Follow-up meeting (civic election issues), Human Scale November 4th

Human Scale in Mount Pleasant
You are invited to join us for a meeting:

Tuesday, November 4th, 7pm

Location: Mount Pleasant Community Centre,
Art Room (ground floor, entrance from East 8th Avenue)

Join us to talk about issues affecting Mount Pleasant and for a discussion on human scale urbanism.

We’ll have a look at the replanning of Christchurch, NZ and screen a short film. Discussion will follow afterwards.

There will also be time for free discussions about issues in the civic election and how these pertain to Mount Pleasant in particular.

All are welcome. Refreshments to be provided.

For reference, posted below are two videos from the Oct 20, 2014 candidates’ debate:

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Summary of candidates debate in Mount Pleasant (October 20, 2014)

Crowd Heritage Hall

Heritage Hall was completely packed for a Vancouver City Council Candidates’ debate held on October 20th, 2014.

We’d like to thank Miranda Nelson of the Straight for moderating the debate. A big thanks also goes out to all candidates who participated: Councillor George Affleck (NPA), Pete Fry (Green), Keith Higgins (COPE), Ken Low (NPA), Councillor Adriane Carr (Green), Nicholas Chernen (Cedar), Councillor Raymond Louie (Vision) and Tim Louis (COPE).

We will post additional photos and videos of the event. The first half of the debate consisted of  crowd-sourced questions. Questions from the floor were answered during the second half of the debate.

moderator and panel for Oct 20 Candidates debate

The following crowd-sourced questions were posed to the candidates:

A. Questions (First 3 to be answered by each candidate, 90 seconds):

A1. Form of development

UBC Professor Patrick Condon has stated that the population of Vancouver could be doubled by building only 4 storeys or lower along arterials.

Question: What is your view on the form of development for the City? (Should highrise towers be limited to the downtown core? Or should the tower form of development be used in neighbourhoods across Vancouver?)

A2. Public safety, property crime

The Surrey election is all about public safety. But in Vancouver, official statistics and the perception of crime may appear to be lower. Nonetheless, we received the following question from Mount Pleasant:

“What about safety in our neighbourhood? There have been numerous break-ins, assaults and thefts in stores and businesses. We worked hard for 10 years to rid the area of crime, but now it is back.”

Question: If elected, what will you do about property crime, bike theft, shoplifting and vandalism?

A3. Spot rezonings

Increasing density in a neighbourhood is often a lively and contentious issue. And debates about density are often about the building form (high rise, medium rise, low rise, etc.) that will be used to increase density.

Question: Should residents of neighbourhoods, such as Mount Pleasant, be given more choice in the way density is increased? If elected will you commit to stopping the practice of “spot rezoning”, particularly when it contravenes the content, intent and spirit of neighbourhood plans?

[RAMP addition: Several blocks from here a spot rezoning is proposed — at Kingsway and 11th Avenue — that was not contemplated under the Mount Pleasant Community Plan.

Question: What is your opinion of Council policies such as Rental 100 and the Interim Rezoning Policy that can override existing zoning and community plans?]

B. Questions for every second candidate (one from each party)

B1. Campaign finance disclosure (quick response)

The main mayoral candidates in Toronto announced that they will voluntarily release the list of their donors prior to their municipal election.

Questions: Do you think this example should be followed in Vancouver? (Yes or no.) As a show of good faith, will you (and/or your party) promise to release any of your campaign finance data BEFORE this election, even though it is not required by law? (Yes or no.)

[RAMP note: Legislation only requires election financial disclosure 90 days after the election.]

B2. Preservation of heritage homes and character homes

“I live in Kitsilano, and I am very unhappy about the demolition of perfectly good houses in my area. Some blocks have 4 to 5 houses demolished. We are losing our heritage in Kits, losing the community feeling with all of the empty houses and of course the ridiculous prices to buy, forcing long time residents to move away.”

Question: If elected would you work towards stopping the demolitions and consider saving the Hollywood Theatre and other cultural heritage assets?

