Two more West End towers headed to Public Hearing October 12 (Tues): 47 storeys (1157 Burrard at Davie), 49 storeys (1450 West Georgia at Nicola)

Locations of 47 and 49 storey tower proposals in West End, going to Public Hearing October 12, 2021

(Update #2) On October the 1450 West Georgia tower was approved by Council, with Clr Swanson and Hardwick opposed. The 1157 Burrard rezoning final vote will occur in the Council meeting on October 19.

(Update #1) A Public Hearing on Tuesday, October 12, 2021 will look at TWO major towers in the West End, made possible by the West End Community Plan (adopted in 2013). How to West Enders feel about them? Are then in line with the West End Community Plan? Are residents getting enough back in return for the huge in height and density enabled by the WECP. WEN has been calling for an implementation report for a few years now. Nothing has come yet, but the planning department says it’s coming soon. West Enders are encouraged to review the proposals (particularly the two “referral reports” and then share their views with City Council in writing or by speaking. All details are on the meeting agenda.

One is a 49-storey (497 feet) mixed condo/market-priced rental tower at 1450 West Georgia (location W Georgia and Nicola), and the other is a 47-storey (469 feet) condo tower at 1157 Burrard Street (current site of the community garden at Burrard & Davie).

Below are the two items. Anyone interested is encouraged to review the PDFs of the referral reports. Further details of the rezonings can be found in the referral reports and at ShapeYourCity.ca. You are encouraged to write or speak to Council if you have any comments or concerns. Are the heights and designs appropriate? Has adequate consideration been given to impacts on the neighbourhood (views, shadowing, traffic, benefits, etc.)?

Public hearing full agenda – https://council.vancouver.ca/20211012/phea20211012ag.htm

Item 2. CD-1 Rezoning: 1450 West Georgia Street


Item 3. CD-1 Rezoning: 1157 Burrard Street

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CD-1 Rezoning: 1157 Burrard Street – (West End) Current site of Burrard & Davie Community Garden site in the West End, 47-storey condo, 469 ft height, 13.37 FSR (exceeding the Higher Buildings Policy of 375 ft). By having a “community garden” on the site, this developer has saved millions of dollars in property taxes (putting the burden on other taxpayers) while the land value skyrocketed (there are rumours also that garden users had to sign an agreement that they would never oppose future development plans on the site). The height is far above what was originally envisioned by the already-high “Higher Buildings Policy” adopted under Vision Vancouver. Enabled by the West End Community Plan, adopted in 2013 under Vision Vancouver.

  • – 289 units, 271 parking spaces
  • – $10.6 million cash proposed as Community Amenity Contribution (CAC), cultural amenity space
    – 1,466 sq. m, 37 childcare spaces
  • – Issues – significant shadowing, impacts

More information: https://shapeyourcity.ca/1157-burrard-st

Related coverage:

WEN – https://westendneighbours.wordpress.com/2019/03/20/47-storeys-proposed-1157-davie/
CHW – https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/special-topics/higher-buildings-downtown/expert-analysis/davie-burrard-in-west-end/
From 2011 – https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2011/09/09/375-tower-at-davie-and-burrard/

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CD-1 Rezoning: 1450 West Georgia Street (West End) at West Georgia and Nicola, a 49-storey, 497 ft mixed condo/market rental tower (162 rental / 193 condo), FSR 14.14. Another one being enabled by the West End Community Plan. $8.9 million cash is proposed as the Community Amenity Contribution (CAC) – supposedly all for amenities in the West End. This needs follow-up. Below is a review of the referral report by a core member of WEN.

More information – https://shapeyourcity.ca/1450-w-georgia-st

Pre-application Open House- Nov 2018
Application received – Dec 18 2018
City Open House – April 30 2019
Urban Design Panel (UDP) – June 12 2019

The feedback from the Open Houses is summarized in the Referral Report.
The feedback received from the UDP is detailed in the minutes of their meeting and also included in the Referral Report.

The actual Referral Report is interesting to read.

The overall gestalt is that the rezoning application remains a work in progress due to a large number of conditions for approval. But this did not stop the planning department staff from recommending that the application go forward to Public Hearing. Will a revised application be required at some point?

There was low attendance at the Open Houses and a mix of positive and negative comments, and the staff responses to the negative comments is rather unsatisfactory.

The UDP supported the proposal despite a long list of suggestions for modifications in design, even to the point of suggesting that the design and material use might not meet high standards. There was no second meeting of the UDP to approve a revised design.

In the Referral Report, completion of these design modifications is a condition for approval, to be reviewed at the Development Permit stage. However staff used future completion of these modifications as a justification for accepting the increased density. There are about 2.5 pages of Urban Design conditions contained in the referral report, and a similar number of pages of landscape design conditions, as there is a relatively large public realm area on the west side of the site. West Enders may be surprised at so much being deferred until the final stage of the approval process.

The tower projects 60 feet into the Queen Elizabeth view cone. Staff claim that this is acceptable, because conditions of the Higher Buildings Policy were met (contribution to the skyline, although the UDP did not like the top of the building) and no significant impact on shadows (only in the opinion of City staff).

The existing building on the site has significant heritage merit (one of the city’s oldest modern-era highrises, the Georgian Towers Hotel). The Vancouver Heritage Commission was vehemently opposed to the demolition of the existing building, in light of other options. Also they pointed out the contradiction between demolition and the city’s Greenest City moniker.

The application does not meet the City’s minimum number of 3 bedroom family units. Another condition was added for this.

Two large trees on the site are protected by the relevant city By-Law but will be removed nonetheless due to construction of a 9-story underground parkade.

Regarding sections of the report…

View analysis – Rationale for the intrusion in the QE view cone is the precedent set by other projects that are adjacent to their site, as well as two projects between QE Park and their site. Such intrusions were approved in these cases. So staff say it’s OK this time.

Shadow study – There are shadows being cast everywhere in the immediate context around the building (or will be someday), so the impact of this proposed tower becomes a bit of a moot point

Traffic study – These reports have become quite complex, but the summary does not say much about traffic impacts. However, the parkade design is a work in progress. There is a significant slope from West Georgia to Alberni on the west side. This appears to be complicating the design of and access to the loading areas of the parkade, which is accessed from Nicola. The parkade includes 299 spots, about 100 more than is required by the City. Why?
Also, we should note this block of Nicola is currently an emergency access route for the Fire Department. This may change.

It seems there are several aspects of this application that are “in progress” such that the report is basically offering conditional approval on a number of fronts. Why does the City not require a more developed, revised application before referring it on to Public Hearing? Is there pressure to push this application through?

Many of the design conditions will be reviewed at the Development Permit stage, after the Public Hearing and without meaningful opportunities for public input. What is to stop other changes from being made or current conditions being ignored? (This happened with the 1500 West Georgia BOSA project.)

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