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 interesting 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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Update on West End parking motions at City Council (March 12, 2019)

West End map from WECP 2013We reported that City Council would be discussing parking in the West End (Two motions in Council March 12 (Tues) regarding West End Parking Management Strategy & Participatory Budgeting Process).

Here is an epilogue.

Below is the text of the approved motions. Video clips of the Council discussion on these specific points is available online on the Council agenda page.

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For reference, much of this relates to a staff report that went to City Council on February 26. Here are the links.

2. West End Parking Management Strategy and Participatory Budgeting Process

Chris Darwent, Senior Parking Engineer, Engineering Services, to present on the Administrative Report dated January 29, 2019.

REPORT CONCLUSION: The West End Parking Strategy is working as expected as the number of permits being sold is decreasing and the amount of parking available for visitors has increased. As this is a long-term strategy, more time is required to see full results. Additionally, minor bylaw amendments are required to accommodate a small number of long-term residents that are currently not eligible for the non-market rate. The Participatory Budgeting Pilot is well underway with community engagement and is expected to have projects selected in June 2019.

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MOTION B1. Rescission of Resolution for West End Parking Management Strategy and Participatory Budgeting Process

MOVED by Councillor De Genova

SECONDED by Councillor Fry

WHEREAS

  1. On February 26, 2019, Council passed a resolution with respect to the West End Parking Management Strategy and Participatory Budgeting Process;
  2. The resolution passed by Council puts the pilot process on hold. This also affects the City of Vancouver’s ability to provide reduced-cost permits to long-term residents of the West End, including individuals living on fixed incomes;
  3. There are possible ways to move forward with staff recommendations and receive updates to the impact permit rates have on the availability of parking for visitors in the West End and feedback on giving long-term residents a reduced rate for their parking permit fee.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT Council rescind the resolution regarding the West End Parking Management Strategy and Participatory Budgeting Process, passed at the February 26, 2019, meeting.

CARRIED (Vote No. 04155)
(Councillor Kirby-Yung opposed)

****** Continue reading

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Two motions in Council March 12 (Tues) regarding West End Parking Management Strategy & Participatory Budgeting Process

The agenda for City Council on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 has two motions by Councillor Melissa De Genova relating to the West End.

See the Council agenda here.

  • Rescission of Resolution for West End Parking Management Strategy and
    Participatory Budgeting Process. PDF link here.
  • Moving Forward with the West End Parking Management Strategy and Participatory Budgeting Process. PDF link here.

Below is the text of both motions. Continue reading

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West End Community Plan (2013) preceded huge increase in property values, putting renters at risk

Broughton Apartments at 1370 Davie in 2019

Broughton Apartments at 1370 Davie Street

We have just passed five years since City Council adopted the West End Community Plan (Nov 2013) and then pre-zoned major sections of the West End (Jan 2014) for significant increases in density and towers particularly along the corridor streets.

West End Neighbours has called on the current council to review the impacts of the WECP. Is it producing the promised results (specifically “deepening affordability”)? We feel this review is important not only for the West End, but also for the entire city as it embarks upon a citywide planning process. When Council adopted the WECP, did Mayor Gregor Robertson and Council, planning department and professional planners consider these consequences?

WEN estimates that thousands of renters have been forced out of their relatively affordable long-term older rental units due to demolition and redevelopment for towers, as actually encouraged by the WECP, and we think the City needs to do a tally and consider how to better protect renters and businesses.

An article in the Vancouver Sun today provides some information about impacts of the WECP and risks for both renters and rental building owners. It’s worth a read. Below are excerpts, plus a link to the full article online.

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“The ‘ticking time bomb’ threatening affordable rental homes”
By Dan Fumano, in the Vancouver Sun, 25-Feb-2019

Excerpts:

… The intricacies of B.C.’s property assessments are meeting the realities of Metro Vancouver’s property market in a way that discourages the operation of long-term affordable rental housing in favour of the development of new condos, landlords say.

In other words, the system seems to incentivize the opposite of the outcome our leaders say they want.

…  Older rental homes are, as expected, more affordable. CMHC data show Vancouver apartments built between 1975 and 1989 are, on average, 40 per cent cheaper than those built since 2005. But longtime landlords say the current system threatens their ability to operate the older rental apartments that form a crucial part of the city’s housing stock.

Consider the Broughton Apartments in Vancouver’s West End. In 2015, the property taxes for this 40-year-old, 47-unit rental building on Davie Street were assessed at $854 per unit, said a representative of the owner, Cressey Development Group. For this year, the assessment is expected to be around $2,620 per unit.

