June 11 is Day One for controversial public hearing on 1401 Comox rezoning for 22-storey tower in West End: WEN calls on citizens to prepare speeches

On May 15, Vancouver Council voted to send the controversial rezoning and development application for a 22-storey tower at 1401 Comox (former site of St. John’s Church) to a public hearing. All Vision Vancouver councillors voted in favor. Only Councillors Carr and Ball were opposed. The hearing is June 11, 2012.

The proposal has not substantially changed since the first version in 2009. On May 14, West End Neighbours wrote City Council asking that they NOT send 1401 Comox application to public hearing yet, citing errors and omissions in the staff report. Many of the previous issues raised were not addressed and the main features of the application (height and density) are virtually unchanged since the first announcement shocked the community in November 2009. In spite of problems, the Council agreed to send the application to a public hearing on June 11. This is a major rezoning affecting the West End and we encourage all residents to view it carefully.

Official information about the proposal is here:

If you wish to speak to council, write publichearing@vancouver.ca saying “I would like to speak to Council about 1401 Comox rezoning. Please indicate my speaker number.” You may also call 604.829.4238 to register and you may submit your comments by e-mailing mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca or by mail to Mayor and Council, City of Vancouver, 453 West 12th Avenue, Vancouver, BC, V5Y 1V4.

WEN will update information about this application and the public hearing in the next several days and you can find this information here.

This is the video of the Council meeting that referred this project to a public hearing. During the meeting, Councillors Jang and Reimer criticized a citizen who had submitted 966 comment cards from residents, 95% opposed to the rezoning. The citizen had mistakenly included a city logo above the City Hall mailing address on response cards he had hand made, and this was used to distract the elected officials from the actual message of 966 residents.

 

Since November 2009, this project has remained in the rezoning and development application process at City Hall. It is based on the STIR program that gives large incentives to developers to build new rental units at any price the market will bear (per square foot).

In November 2011, WEN wrote a letter to City Council stating that the legal framework of STIR looked flawed and Development Cost Levies for these developments appeared to be waived without proper authority. The program is creating expensive market housing rather than helping to address the housing affordability challenge. WEN asked the City to scrap this program. For more information see here. The City never responded and City Council allowed it to expire on December 15, 2011. However, the proposal is still going ahead. In fact, on May 14, Council adopted a new policy to replace STIR and grant even greater powers to Council.

It appears to suggest that the Westbank Projects Corp, Peterson Investment Group, and Henriquez Partners Architects have had a high level of confidence that the project would be approved right from the outset.

Since 2009, over 12,000 renters and owners from the West End (population about 46,000) have signed a petition in calling for no “spot rezonings” in the West End and a comprehensive plan for the community. In response, a formal planning process just began last week. But as the planning process was beginning, City Council permitted this “spot rezoning” application to go forward to public hearing.

As people prepare to address City Council starting June 11, ask yourself “Did the issues and community needs” get addressed in the most recent 1401 Comox proposal any differently than any of the previous versions?”


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