to every dwelling — not more than a tenth of a mile away.
    Streets within the neighborhood form a connected network, which disperses traffic by providing a variety of pedestrian and vehicular routes to any destination.
    The streets are relatively narrow and shaded by rows of trees. This slows traffic, creating an environment suitable for pedestrians and bicycles.
    Buildings in the neighborhood center are placed close to the street, creating a well-defined outdoor room.
    Parking lots and garage doors rarely front the street. Parking is relegated to the rear of buildings, usually accessed by alleys.
    Certain prominent sites at the termination of street vistas or in the neighborhood center are reserved for civic buildings. These provide sites for community meetings, education, and religious or cultural activities.
    The neighborhood is organized to be self-governing. A formal association debates and decides matters of maintenance, security, and physical change. Taxation is the responsibility of the larger community.
    This section contains content from Wikipedia:New Urbanism, licensed under GFDL.
    Source: http://urbdezine.com/2010/10/02/10-principles-of-pleasant-places/

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