Heart of Davie Village Public Space Improvement Project – Open Houses April 25 (Sat) and April 27 (Mon)

Artist's concept: Heart of Davie Village Public Space (Credit: City of Vancouver)
Artist’s concept: Heart of Davie Village Public Space (Credit: City of Vancouver)

Adapted from the City website: http://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/heart-of-davie-village-public-space-improvement-project.aspx

A new permanent plaza, decorative lighting, wider sidewalks, landscaping, public art, and a mid-block pedestrian crossing are being considered for the Heart of Davie Village at Davie and Bute streets.

OPEN HOUSES

Saturday, April 25, 2015 (11 am to 2 pm)
Heart of Davie Plaza, Davie Street and Bute Street intersection

Monday, April 27, 2015 (5 pm to 8 pm)
St. Paul’s Anglican Church, 1130 Jervis Street

These improvements are part of the West End Community Plan, which includes goals to:

  • Invest in Davie Village public spaces
  • Enhance the area’s distinct character as a hub for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community

As part of the improvements, the City is exploring:

  • Naming a place or asset after Jim Deva to recognize his life and legacy as a leader in the LQBTQ community
  • Celebrating the history and contributions of Vancouver’s LGBTQ community in the permanent plaza

Design consultant PFS Studio is preparing the conceptual and detailed designs for the public space improvements. The City wants to hear from residents, business owners, community groups, and the LGBTQ community through open houses and online feedback. They are also working with the West End Business Improvement Association, City advisory committees, and other stakeholders.

Project details (below is also copied from City website) Continue reading

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Celebrating the life of Eleanor Hadley, 1921-2015 (Sat, 25-April, 3 pm, Barclay Manor, West End)

Eleanor Hadley at Occupy Vancouver, October 15, 2011. Vancouver Art Gallery). Image courtesy Daniel J Pierce YouTube

Eleanor Hadley at Occupy Vancouver, October 15, 2011. Vancouver Art Gallery). Image courtesy Daniel J Pierce YouTube

This Saturday a  gathering will be held to celebrate the life of Eleanor Hadley, a long time advocate of public parks and government accountability.

Saturday, April 25, 2015, at 3 pm
Barclay Manor (in Vancouver’s West End)
1447 Barclay Street

Eleanor lived in the West End since 1960 and attended nearly every Park Board meeting for almost 50 years, while offering public input at many of those meetings. She ran for Park Board Commissioner in the November 2014 civic election but was hospitalized and passed away in her 94th year, on March 7, 2015.

Many more people became more familiar with Eleanor through Dan Pierce’s film “The Hollow Tree,” which documented Eleanor’s passion as an advocate and protector of Vancouver’s world-famous Stanley Park. After having interviewed Eleanor a number of times, Dan has created a new short film to share on Saturday of Eleanor speaking about her life.

Please RSVP if you plan to attend, and feel free to let others know of the event. Contact: Bruce Macdonald, c 778 858-5542.  Continue reading

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21 story tower at 1754-1772 Pendrell: Revised rezoning goes to Urban Design Panel on April 8, 2015

Model of 1754 Pendrell, on display at City Hall

Model of 1754 Pendrell, on display at City Hall

Further to our previous story, a revised rezoning application for a 21-storey tower at 1754-1772 Pendrell goes before the Urban Design Panel on April 8, 2015 at 3 pm (Town Hall Meeting Room).

The meeting is open to the public. We encourage concerned citizens and neighbours to attend and observe the presentation and discussion, in preparation for likely Public Hearing.

The original application resulted in community outrage in 2008, a 400+ person town hall meeting, and promises by politicians not to let tower development “turn the West End into another Yaletown.” Then the project went dormant after the UDP unanimously rejected it in 2010, though it benefits by being “grandfathered” as “active” during the West End Community Plan process. Now in 2015, under a new owner (Westbank) and new architect (Gregory Henriquez), the proposed project is even denser and bulkier. It looks like a great deal for the proponent. But what are the benefits for the West End community?

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Caption: Model of the proposed development, on display at Vancouver City Hall.

Below is some food for thought regarding density, affordable housing, parking, community amenity contributions, building frontages, building form — based on materials available for public comment in March. How have City staff and the proponents incorporated public input into the proposal?

