WEN News 19-June-2011

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Here is a text-only version of our newsletter today.

Preserving the West End’s quality of life, distinct and diverse character, and heritage.

WEN NEWS    June 19, 2011

Greetings!

Things continue heating up with approaching summer and many events and decisions that will affect the future of our community.

These are updates to keep you informed of what’s going on, how it will affect you, and what you can do to have a say.

The next several weeks are a critical. They could have implications for the next hundred years in the West End as Council rushes to deal with multiple development applications and policies and to get them out of the way. They want to get this done before going into full election mode for the November 2011 elections.

If there was ever a time to stay alert and get active to determine the livability and character of your community (and in fact, your whole city and region), NOW is that time. Read on and you’ll see why…

Car Free Day, WEN Table, June 19, 2011 (Sunday)

We welcome you to drop by and visit our table at Car Free Day on Denman Street, between 12 noon and 6 pm. Bring your friends and family. We have prepared lots of materials and displays.

Beach Towers: Critical “Heritage Committee” Meeting June 23 (Monday)

The Vancouver Heritage Commission (an advisory body for City Council) is scheduled to meet regarding the Beach Towers redevelopment.

Heritage Commission meeting
June 20, 2011 (Monday), 11:00 am to 2:00 pm
Strathcona Room (sub-ground floor at City Hall)

Information: Bonnie Kennett 604-873-7269 (meeting coordinator)

Background: Beach Towers is an A Category listed complex in Vancouver’s post-1940 heritage register, identifying it as the most important residential development of its type in Vancouver. The design with the towers raised above the ground on two-story stilts allows pedestrians to view the beauty of English Bay without being obstructed by the buildings. These massive buildings appear almost to float above the street, their rounded corners allowing far more light and views than what typical building corners would have provided. If approved, the proposed construction here would eliminate fountains, sculpture, and multi-level terraces overlooking English Bay. It is proposed that an alley be driven through the property to provide access to luxury waterfront apartments, and in the process removing the lower terrace level entirely, blocking views from and of Beach Towers, and destroying the pedestrian experience around the block.

For more information and what you can do, please visit http://www.beachtowers.ca.

As time goes by, we as a community are learning a lot more about how our City works. We expect West End residents to observe the meeting and hope to get a report back to share with the community.

Update: WEMAC (West End Mayor’s Advisory Committee)

The WEMAC survey of residents ended on June 10 (though the online version was mysteriously open again a few days later). WEMAC, consisting of the Mayor, two councillors, and currently ten citizens they have personally selected, is now preparing its final report to Mayor Robertson to “communicate community priorities to the City.”

WEMAC meeting

June 23, 2011 (Thurs), 6:30 pm

At City Hall, Committee Room No. 1 (3rd Floor)

The minutes of a June 2 meeting (including “work plan”) were posted on the WEMAC website on about June 17. (Despite repeated requests to make the work plan public on June 2, the Co-Chairs had decided to hold it back). Seeing the schedule, we now know critical points in time:

June 20. Final draft of WEMAC report

June 23. WEMAC meeting to approve final draft report

June 28. Final report submitted electronically to Mayor Robertson & WEMAC

Week of July 6. Meeting of WEMAC and Mayor Robertson to review draft report

Week of July 13. Final revisions and final release to Mayor Robertson

We encourage residents to make an effort to observe the June 23 meeting, as WEMAC has not yet held any meetings for residents within the West End. Also, WEN has not yet received a reply from the Mayor regarding our concerns about WEMAC, written to him on June 2. We are also still pursuing the issue of the Mayor’s Office “data mining” (taking personal e-mails) from the WEN petition to add to the Mayor’s personal e-mail marketing list. Regarding the WEMAC survey, we have asked the Mayor to ensure that all submissions from residents will be made available for public review. Finally, WEMAC is significant for all citizens of Vancouver, as it has been created as a model for other neighbourhoods awaiting formal planning processes. Communities look forward to see the outcomes of WEMAC’s work over the past several months.

Updates on major rezoning/development applications

1030 Denman Street (Coast Plaza Hotel) – Conversion of hotel rooms to rental apartments was approved following a Public Hearing on April 21, 2011.

1090 Nicola Street (Darling House)

On June 16, Council designated this as a protected heritage property, and indicated approval for the developer to move ahead with the proposed heritage restoration and townhouse development in accordance with the existing zoning for the site. WEN had written to Mayor and Council praising and supporting the application, as it creates new housing while respecting current zoning and protecting the heritage and culture of the West End.

1215 Bidwell Street (formerly “Maxine’s”). No news. Site still boarded up.

1241 Harwood Street (“Tulip Tree” and heritage house)

Public Hearing occurred May 17, 2011. Council did not approve current proposal. City staff will be meeting with the applicant and neighbouring property owner to explore alternative options.