[RAMP note: Mount Pleasant is also losing old homes. For example a 100-year-old building across from Guelph Park at 348 East 7th Avenue was demolished recently without a review by the City. This house was not on heritage register]

B3. The Downtown Historic Railway (question from “Friends of the Olympic Line”)

The City of Vancouver invested 8.5 million dollars in the lead-up to the 2010 Winter Olympics for the Demonstration Streetcar from Granville Island to the Canada Line. This was three quarters of the investment needed to complete an operable community-connector streetcar service from Granville Island to Science World.

In the City’s proposed 2015-2018 Capital Plan, $400,000 of funding for “renewal of transit infrastructure” has been earmarked for “decommissioning” this Downtown Historic Railway. Many people believe there is considerable potential for a community streetcar service connecting False Creek Village’s 15,000 residents and surrounding Vancouver neighborhoods.

Question: What is your opinion of the idea of dismantling of the Historic Railway?

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Council candidates debate October 20th in Mount Pleasant

Debate October 20, 2014
Please join us for a City Council candidates’ debate.

Date: Monday, October 20, 2014, starting at 6:45pm
Place: Heritage Hall (Main Street and 15th Avenue)

The debate will be moderated by Miranda Nelson of the Straight.

Participants: Heather Deal & Raymond Louie (Vision Vancouver), George Affleck & Ken Low (NPA), Adriane Carr & Pete Fry (Green Party), Tim Louis & Keith Higgins (COPE) and Nicholas Chernen (Cedar Party).

The format will be similar to our last debate in 2011. The focus will be on neighbourhood planning and other topics that City Hall sets policy over. Ask the candidates “what’s their plan for your neighbourhood?”

Come join the debate and ask questions. This is a free event. There will be an open microphone to take questions from the audience during the second half of the debate. Refreshments will be provided. Doors open at 6:30pm.

Questions for the first half of the debate will be crowd sourced. Please send your questions to questions@rampvancouver.com by 1pm, Sunday October 19th.

Poster: full page colour, two per page handout, four per page handout, black & white full page flyer, four per page black & white handout

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Revised Rize 21-storeys. Review at City Hall on Monday, July 14th

Kingsway side Tower on East 10th
The massive Rize development proposed for Mount Pleasant will be reviewed at the Development Permit Board on Monday, July 14th. The Development Permit Board meetings are held in the main City Hall building at 453 West 12th Avenue on the 1st Floor in the “Town Hall” Meeting room. This room is located in the north side or “wing” of the main building.

Speakers are allowed up to 5 minutes each, in a process very similar to a Council meeting. Speakers must be signed up before the meeting begins. To register to speak, please send an email to lorna.harvey@vancouver.ca or call 604-873-7469. Tip: Ask for your speaker number. This could be your last chance to speak at City Hall about the proposed development.

The City of Vancouver has posted a staff report on the Rize at the following link: 285 East 10th Avenue (The Rize) and the City has made a limited number of drawings available on this webpage: 285 East 10th Avenue – Revised Application – DE416894

The meeting will begin at 3pm with the review of 235 Kingsway. We don’t know how long that will take. The Rize review will probably get started around 5pm.

Don’t be fooled by the large signs by Rize Alliance Kingsway Properties around Broadway and Kingsway advertising “The Independent” tower. City Council has NOT yet even approved the development on this site. The rezoning has not been enacted. No development permit has been issued. We still have many concerns about the process and details of this development and its impacts on Mount Pleasant.

The Development Permit Board (DPB) has the power to approve or reject this proposed design, or to impose conditions.

Rize_tower_model_pics

There have been a number of proposed changes to the design since the Public Hearing that ended on April 17, 2012. The tower is now 21-storeys tall vs. 19-storeys (with a slight increase in overall height), 258 residential units are proposed (instead of 241) and there are a total of 399 underground parking spaces on 4 levels. The previous scheme had 3 levels of underground parking with 320 parking spaces.

