WEN calls for a five-year review & report on West End Community Plan (WECP): Letter to City Council

West End Community Plan cover page 2013

Front cover of the West End Community Plan, adopted in Nov 2013.

(Update on 10-Dec-2019: The City has not yet responded to this letter. We will continue to pursue this effort.)

The following letter went out to Vancouver Mayor and Council today.

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January 16, 2019

Re: Request for a five-year review and report on the West End Community Plan (WECP)

Dear Mayor and Council, City of Vancouver:

We write to introduce West End Neighbours and to request a five-year review and report on the West End Community Plan (WECP). We believe such a report will be of value to West End residents. It could also be valuable information for the entire city now that Vancouver has initiated a citywide planning process.

In 2009, West End Neighbours launched the “No Rezoning Without a Comprehensive Plan” petition and garnered over 13,000 signatures. We held many public meetings and events on community issues, and these activities factored into City Council’s decision to eventually start the West End Community Plan process in 2012. Our website (www.WestEndNeighbours.ca) provides an extensive archive of our correspondence, reports, issues and activities. We are a member of the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN). Please also refer to the Appendix to this letter for additional background on some of the issues in the community.

Five years have passed since Council’s adoption of the WECP (November 20, 2013), so we think it is appropriate now to undertake a review of the results of the WECP to date, and to look ahead to the future. The community has been subject to a great deal of change over the last five years, and quite a lot more is still expected. Residents deserve a review of how the community plan has been working, and the outcomes to date.

In fact, the City’s planning department must already have much of this information. The west end community plan tor cover pagecriteria for “definition of success” (WECP original Terms of Reference) include these two points: “Have the commitment of the City (and, where appropriate) its partners to tracking its [WECP’s] long-term effectiveness” (Item 8); and “Provide a framework for positive change in the well-being of the West End” (Item 9). Presumably, City staff are already tracking the plan’s effectiveness and have criteria and means of verifying positive change, the results of which should be shared in the community.

As a start, topics for documentation could include:

  1. How many projects and units have been approved since the adoption of the WECP?
  2. How many projects and units are under application but not yet approved?
  3. What Community Amenity Contributions (CACs) have been secured to date?
  4. Where are CAC’s being allocated and how do they benefit life in the West End?
  5. How much social housing and rental housing has been created?
  6. How many existing rental units have been demolished or are proposed to be demolished?
  7. How much density from the Heritage Density Bank has been absorbed in the West End?
  8. Did approved projects, including laneway infill projects, comply with guidelines in the WECP and have they achieved outcomes that were suggested in the plan?
  9. What is the City doing to reduce construction impacts and protect the quality of life of existing residents during construction?
  10. Who can residents speak with regarding negative impacts of construction work, and what are the statistics on reports or complaints?

Conclusions reached from examining these types of questions can inform whether adjustments to guidelines or zoning are appropriate to ensure plan objectives are being met, and could help to inform policy development on the overall citywide plan. Continue reading

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West Enders concerned about seeing construction still continuing in midst of COVID-19 crisis

(Updated with more letters 31-March-2020, at bottom) Local residents have shared with WEN copies of their letters to civic and provincial officials expressing concern when seeing construction work continuing during the COVID-19 crisis. Below is an excerpt of one we have received.

man standing near gray metal equipment

Photo by Kateryna Babaieva on Pexels.com

Letter from a West End resident

28-March-2020

Dear Mr. Spencer Chandra Herbert [BC MLA for Vancouver-West End],

I am a long term resident of the West End of Vancouver, one of the densest areas in the province and home to many seniors and vulnerable people. Also home to many young families. As you well know, it is a diverse community.

In addition to watching the pandemic spread precipitously I have watched the daily briefings by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. While I respect and admire her, I am afraid that I have become increasingly alarmed and discouraged by the province’s refusal to take more stringent actions to restrict gatherings and non-essential services. It is an extremely difficult decision to make but given our location next to Washington State, the large number of tourists that visit here, and the close proximity of the population in our community, it is unwise to delay any longer.

