“Saving Vancouver character houses through incentives” (Elizabeth Murphy, Vancouver Sun): Topic in Council this week

Vancouver City Council will discuss crucial topics relating to housing at its Tuesday, March 7 meeting.

  • Character Home Consultation Update: Presentation by Gil Kelley (General Manager of Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability) makes presentation.
  • Permit and Development Process Update: Presentation by Kaye Krishna (General Manager of Development, Buildings and Licensing).
  • Motion on “Making Legalizing Secondary Suites Easier in RT/RM Zones”

In that context, this op ed in the Vancouver Sun (March 2, 2017) by Elizabeth Murphy provides useful perspective. Her closing point: “There are many things that need to be done to provide incentives for retaining character housing stock through adaptive reuse. This is the most sustainable way to add more housing options and we only have a small window of time to do this before we lose this opportunity forever.

**************Character house, Vancouver Sun, 2-Mar-2017 E Murphy article

Saving Vancouver character houses through incentives
by Elizabeth Murphy (Vancouver Sun, March 2, 2017)

Photo caption: The City of Vancouver is reviewing incentives to retaining character houses, such as allowing additional suites. Elizabeth Murphy / PNG

The City of Vancouver is doing a character house zoning review to consider saving character houses through incentives such as increased size, number of units, and infill. This retains character while accommodating growth in a more sustainable way.

Although this is good in principle, additional options need to be considered.

There is an urgent need for the review. Since city zoning rules were changed in 2009, demolitions increased to over 1,000 a year with replacement construction of much larger and more expensive “monster” houses. On average, home demolitions have increased 80 per cent between 2009 and 2015, and by 73 per cent on average for pre-1940 homes.

Most of these demolished homes were livable and structurally sound, many substantially upgraded, many with secondary suites. Prime old growth wood was sent to the chipper, materials sent to the dump and little, if any, materials reused. Many of the new houses, often twice as expensive as the older ones they replaced, are left vacant purely as investments. Hardly a green or sustainable city.

City of Vancouver survey results show that 90 per cent of citizens think the retention of character buildings should be encouraged.

Some in the development lobby say retention of character houses through incentives is freezing single family zoning. In fact, it is doing just the opposite. Character zoning is proposed to conditionally allow a variety of additional options to meet current needs through adaptive reuse. This is by far the most sustainable way to accommodate growth, increase rental and ownership options, provide more affordability and mortgage helpers, and retain neighbourhood character. Continue reading

Community Centre Associations call on Park Board Commissioners to direct staff to work with CCAs and their lawyer to complete a Joint Operating Agreement that works

CityHallWatch has received this media release from the Community Centre Associations, ahead of tonight’s Park Board meeting where Commissioners are expected to vote on the Joint Operating Agreement. (See agenda here, plus links for live web video. The Park Board meetings are open to the public.)

For Immediate Release

March 6, 2017

Community Centre Associations call on Park Board Commissioners to direct staff to work with CCAs and their lawyer to complete a Joint Operating Agreement that works

Vancouver, B.C. – A group of 14 Community Centre Associations (CCAs) have a clear, strong message for Park Board Commissioners ahead of tonight’s meeting: Direct staff to work with their one collective lawyer on a few final, critical issues. If this is done, the 14 CCAs suggest, they could have a signed JOA in a month.

Park Board released several documents, including proposed amendments made without the participation or knowledge of the CCAs on Friday evening (March 3, 2017). Said Kate Perkins, President of Trout Lake CCA: “The information made public late on Friday night missed or sidestepped critical concerns and now presents a legal opinion contradicting the Associations’ concern over independence/ability and in conflict with the Societies Act and/or CRA regulations. We have asked to work these out amicably with both legal counsel in attendance.” Continue reading

Vancouver Community Centre Associations alarmed about current draft of Joint Operating Agreement (key meeting Monday, March 6)

For Immediate Release – March 2, 2017
Community Centre Associations say they are increasingly alarmed about current draft of Joint Operating Agreement

Vancouver, B.C. – Community Centre Associations (CCAs) are calling on Park Board Commissioners to refer the current draft of the Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) back to staff at an upcoming public meeting on March 6, 2017. The group of 14 CCAs says they are growing increasingly alarmed that amendments that are currently being drafted behind closed doors and will be presented at the March 6 meeting won’t meet the requirements that would allow their individual CCAs to sign the agreement. They say that individually and as a group, the CCAs are concerned that Commissioners and staff don’t clearly understand the serious legal issues in language used in the document that have been identified by CCA lawyers. In fact, the CCAs have been advised by legal counsel that some provisions in the current draft of the JOA would put the organizations in conflict with the Societies Act and/or CRA regulations.
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PRESS RELEASE: Rally 3 pm to protest Centerm Container Pier expansion, dangerous chemicals, ahead of 2-year anniversary

How Many Ships Does It Take to Poison Our Air?

