Public Hearing June 25, 2020 (RECONVENING 9:30 am Tue/June 30): 60-storey tower (25 FSR) at 1059-1075 Nelson Street. Inconsistencies with West End Plan, morning shadows for West End.

Shadow study of impacts of Westbank and Henson towers shows that Nelson Park and Lord Roberts Elementary School Annex and playground will be enshrouded in shadows. Park users can forever say good-bye to morning sunshine for much of the year.

Images on this page courtesy of applicant Henson Developments, IBI Group Architects, WKK Architecture

(Update: RECONVENING on Tuesday, June 30, 2020, at 9:30 a.m. with applicant presentation, public speakers, council debate + decision)

This major rezoning application went to a virtual Public Hearing on Thursday, June 25, 2020, and will reconvene on June 30 at 9:30 a.m. (On June 25 there was only time for the staff presentation.)

If you have any concerns as a West End resident, we encourage you to write or speak to Council on this major rezoning for a 60-storey tower mid-block on the north side of Nelson Street, between Thurlow and Burrard Streets. Instructions on how to do so are on the official Public Hearing web page.

City Council is currently in the midst of a big rush of public hearings (May 12, 26, 28, June 23, 25, 30, July 7, 9, 16, 21, 23, plus possible reserve dates) before the summer hiatus. The City assumes these electronic meeting (with audio only, and all Councillors joining remotely) are legal under provincial emergency legislation during the COVID-19 pandemic (but could be challenged).

Below are some images and points about the rezoning, plus comments and web links. There is quite a history to this site. The value of the site was unlocked by the West End Community Plan adopted in 2013 under Vision Vancouver, which left the permitted density (and profits) on sites in this corridor virtually unlimited as a huge favour to developers. The location was the subject of dramatic speculation and profit-taking by prominent Vancouver developers, resulting in the current developer, Henson Developments, bringing this proposal forward now.

Public hearing agendas and documents (general info):
https://vancouver.ca/your-government/contact-council-public-hearing.aspx

Virtual (electronic) Public Hearing June 25, 2020 (6 pm start). This application is 4th on the agenda (1059-1075 Nelson Street):
https://council.vancouver.ca/20200625/phea20200625ag.htm

Rezoning application page:
https://rezoning.vancouver.ca/applications/1075nelson/index.htm

There will be many opinions about such a massive development. Skyscraper and density lovers will support it. The developer has included some green features. Social housing and market rentals are in the proposal. Development Cost Levies and Community Amenity Contributions will bring funds into City coffers. Tenants renovicted from the existing affordable rental units on the site will be anxious to get into the new building once completed. Some housing activists who support any construction anywhere will support this.

But there has been little public discussion about the negative livability, environmental, shadowing, and affordability impacts of such a major development.  It is an expensive, huge and bulky building on such a small site, at nearly 25 FSR for density and 585.5 feet in height.

Here are some points worthy of attention:

  • It is a small site for this kind of density and extreme height, especially given the towers already on that block (and under construction).
  • The proposed Floor Space Ratio of 24.94 may well have the highest density of any building ever approved in Vancouver, and could well be the highest density building ever built on the North American continent. This level of density will have major impacts.
  • It will shade Nelson Park, which is precious and heavily used park space. This is a densely-populated urban community. For mental and physical health, and general livability of the community, bright park space is a must-have. But the proposed tower, combined with others existing and under construction, will cast shadows for many blocks in many directions. The proponent’s shadow studies show that Nelson Park can kiss good-bye to morning sunlight for much of the year. That includes also the children at Lord Nelson Elementary Annex.
  • Despite the “passive house” standards, the amount of energy consumed in demolition, excavation, and construction will be enormous. Digging a hole 100 feet deep for nine levels of underground parking is one example.
  • Under a COVID-19 world, will skyscraper living dependent on elevators for every departure and return ever be the same?
  • There are many discrepancies with provisions of the West End Community Plan for this area.
  • Pages 11 and 12 of the staff Referral Report (April 14, 2020, Gil Kelley, General Manager of Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability) merit a close look, particularly regarding floor plate size. During West End Plan consultations in 2012 and 2013, the size of floor plates was a key topic. Since the adoption of the plan, proposals have included endless rationalizations of “averaging” and “exclusions” to justify bulky buildings like the one proposed. Proponents and City staff use these as a strategy to over-ride the objectives of the Plan in order to create more luxury real estate at $3,000 a square foot. We hope that Mayor and Council will query staff in detail on this point. How can West Enders be confident that the West End Community Plan will be followed?
  • The proponent and City staff are also proposing a “zero setback” from Nelson Street for levels 4 through 60 (see Page 12 of the report).
  • Is the creation of hundreds more luxury condos the best way to advance housing opportunities in Vancouver? Who is the target for sales of these condos? Whose needs are being served?