As evidenced by their behaviours, many of the younger people from both our community and those that come here for the beaches and entertainment have either not understood the risk or ignored it.

Moreover, in our neighbourhood we have a large number of people continuing to work in the construction industry while everyone else is being asked to self isolate. Surely this is a non-essential service that puts the workers, their families and our community at risk. Continue reading

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Unbelievably Dense: Pendrell, Davie, Bidwell & Cardero

Comments from West End residents: Since 2010, West End Neighbours has been engaged in some key issues affecting the neighbourhood. Here are comments received from long-time resident Diane, with a response by Gracia, who asks many questions. It will be interesting to revisit these questions again in the future.

Sky view at 1670 Davie, Google Streetview 29-Feb-2020

Sky view from ground near 1670 Davie Street in early 2020. New towers approved under massive pre-zoning under the West End Community Plan of 2013. Credit Google Street View.

 

Diane: I walked around the block yesterday (end of Feb 2020). That block along with the tower next to London Drugs across the street [1670 Davie] is astonishing. In the case of the north side of the street the only separation between huge towers is the laneway.

Panorama at 1670 Davie 12F Jan 2020 compress

Panorama from about 12th floor at 1670 Davie Street. To the left is westward and to the right is eastward along Davie. Photo: WEN.

Gracia: Will smaller businesses located on the lower floors of these new Davie Street towers struggle for a few years to pay the higher property taxes related to past land speculation that occurred with unacknowledged “blessings” of politicians from one municipal party [now defunct Vision Vancouver] and two provincial parties?

Golden Choice Produce on Davie was sold in the late autumn (the previous owner used to live in the Brentwood area of Burnaby). A middle eastern family purchased the business and by February, the produce part of the store was closed. At present, by looking in the windows, it is difficult to know if the store will close or change to a general grocery store selling mainly canned or packaged goods.

If condominium insurance premiums are increasing in newer buildings with Airbnb units considered as a high risk item, and the coronavirus situation brings on a widespread economic recession, in densified parts of Davie street (where “packed in” neighbours can talk to each other from their bedroom and living room windows), who will be purchasing units on the higher floors? How much higher will rents be on the lower floors compared to amounts quoted in past City of Vancouver staff reports?

Residents who did their shopping between Bidwell and Cardero are now used to buying groceries in shops located in less expensive parts of the West End. When a large supermarket moves back to Davie and Cardero [the former Safeway site, where two towers are now going up by Westbank Projects Corp (CEO Ian Gillespie) and architect Henriquez Partners Architects], will there be a customer base to support other businesses located in the new towers? Continue reading

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Last day to vote in West End Participatory Budgeting (midnight, Tues Feb 4, 2020)

How would you spend $100,000 to improve the West End?

Today’s the last day to vote in the West End Participatory Budgeting process!

Community members get to directly decide how to spend public money that affects the West End. There is $100,000 to spend and 14 different community improvement projects to choose from. Vote for the projects that are important to you.

Dont’ miss your chance to weigh in – you have until 11:59 pm tonight, February 4th!

Click here to vote via the City website.

https://vancouver.ca/your-government/participatory-budgeting.aspx

How does the community vote work?

  • West End community members get to vote on how to spend $100,000 of public funds to improve their neighbourhood.
  • Voting is open to anyone aged 12 and up, with a clear connection to the West End (live, work, or volunteer).
  • There are 14 community improvement projects of various funding requirements. Read about the projects PDF file (2.4 MB)
  • Voters may select and rank up to 4 of their favourite projects.
  • Votes will be counted, and announced on February 8 at the community announcement event.
  • Top ranked projects that fit within the $100,000 budget will be allocated funding and implemented within 18 months.
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Park Board info session Oct 25 (Thurs) on BC Hydro plans to bury power cables in Nelson Park for West End substation

Park Board info events on BC Hydro Station Nelson Park Oct 2019We are sharing information here from the Vancouver Park Board.

