City’s high housing growth rate making homes less affordable: Elizabeth Murphy, Vancouver Sun 1-Sep-2018

This article by Elizabeth Murphy appeared on the Vancouver Sun opinion page, Saturday, September 1, 2018.

Elizabeth Murphy: City’s high housing growth rate making homes less affordable
Most new housing construction is unaffordable and involves demolishing older building stock that former occupants could afford but who are then displaced. More new supply doesn’t make things more affordable – quite the opposite.

https://vancouversun.com/opinion/op-ed/elizabeth-murphy-citys-high-housing-growth-rate-making-homes-less-affordable

Photo caption: Marine Drive and Cambie Street is part of the Cambie corridor plan that requires $750 million in utility upgrades as part of the billions of dollars of upgrades required for city-wide growth.

After more than a decade of high levels of growth in the city of Vancouver, we can now see what that is achieving. The results are record homelessness, an affordability crisis, inflated land values and unsustainable demolitions. But on top of that we are only now being given a peak under the hood at what the costs of servicing that growth will be. And it is enormous.

In July, the city approved a report on city-wide utilities financing growth strategy and a Cambie corridor utilities servicing plan. It disclosed, in somewhat of an opaque and incomplete way, anticipated growth and the costs to service that growth that is in the billions of dollars. It also posed some significant environmental sustainability issues that had not previously been raised by the city and puts in question the current growth agenda.

The report does not disclose full population and unit growth, so it doesn’t show the whole picture. But it is enough to identify that we have a huge deficit in utility servicing capacity for the projected growth, where unit development and zoned capacity is far exceeding population increases. It will take billions of dollars to cover the required upgrades to water, sewer and drainage systems, as well as other services for this growth, most of which is unaffordable housing. Continue reading

Public Hearing 5-Sep-2018 (Wed): Density bonuses, Little Mountain, Cambie Corridor + Grandview Woodland townhouse zoning RM-8A/8AN, Arbutus Corridor plan, Jewish Comm Ctr, Lougheed House

CoV Public Hearing details 5-Sep-2018With several Public Hearing nights in September being cancelled, only two Public Hearings (Sept 5 and 18) remain in September 2018. These will be the last ones under the current Vision Vancouver regime at City Hall. Note that the Sept 18 Public Hearing could be under mysterious new rules to be adopted earlier the same day at a Regular Council meeting. More on that later…

For the record, below are the agenda and brief summaries for Sept 5. Please click on the links for documents. We note that today, just one night before the Public Hearing, virtually no correspondence has been posted.

Public Hearing
Wednesday, September 5, 2018, 6:00 pm
Council Chamber, Third Floor, City Hall
https://council.vancouver.ca/20180905/phea20180905ag.htm

1. TEXT AMENDMENT: 2018 Annual Inflationary Adjustments to Density Bonus Contributions

2. TEXT AMENDMENT: 155 East 37th Avenue (Little Mountain)

3. HERITAGE DESIGNATION: 2040 Columbia Street (Lougheed House)

4. REZONING: Amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law Regarding the RM-8A/8AN Districts for Townhouse Areas in Cambie Corridor and Grandview-Woodland

CHW suggested reading: Grandview Woodland Area Council (GWAC) notice and meeting report (7-May-2018).

5. ODP AMENDMENTS: Amendments to the Arbutus Corridor Official Development Plan and Regional Context Statement Official Development Plan

CHW suggested reading: Loonie deal: City of Vancouver may resell portions of Arbutus corridor for $1 (Carlito Pablo, Georgia Straight, 29-Aug-2018). https://www.straight.com/news/1126341/loonie-deal-city-vancouver-may-resell-portions-arbutus-corridor-1. Note that one comment to the article says “Headline should have been: ‘Disposal of Properties will deny the City the opportunity to join the Greenway all the way to False Creek and the Seawall’. That’s the real story, not the sell back.”

See also: City of Vancouver mulls sale of Arbutus Corridor lands to CP Rail for $1 (Matt Robinson, Vancouver Sun, 4-Sep-2018)

6. REZONING: 950 West 41st Avenue (Jewish Community Centre)

Below is a scan of the official notice in the Vancouver Courier, on August 16. Continue reading

Development applications snapshot, 1-Sep-2018

As a free public service CityHallWatch takes a monthly snapshot of the Development Applications listed on the City of Vancouver website.

A tech-savvy citizen is voluntarily producing two handy online maps (click bottom right to switch between rezoning and development applications): https://vancouverapps-fa328.firebaseapp.com/

Anyone interested in these projects is also encouraged to periodically check the Urban Design Panel (UDP) and Development Permit Board (DPB) schedules, as many projects appear before them as part of the approval pipeline. Check often, as sometimes their agendas appear publicly online as little as one hour before the meeting.

For reference, download the full list of development applications we saved on this date:
CoV Development Applications snapshot, 1-Sep-2018

Consider writing Mayor and Council asking them to make Development Applications archives available online.

For current (at time of viewing) full list of applications online, click: vancouver.ca/devapps/.

Below is the list as of September 1, 2018. Continue reading

Rezoning applications snapshot, 1-Sep-2018

As a free public service we take a monthly snapshot of the City of Vancouver’s Rezoning Applications listed on the City of Vancouver website.

Open houses and public hearings deserve special attention. They are key chances for the public to obtain information and give feedback. If you have concerns or questions, we encourage you to contact the applicant and/or the City’s project facilitator indicated for each case. If you feel it is important, you might also contact your neighbours, and the media.

