What’s at stake in Renfrew Collingwood (CC#77: How much more can a Vancouver neighbourhood stand?) by Brian Palmquist

(City Conversation #78 was first published 4-Sep-2022)
(For a list of City Conversations by Brian Palmquist on CityHallWatch, please visit this page.)

Intro by CityHallWatch: Brian is currently going through the citywide Vancouver Plan, which was adopted as one of the last decisions by City Council in July 2022 prior to the October 15 election. We believe that a very small fraction of Vancouver residents know about the Vancouver Plan and it real implications. This article looks specifically at Renfrew-Collingwood neighbourhood with five Skytrain stations. Excerpt: “…. what you’re saying the Vancouver Plan means for Renfrew-Collingwood is: much higher density pretty much everywhere; high-rises marching along the edges of Kingsway but not actually on it; and very dense development for a 10-block radius around the SkyTrain stations.” This means a lot of speculation, disruption, demolition, renoviction, and construction in Renfrew Collingwood. But depending on who gets a majority (6 of 11 seats) on Council in October, the Vancouver Plan could be modified or repealed. The Vancouver Plan is supported by all parties except TEAM for a Livable Vancouver, which has pledged to withdraw the Vancouver Plan and Broadway Plan. Meanwhile, if David Eby becomes premier of BC this fall, his intention is to eventually eliminate public hearings on rezonings in Vancouver, basically cutting the public out of urban land use decisions.

**********

September 4th  2022—3rd in a series about what the recently approved Vancouver Plan means for each of the city’s 23 existing neighbourhoods. In Renfrew Collingwood it’s the end of low density, even medium density. Read on. 

The Vancouver Plan view of the Renfrew Collingwood neighbourhood—neighbourhood boundaries in red added by me

“This diagram’s an ode to pink!” commented my son as he looked at my next neighbourhood Vancouver Plan analysis. “What’s the pink, and why is there so much of it?”

“Before I get to that, a bit of a historical comment. Renfrew Collingwood went through a community visioning process that started in 2002—many meetings led to a 75-page Vision document. The Vancouver Plan sets that work as well as the more recent 2010 Norquay Village plan aside in favour of much increased density, without any reference to all the work the neighbours contributed in the past.” 

I continued. “The existing density of this neighbourhood is already 17% more than the Vancouver average—the Vancouver Plan will push that even higher.” He looked puzzled, said, “So let’s come back to these smudgy colours—what do they mean?”

I focused on the plan. “The Vancouver Plan only identifies five different neighbourhood types. That’s not to be confused with an existing neighbourhood, of which Vancouver has 23, including Renfrew Collingwood.”

The Vancouver Plan’s Six Neighbourhood Types

I continued. “Four of the six neighbourhood types occur in Renfrew-Collingwood:

  1. Rapid Transit Centres are the pinkish blobs you mentioned, centred around each of the five SkyTrain stations—they extend for about a 10-block radius around each station. The Plan describes this as Low-rise, mid-rise and high-rise multi-unit buildings generally up to 12–18 storeys. 25+ storeys in strategic locations. Corridor: 35-80 Jobs + People/hectare Station Area: 60-350 Jobs + People/hectare.
  2. Neighbourhood Centre runs along Kingsway for its whole length inside the neighbourhood. The Plan describes this as Low-rise and mid-rise multi-unit buildings generally up to 12 storeys. Minimum residential density: 40-60 People/ hectare.
  3. There appear to be three village areas: one along Rupert centred between Grandview and East 29th; a smaller one centred on Renfrew Street about midway between Grandview and East 29th; and a final smaller one in the lower left corner near East 41st and Nanaimo. The Plan describes these as Low-rise multi-unit residential and mixed-use buildings generally up to 6 storeys. Minimum residential density: 40 People / hectare.
  4. Finally, there are a few left over light coloured bits called multiplex, which the Plan describes as Primarily ground-oriented residential including single, duplex and multiplex dwellings. Up to 6 storeys for rental or social housing where the Secured Rental Policy (SRP) applies.”