Park Board staff were in Nelson Park on Oct 19 to inform park users about BC Hydro’s request to bury underground power cables in Nelson Park. A second event is set as follows:

October 24, 2019 (Thurs), 5 to 8 pm
St. Paul’s Church, Lower Hall, 1130 Jervis St, Vancouver, BC
Drop in format, with presentations at 5:30 and 7 pm, followed by discussion.

The purpose is to share updated findings about how the proposal may affect Nelson Park in the short-term and long-term, and talk with community members. Learn more about the Park Board’s study and share your comments.

The Vancouver Park Board is undertaking an independent study (https://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/nelson-park-impact-assessment-and-public-engagement.aspx) following the Vancouver School Board’s June 2018 acceptance of BC Hydro’s proposal to construct an underground electrical substation (https://www.bchydro.com/energy-in-bc/projects/west-end-substation.html) at the Lord Roberts Annex School site adjacent to Nelson Park.

BC Hydro is currently seeking permission from the Vancouver Park Board to bury underground power cables through Nelson Park to connect the planned West End Substation to the existing electrical system. The Park Board would like to understand the potential effects to Nelson Park. In 2020, Park Board staff will report back to the Park Board Commissioners to help inform the Commissioners’ decision regarding BC Hydro’s request.

BC Hydro west end substation map Nelson Park Oct 2019

Spread the Word
Nelson Park is a valued community asset in the heart of the West End. How to maintain this park for neighbourhood use and enjoyment is the focus of the Park Board Study over the coming months. Community perspectives are essential to this process. Please help spread the word.

Stay Informed
For more information about the Vancouver Park Board study:
– Visit the webpage: vancouver.ca/nelsonparkrow
– Share on Twitter: Vancouver Park Board @parkboard
– Like them on Facebook: Vancouver Park Board @parkboard
Subscribe to get Study updates

Project Contact
Alexandre Man-Bourdon
Landscape Architect | Park Development
Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation
2099 Beach Avenue, Vancouver, BC
Email: alexandre.man-bourdon@vancouver.ca

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Organ & Politicians: Vancouver Centre – All Candidate Debate at St. Paul’s Church October 10, 2019 (Thurs)

All candidates debate St Pauls 10-Oct-2019Pipe Vancouver-Centre federal candidates

Organ & Politicians – Vancouver Centre – All Candidate Debate at St. Paul’s Church
October 10, 2019 7pm to 9:30pm

St. Paul’s Anglican Church
1130 Jervis Street
Vancouver, BC V6E 2C7

St. Paul’s is hosting an “All Candidate’s Debate” on Thursday October 10, 2019 from 7 pm to 9:30 pm in the church.

Michael Molnar, music director and Past President of the Vancouver Centre of the Royal Canadian College of Organists, will pump out a few tunes to get the crowd inspired using the historic pipe organ which was built by Casavant Frères of Sainte-Hyacinthe, Québec. It is one of the oldest instrument of its kind in Canada west of the Rockies.

The Vancouver-Centre federal candidates will pontificate on the election issues that are of interest to parishioners and the community at-large such as: refugee issues, peace and disarmament; clmate change, poverty, religious freedom, sexual exploitation, and public health care,  among others.

Everyone is welcome. It is your chance to get to know your candidates.

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A useful reference:

Here’s who’s running in Vancouver in the 2019 federal election
Your guide to Vancouver federal ridings and their candidates
John Kurucz / Vancouver Courier
OCTOBER 3, 2019

https://www.vancourier.com/news/here-s-who-s-running-in-vancouver-in-the-2019-federal-election-1.23965732

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Open house (Sept 26, Thurs): Haro + Bute Streets upgrades, Haro Street Bikeway, Chilco + Robson Streets affected

Public notice. This came by e-mail today from the City of Vancouver. Here is an opportunity for input from residents.

Note that at least one point here did not come up in previous public consultation – “Converting a short stretch of Chilco St. (from the driveway of 815 Chilco St. to Robson St.) to one-way northbound for motor vehicles to reduce vehicle volumes.”