Here is a summary of other points of the proposal, courtesy of Kenneth Chan of Daily Hive (heads up – slow to load due to many ads and cookies). Excerpt: Continue reading

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WEN letter to Council (9-June-2020): Opposed to 2538 Birch Street referral to Public Hearing, and increased Public Hearings schedule

WEN sent the following letter to Mayor and Council on June 8, 2020.

City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

Re: June 9, 2020 Agenda: https://council.vancouver.ca/20200609/regu20200609ag.htm
– Changes to 2020 Council Meetings Schedule

Click to access comm1.pdf

– CD-1 Amendment: 2538 Birch Street (formerly 1296 West Broadway – Denny’s site)

Click to access rr1.pdf

Regarding the Council agenda for June 9, 2020, West End Neighbours (WEN) is opposed to (1) the proposed increase in Public Hearings, and (2) the controversial rezoning of 2538 Birch Street going forward as a referral to Public Hearing at this time.

Virtual electronic Council meetings and Public Hearings attempted to date by Vancouver City Council have shown that the technology is not reliable and the electronic process has many shortcomings. Relevant parts of the Vancouver Charter have been temporarily suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but this situation should not be exploited to the disadvantage of the public.

The proposed increase in Public Hearings in July will put an undue strain on everyone involved and diminish trust in the system.

Regarding the proposed rezoning at 2538 Birch Street , this is a controversial project that would set a major precedent for the Broadway Corridor. If it does go to Public Hearing, it should be scheduled once civic processes have returned to normal and the temporary suspension of parts of the Vancouver Charter have ended.

Sincerely,
Virginia Richards,
Director, West End Neighbours (WEN)

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West Enders concerned about seeing construction still continuing in midst of COVID-19 crisis

(Updated with more letters 31-March-2020, at bottom) Local residents have shared with WEN copies of their letters to civic and provincial officials expressing concern when seeing construction work continuing during the COVID-19 crisis. Below is an excerpt of one we have received.

man standing near gray metal equipment

Photo by Kateryna Babaieva on Pexels.com

Letter from a West End resident

28-March-2020

Dear Mr. Spencer Chandra Herbert [BC MLA for Vancouver-West End],

I am a long term resident of the West End of Vancouver, one of the densest areas in the province and home to many seniors and vulnerable people. Also home to many young families. As you well know, it is a diverse community.

In addition to watching the pandemic spread precipitously I have watched the daily briefings by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. While I respect and admire her, I am afraid that I have become increasingly alarmed and discouraged by the province’s refusal to take more stringent actions to restrict gatherings and non-essential services. It is an extremely difficult decision to make but given our location next to Washington State, the large number of tourists that visit here, and the close proximity of the population in our community, it is unwise to delay any longer.

As evidenced by their behaviours, many of the younger people from both our community and those that come here for the beaches and entertainment have either not understood the risk or ignored it.

Moreover, in our neighbourhood we have a large number of people continuing to work in the construction industry while everyone else is being asked to self isolate. Surely this is a non-essential service that puts the workers, their families and our community at risk. Continue reading

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Unbelievably Dense: Pendrell, Davie, Bidwell & Cardero

Comments from West End residents: Since 2010, West End Neighbours has been engaged in some key issues affecting the neighbourhood. Here are comments received from long-time resident Diane, with a response by Gracia, who asks many questions. It will be interesting to revisit these questions again in the future.