“The names of these neighbourhood types seem unthreatening—what do they actually mean?” asked my son. 

Continue reading

2022 Mayoral Candidates Debate Sept 21 (Wed), Creekside Community Centre, 7 pm (False Creek Residents Association)

Epilogue: Incumbent mayor Kennedy Stewart (seeking reelection with Forward Together) skipped event, cancelling just hours before the debate got underway. To date, he has missed all candidate meetings hosted by neighbourhood associations. Ken Sim, mayoral candidate with ABC Vancouver is a close second, though he did attend this Creekside event. At the bottom of this page we provide a report from the Upper Kitsilano Residents Association.

***********
The False Creek Residents Association (https://www.falsecreekresidents.org/) has announced this event.

2022 Mayoral Candidates Debate
September 21, 2022
7-9 pm, doors open at 6:30 pm
Creekside Community Centre (1 Athletes Way, Vancouver)


FCRA is a volunteer-run neighbourhood group dedicated to improving the quality of life for everyone that lives around and visits False Creek—the heart of the city of Vancouver.

********

CityHallWatch is glad to see this meeting going ahead after the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods cancelled a mayoral debate that was slated for Sept 19, after Forward Vancouver’s Kennedy Stewart and ABC Vancouver’s Ken Sim rejected or refused to respond to invitations. References below:

Failure by Vancouver mayoral candidates Kennedy Stewart and Ken Sim (ABC) to participate leads CVN to cancel debate September 19

Link – https://coalitionvan.org/posts/media-release-mayoral-debate-cancelled-due-stewart-and-sim/

Mayoral candidates Ken Sim and Kennedy Stewart duck a second debate
(Charlie Smith, September 12, 2022, Georgia Straight)
Excerpt: … Let this be a message to any civic politician who doesn’t think that participating in debates is part of their job.
Link: https://www.straight.com/news/mayoral-candidates-ken-sim-and-kennedy-stewart-duck-a-second-debate

************

Report from Upper Kitsilano Residents Association newsletter 22-Sep-2022

Most of the debate was spent on the opioid crisis and safety concerns in the False Creek area. Other topics discussed included derelict boating vessels, worsening water pollution in False Creek, and the loss of green space.

NPA candidate Fred Harding, a former UK police detective, said his party’s main election concern is the growing lack of safety on Vancouver streets, which he blames on a failure of leadership at City Hall. He would rehire 50 retired police officers, hire “new blood,” bring beat cops back to the streets, and arrest those dealing drugs on boats.

TEAM candidate Colleen Hardwick acknowledged that safety has “deteriorated beyond belief in this town,” and promised if elected to bring back the Four Pillars approach brought in by former mayor Philip Owen. The approach is based on four principles: harm reduction, prevention, treatment, and enforcement. She and the other candidates chastised Forward Together’s Kennedy Stewart for attempting to defund the police during his term. Hardwick said if elected, she would appoint a safety commissioner who would be responsible for the Downtown Eastside.

Mark Marissen of Progress Together said he would bring back the Vancouver Agreement — an initiative undertaken jointly by all three levels of government as well as community and business groups to develop and revitalize the Downtown Eastside.

ABC’s Ken Sim promised to bring in 100 police officers and 100 mental health workers to help those suffering from drug and mental health issues and provide 24-hour recovery centres with wrap-around services. Sim criticized Kennedy Stewart’s new plan to bring in a mental health response team of only 25 if elected.

Discussions also included the tearing down of the city’s viaducts and the contentious Broadway Plan. Sim and Marissen support the plan; Fred Harding said it is a “flawed plan,” but that “we can’t go back” and re-do the plan. Only Hardwick said she would rescind it. Calling the Broadway Plan a “cooked up” revenue generator deal, Hardwick said people have been misled and it’s not what’s best for the city. “ Sim disagreed, saying that the Broadway Plan would be too costly to change and cannot be repealed. But Hardwick told the audience that the City’s legal department told her it was possible.