PRESS RELEASE: Ahead of 2-year anniversary of major chemical accident
From: Crab-Water for Life Society, 2-Mar-2017

Rally Today March 2nd 2017 3:00 pm at Japanese Hall, 487 Alexander Street (Downtown Eastside)

This rally is a protest to express concerns about the Centerm Container Pier expansion near the foot of Main Street which is in full view and close proximity to Crab Park at Portside.

Crab-Water for Life Society has been involved with the central waterfront for 35 years, and especially the creation of Crab Park at Portside. Our Society has an established history of stewardship, and engagement with issues that affect the DTES.

We have consistently raised at the Federal and Municipal level the issue of dangerous chemicals by container, truck and rail car.

*This dangerous cargo traffic needs to be permanently removed from the Central and Vancouver East waterfront.  The old DOT-111 rail cars that carry the dangerous cargo are outdated and inadequate to safely carry such cargo. Continue reading

Kensington Community Centre Association (KCCA) says Park Board crushing dream of child care

Kensington Community CentreFor Immediate Release: March 2nd, 2017
From: Kensington Community Centre Association (KCCA)

Park Board Bureaucrats Crush Dream of Child Care

Locked in an ongoing legal dispute with the City of Vancouver (CoV) and Park Board (PB), the Kensington Community Centre Association (KCCA) has been fighting on behalf of the community to continue offering affordable childcare services.

As this battle continued, a new force was added to this pressure cooker of a problem, when the Community Hall which was used by the daycare began to dramatically sink on one side rendering the building unsafe and condemned by the City of Vancouver. This has resulted in the child care being put at risk of closing if a new location cannot be found and renovated into a childcare facility. These services which the KCCA has provided to the community for over 50 years now are in imminent peril due to the CoV pressure tactics and lack of concern for the ever-crumbling facilities currently in use at Kensington. Continue reading

Council Motion (Tues 8-Mar): Making Legalizing Secondary Suites Easier in RT/RM Zones


Cover of a CoV 2009 study on secondary suites

Agendas for City Council are now online for next week: Regular Council (Tues 8-Mar), Public Hearing (Tues 8-Mar), and Standing Committee (Wed 9-Mar). The Regular Council meeting has a few items related to housing. The first two are a “Character Home Consultation Update” (presented by Gil Kelley, General Manager of Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability, and “Permit and Development Process Update” (presented by Kaye Krishna, General Manager of Development, Buildings and Licensing). They will be important.

The third significant item is a motion by Councillor Adriane Carr that could quickly help ease rental housing in Vancouver, potentially by a large number of units. Citizens can write to mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca with comments. There is a chance the topic will moved to the next day Standing Committee (Wed 9-Mar). Text of the motion is copied below, with our bolding for emphasis.


2. Making Legalizing Secondary Suites Easier in RT/RM Zones
MOVER: Councillor Carr
1. Secondary suites provide an important source of affordable rental
accommodation that is generally supported by City policy;
2. Many character pre-1940 homes, particularly in RT and RM zones on Vancouver’s
East Side and inner city, have been converted to three suites (main floor, upper
floor, and basement) over the years, especially during the 1940s when the War
Measures Act over-ruled municipal housing by-laws to encourage the creation of
additional suites to relieve housing shortages, which has resulted in many legal,
non-conforming up and down non-strata rental duplexes with unauthorized
basement suites; Continue reading

Development applications snapshot, 1-Mar-2017

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

Our count for 1-Mar-2017 shows 41 “DE” applications and 58 “DP” applications (excluding 8 MMRU – Medical Marijuana-Related Use Development Applications). Of the 58 DP numbers, 16 are “concurrent with rezoning.” Three applications are “revised,” 1 is “on hold,” and 2 “unscheduled from the Development Permit Board.” Some may have also had a change of address, a mysterious and tricky practice.

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 just the day of the meeting. As of February 1. the DPB website shows the February 6 meeting as “cancelled” (4th cancelled in a row) and the next meeting on Feb 20. The “Current Development Applications Scheduled” page dated 21-Feb-2017 (the first update in many weeks), shows six items, for March 20, April 3, May 1, and June 12, mostly major buildings by major developers. Download: cov-current-development-applications-development-permit-board-21-feb-2017

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