Sky view at 1670 Davie, Google Streetview 29-Feb-2020

Sky view from ground near 1670 Davie Street in early 2020. New towers approved under massive pre-zoning under the West End Community Plan of 2013. Credit Google Street View.

 

Diane: I walked around the block yesterday (end of Feb 2020). That block along with the tower next to London Drugs across the street [1670 Davie] is astonishing. In the case of the north side of the street the only separation between huge towers is the laneway.

Panorama at 1670 Davie 12F Jan 2020 compress

Panorama from about 12th floor at 1670 Davie Street. To the left is westward and to the right is eastward along Davie. Photo: WEN.

Gracia: Will smaller businesses located on the lower floors of these new Davie Street towers struggle for a few years to pay the higher property taxes related to past land speculation that occurred with unacknowledged “blessings” of politicians from one municipal party [now defunct Vision Vancouver] and two provincial parties?

Golden Choice Produce on Davie was sold in the late autumn (the previous owner used to live in the Brentwood area of Burnaby). A middle eastern family purchased the business and by February, the produce part of the store was closed. At present, by looking in the windows, it is difficult to know if the store will close or change to a general grocery store selling mainly canned or packaged goods.

If condominium insurance premiums are increasing in newer buildings with Airbnb units considered as a high risk item, and the coronavirus situation brings on a widespread economic recession, in densified parts of Davie street (where “packed in” neighbours can talk to each other from their bedroom and living room windows), who will be purchasing units on the higher floors? How much higher will rents be on the lower floors compared to amounts quoted in past City of Vancouver staff reports?

Residents who did their shopping between Bidwell and Cardero are now used to buying groceries in shops located in less expensive parts of the West End. When a large supermarket moves back to Davie and Cardero [the former Safeway site, where two towers are now going up by Westbank Projects Corp (CEO Ian Gillespie) and architect Henriquez Partners Architects], will there be a customer base to support other businesses located in the new towers? Continue reading

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Last day to vote in West End Participatory Budgeting (midnight, Tues Feb 4, 2020)

How would you spend $100,000 to improve the West End?

Today’s the last day to vote in the West End Participatory Budgeting process!

Community members get to directly decide how to spend public money that affects the West End. There is $100,000 to spend and 14 different community improvement projects to choose from. Vote for the projects that are important to you.

Dont’ miss your chance to weigh in – you have until 11:59 pm tonight, February 4th!

Click here to vote via the City website.

https://vancouver.ca/your-government/participatory-budgeting.aspx

How does the community vote work?

  • West End community members get to vote on how to spend $100,000 of public funds to improve their neighbourhood.
  • Voting is open to anyone aged 12 and up, with a clear connection to the West End (live, work, or volunteer).
  • There are 14 community improvement projects of various funding requirements. Read about the projects PDF file (2.4 MB)
  • Voters may select and rank up to 4 of their favourite projects.
  • Votes will be counted, and announced on February 8 at the community announcement event.
  • Top ranked projects that fit within the $100,000 budget will be allocated funding and implemented within 18 months.
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Park Board info session Oct 25 (Thurs) on BC Hydro plans to bury power cables in Nelson Park for West End substation

Park Board info events on BC Hydro Station Nelson Park Oct 2019We are sharing information here from the Vancouver Park Board.

Park Board staff were in Nelson Park on Oct 19 to inform park users about BC Hydro’s request to bury underground power cables in Nelson Park. A second event is set as follows:

October 24, 2019 (Thurs), 5 to 8 pm
St. Paul’s Church, Lower Hall, 1130 Jervis St, Vancouver, BC
Drop in format, with presentations at 5:30 and 7 pm, followed by discussion.

The purpose is to share updated findings about how the proposal may affect Nelson Park in the short-term and long-term, and talk with community members. Learn more about the Park Board’s study and share your comments.