Official details of the proposal are available here, and as of April 8, the City’s website still says “You can still provide comments by filling out our online feedback form.”

Overall: In May of 2010 the Urban Design Panel reviewed a rezoning proposal at a lower density on this site.  The conclusions of that review included:

“The Panel did not support the proposal noting that the density has a negative effect on the overall bulk, quality of amenities and open space and may be too large for the site.  The Panel did not have a problem with the height but were concerned with the amount of density and bulk for such a small site which had changed considerably since the previous review. Most of the Panel members thought the original scheme was better. They felt the proposal broke form with other towers in the West End and thought there was little benefit to the community.

With this revised application, the bulk of the tower has increased significantly. If the UDP previously rejected the proposal for having too much density and bulk for such a small site, how can it possibly support the revised proposal with more bulk and density? And, honestly speaking, what are the benefits of this tower proposal for the community? Stay tuned.

Density:  The previous rezoning application proposed a density of 6.17 (floor space ratio, or FSR), while the current FSR proposed is 6.55.  (The current zoning permits 2.55 FSR — the jump to 6.55 is what Westbank is now asking for.) The previous proposal included affordable housing to be deeded to the City of Vancouver, and the project is proceeding on the basis of being “grandfathered,” supposedly having been “active” during the West End Community Plan process (which ended with adoption of the Plan in November 2013). Citizens, the UDP, and City Council needs to why the City should consider any density above the previously proposed FSR of 6.17. It seems there is no compelling reason.

Affordable Housing: The previous proposal included the creation of 26 affordable-rate rental units to be owned by the City of Vancouver.  The current proposal is entirely for market-rate rental units with no controls on rentsThe elimination of these 26 units from the proposal could be considered a serious flaw in the revised proposal. Those 26 units would have been a much-needed and valuable asset.  The creation of expensive luxury rental units does little to address housing affordability challenges in a neighbourhood where already over 80 per cent of housing is market rental.

Should the proposal be revised to have a minimum percentage of the rental units secured as truly affordable rental units — at rents tied to income levels in the West End? To do otherwise would be inconsistent with the nature of the previous rezoning application, noting that the current proposal is benefitting from being “grandfathered,” as mentioned above.

If the City negotiates to secure some rental units at below-market rates, this information should be made available to the public well in advance of any public hearing for this project.

Parking: It appears 82 parking stalls are proposed for the 171 residential units in the project.  At the time of the West End Community Plan consultations, parking was identified as a key issue for the community, and was included as one of the objectives for resolution for the plan.  This item was later deleted from the plan objectives with a commitment to addressing the issue at a future date.  Has any resolution been reached on resolving parking challenges in the neighbourhood? Has any analysis been done regarding the need for parking arising from other recently-constructed projects that have reduced parking (e.g., 1221 Bidwell Street, and 1051 Broughton Street)? We are not aware of any. Before a Public Hearing, can the City give the public additional information on actual parking needs arising from the high end of market units being proposed in this application?  Given the fact that existing on-street parking is “fully subscribed” it is not reasonable to expect that some residents of the proposed building will indeed park on the street. How are these issues being addressed.

Community Amenity Contribution:  The City’s policies indicate that a CAC should be applicable where increased land values result from rezoning (i.e., “land lift”).  In the past, the City has taken the position that rezonings for rental housing create no land lift, and accordingly no CAC is applicable.  But information from the BC Assessment Authority for recent projects like The Lauren at 1051 Broughton Street (which happens to have been developed by the same Westbank developer, with Henriquez as architect) shows significant increases in land values arising from rezoning.  In accordance with City of Vancouver policy, the community has a right to share in this increase in land value.  The pro forma information reviewed by the City should include an accurate estimation of rental revenues.  The “actual rents” being charged by Westbank at 1051 Broughton Street are much higher than the “proposed rents” in the Report to Council for public consideration at the time of the rezoning for that project.

Building Frontages: The Pendrell Street frontage has no doors on the street. If this is built, people on the street will probably feel that the podium element has little in the way of a positive relationship to the street.  Moving west along the frontage, the public will experience an increasing sense of detachment, created by the artificial “plateau” created on the property.

