West End Community Plan turns ten years old in 2023

City of Vancouver’s rendering of the build-out of the West End Community Plan (2013), envisioned for 2041.

This year the West End Community Plan will turn ten, on November 20, 2023, the day City Council adopted the non-binding plan during a daytime meeting. The coming months leading up to the tenth anniversary date are a good opportunity to look back at how the plan came about, how it has been implemented so far, and what’s the future of the thirty-year plan.

Actually, today (January 23, 2023) marks exactly nine years to the day since the public hearing of January 23, 2014 when Vancouver City Council approved major amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law and District Schedules for the West End. By that vote, Council passed into law the zoning-related legal finishes to the West End Community Plan, a guiding policy document that had been approved by Council just two months earlier.

A tremendous amount of change has occurred to this community, enabled by the WECP. There’s been a lot of demolition, construction and turnover. Hundreds of millions of dollars of development fees have been collected from rezonings. Is that money being used to benefit the community that has accepted so much density?

The “promise” of the plan included (1) increased stock of affordable housing and (2) community benefits.

Has either been realized? We hope that during this tenth anniversary year that question can be answered.

Increased density was presented as the vehicle for achieving community benefits, including affordable housing. Increased density in the form of massive towers was added to the plan in the final weeks before it was adopted in 2013, in absence of adequate communication with neighbours.

At the five-year mark, West End Neighbours marked the anniversary with a summary of the history of the WECP, still valid. We also asked City Hall for an update on the implementation of the WECP. Nothing happened until 2021, when the planning department published a West End Public Benefit Strategy Implementation Progress Report (PDF).

A more complete and up-to-date picture is needed. What has been the net change in population? How many renters have had to move out to make way for new units? How has the public benefits money been spent, how much is in the fund, and what is the current plan? How has the experience of West Enders been during the implementation of the WECP?

The WECP envisioned increased density to have an additional 7,500 to 10,000 new residents by 2041. But after the plan was adopted, there was a rush of applications by developers, when the real impacts became known, as stated in this article – West End Plan will spark a real estate boom here, says Business in Vancouver (June 17, 2014). The City stopped publishing WECP implementation newsletters within a couple years, and it turns out the Park Board actually had a better handle on how much development was happening as they were trying to project user demand on its facilities. See Keeping track: Behold the West End’s new housing unit count (via Park Board)), where CityHallWatch used Park Board numbers as of the summer of 2020, and estimated additional population for projects approved and in progress was 25,627 residents up to that point after just seven years of the 30 year plan. Much more development has been approved since then.

While the processes leading up to and during the WECP consultations involved a lot of community activism, public involvement in planning-related matters appears to have dropped significantly.

1063-1075 Barclay – 47 storey tower approved at Public Hearing on 17-Jan-2023. Total time to pass: under 40 minutes.

For an example of how the WECP is being implemented today, have a look at a 47-storey tower at 1063-1075 Barclay (mostly strata condos, with some social housing, see “New Vancouver City Council approves its first building: a 47-storey residential tower” – Jan 18 article in Daily Hive). It was approved in less than 37 minutes at a public hearing on January 17, 2023, with just six letters to Council (two in support, four opposed) and a couple of speakers asking questions.

West End Neighbours organized a few town hall events from 2010 through 2013 that attracted hundreds of attendees, and garnered over 13,000 signatures on a petition that called for meaningful consultation with the community. Does the drop in community involvement in public hearings mean that the vast majority support what is going on?

Significantly, this building in the West End was the first building to be approved at the first public hearing of the new years, by the newly elected supermajority of ABC Vancouver under mayor Ken Sim.

The only member of the current Council that was there when the WECP was adopted is Vancouver Greens’ Councillor Adriane Carr. At the time in 2013 and 2014, together with NPA Councillors Affleck and Ball, she opposed the plan, saying the consultation had not been done properly, and more time was needed to get real community input. On 24-Nov-2020 she made a motion in Council to have staff report publicly to Council on progress to date in implementing the WECP Public Benefit Strategy and “any measures needed to achieve the community benefits detailed as plan objective,” which resulted in the 2021 report mentioned above.

Resources:

City’s official page for the West End Community Plan – https://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/west-end-community-plan.aspx

West End Neighbours releases 3D images of the future based on West End Community Plan (City Hall withheld details during the consultations prior to adoption). Posted January 23, 2014.