The Vancouver Park Board is undertaking an independent study (https://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/nelson-park-impact-assessment-and-public-engagement.aspx) following the Vancouver School Board’s June 2018 acceptance of BC Hydro’s proposal to construct an underground electrical substation (https://www.bchydro.com/energy-in-bc/projects/west-end-substation.html) at the Lord Roberts Annex School site adjacent to Nelson Park.

BC Hydro is currently seeking permission from the Vancouver Park Board to bury underground power cables through Nelson Park to connect the planned West End Substation to the existing electrical system. The Park Board would like to understand the potential effects to Nelson Park. In 2020, Park Board staff will report back to the Park Board Commissioners to help inform the Commissioners’ decision regarding BC Hydro’s request.

BC Hydro west end substation map Nelson Park Oct 2019

Spread the Word
Nelson Park is a valued community asset in the heart of the West End. How to maintain this park for neighbourhood use and enjoyment is the focus of the Park Board Study over the coming months. Community perspectives are essential to this process. Please help spread the word.

Stay Informed
For more information about the Vancouver Park Board study:
– Visit the webpage: vancouver.ca/nelsonparkrow
– Share on Twitter: Vancouver Park Board @parkboard
– Like them on Facebook: Vancouver Park Board @parkboard
Subscribe to get Study updates

Project Contact
Alexandre Man-Bourdon
Landscape Architect | Park Development
Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation
2099 Beach Avenue, Vancouver, BC
Email: alexandre.man-bourdon@vancouver.ca

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Organ & Politicians: Vancouver Centre – All Candidate Debate at St. Paul’s Church October 10, 2019 (Thurs)

All candidates debate St Pauls 10-Oct-2019Pipe Vancouver-Centre federal candidates

Organ & Politicians – Vancouver Centre – All Candidate Debate at St. Paul’s Church
October 10, 2019 7pm to 9:30pm

St. Paul’s Anglican Church
1130 Jervis Street
Vancouver, BC V6E 2C7

St. Paul’s is hosting an “All Candidate’s Debate” on Thursday October 10, 2019 from 7 pm to 9:30 pm in the church.

Michael Molnar, music director and Past President of the Vancouver Centre of the Royal Canadian College of Organists, will pump out a few tunes to get the crowd inspired using the historic pipe organ which was built by Casavant Frères of Sainte-Hyacinthe, Québec. It is one of the oldest instrument of its kind in Canada west of the Rockies.

The Vancouver-Centre federal candidates will pontificate on the election issues that are of interest to parishioners and the community at-large such as: refugee issues, peace and disarmament; clmate change, poverty, religious freedom, sexual exploitation, and public health care,  among others.

Everyone is welcome. It is your chance to get to know your candidates.

************

A useful reference:

Here’s who’s running in Vancouver in the 2019 federal election
Your guide to Vancouver federal ridings and their candidates
John Kurucz / Vancouver Courier
OCTOBER 3, 2019

https://www.vancourier.com/news/here-s-who-s-running-in-vancouver-in-the-2019-federal-election-1.23965732

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Open house (Sept 26, Thurs): Haro + Bute Streets upgrades, Haro Street Bikeway, Chilco + Robson Streets affected

Public notice. This came by e-mail today from the City of Vancouver. Here is an opportunity for input from residents.

Note that at least one point here did not come up in previous public consultation – “Converting a short stretch of Chilco St. (from the driveway of 815 Chilco St. to Robson St.) to one-way northbound for motor vehicles to reduce vehicle volumes.”

***************

CoV Haro Bute upgrade logo Sep 2019

Image from City of Vancouver

[Text below from City of Vancouver]
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we upgrade essential infrastructure in the neighbourhood.
HARO STREET BIKEWAY: SHARE YOUR INPUT
In coordination with the water main replacement, we’re planning improvements to the Haro Street Bikeway between Denman and Thurlow Streets. The changes would:
  • Improve accessibility, comfort and safety for people walking, rolling and cycling
  • Make the intersection easier to navigate for all road users
  • Maintain access to residences, businesses and other destinations along Haro Street

Join Today’s Open House 
Drop by our open house to chat with staff, learn about the proposed design options, and share your feedback to inform a final design.