The lane frontage might be even worse. The approach to frontage on the lane might be seen by observers as unattractive. In addition, the proposed design is inconsistent with the objectives of the recently-adopted West End Community Plan, which encourages walkability and a residential character on rear lanes.  The previous proposal for this site had residential units facing the lane, helping to create a comfortable walking environment and “eyes on the street.”  The currently proposed concrete wall — reaching 10 feet in height at its west end, and punctuated with vents, emergency exit doors, and garage gates — will do little to assist the residential character and pedestrian comfort on the rear lane.

Building Form: The previous proposal for this site included a low-rise podium element and a slim tower.  The tower and podium format of previous proposal was more successful in responding to the neighbourhood context and the lower buildings to the north, east, south, and west.  The current design approach maximizes views and rental revenues in the new building at the expense of the neighbourhood.

 Revisions to the project design to re-instate a podium element could help to improve the pedestrian experiences on the rear lane and on Pendrell Street, “slim” the tower to reduce impacts on nearby residential units, and reduce shadowing on existing and future park areas to the south-west.

 

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City forgets to notify renters re Open House: WEN lobbies City to notify ALL residents of major developments in West End (re Open House for 19-storey tower tonight)

1177 Jervis east elevation Feb 2015Today WEN wrote senior staff at the City of Vancouver asking them to notify tenants (renters), not just property owners, regarding developments in the West End.

As we have written previously (for details, see “19-storey tower proposed at Davie & Jervis: Open House“), the City will hold an open house for a major new development on Monday, March 2, 2015. (Addresses of proposed tower: 1301/1309/1315 Davie Street and 1177 Jervis.) The proposal is for 62 market residential units (i.e., strata condo units) and 28 “social housing” units.

Blue building at centre  is in 3-D image in West End Plan

Blue building at centre is in 3-D image in West End Plan

But it has come to our attention that — contrary to previous commitments by the City to notify ALL residents of upcoming development proposals — the notices went only to owners. This has left many renters out of the process of providing input into a major development that could affect them directly, including views, shadowing, and their enjoyment of the neighbourhood.

We asked the City to respond and to take action by contacting all renters in the vicinity and ensuring that they too have a chance to provide input.

As we have written on our other post on this development, this is the first large development application submitted under the new Community Plan.

This application will NOT require a rezoning or the associated public hearing, since this area of Davie Village (along with other large areas of the West End) was rezoned en masse in the January 2014 amendment to adjust zoning to implement the Community Plan, which was adopted in November 2013. Since there will be no public hearing, and this Open House is one of the only opportunities for West Enders to provide any comment on the proposal, it is all the more important that everyone gets a fair opportunity to know about it and provide input.

WEN encourages all West End residents — regardless of their form of tenure — to participate in this process and observe how it works. This proposal is a real example of how the West End Community Plan will direct development from here on. Click below to read our letter to the City today. Continue reading

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City Council considers new housing definitions affecting West End, Downtown, and Downtown Eastside community plans (Tues, March 3)

West End aerial view, in CoV WE Plan draft 22-Oct-2013On Tuesday, March 3, Vancouver City Council will consider  “Proposed Amendments to the Downtown Official Development Plan (DODP) including new housing definitions applicable to all areas within the DODP and including amendments to implement the West End and Downtown Eastside plans

Download the 44 page document here:  http://former.vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20150303/documents/p3.pdf

The discussion will be during a Regular Council meeting starting at 9:30 am meeting on Tuesday, March 3, 2015. Here is the agenda for the meeting:
http://former.vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20150303/regu20150303ag.htm

This document was just released a few days ago, and we have not yet analyzed it for implications in the West End. (We welcome your analysis and comments.) City Hall is apparently planning to send these amendments to a Public Hearing in late March.

The background story is covered in this recent article in the Vancouver Sun:

“City of Vancouver embarks on extensive public consultation plan” (Jeff Lee, Vancouver Sun, 25-Feb-2015):
http://www.vancouversun.com/City+Vancouver+embarks+extensive+public+consultation+plan/10843060/story.html

Excerpts:

  • In an effort to fix three little but troublesome words in its guiding downtown overall development plan, the City of Vancouver is proposing one of the most extensive public consultation and notification programs ever. 
  • From postcards and ad mail delivered to the approximately 23,000 property owners, 13,000 business license holders and 30,000 renters in the downtown districts, to accessing email lists and social media, the city is leaving no stone unturned in its efforts to make sure people understand why the words “low-cost housing” are being replaced with “social housing.”
  • The extraordinary efforts, which will cost taxpayers about $60,000, stem directly from a stinging B.C. Supreme Court ruling last month that quashed two major New Yaletown developments, related public hearings and the guiding downtown overall development plan.
  • The Brenhill case, as it is known, has had wide implications for municipal governments, which are now examining the extent to which they must consult the public.
  • In his ruling, Justice Mark McEwan said Vancouver did not adequately notify residents living in the downtown overall development plan area or DODP, which covers much of the downtown. 
  • In quashing the DODP and ordering new public hearings for the Brenhill developments, the judge’s findings also exposed a similar flaw in the West End and Downtown Eastside area plans.

Additional information Continue reading

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19-storey tower proposed at Davie & Jervis: Open House Monday, March 2

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At 1301, 1309, and 1315 Davie Street there are currently three heritage houses on the north side of Davie Street, west of Jervis – an interesting 1940s three-storey walk-up sits just to the west, with a number of generally affordable rental apartments existing in the four buildings. A development application has been submitted under a new RM-5D zone created by the new West End Community Plan. The proposed development by Intracorp (see other projects in the region) is for a 19-storey tower with an FSR of 6.61. (Note that the address for the application has been changed to 1177 Jervis though the Davie Street addresses may appear in some documents).

PUBLIC OPEN HOUSE
Monday, March 2, 2015, 5 to 8 pm
St. Paul’s Anglican Church
1130 Jervis Street (Just north of Davie)

This is the first large development application submitted under the new Community Plan. It appears that this application will NOT require a rezoning or the associated public hearing, since this area of Davie Village (along with other large areas of the West End) was rezoned en masse in the January 2014 amendment to adjust zoning to implement the Community Plan, which was adopted in November 2013. WEN encourages West End residents to participate in this process and observe how it works, as it is a real example of how the West End Community Plan will direct development from here on. Continue reading

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West End Arts Plan event Feb 22 – Picture the neighbourhood even more rich with arts & cultural opportunities

(We carry this story as a public service, to support WE ARTS and the arts in the West End. You can also go directly to their announcement here for more details, including sponsors. Also, at the bottom we provide a link to their Facebook page and an article. They are the folks behind the stunning news mural at the West End Community Centre.)WEArts-ArtPlanAnnouncement_web, Feb 2015

What would our West End neighbourhood be like if it were even more rich with arts and cultural opportunities?

Register FREE Now…

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/west-end-art-plan-community-consultation-tickets-15485190622

What’s an Art Plan ?

An Art Plan is the shared vision of a community. Created through a series of community arts workshops and dialogue sessions, this record will communicate a more detailed vision for arts activities and resources for the West End.

Who should attend ?

Everyone is invited to attend! This includes West End residents, businesses, community groups, families, and artists of all disciplines, cultures, and ages.

How does it work ?

The community will engage in an afternoon of creative exploration, workshops and dialogue hosted by acclaimed choreographer and teacher Judith Marcuse. The first major public event is Sunday February 22nd, (1-4pm) at the West End Community Centre. It is free-of-charge.

Why do we need it?

Continue reading

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21 story tower at 1754-1772 Pendrell Street? Revised rezoning application – Open house Feb 16, 2015 (Westbank + Henriquez)

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Community open house for public input
Monday, February 16, 2015 (5 to 8 pm)
The Coast Plaza Hotel and Suites

Henriquez Partners, on behalf of Westbank Developments, has taken over this rezoning application and revised the proposal to rezone the site to CD-1: 

  • 21 storey tower, max. height 58 m (190 ft)
  • 171 rental units, including 43 studios, 51 one-bedroom, 72 two-bedroom, and 3 three-bedroom units.
  • A proposed density of 6.55 FSR (floor space ratio)

This site has a bit of a history. It set off a storm in the West End back in 2008 when a proposal to rezone the site for a condo tower resulted in a big outcry, a town hall meeting, and political promises. Concern about the City’s plans for the future of this neighbourhood let to a 13,000+ signature petition by West End Neighbours, a virtual freeze on spot rezonings, a community plan process, and a neighbourhood-wide rezoning. See a short chronology here: https://westendneighbours.wordpress.com/other-rezonings/1754-pendrell/

Now the owners and architect have changed. Westbank Projects Corp built the 22-storey “The Lauren” at Comox and Broughton after demolishing St. John’s Church. CEO Ian Gillespie appears to have acquired the site and is partnering with Henriquez Partners Architects (also architect for “The Lauren” as well as “The Alexandra” on the former site of Maxine’s at Davie and Bidwell, and other buildings in the West End). This new proposal appears to be moving ahead.