November 20 marks FIFTH anniversary of the West End Community Plan: How has it been for you?
Posted on November 20, 2018.

Want to keep track of all new developments coming to the West End and get updates on current projects? Brian Palmquist has a database of rezonings and developments in Vancouver. You can write him to be added to the list for notifications on anything to do with the West End. See “Hiding in Plain Sight…and how we can find it Together (CC96: Where Vancouver hides housing data, how I find it and will share it) by Brian Palmquist,” and you can write him at the e-mail address indicated.

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Election day is Saturday, October 15, 2022. Please vote, it’s important! Here’s some basic info to help.

Image credit: City of Vancouver

Civic elections across British Columbia are on Saturday, October 15, 2022.

Our next chance will be in four years (distant future, 2026!) to choose Vancouver’s mayor, 10 city councillors, 7 park board commissioners, and 9 school trustees. Every vote counts, so please do vote if you have not done so yet! And bring along everyone you know. Even a few votes could mean the difference between a person being elected and not.

When you see the ballot, you will find a bewildering number of candidates to choose from (137 in total). You will see both independents and party slates (ABC/Sim, COPE, Forward/Stewart, Greens, NPA/Harding, OneCity, Progress Vancouver/Marissen, TEAM for a Livable Vancouver/Hardwick, Vote Socialist, and even Vision Vancouver again). Some of the parties have already declared alliances.

Deciding who to vote for can be tough, it could help to think about majorities who could effectively govern. Do you feel the incumbents (many seeking re-election) have served the West End (and the whole city) well from 2018 to 2022? How has the City performed in implementing the West End Community Plan (adopted 2013)? Is it making life better here? What issues are you and your neighbours concerned about? (See below for some questions to consider.) Many policies and decisions affecting us happen at the provincial, federal and international levels. But it is our own municipal government that most affects us in day-to-day life. Besides selecting our politicians, this ballot also includes Capital Plan three yes/no borrowing questions for the $495 million Capital Plan for 2023-2026 for facilities and infrastructure.

City’s official website for the election, including voting times and places, candidates and more (including a “Plan Your Vote” app): https://vancouver.ca/vote

Civic affairs watcher David Fine has created quite a concise list of questions that could help you to decide who NOT to vote for. The tone is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but each line is based on real track records, facts, and promises. This is not a WEN endorsement, but it is certainly good food for thought:

https://tinrobot.medium.com/who-not-to-vote-for-in-vancouvers-2022-election-3d2c4c4ad92d

Also for reference, the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) of which WEN is a member, has issued this:
Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) statement on the 2022 Election
https://coalitionvan.org/posts/2022-09-28-statement-on-election/

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Thought-starters

  • Noise, crime, traffic, parking, construction, garbage, and poo on the streets.
  • Are sidewalks getting fixed?
  • Is traffic backing up on West End streets because the city has closed so many accesses?
  • Did the West End Plan do what it was supposed to do?
  • Has your own housing situation improved?
  • How did the West End fare through Covid?
  • Are bikeways being well used?
  • Is there a balance in street use for all users?
  • How have changes in Stanley Park affected West End residents?
  • Has the City made it easy for local businesses survive?
  • Is the city doing anything to re-instate the water features shut off all over the West End?
  • Are you happy with progress in upgrading public facilities like the West End Community Centre and Aquatic Centre?
  • Has the City managed all the demolition, digging, truck traffic, construction to minimize disruptions on West End residents?
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Upcoming election candidate events in the West End, starting *THIS WEEKEND*. Election day is October 15, 2022, with advance voting days Oct 1, 5, 8, 11, 13.

Image credit: City of Vancouver

Civic elections now occur across British Columbia every four years.

The next election is October 15, 2022, with advance voting days Oct 1, 5, 8, 11, 13. There are also options for mail-in voting and even a pilot for 100 slots for Homebound Voting (for voters who can’t leave their home to vote).

The civic election is best chance for residents to have much impact and hold the local elected officials accountable, and choose who gets in for the next four years. Every vote counts, so please do vote and bring along everyone you know.