  • When: Thursday, September 26, 2019, 5-8pm
  • Where: West End Community Centre, 870 Denman Street, Bidwell Room

Share Input Online
Can’t make it? Share your feedback online until Tuesday, October 15 at vancouver.ca/harobuteupgrades. Continue reading

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West End Community Plan Implementation Newsletter (September 2019 Update) from City of Vancouver

425786_West_End_Plan_Newsletter_Header COV 2019

Image: CoV

The City of Vancouver has e-mailed a “West End Community Plan Implementation Newsletter” (September 2019 Update) to newsletter subscribers. For non-subscribers, below is a text only version, minus the photos, with updated times. Or alternatively, click here to see it online.

West End Neighbours encourages residents to have a good look at the information here, attend info sessions that interest you, and actively provide input back to the City.

Over the coming weeks, we will do some posts on topics here, and welcome your input, comments, and questions for consideration by e-mailing us at westendplanning@gmail.com.

**************

West End Community Plan Implementation Newsletter” (September 2019 Update)

Hello Everyone,

We’re pleased to provide an update on the implementation of the West End Community Plan, featuring many exciting projects across the community.

Recent development in the community is contributing to new amenities that were identified in the Plan’s Public Benefit Strategy (PBS). The PBS provides direction for future investments in the community over the long term, including affordable housing, childcare, parks, civic facilities, transportation and more.

Several projects from the West End PBS will be moving forward over the coming months, and there will be opportunities for you to be involved and share your ideas.
Get News and Updates Online
The West End Plan website now features a new map and projects calendar which provides links to updates on the latest implementation projects, upcoming open houses and events, surveys and more. Continue reading

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Georgia-Alberni corridor and Lower Robson flooded by new tower construction due to West End Community Plan

Applications Georgia Alberni corridor 2013 to May 2019 WEN

Did you know that towers approved or under review for a small area of the West End along West Georgia Street, Alberni Street, and Robson Street, if stacked up, would be nearly two kilometers high, rise 618 storeys, and house 6,000 people?

The West End Community Plan adopted in November 2013 phrased the overall direction for the Georgia and Burrard Corridors and Lower Robson as follows:

Strategically locate opportunities for new growth through increased heights and densities along the Georgia and Burrard Corridors and in Lower Robson to help deepen housing affordability and to contribute public benefits.

What do these words really mean? What does this translate to on the ground? How has implementation “deepened” housing affordability? How has it “contributed to public benefits”?

West End Neighbours tallied the tower developments (rezonings and development applications) in this part of the West End for the just more than five years since the plan was adopted, and here are some of our statistics:

  • 618 storeys (cumulative)
  • 6,240 feet (cumulative), equivalent to 1.9 kilometers high
  • Floor space ratios (FSRs, a measure of density) ranging from 7.7 to 14.95
  • 2,948 units, with space for an estimated 6,000 residents (for comparison, the implementation of the WECP over a period of thirty years envisioned 9,000 residents across the entire West End)
  • 3,346 parking spots

Now that over five years have passed, the West End has seen a huge amount of change in some parts of the neighbourhood and more is on the way. West End Neighbours wrote  to City Council in January  2019 calling for a five-year review and report on WECP implementation. (We’re still waiting for a response from the Mayor and City Hall.)

Meanwhile, since no comprehensive summary is available from the City, we have been doing some tracking of numbers based on media coverage plus various documents on the City’s website. More comprehensive analysis is needed for the entire West End, particularly for Davie Street plus the Burrard corridor (including Thurlow Street) where a demolition and construction boom was triggered by the WECP.

Here is an image from the WECP.

WECP page 20 on Thurlow-Burrard Georgia-Alberni corridors

Page 20 of the West End Community Plan (2013)

The WECP contained coded wording for the Georgia-Alberni corridor: “Strengthen the urban frame” and “intensify … towards greater clarity.” Also, peppered throughout the WECP is the concept of “deepening” housing affordability, though no clear definition was provided. Continue reading

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