****

Feint by Numbers: 220,000—we got this! (#80: The Mayor’s housing target has been in his cards for some time) by Brian Palmquist

(City Conversation #78 was first published 13-Sep-2022)
(For a list of City Conversations by Brian Palmquist on CityHallWatch, please visit this page.)

***********

September 11th 2022—a break from neighbourhood discussions to address the Mayor’s housing promises.

Above: Add the first line. Current spot rezoning summary from my Homes for Whom database—212,000+ homes—a simple rounding error!

“Dad, is that a smile on your face?” asked my son. “You’re usually frowning when you look at your Homes for Whom database. What’s up?”

“Well,” I answered, “the Mayor just announced his five-point housing plan for the next ten years—at least, if he remains Mayor, which looks quite possible at the moment.” He frowned, knowing my disdain for the incumbent.

“That still doesn’t explain your smile,” he kept up his questioning.

“I’m smiling because the Mayor has just proven the accuracy of my predictions in the Homes for Whom database, although I wish he and I were both wrong.”

He frowned. “You’re gonna have to explain that—all I see are a few big numbers—what do they mean and how does that relate to the Mayor’s election promises?”

“The Mayor claims he will preside over development of 220,000 new homes over the next 10 years, which is the same time frame for most of my Homes for Whom database. My numbers come from just four sources—the 4 columns to the right of Total Home Counts:

  • Official Home count for mega projects is from just 3 projects: the Broadway Plan’s 30,000 homes; Jericho Lands’s 10,000 published target; and the Mayor’s ambitious 10,000 from Making Home;
  • Add mega project homes count based on plans is from 4 projects where the official numbers don’t match what the plans say: 22,000 from the Kits portion of the Broadway Plan; 21,000 from the Fairview portion of the Broadway Plan; 6,000 from the Mount Pleasant part of the Broadway Plan; and 8,000 extra in the Jericho Plan;
  • Spot rezonings in pipeline or approved is the biggest number, 393 projects as of today, totalling 58,514 homes;
  • Additional committed homes over next 30 years includes 29 projects or initiatives, including: 4,500 new homes from duplexing; 8,800 more homes in the East Fraser Lands; and 12,000 more laneway homes. The balance of about 20,000 is from 26 specific projects that have been announced but not applied for—the Mayor’s 220,000 home press release mentions about half as meriting specialized planning teams.”

He paused thoughtfully. “Looks to me like some of your 29 additional homes projects have a 30-year time frame, not 10 years.”

Continue reading

Feint by Numbers: 1/3, one third, 1/3 (#79: A new housing target that’s as old as Vancouver’s urban planning success) by Brian Palmquist

(City Conversation #78 was first published 11-Sep-2022)
(For a list of City Conversations by Brian Palmquist on CityHallWatch, please visit this page.)

**********

September 11th 2022—a break from neighbourhood discussions to refocus on how we can get back to housing affordability and compassion in Vancouver.

False Creek South (FCS)—in this one photo there is seniors rental housing, market rental, co-op housing and strata housing —photo by Brian Palmquist

“What’s with the old black and white photo?” asked my son, looking over my shoulder.

“It’s not old—I took it only a year ago and converted it to b&w— it’s my reminder that we can do this,” I replied. “We’ve done it before and we can do it again if we just say we will.”

He chuckled at the passion in my voice. “Down off the soap box, Dad. Explain what you’re on about…in 1,000 words or less!” I winced at his reference to my occasional (all right, frequent) wordiness. “First of all, what’s the picture’s significance and how does that relate to the city election?” He knows that’s my current, obsessive focus. I smiled, took a deep breath and launched.

“We talked over a year ago about False Creek South’s original planning success, more recently about city staff’s assault on that success to squeeze more revenue from it. You’ll recall that more folks than ever before signed up to speak against proposals to destroy False Creek South, and they were at least temporarily successful—it won’t come back on the agenda until after the mid-October elections.” He nodded after a moment’s recollection—my signal to keep going.

