February 12th 2019 Public Hearing – Rental Housing in Kitsilano Draws Over 100 Public Comments – Is There Room for Renters in Vancouver or Does Multi-Family Mean 4 Storey Condos

February 12th, 2019 – Public Hearing
To say it’s rare for a rezoning application to receive over 100 comments is an understatement, for a large majority to be in favour is almost unheard of.

However, that’s exactly the reaction that has been generated by this meeting’s first item, a 5 storey rental building in East Kitsilano. Given the extremely rough reception Hannah and I endured at the open house, we can’t say we’re not pleased to see the out pouring of support. The only question is whether these voices will be respected by city council.

After all, the previous meeting hinted that some Councillors now have reservations about the Grandview Woodlands Community Plan, which bodes poorly for the second item on the agenda, a passive house 6 floor rental building on the northern tip of Commercial Drive. Like the last item, the choice here is between a new rental housing building, or a shorter strata building, which would be permitted under the current zoning.

The last item is all about location, as it brings 63 strata homes to one of the most family friendly areas of Marpole. Despite its placement on the agenda, it may not even see one speaker in favour or against.

Backlash Expectations

1906 – 1918 West 4th Ave – High
Even though the majority of the 128 comments were in favour, we expect the extremely toxic voices from the open house to make their presence known.

815 – 825 Commercial Dr & 1680 Adanac St – High
Feedback reveals that many believe 6 floor rental buildings feel out of place in the Grandview Woodlands.

441 – 463 West 59th Ave – Very Low
Literally only one person appears to be against this proposal.

The First Item – 1906 – 1918 West 4th Ave

Capture- Render
– Source

What is it?:
A 5 floor building proposed under the Rental 100 Policy. It will provide 32 new rental homes, 75% of which will have 2 or more bedrooms, as well as retail space on the ground level. The property is currently zoned to allow for a 4 storey strata building.

Where is it?:
Here at the corner of West 4th and Cypress, it’s close to the 7th Avenue bike lane, the new Arbutus Greenway, and has reliable transit provided by the 4, 7 and 84 bus lines to connect to SkyTrain, Downtown and UBC. It’s next door to Rain or Shine Ice Cream.

What was the open house like?:
The heavy opposition we witnessed was best summed up by the quote “You can have the city after we die.

What are its strengths?:
With a majority of the 128 pieces of feedback in favour (pg 36), it seems Vancouver loves this building. It grows rental housing in our city without displacing anyone. It’s in a great location, with plenty of places to work, shop, and play nearby. It also improves the retail experience along 4th Avenue.

What are its weaknesses?:
One floor of rental housing was removed in response to neighbourhood opposition, and a city policy that prohibits shadowing of the North sidewalks on 4th Avenue (pg 7).

What is the opposition like?:
As you can see from the open house, there is a strong desire to preserve the neighbourhood as it is today, in order to save it from ruin (pg 6). This has led to criticisms about every aspect, including the height, increased traffic (pg 37), and decreased property values (pg 38). Now the concern appears to have shifted to whether these rental homes are affordable enough, or if a 4 floor strata building would be better.

Email your thoughts to City Council at publichearing@vancouver.ca. or register to speak in person here.

The Second Item – 815 – 825 Commercial Dr & 1680 Adanac St

adanac rendering
– Source

What is it?:
A very sustainable 6 floor passive house building. It will provide 38 rental homes, 18 that have 2 or more bedrooms, and will deliver retail uses on the ground level. The two buildings it replaces are over 100 years old, and sold in 2016 for $2.5 million each. It is the third of five proposals allowed under the Grandview Woodlands Community Plan Pace of Change Policy.

Where is it?:
Here at the northern most part of Commercial Drive, west of the the diversion. The areas to the west and north are zoned for multi-family buildings, and to the south is light industrial. A proposal for a 12 storey building across the road that would have housed the Kettle Society was recently abandoned, but there is an existing 11 floor building a block to the east.

What was the open house like?:
Only 5 people attended the event, and surprisingly, neither Hananh nor I were among them. A total of 7 feedback forms were submitted (pg 10), indicating some people felt their opinions deserved to be counted twice.

What are its strengths?:
The current zoning allows for a 4 storey strata building, so it’s nice to see a rezoning application to replace the existing rental building with one that adds new rental homes. It’s a very environmentally friendly building. The tenant relocation plan will see the existing tenants (pg 8) rehoused, compensated for their moving costs, and provided with several months of rent (pg 30).

What are its weaknesses?:
Opposition to the nearby Kettle Society project may delay the planned conversion of this section of Commercial Drive into a public plaza (pg 4). In terms of the proposal, the Urban Design Panel found none (pg 8).

What is the opposition like?:
Tech savy, as most of it came from online feedback (pg 33). Despite the existing zoning allowing for a 4 storey strata building, many felt this 6 floor rental building was too tall, and didn’t fit with the neighbourhood character. Others believe there should be more parking, or that locally-owned businesses should be given space in the building (pg 34).

Email your thoughts to City Council at publichearing@vancouver.ca. or register to speak in person here.

The Third Item – 441 – 463 West 59th Ave

IMG_5249

What is it?:
63 strata homes, 68% of which have two or more bedrooms. These are split between two 6 floor concrete buildings as prescribed by the Marpole Community Plan. It replaces four 60 year old single family homes each worth $2.6 million.

Where is it?:
Here in one of Marpole’s most family friendly areas. Winona Park is across the road, the brand new J W Sexmith Elementary School is a 5 minute walk away, and Langara Golf Course is to the north for the parents.

What was the open house like?:
There’s not much to say, as only 15 people attended. Most walked in, checked out the boards, and left.

What are its strengths?:
The location is a huge one, even more so once a Canada Line Station is built at 57th Avenue. The concrete construction of this building will make it fairly soundproof.

What are its weaknesses?:
Despite it’s proximity to so many amenities and retail options, it still provides 103 parking stalls. Not only does this increase the cost of these homes, it just feels like a waste of space. A rooftop amenity space would have been nice.

What is the opposition like?:
Literally only one person (so far), who seems concerned about the amount of development in the area. However, a certain Duo appeared to have problems with the large amount of parking provided (pg 7).

Email your thoughts to City Council at publichearing@vancouver.ca. or register to speak in person here.

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