Do you feel the Mayor, 10 city councillors, 7 Park Board commissioners, and 9 school trustees have served the West End well from 2018 to 2022? How has the City performed in implementing the West End Community Plan (adopted 2013)? Is it making life better here? What issues you and your neighbours concerned about? (See below for some questions to consider.) Many policies and decisions affecting us happen at the provincial, federal and international levels. But it is our own municipal government that most affects us in day-to-day life.

Besides selecting our politicians, this ballot also includes Capital Plan three yes/no borrowing questions for the $495 million Capital Plan for 2023-2026 for facilities and infrastructure.

City’s official website for the election, including voting times and places, candidates and more: https://vancouver.ca/your-government/2022-election

There’s a handy “Plan Your Vote” app here to make your selections and print a sheet to bring to the voting booth: https://vancouver.ca/plan-your-vote/index.aspx

The current issue of Vancouver Is Awesome newspaper in sidewalk news boxes has a comprehensive foldout with election-related information, including candidates.

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CityHallWatch has an ongoing list of election-related events across the Vancouver:
https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/election-2022/election-events-debates/

Below are some events specific to the West End. To be updated. If you are aware of more, please feel free to e-mail the info to citizenYVR@gmail.com.

Event: TEAM for a Livable Vancouver: Meet the Candidates for Mayor, City Council, Park Board, School Board (location – West End)
When & Where: Sat. Sept 24th, 1 pm to 3:30 pm – St. Paul’s Anglican Church, 1130 Jervis Street (West End). RSVP to Michelle Mollineaux (michelle@voteteam.ca).

EventDenman’s Street West End Car Free Day Festival
When & Where: Sun. Sept 25th, 12 pm to 7 pm – Denman Street

Event: Park Board All Candidates Meeting
When & Where: Tues. Sept 27, 6 to 8 pm – West End Community Centre, 870 Denman.
“Speed Dating” style. Candidates circulate group to group to field questions from individual voters. Topic changes every 15 minutes and candidate switches move to next group. Link here.

Event: City Councillors All Candidates Meeting
When & WhereTues. Oct 4, 6pm – West End Community Centre, 870 Denman
“Speed Dating” style. Candidates circulate group to group to field questions from individual voters. Topic changes every 15 minutes and candidate switches move to next group. Link here.

*******

Thought-starters

  • Noise, crime, traffic, parking, construction, garbage, and poo on the streets.
  • Are sidewalks getting fixed?
  • Is traffic backing up on West End streets because the city has closed so many accesses?
  • Did the West End Plan do what it was supposed to do?
  • Has your own housing situation improved?
  • How did the West End fare through Covid?
  • Are bikeways being well used?
  • Is there a balance in street use for all users?
  • How have changes in Stanley Park affected West End residents?
  • Has the City made it easy for local businesses survive?
  • Is the city doing anything to re-instate the water features shut off all over the West End?
  • Are you happy with progress in upgrading public facilities like the West End Community Centre and Aquatic Centre?
  • Has the City managed all the demolition, digging, truck traffic, construction to minimize disruptions on West End residents?

West End Neighbours may put together a compilation of input. Feel free to mail us at westendplanning@gmail.com with your further questions and comments.

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Community garden at corner of Davie St and 1157 Burrard in West End to be replaced by 469-ft 47-storey tower. Public input til Aug 12 on development permit application DP-2022-00461

ABOVE: Applicant’s rendering of proposed tower at 1157 Burrard Street at northwest corner with Davie Street, beside the current St Paul’s Hospital

City Council approved this rezoning on October 19, 2021. Now it is moving to the next step, a development permit application (DP-2022-00461). The public has the opportunity to provide input before a final decision is made at the desk of the current director of planning, Theresa O’Donnell. Below is some official information plus CityHallWatch commentary and related reading.

Rezoning information is here (approved in 2021): https://shapeyourcity.ca/1157-burrard-st

Public hearing (12-Oct-2021): https://council.vancouver.ca/20211012/phea20211012ag.htm

Development application (click here to provide public comments): https://shapeyourcity.ca/1157-burrard-st-2

Excerpt of official text: Merrick Architecture has applied to the City of Vancouver to develop on this site a new 47-storey, mixed-use building with an additional partial storey for an amenity and mechanical room, consisting of Retail use on Level 1, Office use on Levels 2 and 4 (including an arts and culture hub), a 37-space childcare facility on Level 3 and Dwelling uses (289 Market Strata Units) on Levels 4 to 47. The density (FSR) is 13.37 (283,833 sq.ft.), height 469 feet, with eight levels of underground parking with 297 parking stalls having vehicular access from See-Em-La Lane. This application is “conditional” so it may be permitted, however, it requires the Council enactment of the CD-1 By-law, approval of the Form of Development and decision by the Director of Planning.