“There was some scientific and economic analysis during the genesis of FCS’s planning. But in the end, the politicians and their planning staff decided that it made economic sense to develop FCS into equal thirds:

  • One third high end housing for wealthier folks, subsidizing
  • One third middle income folks, also somewhat subsidizing
  • One third lower income folks.

“How did that work in practice?” he asked. “Seems deceptively simple.” I replied after a pause for thought.

“You’re correct, there were many moving pieces to the evolving plan and its construction. The key thing is everybody involved was focused on the 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 objective—politicians, city staff, even the project managers and developers.”

“The first puzzle piece was the land cost and charges. The city owned and continues to own the land, decided to not sell, rather lease the land, which they could do for much less than if they sold it. In fact, your mother and I thought it was such a good idea that we wanted to buy in, but our parents would not top up our downpayment savings.” He raised his eyebrow at the age old reluctance of parents to stake their children. “Our parents were also skeptical about a land lease, and they weren’t the only doubters. But enough folks and their bankers thought it was okay that everything was sold—it probably didn’t hurt that then-Mayor Art Phillips bought in to the idea he’d sponsored!”

Continue reading

First proposal already violates the just-approved Broadway Plan on multiple counts (20-storey tower at 1540 West 10th Ave)

Above: Rendering detail from the architect’s materials. Note the height of the proposed tower compared to the surrounding buildings (street in foreground is West 10th Avenue between Fir and Granville)

The Broadway Plan was approved on June 22, 2022, and went into effect on September 1. Reliance Properties wasted no time and was the first out the gate with a proposal for a 20-storey tower at 1540 W Broadway. Reliance Properties President Jon Stovell quickly publicized the proposal by tweeting links on September 3rd and 9th to pieces in UrbanYVR and DailyHive. The tower design was created by omb (office of mcfarlane biggar architects + designers).

Here we look at the proposal versus the Broadway Plan, upon which it is purportedly based. The application by Reliance is in violation with the Plan on multiple counts.

As the first application coming forward, it is significant as a case study. Vancouver residents and voters need to know that the response by planning staff merits scrutiny, because unless there is a significant change on Council with the October 15 election, the provincial government will be angling to eliminate public hearings in Vancouver, effectively cutting out Council and public oversight of rezonings and leaving the planning department as the sole remaining check on rezonings. Applications would effectively go straight from the developer to the City’s director of planning for approval.

A total of 98 rental units are proposed on the site. A floor space ratio of 6.5 is requested. Four levels of underground parking would include the provision of 35 spots (to fulfill a covenant for the current parking lot on the site). The proposal was submitted as letter of enquiry to the City, which is generally done prior to a developer making a formal rezoning application.

The proposal already violates the Broadway Plan on multiple counts. For example, the building height for residential towers is non-compliant, as the proposed design exceeds the maximum floor-to-floor height 10 ft. (3.0m). Second, the tower volume lies within the “solar priority protection area” for the public green space at the Vancouver School Board building located on the other side of W10th Avenue. There’s no 4-storey podium on the site to make it consistent with the Broadway Plan; it’s only a tower proposed. The site frontage at 125 ft falls under the usual 150 ft minimum tower site frontage requirement, which means that it can proceed only at the discretion of the Director of Planning (for relaxation). This relaxation is eligible only when ‘the project satisfies the [Broadway] Plan’s built form and site design principles.’ (Clearly, that condition if not met, due to shading of protected public open space and exceeding maximum floor-to-floor heights).

Above: Spring equinox (March 20, 10am). A quick shadow study with a rough massing model (in orange, at bottom left) shows significant impacts on the VSB green space site, which is identified for protected solar access under the Broadway Plan.

This proposed design may well end up being a prototype for many future proposals, that is if the Broadway Plan stays in effect and the City management and Council composition doesn’t change. There’s further analysis along this line of thought in City Conversion 78: What’s at stake in Fairview (CC#78: our Broadway Plan models, called ‘just plain wrong,’ become ‘pretty much right’) by Brian Palmquist.