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CoV Haro Bute upgrade logo Sep 2019

Image from City of Vancouver

[Text below from City of Vancouver]
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we upgrade essential infrastructure in the neighbourhood.
HARO STREET BIKEWAY: SHARE YOUR INPUT
In coordination with the water main replacement, we’re planning improvements to the Haro Street Bikeway between Denman and Thurlow Streets. The changes would:
  • Improve accessibility, comfort and safety for people walking, rolling and cycling
  • Make the intersection easier to navigate for all road users
  • Maintain access to residences, businesses and other destinations along Haro Street

Join Today’s Open House 
Drop by our open house to chat with staff, learn about the proposed design options, and share your feedback to inform a final design.

  • When: Thursday, September 26, 2019, 5-8pm
  • Where: West End Community Centre, 870 Denman Street, Bidwell Room

Share Input Online
Can’t make it? Share your feedback online until Tuesday, October 15 at vancouver.ca/harobuteupgrades. Continue reading

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West End Community Plan Implementation Newsletter (September 2019 Update) from City of Vancouver

425786_West_End_Plan_Newsletter_Header COV 2019

Image: CoV

The City of Vancouver has e-mailed a “West End Community Plan Implementation Newsletter” (September 2019 Update) to newsletter subscribers. For non-subscribers, below is a text only version, minus the photos, with updated times. Or alternatively, click here to see it online.

West End Neighbours encourages residents to have a good look at the information here, attend info sessions that interest you, and actively provide input back to the City.

Over the coming weeks, we will do some posts on topics here, and welcome your input, comments, and questions for consideration by e-mailing us at westendplanning@gmail.com.

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West End Community Plan Implementation Newsletter” (September 2019 Update)

Hello Everyone,

We’re pleased to provide an update on the implementation of the West End Community Plan, featuring many exciting projects across the community.

Recent development in the community is contributing to new amenities that were identified in the Plan’s Public Benefit Strategy (PBS). The PBS provides direction for future investments in the community over the long term, including affordable housing, childcare, parks, civic facilities, transportation and more.

Several projects from the West End PBS will be moving forward over the coming months, and there will be opportunities for you to be involved and share your ideas.
Get News and Updates Online
The West End Plan website now features a new map and projects calendar which provides links to updates on the latest implementation projects, upcoming open houses and events, surveys and more. Continue reading

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Georgia-Alberni corridor and Lower Robson flooded by new tower construction due to West End Community Plan

Applications Georgia Alberni corridor 2013 to May 2019 WEN

Did you know that towers approved or under review for a small area of the West End along West Georgia Street, Alberni Street, and Robson Street, if stacked up, would be nearly two kilometers high, rise 618 storeys, and house 6,000 people?

The West End Community Plan adopted in November 2013 phrased the overall direction for the Georgia and Burrard Corridors and Lower Robson as follows:

Strategically locate opportunities for new growth through increased heights and densities along the Georgia and Burrard Corridors and in Lower Robson to help deepen housing affordability and to contribute public benefits.

What do these words really mean? What does this translate to on the ground? How has implementation “deepened” housing affordability? How has it “contributed to public benefits”?

West End Neighbours tallied the tower developments (rezonings and development applications) in this part of the West End for the just more than five years since the plan was adopted, and here are some of our statistics:

  • 618 storeys (cumulative)
  • 6,240 feet (cumulative), equivalent to 1.9 kilometers high
  • Floor space ratios (FSRs, a measure of density) ranging from 7.7 to 14.95
  • 2,948 units, with space for an estimated 6,000 residents (for comparison, the implementation of the WECP over a period of thirty years envisioned 9,000 residents across the entire West End)
  • 3,346 parking spots

Now that over five years have passed, the West End has seen a huge amount of change in some parts of the neighbourhood and more is on the way. West End Neighbours wrote  to City Council in January  2019 calling for a five-year review and report on WECP implementation. (We’re still waiting for a response from the Mayor and City Hall.)

Meanwhile, since no comprehensive summary is available from the City, we have been doing some tracking of numbers based on media coverage plus various documents on the City’s website. More comprehensive analysis is needed for the entire West End, particularly for Davie Street plus the Burrard corridor (including Thurlow Street) where a demolition and construction boom was triggered by the WECP.