Some very important public hearings are coming up in September as City Hall rushes to approve applications before a likely change of regime at City Hall.

This list below is simply copied from the City’s Rezoning Centre website. Download any links that might be important for you. For the current official list, click vancouver.ca/rezapps. The Archives link carries links to recent rezonings (Applications are now archived 2 to 3 months after City Council enacts them as by-laws. Until not long ago, rezonings from 2011 onward were posted, but that has recently changed to only a few months.)

Download this list we saved in PDF format:
CoV Rezoning Applications snapshot 1-Sep-2018

Continue reading

Heads up: Special Council meeting July 31 to change start time of Sept 18 public hearing

CoV Council meeting schedule as of 30-Jul-2018

With no further explanation for its rationale, a Special Council meeting for July 31 suddenly appeared on the City of Vancouver web page showing the schedule of upcoming meetings. There is just one item on the agenda, to move the start time of the Sept 18 Public Hearing up by 3 hours (from the 6 pm start, up to 3 pm). This is probably the last public hearing before the month long election period leading up to the October 20 election. What business will appear on the agenda?

The agenda for July 31, starting at the unusual time of 5:30 pm, is simply as follows:

1. Public Hearing Start Time – September 18, 2018
The purpose of this meeting is to obtain Council approval of the following:
THAT Council adjust the start time of the Public Hearing meeting to be held, Tuesday, September 18, 2018, from 6 pm to 3 pm.

CityHallWatch brings attention to the highly irregular and aggressive Public Hearing schedule from June to September, with four nights in June, six in July, one in August, and five in September. Recently the actual full documentation for a public hearing made public just a matter of days before the public hearing, and we also have witnessed last-minute staff reports known as “yellow memos” going to Council with new information (and responses to Council questions), as well as motions being proposed by the ruling regime shortly before the end of the public hearing, and then quickly voted through. Watch out for the “shock doctrine” effect in Vancouver civic affairs.

Vision Vancouver is trying to tidy up many loose ends in the final days of this four-year cycle, which is also the end of ten years with absolute control of City Council. Be prepared for surprises. Continue reading

Watch out: Vision Vancouver using the “shock doctrine” to force through massive zoning and policy changes before Oct 2018 election?

storm flash

Photo by Martinus on Pexels.com

(Update 1) We just want to put this here as a reference point to come back to in upcoming posts and discussions.

Naomi Klein is “Canadian author, social activist, and filmmaker known for her political analyses and criticism of corporate globalization and of capitalism.” In 2007 she came out with “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.” Her focus is on neoliberal free market policies leading to a deliberate strategy of “shock therapy,” exploiting a national crises to push through controversial policies while citizens are too emotionally and physically distracted by disasters or upheavals to mount an effective resistance.” (See Wikipedia)

The crises could be caused by by any form of disruption, such as war, invasion, economic crisis or natural disaster. Her hypothesis is that during a crisis, the dominant forces in a power structure exert excessive influence to have decisions and policies made in their favor, whether it be greater profit, power or other form of advantage.

This appears to be precisely what is happening now during the summer of 2018 with Vision Vancouver pushing through dramatic changes in zoning guidelines and policies without meaningful public consultation. The vast majority of affected residents don’t know the details of what is going on, nor do they know the implications of policy changes being rushed through, and the financial and other costs and changes to future society and communities. Later we will add links to this post as examples, but one example is the impending changes to RS zones (detached houses) that account for about 70% of Vancouver. Despite the merits or demerits of the idea, there has been no meaningful engagement of the affected neighbourhoods, which could lead to major potential disruptions and unintended consequences without the benefit of a careful public debate. Another example is proposed changes to RT-7 and RT-8 (duplex) zones that are common in Kitsilano. Continue reading

Final version 2019-2022 Capital Plan for $2.8 billion goes to Vancouver City Council July 24 & 25, 2018

stack white business market

Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

Below is a notification circulating by e-mail from the City of Vancouver about the Capital Plan. People have a chance to speak to Council about the plan on Wednesday if they write in before the Tuesday meeting (see below).

July 24 and July 25 are the last two meetings on the official City Council schedule until the next Regular City Council meeting on September 18. That is, not counting FOUR more Public Hearings (Jul 31, Aug 2, Sep 5, Sep 6). The current council and administration is racing to get a LOT of business done before the full-on campaign period in the month prior to the Oct 20 election.

The Regular Council and Committee meetings on July 24 and July 25 respectively are likewise jam-packed, including a decision to call Public Hearings ASAP on hasty rezoning of nearly the entire city despite no prior public consultation.

We add recent media on capital plans (City of Vancouver, plus Vancouver Park Board) at the bottom.

Here is the City’s e-mail note about the Capital Plan.

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1. The final version of the 2019-2022 Capital Plan will be considered by Vancouver City Council on July 24 and 25, as follows:

Tuesday, July 24th (meeting starts at 9:30 am): presentation by staff to Council

https://council.vancouver.ca/20180724/regu20180724ag.htm

Wednesday: July 25th: delegations present to Council (scheduled to start at 2:00 pm), followed by debate and vote by Council.

https://council.vancouver.ca/20180725/pspc20180725ag.htm

2. Here’s a weblink to Council report: https://council.vancouver.ca/20180725/documents/regurr1.pdf

3. If you wish to speak at the Council meeting, please email the City Clerk’s Office using this address (speaker.request@vancouver.ca) or phone them at 604-829-4272. Continue reading