During the course of the Public Hearing, many references to a ‘food co-op’ were made; the food co-op has been shelved. The design still proposes having large trucks use Watson street for deliveries. Many of the conditions set by City Council during the Public Hearing have not been addressed. The changes proposed by Rize diverge from the application that was reviewed by City Council at the Public Hearing. As such, this new proposal should really be reviewed at a new Public Hearing.

There is an alternate option for accommodating growth in Mount Pleasant, all within low and mid-rise forms that ensure livability and affordability.

The photos included here are of the applicant’s models of their latest proposal.

top_of_Rize_tower Watson side

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Open House for 21-storey Rize proposal on Monday, April 14th

Rize April 14 renderings

The City of Vancouver is holding a public Open House to receive feedback on a revised design of the proposed Rize development at Kingsway and Broadway. The notification letter from the City advertises the Open House for the following date and venue:

Date: Monday, April 14, 2014, between 4:30 pm and  7:30pm
Location: St. Patrick’s Church, 2881 Main Street (at 13th Avenue)

As well, the City has set a May 5, 2014 deadline for written comments to be considered in an upcoming staff report.

Key differences between the proposal and the one that went before Council two years ago include the following:

  • 21-storey tower (up from 19-storeys, the maximum in the Council report)
  • 399 parking spaces (up from 320 parking spaces)
  • 258 condo units (up from 241 units)
  • no food co-op retail space

Mayor Robertson mentioned the planned (and now removed) food co-op when he supported the Rize project (the initial rezoning passed with a 9-1 vote). However, since that time the spot zoning bylaw changes have not been enacted, nor has the final form of development been approved by City Council.

What’s RAMP’s position?

RAMP believes that the changes made in the new Rize design are so extensive that the entire project must go back to City Council for a new Public Hearing.  It is particularly important to remember that the Mount Pleasant Community Plan allows for no additional density on this site more than the existing zoning.  The Plan also calls for an “iconic (landmark) building.”

Pedestrian safety, cyclist safety, traffic concerns, noise, trolley bus access on East 10th Avenue, shadowing, views, an underground stream on the site, impacts on neighbouring buildings, and precedents for the scale of future developments are important issues that need to be examined and addressed.

The changes in the number of storeys and the increase in the overall unit count are a couple of the reasons why this proposal should go back to Council for review. Only Council has the authority to allocate additional Community Amenity Contributions (CACs). There has been no news about the City’s planned allocation of the CACs over the past two years.

The City of Vancouver website has additional plans and drawings on their website. Comments on the proposed development should be sent to Lisa King via email at lisa.king@vancouver.ca (tel: 604.871.6036) and to lorna.harvey@vancouver.ca before May 5, 2014 for consideration for inclusion in the staff report. The Development Permit Board is planning to hear from public speakers on June 30, 2014.

The original project details are up on the rezoning website while the Public hearing documents are contained in the Council meetings pages (see links here and here). You may also wish to contact mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca to share any of your concerns about the new Rize proposal.

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Rize site demolition imminent. Heavy machinery on property. Were rules followed?

Heavy machinery

Fences are up, trucks moving onto the site, drywall has been seen being removed from one building. [Update March 10, 2014 demolition is under]. Almost two years after City Council approved the rezoning conditions for the “Rize site,” it appears construction is nigh, of a 19-storey building….or is it 22?…with 241 market condos….or is it now 336? Actually, no one knows. The first and lower numbers were what were approved by Council, and more recent designs showed the higher numbers.

The fact is that the zoning bylaw has not been written, or passed by Council, so there is no answer to this. No formal decision has been made by the only City Body with authority to make it: Council. The Urban Design Panel has also not approved the building, nor the Development Permit Board, and hence there should be no development permit issued and no demolition is therefore possible.

Fencing

Update: demolition underway (March 10th)

demo

SO, AGAIN, WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?

Your Residents Association would surely like to know, and we are headed out to find out. It seems every rule in the book is being broken, or should we say, continuing to be broken. There has never been anything right with this development from the very start.

