West End residents should keep an eye on what is going on in Mount Pleasant in the coming weeks.
A critical development project was presented at a quietly-organized open house about a controversial development project being proposed for the corner of Kingsway and East Broadway. This project is significant for all taxpayers, neighbourhoods and citizens, as it reveals serious problems at the nexus of community planning processes, developers, the City’s Planning Department, and the city’s housing-related policies. It may have many lessons for the West End.
City’s official website:
Open house for the Rize tower development at Kingsway & Broadway
When: Tuesday January 17, 2012
Time: 5:30-6:00 pm Open House
6:00-8:00 pm Presentation and Discussion
Where: Heritage Hall, 3102 Main St. (near 15th Ave)
Residents Association Mount Pleasant (rampvancouver.com) provides extensive info and analysis of the project.
The West End has begun a million-dollar community planning process, with an invitation-only workshop to finalize the terms of reference to be held on January 28. And the West End is reeling from three major STIR (developer incentives to build market-priced rental housing) projects — one approved and two still in the pipeline.
Millions of tax dollars and thousands of hours of City staff and community volunteer time were spent on a community planning process to create the Mount Pleasant Community Plan, approved in 2010. New planning processes have just begun in four areas (Downtown Eastside, Grandview-Woodland, Marpole, and the West End). This Rize project is quite outside the bounds of what was considered acceptable by the community (in input to the community plan, and in earlier feedback on this specific proposal). It was to include rental apartments, but the proposed number has been steadily reduced and just this week was reduced to zero. They were to have been under the Short Term Incentives for Rental Housing (STIR) program, which was adopted with virtually no public consultation in 2009.
STIR has been attacked for many reasons, including its legal basis (search for “STIR” on WestEndNeighbours.ca for details). City Council allowed STIR to expire on December 15. In the West End, a major rezoning under the STIR program was approved in 2009 at Bidwell and Davie Streets (excavation of the site is under way this week). A second one at Beach and Harwood is expected to go to public hearing soon. And another at 1401 Comox is expected to go before a public open house soon. Official information on the STIR program is here (www.vancouver.ca/stir), with a list of all projects currently in the pipeline, including those that may have slipped in just before the deadline.
Anyone interested in how the City is currently functioning with regards to land use planning should follow this case in the coming days and weeks.