A note about public input for Development Permit applications: The Shape Your City page states “Comments submitted here will not be posted publicly, but will be summarized and anonymized in a staff report for the Director of Planning to consider as part of their decision.” Thus, no member of the public can see what concerns or questions have been raised by other members of the public.

Kenneth Chan (Daily Hive) covered the story in 2021 after the rezoning was approved. Excerpt – In a recent public hearing, Vancouver City Council approved the rezoning application by Merrick Architecture and Prima Properties for 1157 Burrard Street. Only TEAM councillor Colleen Hardwick and COPE councillor Jean Swanson voted in opposition…. An early concept included a hotel with 50 guest rooms within the tower’s residential floors within the seven-storey podium, but a decision was later made by the developer to use this space as 50 additional condominium homes instead. … As an in-kind value community amenity contribution (CAC), the podium’s third level will contain a childcare facility with 7,200 sq ft of indoor space, providing a capacity for up to 37 kids, as well as 5,500 sq ft of partially covered outdoor play space. The entirety of the second level and a portion of the fourth level are also dedicated as a CAC, with a total of 15,800 sq ft of office space set aside for non-profit arts organizations. … The developer’s total public benefits package to the City of Vancouver is worth $41.2 million, including $10.6 million in cash to the city towards the West End Community Plan’s public benefits strategy, and $22.27 million from the turnkey readiness of the arts/culture office space and city-owned childcare facility. Other requirements include $8 million in development cost levies, and a $572,000 public art contribution…. Swanson opposed the project on the basis that it will not provide any affordable housing, and could lead to the gentrification of the neighbourhood…. Hardwick had similar concerns relating to the ownership type of housing being provided and potential land inflation in the area as a result, along with construction impacts….. according to the architect, an ever-moving system of sun shades on the tower’s western facade provides the tower with a unique exterior look; solar control blinds “respond dynamically to the movement of the sun and lower to form a pixilated evocation of the ground, sea, forest, mountain peaks and sky. As the sun sets they open again to reveal a glowing glass skin below.” … The tower’s height of 469 ft (143 m) is permitted under the city’s General Policy for Higher Buildings, which allows the building to extend into the View Cone 3 emanating from Queen Elizabeth Park, if the design meets a standard of architectural excellence. The property is also affected by View Cone 12 from the deck of the Granville Street Bridge, and View Cone B1 from the Charleson Park seawall in False Creek South…. The total floor area is 289,014 sq ft, establishing a floor area ratio of a floor area that is 13.37 times larger than the size of the 21,600 sq ft lot…. Over the next 20 years, the area will also see immense change from the closure of St. Paul’s Hospital, which will relocate to a new hospital campus in the False Creek Flats in 2027. The existing 6.6-acre Burrard Street hospital site was acquired by Concord Pacific last year for its redevelopment potential.

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Janes Walk in the West End May 7 (Exploring the West End through its Urban Forest)

Exploring the West End through its Urban Forest
by Jane’s Walk Vancouver 2022 (May 6th-8th)

Date and time
Sat, 7 May 2022
10:30 AM – 12:00 PM PDT

Location: Barclay Heritage Square, 1433 Barclay Street

Registration here – https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/exploring-the-west-end-through-its-urban-forest-tickets-324589845967

Learn how the West End and its trees have changed over the last 150 years.
About this event
General Walk – limit of 40 people, masks not required

Walk Leader: Natalie Cushing

Starting place: Barclay Heritage Square

How to recognize your walk leader(s): Natalie will be wearing a trench coat and holding a clipboard

Accessibility Info: Busy sidewalks, Breaks offered along the way, Wheelchair user-friendly, Pet-friendly

Travel Tips: Parking is limited in the West End, but it is accessible by transit, bike, and walking

Photo by Natalie Cushing

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1616-1698 West Georgia at Bidwell development (33-storeys with 127 strata condos) goes to Development Permit Board March 7 (Monday). Former Chevron gas station closed after site sold for $72 million in 2017

