June 28th Public Hearing – Residents Bullied into Silence in the Grandview Woodlands — An Electrifying Hotel on Robson

This meeting kicks off the first of five public hearings between now and July 18th. While our expectations are based on the experiences we had at open houses and the comments received by the city, it is still tricky to predict how the people of Grandview Woodlands will react, as some are heavily resistant to any change. We highly suggest you read one persons tragic tale of being bullied into silence, which is highlighted in the second agenda item.

This hearing provides a range of options to make your voice heard. The first item is a rezoning of 438 properties to allow for new housing options along the arterial streets of the Grandview Woodlands. The second is a Rental / Strata mix in the same neighbourhood that will also preserve a heritage home. Lastly, there’s an “electric” hotel / strata mix by BC Place that will have some football-loving home owners quite pleased.

Backlash Expectations
Increasing Housing Choice in Grandview-Woodland – Medium
1837 – 1857 East 11th Avenue & 2631 – 2685 Victoria Drive – Medium
185 – 150 Robson Street – Low

 

The First Item – Increasing Housing Choice in Grandview-Woodland

grandview plan.JPG                                Source

What / Where is it?:
A Rezoning to allow 4 story apartments along East 12th Ave, and a mix of 4 story and townhomes, duplexes and triplexes on East 1st. Nanaimo will see up to 4-6 floor buildings, with stores at ground level in new retail nodes, with townhomes filling the space between these clusters. Altogether this will affect 438 properties. The 3 story rental buildings along Nanaimo, north of Hastings, are not included as part of this rezoning area.

What was the open house like?:
There were two separate series of events held for this large proposal. We went to both sessions at the Wise, and the people in the room seemed both curious and supportive. There were several people from Abundant Housing at the event too.

What are its strengths?:
It’s great to see a raft of new housing options come online in this neighbourhood. There are conditions to incentivize buildings to meet passive house level standards, and adding new storefronts to Nanaimo will allow for more shopping and entertainment options as the neighbourhood continues to grow. The City has also decided to further study two areas where more growth could be encouraged. These changes were called for in the 2016 approved neighbourhood plan.

What are its weaknesses?:
For a  regions major transit hub, the densities proposed are very low. While extra density could have resulted in staff adding a requirement for larger proposals to include a non-market component. The 6 floor retail nodes could have been expanded to include both sides of Nanaimo. Also, it’s a shame that the area plan is not reflected in anyway East of Kamloops. While those blocks are not covered under this plan, they should have been allowed to relate to it.

What is the opposition like?:
A mix between those against change and those that want more housing. Though all aspects of the plan have seen a roughly 75% approval rating, there are some who are unhappy their property isn’t being zoned to a higher density. That said, there’s a strong anti-change element in the Grandview Woodlands, so they may turnout as well. So far there are 8 letters opposed and 9 in favour.

 

The Second Item – 1837 – 1857 East 11th Avenue & 2631 – 2685 Victoria Drive

11th and victoria.JPG                Source 

 

What is it?:
A mix of 72 rental and 66 strata homes. The building is comprised of an 11 story tower with a 5 floor podium, complete with a retained and restored heritage category “B” house.

Where is it?:
Roughly kitty corner to the new Immigration Services building, Next door to the Victoria Gardens Co-op, and a 5 minute walk to the Commercial Broadway Skytrain Station.

What was the open house like?:
We never went. There appears to have been a mix of support and opposition. In total, 36 people attended, and there has been 27 pieces of feedback.

Is this the first version?:
No, in August 2017 the UDP rejected a prior version, leading to this one that has removed a floor from the podium and added it to the tower. The amount of floor space in both versions are the same, however the new version has eliminated 4 rental and 2 strata homes.

What are its strengths?:
The increase of density in a close proximity one of the region’s main transit hubs. A balanced mix of rental and strata units insures renters have housing and, if they manage to save up a down payment, their next move maybe a very short one. The preservation of heritage house is commendable. It has good community spaces, as it provides a rooftop amenity. It also provides almost double the required amount of family sized homes.

What ares its weaknesses?:
The large amount of parking stalls could be classed as a weakness, given the proximity to Broadway and Commercial. The homes facing the heritage feel like they’ll lack privacy, too. The amount of family sized rental homes is also rather small.

What is the opposition like?:
It must be pretty toxic, as one person has claimed that a “loud/vocal group” has made them feel unsafe in expressing their opinion at open house events, and even at public hearings. It’s a tragedy when any voice is bullied into silence, as this goes against the foundations of a civil society. So far there is 1 letter in support and 2 against.

 

 

 

The Third Item – 118 – 150 Robson Street
11th and victoria drive.JPG                          Source 

What is it?:
Five Floors of hotel space followed by 24 floors of Strata homes. The development also retains the heritage facade of the old Northern Electric Building as part of its podium’s facade. The building is limited in height by two view cones.

Where is it?:
Along Robson St, between Beatty and Cambie. You can’t miss the pun-ful humor of the Back Forty.

What was the open house like?:
With 28 attendees and 24 pieces of feedback, it was surprisingly quiet. Hosted at the Sandman Hotel, it was in a confusing location to access, as one had to walk through Moxie’s Grill & Bar to get to the room. Still, the pastry was decent.

What are its strengths?:
An increase of hotel rooms in the heart of the entertainment district will help ease the shortage of hotel space in Vancouver. The development will preserve the facades of the heritage “B” category Northern Electric Building. Residents will no longer complain about rat holes along the lane way as they will likely be destroyed during construction. More importantly, the applicant will be required to provide a replacement shelter space for the next 15 years. Catholic Charities who runs the existing shelter will also have the option to extend the lease of that future space for at least another 10 years.

What ares its weaknesses?:
A heavy over supply of parking. Also, we feel the design is a little boring.

What is the opposition like?:
Other then the general concerns about height and a lack of neighbourhood amenities for existing residents, there doesn’t appear to be much. Still, both concerns seem surprising for this location. There has yet to be any letters of opposition.

 

How to Have Your Say
If you want to speak in person register here. Otherwise, you can use the instructions below to send your comments to city council: (Note, all personal information, aside from your name and comments, will be redacted by the city clerks)

  • Include your name (anonymous comments aren’t shared with Council).
  • The deadline to send your comments is 15 minutes after the speaker’s list closes.
  • If you send your comments during the meeting, use a maximum of 1,500 words.
  • Comments are posted on the City of Vancouver’s website.
  • Email: publichearing@vancouver.ca
  • Mail: City Clerk’s Office, City of Vancouver, 453 West 12th Ave, Vancouver, BC V5Y 1V4

*If you want to submit a response to council, and need more instructions, let us know, and we’ll do our best to give you some added guidance.

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