That represents a property tax hike of more than 200 per cent over four years.

… As property values in the West End have soared faster than the city-wide average in recent years — particularly since the approval of the West End Community Plan in 2013 and the subsequent flurry of development activity — the corresponding skyrocketing property taxes have been blamed for the deaths of several mom-and-pop businesses, everything from beloved neighbourhood pubs the Dover Arms which pulled its last pint in 2017, to retail fixture Chocolate Mousse Kitchenware, which closed its doors last week after facing a 400 per cent property tax hike over a three-year period. Continue reading

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Reminder: Deadline today for West End Participatory Budgeting Project (21-Feb-2019)

West End Participatory Budgeting logo 2019Below is an excerpt of a message from the City of Vancouver.

How would you spend $100,000 to improve Vancouver’s West End?

Vancouver’s first participatory budgeting pilot project is officially underway in the West End and the WE Choo$e Impact Team, the community-led steering committee tasked with creating and implementing the participatory budgeting process, is inviting you to get involved!

Participatory budgeting is used in cities around the world to involve community members in government spending decisions that impact or benefit them. Winning projects from participatory budgeting in other cities include: resource kits for the homeless, new street trees, books for kids, programming for community events and festivals, and many others. Winning projects are adopted through a community vote and implemented with the support of government.

The City of Vancouver launched this participatory budgeting pilot to distribute additional revenue collected through West End permit parking fees, as part of the follow-up to the West End Parking Strategy implemented in 2017.

Have your say and help improve your community! Click the button below to let us know how you would spend $100,000 to improve Vancouver’s West End. We are collecting ideas from January 18 through February 21, 2019.

TAKE THE SURVEY

https://www.talkvancouver.com/c/a/6amALeYBXk6JdjvXnLbUDZ

 

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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.

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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Happy New Year 2019 from West End Neighbours: Looking back at the WECP and looking ahead to the future

West End view WEN 1-Jan-2019

Panoramic view of West End from Kits Point, January 1, 2019. Credit: West End Neighbours

Best wishes to all from West End Neighbours for a wonderful 2019.

WEN first started posting articles in July 2010, so this year marks our tenth year. The West End Community Plan (WECP) was adopted by City Council in November 2013, so it has just passed the five-year mark.

This coming year of 2019, it is time for a review of the results of the WECP, and to look forward to the future. The community has been subject to a great deal of change over the last five years, with quite a lot more expected over the coming years.  The West End deserves a review of how the community plan has been working, what the impacts have been, and how things might be improved moving forward.

WEN was created with this mission: To enhance and celebrate the quality of life, the distinct, diverse character and the heritage of the West End, a livable neighbourhood between downtown Vancouver and Stanley Park. We accomplish this by influencing policy decisions and ensuring change is based on evolving community needs, is neighbourly and respectful and reflects relevant and timely engagement with residents.

We look forward to working with interested citizens and groups in the coming months to review the WECP and look ahead as City Hall now begins a citywide plan.

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Commentary: Resolutions to make 2019 B.C.’s year of transparency (Dermod Travis, IntegrityBC)

background blur clean clear

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

by Dermod Travis, IntegrityBC (bold emphasis by West End Neighbours. Note that much of this applies to municipal governments.)

It’s that time of year again to propose a few New Year’s resolutions for B.C.’s political class and this year there’s a bit of a theme to the resolutions: transparency. No ill can come from it and it will fit into most holiday budgets to boot.

First up: allow individuals who are the subject of an inquiry, or investigation, to have the right to waive their right to privacy and thereby free government from any constraints it may feel over discussing a matter of public import.

These next two – with a nod to Dragnet’s Sgt. Joe Friday – could be considered as the “all we want are the facts” resolutions.

If you’re the minister responsible for a publicly-owned utility, say B.C. Hydro, and one of its senior executives tells you it’s sunny outside, you’d be well-advised to find a window and check for yourself.

Case in point: in a recent financial report the utility “notes that 493 (capital projects) have been delivered over the past five years at a cost of $6.9 billion – roughly 0.4 per cent over budget overall,” which sounds impressive, until you ask for the list and ask again and again and again. Continue reading

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Chocolate Mousse Kitchenware’s Swan Song – Christmas Animation 2018 and the West End Community Plan

After 33 years in business as a beloved local shop in Vancouver’s West End, Chocolate Mousse Kitchenware (1553 Robson Street) is being forced to close due to an enormous increase in property taxes on the retail space it leases, as a result of the dramatic increase in property values resulting from the West End Community Plan (WECP) adopted in 2013 by City Council.