The Urban Design Panel, an advisory body for City Council, unanimously rejected the designs proposed for a 21-storey tower on this site back in 2010, so it will be interesting to see how the UDP views the current proposal.

We encourage neighbours and anyone interested in this application to attend the Open House and stay involved. Rental units are being proposed. How will they be priced? What will be the positive and negative impacts on the community? How will neighbours be affected?

Some basic details are below, copied from the City’s rezoning web page: http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/planning/rezoning/applications/

REVISED Rezoning Application – 1754-1772 Pendrell Street Continue reading

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WEN asks City Council for more time before sending “Proposed Amendments to Downtown Official Development Plan” to Public Hearing

Downtown District, subject to proposed amendments to the Downtown Official Development Plan -- implications for the West End

Downtown District, subject to proposed amendments to the Downtown Official Development Plan — implications for the West End

(Update: Council agreed to send this back to staff and NOT to move forward to a Public Hearing yet. This is a very rare outcome. See link to video and minutes of the meeting at bottom of this post.)

On January 27, WEN carried  this post “Mysterious West End connection: Yaletown residents Supreme Court victory in Emery Barnes Park raises questions,” in reference to a Supreme Court decision. Today (Feb 4) City Council is considering changes to the Downtown Official Development Plan” — which actually has implications for the West End.

In that context, WEN sent this message to Council, asking for more time before the amendments go to a Public Hearing. This is a topic to watch, as it affects the future of the West End and processes for City Hall to approve developments here.

Subject: Feb 4 Council: Opposed to referral to Public Hearing (“Proposed Amendments to Downtown Official Development Plan”) Continue reading

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Mysterious West End connection: Yaletown residents Supreme Court victory in Emery Barnes Park raises questions

508-helmcken-artists-rendering-a(Updated Jan 28 with more details) On January 27, 2015, the BC Supreme Court delivered a scathing ruling against the City of Vancouver in its dealings with the New Yaletown community downtown regarding a 36-story tower approved to be built on a corner of Emery Barnes Park (land owned by the City) and a land swap for a private lot on Richards Street. The media have covered the story extensively today (see links below). The Community Association of New Yaletown has done a detailed post (Supreme Court: Vancouver Development Process Unfair, Illegal). The essence of the case had to do with the City of Vancouver’s failure of “procedural fairness” for the public.

The West End has a mysterious connection with this case. It deserves further scrutiny. At a January 23, 2014 Public Hearing, Vancouver City Council approved bylaw changes and amendments in the West End to make zoning compatible with the West End Community Plan, which itself was adopted by Council in November 2013.

But it is somewhat of a mystery how, in the appendix at end of a 90-page document for bylaw changes for the West End, text was inserted to change provisions that would affect New Yaletown (a completely different neighbourhood) and the entire Downtown area. The City made no effort to point out the implications to residents in either neighbourhood, or to citizens who spoke at any public hearing.

Who knew? Richards & Helmcken is clearly NOT in the West End. But subtle text in zoning bylaw changes for the West End Community Plan had huge implications, for the New Yaletown neighbourhood. Map courtesy of VANMAP

Who knew? Richards & Helmcken is clearly NOT in the West End. But subtle text in zoning bylaw changes for the West End Community Plan had huge implications, for the New Yaletown neighbourhood. Map courtesy of VANMAP

In effect, the changes remove the requirement for Council’s prior approval of density increases, and remove the requirement that density increases be for social housing. On top of that, the City did not notify the public that these hidden changes would affect the New Yaletown neighbourhood, paving the way for the 508 Helmcken development. See the CANY chronology for reference to this topic.

Perhaps the public will never know how this mysterious connection came about.

Below, we provide a link to the full text of the judgement, and provide a few excerpts specifically relating to the West End, plus media links. Continue reading

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