What would it say about the current state of planning in Vancouver if the first proposed tower under the Broadway Plan is allowed to sail through even though it is not in compliance with the Plan? What does this say about the intellectual honesty on the part of planning staff? Should staff be allowed to say, yes, something follows the Broadway Plan, because they say so, and that’s the end of story? What about checks and balances in planning-related decisions? What part of “Proposed new development should not create new shadow impact on parks and public school yards from the spring to fall equinoxes between 10AM and 4PM” do staff not understand?

City staff may wish to consult their own solar access diagram to see if the tower falls within a protected area (enlarged inset reproduced below).

Above: Solar access diagram from Broadway Plan (enlarged) shows that proposed 20-storey tower site falls within park and public school yards solar priority area. Full solar access plan is reproduced at the end.
Solar access to the public greenspace at West 10th and Fir (VSB) is protected under the Broadway Plan

It’s certainly possible to put a significant amount housing on the parking lot site at 1540 W 10th Avenue, at around 8-storeys in height, while still maintaining the solar access policy of the Broadway Plan. However, a 20-storey tower does not maintain protected solar access to green space.

Above: Spring equinox (March 20, 10:35am) shadow comparison between a rough massing of 20-storey tower (left) and the existing condition (right).
Above: Site and context (1540 W10th Avenue is located between Granville and Fir Street)
Above: Massing diagram from architect showing site and potential future development sites. Note the Vancouver School Board open greenspace is shown as having a potential for 6-storeys (Click to enlarge diagram)
Above: For clarity, here’s a cropped and annotated part of the Architect’s massing diagram showing the site and potential future development sites, along with a couple of photos of the greenspace that’s shown as having a potential for 6-storeys (Click to enlarge diagram)
Continue reading

Candidate nominations for the October civic election are closed. What happens now?

Who’s running for office in the October 15 Vancouver municipal election in 2022? The City’s website has a list of all of the candidates who submitted their paperwork by the deadline on Friday, September 9th. However, this list is subject to change because candidates can withdraw from running for office before 4 pm on Friday, September 16th. As well, candidates could be dropped if there’s a successful challenge against them (for example, if they are not eligible for running for office, or if there were issues with their paperwork).

The nomination papers and the financial disclosure statements for all candidates are available online in a redacted form for public review. The full unredacted paperwork can be viewed in person at Vancouver City Hall (City Clerk’s office on the third floor) during normal office hours. The City Clerk can also make the list of Vancouver electors (voter’s list) available. The paperwork for the local political parties (‘Elector Organizations’) has also been filed that includes the candidates who have been endorsed by the parties. Other information on the Elector Organizations include the financial agents and party presidents.

Each of the nominated candidates must be endorsed by at least 25 ‘electors’ (people who are eligible to vote in the Vancouver Civic election: Canadian citizen, reside in Vancouver or own property in the city, etc.). The rules for running for office are set forth in the Vancouver Charter (Division 6, from Section 41 onward).

The nomination papers usually contain at least several additional signatures as a precautionary measure beyond the required 25 (many candidates have somewhere between 33 and 40 signatures). This is to guard against a scenario where some of the candidate nominators are not eligible to vote (for example, if 26 people nominated a candidate, and two of the nominators were not Canadian citizens, then the minimum requirements for a candidate would not be met). However, a candidate’s eligibility to run would need further action. An eligible Vancouver voter (and the chief election officer) can challenge a candidate’s eligibility to run in provincial court by filing by 4 pm on Tuesday, September 13th. Reasons for a challenge can include false information (incorrect address, inaccurate paperwork, etc., set out in the Vancouver Charter section 45.2).

The City’s website currently shows the number of candidates running as follows:

  • 15 running for Mayor
  • 60 running for City Councillor (10 seats)
  • 32 running for Park Board (7 seats)
  • 31 running for School Board (9 seats)

The nomination papers also provide clues to some of the workings of the local political parties. Some of the nominators signing the papers are known in community and industry circles. The financial disclosure statements can also provide clues about the background of the candidates. It’s always interesting to find incumbent candidates who have preached for a ‘greenest city’ and at the same time own shares in oil, gas and mining companies.