Image from Public Hearing rezoning – Daily Hive 16-Apr-2021

A development 1616-1698 West Georgia development goes to Development Permit Board on Monday, March 7 at 3 pm for approval. Link to related documents: https://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/development-permit-board.aspx

1616-1698 W Georgia St – DP-2021-00409 – (COMPLETE APPLICATION)
Applicant: Anthem Properties Group Ltd.
Property Owner: 1698 Anthem West Georgia Developments Ltd.
Request: To develop this site with a 33-storey multiple dwelling building with 126 dwelling units, all over 7 levels of underground parking, having vehicular access from Bidwell Street. It is seeking 9.45 FSR in density.
Staff: Hamid Shayan.
The public may speak to this item. Contact May Sem at may.sem@vancouver.ca.

The meeting is being held online via WEBEX.

This is one of the dozens of towers enabled under the West End Community Plan (2013) and Rezoning Policy for the West End. In fact due to the WECP, nearly a dozen towers have sprouted up or are in the pipeline within just a few blocks of here. This is another opportunity for residents of the West End to look at developments enabled under the West End Community Plan and ask if what they see is what they were expecting when public consultations were under way to 2013. In return for the rezoning, Anthem is required to provide $31.4 million in public benefits, including $26.1 million in cash community amenity contributions (CACs), $3.2 million in citywide development cost levies (DCLs), $1.8 million in citywide utilities DCLs, and $352,000 in public art. Someone should check into this to see if and when the West End residents will be benefiting from all those CACs.

Location of site indicated by red dotted line square

Here is the rezoning page for the development (the rezoning application was approved by the current City Council at a Public Hearing on April 13th, 2021): https://shapeyourcity.ca/1698-w-georgia-st

At the time of the rezoning, these were the parameters:

To change from RM-6 (Residential) to CD-1 (Comprehensive Development) District:

127 strata residential units
A building height of 99.25 m (326 ft.)
A floor space ratio (FSR) of 9.39
A floor area of 16,528 sq. m (177,903 sq. ft.)
213 vehicle parking spaces and 335 bicycle parking spaces

Final version of staff report to the Development Permit Board: https://vancouver.ca/files/cov/1616-1698-w-georgia-dpsc-report-final.pdf

Summary of public comments received for the rezoning stage (Shape Your City): https://vancouver.ca/files/cov/appendix-g-shape-your-city-report.pdf

An in-person community open house was held on April 9, 2019 from 4:30-7:00 pm in the Cypress Room of the Westin Bayshore Hotel (1601 Bayshore Dr).

Related media and links.

Condo presales are under way. Example – https://www.mikestewart.ca/presale/anthem-properties-1698-west-georgia-vancouver-luxury-presale-condos/

City Council approves condo tower for former West Georgia Chevron site (with renderings)
Kenneth Chan, Daily Hive (Apr 16 2021). https://dailyhive.com/vancouver/1616-1698-west-georgia-street-vancouver-tower-approved-shadowing

Excerpts: Earlier this week, Vancouver City Council approved Anthem Properties’ rezoning application to develop a condominium tower at the vacant site of 1616-1698 West Georgia Street, previously a Chevron gas station…. This gas station, located at the southeast corner of the intersection of West Georgia Street and Bidwell Street, closed in 2017, after it was sold for $72 million. Apart from NPA councillor Colleen Hardwick and COPE councillor Jean Swanson’s decision to abstain, city council’s vote was unanimous in support. … Green Party councillor Michael Wiebe praised the tower’s design inspired by Vancouver’s natural surroundings…. “I think that we need to figure out more ways to include this type of integration of our mountains and greenery into projects that create a West Coast design and look. I think it’s really well done,” said Wiebe. But some public speakers and Mayor Kennedy Stewart brought forward their concerns on the tower’s reduced height…. In his closing comments, the Mayor said he had prepared a motion to send the proposal back to city staff for reconsideration for additional height, but ultimately decided not to as it would add to delays on what has already been a lengthy review process for the proponents… The current project — as approved with a floor area of 178,000 sq ft for a floor space ratio density of 9.4 times larger than the size of the lot — will be required to provide $31.4 million in public benefits, including $26.1 million in cash community amenity contributions (CACs), $3.2 million in citywide development cost levies (DCLs), $1.8 million in citywide utilities DCLs, and $352,000 in public art. …

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Park Board Feb 7 (Mon) meeting to discuss BC Hydro power line right-of-way thru Nelson Park for a buried electrical substation, plus alcohol in parks in 2022

Here are a few notices about Park Board topics important for the West End. (This is an excerpt of a post by CityHallWatch.)

