Heads up: Major “omnibus” bylaw amendments set to be rushed through City Council tonight – implications for zoning, demolitions, heritage

City Hall sign tulips(9 pm — This post was originally written before the Public Hearing but has been updated afterward. We will write more when more info comes in.)

City Council passed an omnibus package of major bylaw amendments at the public hearing at 6 pm (June 3, 2014), with enormous implications for  demolitions, heritage, urban planning, and development in Vancouver. The  staff report and technical documents would have been posted publicly online just a few days ago. Have the public and important stakeholders been properly informed and consulted? It appears not. In fact, there appear to be some improprieties with the whole process, and projects already in the pipeline before today. We make this post now, for the record. Stay tuned.

The staff report to Council appears innocuous enough, titled simply as “Miscellaneous Amendments to the Zoning and Development By law,” giving the reader very little indication of its true importance. Of the seven amendments, the first one is disarmingly cute, to allow eggs to be sold at Farmers Markets. The rest may have serious implications.

Before the meeting, CityHallWatch wrote Mayor and Council urging them to

  • reject the report today;
  • engage in proper consultation with the public and affected stakeholders on the contents, with adequate time to clarify details, and incorporate public input received; and
  • instruct City staff to re-issue each item as a separate report  in greater detail before these items come back to a Public Hearing.

Drawing from an urgent e-mail circulated by Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver (NSV) to its citywide network this afternoon, here are what may be the most critical aspects of these “omnibus” changes to legislation. Items (ii), (vi) and (vii) bolded below are the most problematic.


… THAT the General Manager of Planning and Development Services be instructed to make application to amend the Zoning and Development By-law and make housekeeping amendments generally as presented in Appendix A, to:

(i) Insert “local eggs” into the definition of “Farmers’ Market” in Section 2 and into the regulations for farmers markets in Section 11.21;

(ii) add a clause in Section 3 so that the Director of Planning must relax minimum site width provisions in the RS-1, RS-5 and RS-6 district schedules to permit construction of a one-family dwelling on an existing lot which on record at the Land Title Office if the use was previously approved under issued development or building permits;

(iii) amend the IC-1 and IC-2 District Schedule to add “parks and playground” as a permitted use;

(iv) amend the M-2 District Schedule, Section 4.7.1 (c) to delete the phrase referring to lots on record in the Land title Office for Vancouver prior to November 21, 1989;

(v) amend MC-1 and MC-2, IC-1 and IC-2, IC-3, I-1, I-2, I-3 Districts Schedules, Section 4.7.3 (b) to delete the phrase “for residential purposes only”;

(vi) Amend the C-3A District Schedule, Section 4.7.5 to delete the clause…”for sites located west of Main Street, north of 16th Avenue and east of Burrard Street…”; and

(vii) Amend the C-3A, C-5, C-5A and C-6 Districts Schedules, Section 4.7.5 to modernize and clarify the reference to heritage density transfers.


Item (ii): Needs clarification that the minimum lot widths in RS zones cannot be reduced for new projects or this may have the unintended result of more demolitions in RS zones.

Item (vi): Changes to C-3A will allow 10% increased height and heritage density to be transferred into a project without a change in zoning, to a broader area extending along Broadway past west Burrard to Arbutus and east past Main Street.

Item (vii): This is about 10% heritage density added without changing zoning in C3A, C5, C5A and C6 districts. This will affect not only the extended Central Broadway, but also the West End, and wherever these C zones are located, which previously were not affected by this policy.

For full agenda see below: Continue reading