The Vancouver Civic election will be held on Saturday, October 15, 2022. The candidate profiles will be posted during the week of September 20th. Advance voting days are October 1, 5, 8, 11, and 13.

There will also be three plebiscite questions asking voters whether they authorize the City to take on more debt. A total of $735 million in new borrowing by the City of Vancouver is being considered to pay for part of the proposed 2023-2026 Capital Plan. This works out to $1,109.86 per resident (2021 Census) in new debt. A total of $3.5 billion in capital investment is being contemplated. The City expects development contributions to make up $862 million of this total.

Continue reading

What’s at stake in Fairview (CC#78: our Broadway Plan models, called ‘just plain wrong,’ become ‘pretty much right’) by Brian Palmquist

(City Conversation #78 was first published 8-Sep-2022)
(For a list of City Conversations by Brian Palmquist on CityHallWatch, please visit this page.)

**********

September 8th 2022—4th in a series about what the recently approved Broadway & Vancouver Plans mean for each of the city’s 23 existing neighbourhoods. 1540 West 10th Avenue is a five minute walk from tomorrow evening’s Mayoral Candidate meeting.

 The Broadway Plan view up Fairview Slopes—2538 & 1477 are approved—1540 West 10th (outlined in red) was announced this week—image by Stephen Bohus, BLA

“Why is there a red rectangle around that building at the right of your model photo?” asked my son, “And why are you dredging up yesterday’s news about your modelling of the Broadway Plan?” He had been following my antics for some time. “I thought you’d moved on to the Vancouver Plan?”

“Yes and no,” I answered, “Sometimes reality overtakes conjecture.” He gave me his Huh? look. “When Stephen Bohus modelled this area as part of our concerns around the Broadway Plan, we built it from the words in the Broadway Plan. You’ll recall at the time that city staff, some journalists and many on social media said we were exaggerating or were just wrong.” He nodded, remembering the sometimes withering attacks on our work.

‘Earlier this week a development proposal was announced for 1540 West 10th Ave. It’s exactly the height and positioning of what we modelled some months ago. And at the time, city staff said our model was stark because we did not include the lower level podiums that they would be insisting on. So guess what this looks like?” I showed him an artists rendering:

 Preliminary conceptual artistic rendering of 1540 West 10th Avenue, Vancouver. (Office of Mcfarlane Biggar Architects & Designers/Reliance Properties)

He stared at the  model for a few more moments. “I recognize those buildings—this is only a block from where I live!” He was beginning to sound a bit alarmed. He rents a studio in an older, three storey walkup building that was recently sold.

Yes,” I answered, sympathy in my voice. “I did say you were moving into redevelopment crosshairs in that location.” I continued.

Continue reading

What’s at stake in Riley Park & South Cambie (CC#76: two neighbourhoods that work together—does the Vancouver Plan work for either?) by Brian Palmquist

(City Conversation #76 was first published 2-Sep-2022)
(For a list of City Conversations by Brian Palmquist on CityHallWatch, please visit this page.)

**********

September 2nd 2022—2nd in a series about what the recently approved Vancouver Plan means for each of the city’s 23 existing neighbourhoods. 

The Vancouver Plan view of Riley Park & South Cambie neighbourhoods—neighbourhood boundaries in red added by me

“What’s the dark area at the top and bottom of this diagram,” asked my son as he looked at the first of my neighbourhood Vancouver Plan analyses. “And why does a red border line run vertically on the centre left?”

“At a community level, these two neighbourhoods have a long history of collaboration. I made a presentation to them in April of this year and that’s the way they wanted to do it. So it seemed logical to look at them together.”

“So tell me a bit about that history,” he asked.

“In some ways they are very different. While Vancouver’s overall population has increased less than 5% in the past five years, South Cambie’s (left of the centre red line) has increased more than 20%, mainly because of the influence of all the development along the Cambie Corridor. Riley Park’s population has only increased a bit more than the overall city’s 5%.”