First, February 2, 2022 was the last day for the Park Board “Community Centres Survey 2022,” a strategic planning project to ensure that Community Centres are best positioned to “Meet the current and future needs by setting service level standards. Determine future renewal priorities. Ensure successful and efficient individual projects. Identify opportunities to better collect and make use of data.” The project was initiated in spring 2021 and is to complete in spring 2022.  Check it out here:  https://shapeyourcity.ca/ccstrategy/survey_tools/community-centre-strategy-survey2.

Second, this month of February, the City is conducting an important new phase of consultation via “W.E. Connect” on the West End Community Hub (WECH) Renewal Plan – which includes the community centre, library, and school. Many events planned. Watch for various opportunities to obtain information and provide input. More info here: https://shapeyourcity.ca/weconnect

Third, the meeting of the Park Board on Monday, February 7th, 2022 will discuss an Alcohol in Parks motion on notice from Commissioner Demers that will ask staff to prepare plans to again allow drinking in select public parks in 2022. The feedback and lessons from the pilot project in 2021 would be incorporated and brought back to Park Board at a later date. As the alcohol in parks motion is on the agenda of the Regular Park Board meeting; no public speakers will be heard unless the item is referred to a subsequent committee meeting.

Fourth, the February 7th Park Board meeting, will discuss proposals for a BC Hydro right of way for a substation in Nelson Park in the West End.The plans to allow a right of way in Nelson Park for a Hydro Substation are on the Committee Meeting agenda, and hence Public Speakers will be heardInterested speakers have until noon of Monday, February 7th to sign up (feedback on the motion can also be provided via the links on the agenda page).

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Park Board staff planning to report on BC Hydro‘s request for rights-of-way for underground power cables through Nelson Park for West End Substation (early 2022)

Above: Conceptual image of the underground substation from 2017, early in the consultation process

Things have been very quiet on this front. What’s the latest on BC Hydro’s plans to build an electrical power substation underground in Nelson Park, beside the Lord Roberts Elementary School Annex? Just a heads up that Vancouver Park Board staff have sent an e-mail to subscribers saying that some time in early 2022, they will be presenting a report to Park Board commissioners.

While currently quite out of date, this project page provides a general background to the project: https://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/nelson-park-impact-assessment-and-public-engagement.aspx

Gist: BC Hydro engaged the public on a “seed” proposal in 2017, which was withdrawn and later revived, leading to the current West End Substation proposal in 2018 (which was accepted by Vancouver School Board and is the focus of the Nelson Park Impact Assessment and Public Engagement). In June 2018, the Vancouver School Board accepted a proposal from BC Hydro to construct an underground electrical substation 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 above map shows the limits of Nelson Park and conceptual routing (hashed lines) for underground power cables through the park. Should the Park Board accept BC Hydro’s request, the locations would be determined through this process “with the objective of minimizing impacts to Nelson Park.”

Watch for the report to appear on the Park Board agenda here (https://parkboardmeetings.vancouver.ca/2022/20220124/index.htm).

Our previous posts:

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1640-1650 Alberni Street (43 storeys): Public Hearing tonight (Thurs, 9-Dec-2021)

Rendering of 1640-1650 Alberni proposal

Public Hearing item for Thursday, 9-Dec-2021

CD-1 Rezoning at 1640-1650 Alberni Street (West End)

Public hearing agenda and instructions on how to write or speak to Council: https://council.vancouver.ca/20211209/phea20211209ag.htm

  • 66 secure replacement market rental housing units to replace the 66 rental housing units currently on the site
  • 198 market strata units
  • Floor area of 24,060 sq. m (258,987 sq. ft.)
  • Building height of 118.5 m (385 ft.)
  • Floor space ratio (FSR) of 14.97
  • 268 vehicle parking spaces and 535 bicycle parking spaces

The application is enabled by the West End Community Plan.