1252 – 1290 Burrard Street and 1229 – 1281 Hornby Street

(Burrard Gateway, “Downtown Toyota”)

Adjacent to the West End. Public Hearing not yet scheduled. Resubmission of drawings was anticipated the week of June 6, 2011. Urban Design Panel supported the plan on June 16. See report  (www.CityHallWatch.ca) including video and description of concerns about the UDP.

1307 – 1335 Burrard Street (Commercial Electronics)

Public Hearing not yet scheduled. CAC negotiation not complete.

1401 Comox Street (St John’s Church)

Application remains on hold. Demolition continues, causing disturbances of noise and ground vibration in the neighbourhood. Public hearing has not yet been held, and no rezoning has yet been approved for this site.

1600 Beach Avenue & 1651 Harwood Street (Beach Towers)

Public Hearing not yet scheduled. Ongoing staff review. Heritage Commission reviews case on June 20.

1754 – 1772 Pendrell Street

The developer’s proposal has a “slimmer” 20-storey (190 foot) tower, with private condos and 6 rental apartments. Public Hearing not yet scheduled. Under review by staff to assess changes prior to further community consultation.

Source: WEMAC minutes and website, community info sources.

Neighbourhood Small Grants ($50 to $500): deadline extended to July 15, 2011

Gordon Neighbourhood House is managing a small grants programme. Two or more individuals (not organizations) can apply (but organizations can help with implementation). This is an excellent opportunity for people to get a bit of extra help to do a project to improve the neighbourhood. It appears the deadline was extended another month

http://www.gnh.vcn.bc.ca/small_grants_project_2011

Other news around town

1. Gordon Neighbourhood House cancelled its Annual General Meeting on June 13, 2011. Members passed a majority vote requiring the Board of Management to establish a Nominations Committee and call for director nominations, in order to comply with bylaws, and hold the AGM within one month.

http://www.gnh.vcn.bc.ca/index

2. Reminder that award-winning West End Cleanup is holding the second annual West End Cleanup Community Yard Sale on Saturday, 9 July from 10 am to 3 pm in the fenced-off picnic area on the grounds of Lord Roberts Elementary School (at Comox and Cardero). If you’d like to set up a table, the fee is $12 (refundable if cancelled by organizers due to weather or by seller with sufficient notice).  Tables are not provided; vendors are welcome to bring their own or setup a blanket. BBQ, pop and popcorn will be for sale on-site. For more info, please e-mail info@westendcleanup.com, or call John on 604-603-2397.

Update: Community planning processes in Vancouver

The City has made no new announcement since last our last newsletter. But we urge residents to be aware that City staff will be coming out with  some recommendations to Council soon on how to carry out consultations and develop new community plans in several neighbourhoods of Vancouver (including Grandview-Woodland, Marpole, the West End, Kitsilano, and Fairview). There will be implications for everyone in Vancouver.

Here is the web page to watch: :

http://vancouver.ca/commsvcs/planning/cityplan/Visions/nextplan/index.htm

Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy

The Metro Vancouver region has 24 local governments, over 2 million people, and a budget of over $600 million a year (average $514 per household). And it’s growing stronger with a trend to centralize power in this bureaucracy that is not directly accountable to the public. Vancouver City Council (with Vision Vancouver winning a majority vote) endorsed the proposed Regional Growth Strategy in March without having a meeting for Vancouver citizens or independent experts to review the final text of the document. Only Coquitlam held a town hall meeting to hear the voice of its citizens, and subsequently had the courage to reject the RGS. Now Metro Vancouver and Coquitlam are in a dispute resolution process to determine the fate of the RGS, and the fate of the entire region. Metro Vancouver is trying to force Coquitlam to accept the RGS. This story has implications for all citizens of Vancouver, and for us in the West End. More information: http://www.MetroVanWatch.ca.

WEN now accepts donations

WEN has set up a BC-registered society and has a bank account. We can now accept donations to cover our costs of activities. We welcome donations online (see website, where you can pay by PayPal or by credit card), or e-mail us for more information. We’ll send more information soon about the society itself. Our work is all done by volunteers, but money is needed to cover costs of materials, meetings, and media. More volunteers are always welcome!

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Who are West End Neighbours?  A group of volunteers dedicated to preserving the quality of life of our neighbours and the unique and distinctive character and heritage of our neighbourhood. Our inspiration and support comes from people in the community, especially the more than 11,000 who have signed our petition, including renters, owners and business people from all walks of life and all ages: working people, young families, seniors, children and youth, etc.

The West End is currently facing spot rezoning applications for buildings with major departures from height, floor space, and design permitted under current zoning and the existing community plan. They will have a major long-term impact on our neighbourhood, and the City is failing to look at the big picture of the West End’s residents’ needs. We need to challenge these rezoning applications and ask what we envision for our community into the future.

You are receiving this e-mail because you provided your e-mail address to one of our activities or petitions. Thank you for your interest.

More news to come soon!  Thank you, neighbour!

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