Related article: Taxed to death: How Vancouver’s small businesses are falling victim to soaring property tax (Chocolate Mousse Kitchenware faces closure after a 92-per-cent rate increase, the latest in a line of long-established businesses set to shut shop) by Jan Zeschky, Westender, 14-Dec-2017.
https://www.vancourier.com/news/taxed-to-death-how-vancouver-s-small-businesses-are-falling-victim-to-soaring-property-tax-1.23121997

This site was rezoned as a part of mass rezoning in parts of the West End in January 2014 by the Vision Vancouver dominated City Council in line with the new WECP, allowing a significant increase in the permitted building height. At that point, the then landlord made a huge windfall profit when it sold the property to 1135952 B.C. Ltd., Inc. The final approval for the current owner VivaGrand Developments (the North American office of Xiangli, based in China) to build a 28-storey tower (1555 Robson Street – DP-2018-00589) is now set for the City of Vancouver’s three-person internal Development Permit Board, slated for 3 pm, January 7, 2019. (There never was a public hearing, but concerned citizens can register and speak to the DPB.)

Christmas message from owners:
We have installed our 23rd animated Christmas window. It is of course our Swan Song. Short of a miracle this will be our last Christmas. Now more than ever we need your support to get us to the end of our lease. If you haven’t shopped yet, we would love to see you, and if you have shopped, thank you… and we’d love to see you again. We would like to wish you all a Very Merry Christmas.
Karen & Jane and our lovely staff
The Chocolate Mousse Kitchenware

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Lyrics:
“IT’S A SWANDERFUL LIFE”

Chocolate Mousse Animated Christmas Window, December 2018

Some things in life are bad.
They can make you really mad.
Other things just make you swear and curse.
The property tax jumped 400 percent.
It’s even higher than the rent.
But cheer up because next year it gets worse. Continue reading

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28-storey tower at 1555 Robson Street: Development Permit Board (rescheduled to 7-Jan-2019) (DP-2018-00589)

1555-robson-render(Update 7-Dec: This item was advertised for the December 10 DPB meeting. But WEN has confirmed it was removed from the agenda at the last minute. The new date is January 7, 2019. See also Chocolate Mousse Kitchenware’s Swan Song – Christmas Animation 2018 and the West End Community Plan)

Another tower is up for its final development permit, part of the huge wave of land purchases and construction proposals made possible by the West End Community Plan (WECP) adopted by City Council in 2013. This meeting is open to the public and you may speak to the meeting if you register in advance.

Development Permit Board
“1555 Robson Street – DP-2018-00589”
[Scheduled for Dec 10, 2018, but cancelled and no new date set yet]  
Town Hall Meeting Room (1st Floor, City Hall, 453 West 12th Avenue), Vancouver City Hall

DPB site: https://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/development-permit-board.aspx

Basic info:

  • Applicant is IBI Group (architect) on behalf of VivaGrand Developments, the North American office of Xiangli, “a leading real estate firm with 22 years of experience and over 350,000 square feet of residential, mixed-use, and infrastructure development in China” (no other info publicly available).
  • A 28-storey, mixed-use building with office and retail uses at ground level
  • 177 residential units including 24 units of what the city defines loosely as “social housing” (with a separate entrance), the rest being strata condo
  • A Floor Space Ratio of 9.63 (approximately 174,837 sq.ft.)
  • Building height of approx. 300 ft.

Many West End residents and visitors will know this location on Robson Street near Cardero as the home of the popular Chocolate Mousse Kitchenware, which got media attention a year ago when owners Jane and Karen Tennant were forced out of business after 33 years here as a result of a 92% property tax increase, which we attribute largely to the WECP.

NOTE: WEN has confirmed that Chocolate Mousse is still open for business (December 2018) at 1553 Robson Street. Tel. (604) 682-8223, open to 9 pm every day except Sunday (6 pm).

1555 Robson rendering by IBI GroupThe proposed tower replaces a two-storey commercial building from 1949. The tower, if built will be across the lane from a 43-storey tower at 1550 Alberni, designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma and now under construction by Westbank, also enabled by the WECP, and set for completion in 2020.

Online “mystery” bloggers at City Duo attended the Urban Design Panel meeting on October 31, 2018. Their report lavishes praise on the design, but inadvertently exposes some of the ways the City and this advisory body deal with design and regulatory issues: Continue reading

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