“So let’s come back to these smudgy colours—what do they mean?”

I focused on the plan. “The Vancouver Plan only identifies five different neighbourhood types. That’s not to be confused with an existing neighbourhood, of which Vancouver has 23.”

Continue reading

What’s at stake in the Neighbourhoods (CC#75: the Vancouver Plan does away with neighbourhoods. Here’s what that means) by Brian Palmquist

(City Conversation #75 was first published 1-Sep-2022)
(For a list of City Conversations by Brian Palmquist on CityHallWatch, please visit this page.)

**********

September 1st 2022—First in a series about what the recently approved Vancouver Plan means for each of the city’s 23 existing neighbourhoods. 

The Vancouver Plan with our existing 23 Neighbourhoods superimposed by me in red—why should I have to do that?

“It’s all so very confusing,” mused my son, looking at the muddy Vancouver Plan (the Plan) on my computer screen. “How can anybody make sense of what this means for Vancouverites?”

“I agree,” I responded. “That’s why I plan to dissect what the Plan means for each of Vancouver’s 23 neighbourhoods, hopefully before the upcoming October 15th election.” He continued to look at the Plan diagram and my caption.

“Why have you superimposed the neighbourhood boundaries in red on the map? Isn’t that a natural part of the Plan?”

“You would think so,” I answered. “But although the Vancouver Plan’s Acknowledgements (pp. 163-4) include thanking every community in the city, including many I know for a fact were completely ignored, the actual Plan eliminates all discussion of the city’s existing 23 neighbourhoods. Instead it proposes just five neighbourhood types and some neighbourhood/village centres.” I showed him Page 55 of the Plan.

He continued. “Why bother reinventing the wheel when we already have 23 existing neighbourhoods—I’m assuming each has its own character—certainly where we live is different than Downtown, the West End, or Southlands, for example?”

“Excellent question,” I said, “but there’s actually no explanation for that swap. Since 23 neighbourhoods are transformed into just five neighbourhood types, I’m guessing the Plan’s creators either got tired of listening to too many annoying citizens, or wanted to experiment with the entire city.” I paused for a moment.

“Actually,” I continued, “I see more devious thinking at work here.” He gave me his continue look so I did.

“By eliminating existing neighbourhoods from the discussion, it becomes much easier to propose changes that, if considered at a neighbourhood level by local residents, would result in major protests and objections—you can’t fight what you can’s see!”

Continue reading

What Vancouver can do about Planning—Part 2 (CC#73: A neighbourhood-based approach for mental health, homelessness and housing insecurity)

(City Conversation #73 was first published 21-Aug-2022)
(For a list of City Conversations by Brian Palmquist on CityHallWatch, please visit this page.)

**********

August 21st —seventh in a series of eight conversations about homelessness, housing insecurity, affordability and planning.

The Vancouver Plan with our existing 23 Neighbourhoods superimposed by me in red—why should I have to do that?

“You’ve not mentioned how the neighbourhood offices would support the homeless and those suffering housing insecurity. What’s that about?” I could sense his interest flagging and we were running out of beer anyway, so I pressed on.

“This might be my most aspirational thought so far,” I started. He gave me a and the others aren’t? look but I carried on regardless. 

“So I propose that we have this network of 23 or more neighbourhood storefront offices around the city—places where folks can come for advice and assistance with their housing and development needs.” He nodded understanding. “So let’s say an individual, couple or family present themselves with more urgent needs—they are about to be evicted and have nowhere to go, or they are having mental health issues, for example.”

“Right now, city hall does that thing where they tell you to call 311, or 911 if it’s more urgent. Although the 311 responders are usually friendly and the 911 folks are trained to manage emergencies, they are remote. They can’t visually assess your situation and once they’ve handed you off to who they hope are the appropriate authorities, they go on to the next call.” He nodded, having read about that reality.

Continue reading