Here is an image from the WECP.

WECP page 20 on Thurlow-Burrard Georgia-Alberni corridors

Page 20 of the West End Community Plan (2013)

The WECP contained coded wording for the Georgia-Alberni corridor: “Strengthen the urban frame” and “intensify … towards greater clarity.” Also, peppered throughout the WECP is the concept of “deepening” housing affordability, though no clear definition was provided. Continue reading

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West End Car Free Day Festival (Denman Street) Saturday June 15, 2019

Car Free Day Vancouver website June 2019

Credit: http://www.carfreevancouver.org

WEST END CAR FREE DAY FESTIVAL
Saturday, June 15th 2019
Noon to 7pm
On Denman Street from Davie to Robson

This festival is on again this year.

For details see the main website.
https://www.carfreevancouver.org/west-end

The vision is “Vibrant, inclusive, healthy communities designed for people, not cars” and the mission is “To nurture and grow car-free spaces and culture in collaboration with local communities.”

Other venues on different dates are on Main Street, Commercial Drive, and in Kitsilano. Please visit Car Free Day for details.

The Car Free Days are VERY popular! As evidence: Georgia Straight’s “Best Local Street/Community Festival” for 8 years, and the Vancouver Courier “Stars of Vancouver” Best Street Festival for 4 years.

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47-Storey tower proposed to replace Davie Village Community Garden (1157 Burrard at Davie – northwest corner)

1157 Burrard 1 proposal

Here is another proposed tower development enabled by the West End Community Plan (2013) and Rezoning Policy for the West End.

Prima Properties (privately held developer, no website) has submitted a rezoning application for a 47-storey tower 1157 Burrard Street, the site that was formerly a gas station at the northwest corner of Burrard and Davie Streets.

West End Neighbours has carried stories about this site a number of times since 2010, including the discussion on “Implementation of ‘Vancouver Views’ and Opportunities for Higher Buildings in the Downtown” under Vision Vancouver to permit tall towers at this important entrance to the West End. (See links below.)

The 21,605 square foot site was designated for rezoning in January 2014 under the West End Community Plan, approved in November 2013 by the Vision Vancouver dominated City Council. It is currently zoned DD (Downtown District) and C-5 (Commercial).

The full application can be viewed here: https://rezoning.vancouver.ca/applications/1157burrard/index.htm

A community open house will be held as follows:

Thursday, April 25, 2019 (4:30 – 7:30 pm)
Holiday Inn, Columbia Ballroom (1110 Howe St).
The applicant team and City staff will be there to answer questions.

The project also goes to the Urban Design Panel (advisory to City Council):

Urban Design Panel
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
City Hall

Among other things, WEN will be interested in learning what benefits are being proposed for the West End community as a result of this proposal. How much will be paid in CACs and DCLs to benefit the West End?  After the original gas station closed, this site has been used as a community garden for years, saving Prima hundreds of thousands of dollars in property taxes under the BC Assessment taxation rules. (The taxes saved by Prima are shifted to the tax burden of other businesses and taxpayers.) Many developers use this loophole to save on taxes while they wait years to develop their property.

The proposal for a 47-storey mixed-use tower includes:

• a building height of 146.3 m (480 ft.)
• a total floor area of 28,077 sq. m (302,222 sq. ft.)
• a floor space ratio (FSR) (density) of 13.99
• 236 market residential (condo) units plus 50 hotel units or 50 more residential units (total consisting of 65 studios, 111 one bedrooms & 110 two-bedroom)
• ground-level commercial space (25,000 sq. ft.)
• a 37-space public childcare facility
• 1,570 sq. m (16,894 sq. ft.) of office space
• 265 vehicle parking stalls and 400 bicycle spaces
• a 37-space public childcare facility

The architect for the project is Merrick Architecture.

Further below is some coverage related to this site by West End Neighbours going back to 2010 (oldest to newest), showing how the City modified height restrictions on this and other sites downtown.

 

1157 Burrard_5 proposal

Continue reading

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