Public Hearing Jan 23, last chance for public on major zoning changes in the West End

Westendspeaks-ca, west_end_zones_8aPublic Hearing
Item #3. West End Zoning Amendments
Starts 6 pm, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014
Documents: Click here

West End residents and Vancouver citizens, this is your final chance to give Mayor and Council your input into specific and major zoning changes being proposed by City Hall for the West End, a neighbourhood of about 45,000 people. There are vast implications of the West End Community Plan adopted in November, and impacts on residents not only of this neighbourhood, but the entire city. And what happens with this case may be a sign of how City Hall will deal with other community plans for other neighbourhoods. 

This public hearing is of particular importance to anyone within a few blocks of lower Davie Street, lower Robson and lower Alberni Streets, and along any of the West End’s lanes where laneway buildings of up to six storeys high could be constructed under the proposed new zoning.

Here are just a few of the items that are lined up for approval by Council through this Public Hearing:

  • Lower Davie Street is proposed to have increases in permitted tower height up to 20 storeys, and an increase in floor space ratio from the current 2.5 up to 7.0 FSR.
  • Along Lower Robson, increases are proposed to permit towers of 20 to 30 storeys and density of 7.0 to 8.5 FSR.
  • Along Lower Davie and Lower Robson, the City is proposing a reduction in the minimum required distance between towers (from the current 400 down to 79 feet), and residents could see up to three towers per block similar to the new buildings at Bidwell/Davie and Comox/Broughton.
  • Laneway buildings will be permitted up to six storeys in height along certain lanes in the West End.
  • New residential uses will be prohibited in Davie Village and on Denman Street, meaning mixed-use buildings will not be possible.
  • If these zoning changes are approved, there will be impacts on water/mountain/sky views, shadowing, and the character of the neighbourhood for several blocks around. Major construction also involves considerable disruptions to the neighbourhood. WEN believes that affected neighbours have not been meaningfully consulted about these changes or directly notified about the Public Hearing.
  • Once these zoning changes are approved, major projects in these zones will be able to go ahead without another public hearing. Development permits can be issued by internal procedure at the City, without any obligation to listen to the public. In other words, this Public Hearing is your last chance to provide input on the specific zoning changes being proposed.

Today West End Neighbours emphasizes our view that:

  • The West End Community Plan was not the product of a meaningful public engagement exercise.
  • Residents have not had a fair chance to digest the many and complex proposals – and the City has not done an adequate job of educating residents, or even of answering questions following the release of the Plan.
  • Insufficient rationale was provided for the West End needing to absorb 10,000 more residents.
  • The City failed to adequately explore or evaluate with our community the variety of options for housing these theoretical future residents.
  • The Plan is imposing what the vast majority of residents did NOT want. Most residents surveyed by the City indicated they did not want new buildings exceeding 11 storeys in height. But the Plan, and the proposed zoning changes, propose that almost all new dwelling units be provided in buildings exceeding 11 storeys. (Refer to page 55 of this consultation document — page 56 of the pdf. See also responses to Question 3b in this consultation summary which indicates “Scale and Building Character” were a key concern for residents).

How YOU Can Get Involved

  • Fill in the West End Speaks three-question survey (www.westendspeaks.com), organized independently by local volunteers, who will submit the results to Vancouver City Council.
  • Write to Mayor and Council, or sign up to speak to Council at the Public Hearing. Details are at the link provided above.

As for West End Neighbours, our concerns about the process and content of the West End 

West End plan, panel 13, 4-April-2013, tower height zones proposedCommunity Plan, including this Public Hearing, are basically unchanged since our letter to Mayor and Council before they approved the West End Community Plan on November 20, 2013. See letter here.  The plan envisions major changes, just some of which are indicated in this image on the left. We still believe that the vast majority of residents have not been properly notified or involved in this planning process to guide the West End over the next 30 years.

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Here are the key documents for the public hearing (warning – jargon alert). Click the City website meeting agenda to download and read. 

3. ZONING AMENDMENT: West End Zoning Amendments

Summary and Recommendation PDF
Draft By-law – Downtown Official Development Plan PDF
Draft By-law – Zoning and Development PDF
Draft By-law – Rental Housing Stock PDF
Policy Report Dated November 1, 2013 PDF
Memorandum Dated January 14, 2014 PDF

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