Rezoning information (Shape Your City): https://shapeyourcity.ca/1640-1650-alberni-st

Referral report by City staff (59 pages): https://council.vancouver.ca/20211116/documents/rr9.pdf

Summary: To rezone from RM-5C (Residential) to CD-1 for a 43-storey residential building with 198 strata titled and 66 secured market rental units (that is, at the top rate that can be gained on the market), of which 20% (that is, about 13 units) are to be below market, with height 117.3 metres or 385 feet and FSR 14.97.

Comment: This application is the second rezoning application for this site since implementation of the West End Community Plan adopted in 2013. In 2016, previous owners (Hollyburn) submitted a proposal to demolish the current rental tower and commercial low-rise. Their plan was to construct a new purpose-built rental building of 385 feet height and 276 secured market rental units of which 40% would have been family units. The application was subsequently withdrawn by the owner in 2018. Based on media reports at the time (see references below), the reason seemed that such a proposal for this site was not deemed economically viable within the requirements of the West End Community Plan.

The property was then sold to Landa Global (www.landaglobal.com) in 2018 and the current application was submitted in early summer 2020. (Landa Global also has properties at 1400 Alberni and 1818 Alberni)

The current application documentation is not complete: (1) There are no site plans included in the application that is posted online. Why is this information not provided to the public? (2) Several conditions concerning the design of the building, public realm, and the landscaping have not been satisfied and have been deferred to the Development permit phase. These should be considered at the Public Hearing. (3) The transportation study relies on 2016 data and does not consider the current or future impact of current construction and proposed new developments in the vicinity. (4) Are proposed public realm and public amenities adequate?

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Now online: ‘West End Public Benefits Strategy Implementation’ – Progress Update’ (staff memo to City Council)

Above: Part of the infographic that accompanies the West End Public Benefits Strategy Implementation Progress Report (to City Council).

(Updated) At the end of November, after many requests, this document was posted on the West End page of the City of Vancouver website (Vancouver.ca/westend), in the form of a memo dated August 19, 2021, from the City’s Director of Planning, Theresa O’Donnell, to the Mayor and Council.

West End Public Benefits Strategy Implementation – Progress Update
Download: https://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/west-end-public-benefit-strategy-implementation-progress-report-2021.aspx

The memo is in the form of a report to City Council, not as a report to the public.

The memo provides an overall update on the progress of the West End Public Benefits Strategy (PBS), with the general message that the PBS “is on track and has delivered significant amenities” (early successes in housing delivery and transportation/public realm improvements), with more substantial projects now in planning (such as the West End Community Centre). However, the long-term delivery of the PBS is challenged by both the volume of renewal obligations in the West End, and availability of renewal funding city-wide. The prioritization of renewal of community centres will be addressed through the 10-year Capital Strategic Outlook.
(We’ve highlighted “renewal.” See below for why.)

The 22-page report contains many useful numbers and is matched with a 15 MB infographic (download from CoV link) highlighting selected numbers (see our short commentary here as of Oct 2021). So in that sense, it is a useful report.

But a distinction needs to be made between a progress update on the Public Benefits Strategy and a more comprehensive review of the implementation of the West End Community Plan (adopted in 2013) as West End Neighbours has been requesting since four years ago (see questions here). We’d like to write more on all of this at a later date.

So this PBS report provides selected bits and pieces of the big picture. The WECP projected an increased population of 7,000 to 10,000 new residents over 30 years to 2043. The PBS report roughly estimates that the population increased by 4,100 (albeit from the 2011 census based on floor area completed to year-end 2020). For comparison, based on more comprehensive numbers from the Vancouver Park Board, CityHallWatch estimated that projects already approved, under construction or in the pipeline by Sept 2020 could accommodate 25,627 residents. Many of the projects under the WECP have involved the demolition of existing rental housing and displacement of renters, with expensive new rental units produced, and a large amount of strata condos. Where are the numbers on that? How many dwelling units have been lost? How many people have been renovicted?

Another important topic is money. The PBS update states: “Since 2013, approximately $182M in CACs and density bonusing contributions have been received through rezoning and development permits in the West End. This represents both cash and in-kind contributions that are completed ($15M), as well as cash and in-kind contributions currently under construction ($82M). The remaining $85M in cash contributions represent received cash that has been earmarked for spending on future affordable housing, childcare, parks and transportation and community facilities, as well as other public benefits in the West End. … Currently, there are approximately $163M in cash CACs “secured” (rezonings approved in principle by Council).”

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