And Brewery Creek lies in wait, 30 feet down under Watson Street, with enough water to flood out any excavation permanently. Does anyone have a plan for what to do with this water? A legal plan?!

First item to check is whether a demolition permit has been issued for the site.

There is in almost every city on earth a rule that demolition of any building–except a hazardous structure–can only occur once a building permit has been issued for the building that will replace it. This only stands to reason. A developer could otherwise rip down anything, leave a big hole, and then gain leverage to ask for the biggest thing he, or she, wants. No, this is against the law, and it appears to be so here in Vancouver as well. Here it is:

Zoning and Development Bylaw 3575 (updated July 2010)
10.12 Demolition of a Building
10.12.1 Except as exempted by the provisions of section 5, no person shall carry out any construction, engineering or other operation in, on, over or under any land which will result in the demolition of a building without first obtaining a development permit for the demolition from the Director of Planning.
10.12.2 Except as set out in section 10.12.3, where development necessitates the demolition of existing residential rental accommodation, no development permit shall be issued for the demolition unless and until a development permit for the new development has been issued.
The development permit for the new development shall not be issued unless and until all building permits for the new development and a building permit for the demolition are issuable. Continue reading

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275 Kingsway tower at Open House February 20th

275Kingsway model Oct 2013

The City of Vancouver will show the updated rezoning application for a tower at Kingsway and 11th on the Tireland site at an upcoming Open House.

Date: Thursday, February 20, 2014 between 5-8pm
Place: 285 East 5th Avenue (Native Education College, one block east of Main Street)

We encourage residents to attend and comment on the proposed development. The tower is being developed by Acton Ostry Architects, the same firm that designed the Rize. The City of Vancouver website has further details on the proposal; we’ve summarized a number of the key points below.

The current tower design has 202 market rental units, 106 parking spaces and a height of 152′ (46.45m) to the top. It has 14-storeys and a roof deck; the massive building proposal has a zero lot line to the north.

The latest iteration of tower has an incredibly high density value, with a Floor Space Ratio (FSR) of 8.63. By comparison, the buildings in the vicinity (the Uno, Uptown, Stella & District) all have Floor Space Ratios of 3.0 (the maximum allowed under current zoning). The existing Central Broadway corridor zoning (C-3A) allows an outright density of 1.0 FSR, and a maximum density of 3.0 FSR. The requested density is 287% of the maximum value or 863% of the outright value. The outright height is 30 feet (9.2m), while the maximum height allowed under the zoning guidelines is 70 feet (21.6 metres).

The Mount Pleasant Community Plan states that 3 sites in the area would have consideration for greater height and density; this site is not one of them. In 2012, City Councillors made assurances that there are only the ’3 sites’ that will be considered for greater height and/or density. Is the Planning Department not respecting the Community Plan and Council by moving the proposal forward?

Allowing this extraordinary additional density not called for under the Mount Pleasant Community Plan will have a significant positive and speculative impact on land values all around this site and perhaps throughout Mount Pleasant, dramatically increasing tax assessments and pricing the neighbourhood well beyond the reach of current residents.

The project has been put forth under the ‘Rental 100’ program. There is an ongoing BC Supreme Court challenge against the legality of both the Rental 100 program and STIR. Information on the petition against the City of Vancouver is on the webpage of West End Neighbours (WEN). Both Rental 100 and STIR may violate the Vancouver Charter.

Please check back for updates on this rezoning application.

City webpage: Rezoning and Development Permit Application – 333 East 11th Avenue (275 Kingsway) (DE416870)
West End Neighbours (court challenge): City gives developers and staff the power to determine what constitutes “affordable rental housing”
RAMP post on previous iteration of design: 275 Kingsway Open House June 25th, 2013

Photos of the model presented at the Urban Design Panel meeting in October 10, 2013 by Acton Ostry Architects, on behalf of Edgar Development Corporation:

275 Kingsway model Oct 2013

model Continue reading

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