Development Industry Insiders, Restrictive Policies, and Misinformation Kills 240 Rental Homes – Who on City Council had a Front Row Ticket?

8428 – 8438 Elliott Street and 24082528 SE Marine Drive
Since Hannah and I started City Duo, we’ve had many unique experiences, yet we’ve never dealt with something like this before. Shortly after we published our MIRHPP guide, one of our fellow Vancouverites emailed us a 37 page document that provides details about a proposal under the Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program in the West Fraser Lands, and the inner workings of an association, led by three architects, who are opposed to it.

Since then, a member of that group offered to provide us with a 39 page document on the condition we agree to publish it without having an opportunity to read it first, something we couldn’t agree to. Despite our counteroffer to publish the document only if we used the information within, we have not heard anything back.

The document and context we do have paints an interesting tale. Back in early 2018, an enquiry was put forward to the City of Vancouver to allow for a new rental building on an assembly of 8 lots at the southeast corner of SE Marine Drive and Elliot. Immediately, it generated opposition from those who felt it conflicted with the vision of their master planned community (pg 13).

View2_2000px.jpgPrevious Concept -Source

After learning the project was designed by Lecke Studio Architecture and Design, we contacted them in hopes of learning more. To our surprise, we were offered the opportunity to meet with a member of their firm. Apparently this offer was also extended to the three leaders of the newly formed West Fraserlands / S. Elliott Neighbourhood Committee, but was rejected. This  person claimed they were even willing to hold workshops to find out what the neighbourhood would find more palatable.

Of course, this detail isn’t included on flyers that have been distributed in the area (pg 31). So it’s understandable 243 “property owners” (pg 19) have signed a petition (pg 27) against these two 6 floor buildings. Though the document states that the 2019 concept is now under the MIRHP program, that’s about all that’s accurate. I’m not sure why these former architects feel these delays are a sign of something nefarious as, like many projects, they are due to city regulations and economic realities.

View3_2000px.jpgPrevious Concept -Source

We were shocked to learn that all of the information and renderings in the document, aside from those on pages 8 – 11, were designed by those who are opposed to this building. This information paints a deceitfully inaccurate picture, as the architect we met with clarified there was never an intention to bring all 6 storeys to the laneway, rather that area would be brought down to 4 floors.

The design process has also caused delays, as the architects envisioned a building with a large internal courtyard in order to promote social interactions, and ensure light reached every home. While this has been previously permitted in Vancouver at The Duke on Kingsway and at 388 Kaslo Street, this time the city staff involved were firmly against allowing it.

Instead, like the document states, they directed the applicant team to pursue a horseshoe shaped design that opened up to the laneway. The resulting loss in floor space meant the applicant had to reexamine the proforma of their proposal, leading to these further delays. As there is a July 1st, 2019 deadline for acceptance into the MIRHP program (pg 5), they no longer believe they have time to adequately consult the community and proceed.

20190524_140822.jpgNovember 2018 Concept

This means roughly 240 rental homes, 30% that would have been affordable for those earning minimum wage, were eliminated, not by public consultation, but by a secretive behind the scenes process. Furthermore, at least one member of our city council is very aware of this, as our original source made clear a meeting between the opposition group and an unnamed councillor was imminent.

Naturally, this is a very troubling set of circumstances. We’ve witnessed plenty of times were groups opposed to development in their neighbourhood have put out misleading information, but it’s shocking to see former members of the development industry embrace these tactics. Furthermore, its troubling to hear that, if this proposal did move forward, one council member would have more information than their elected peers, which may effect their decision.

More than anything, its simply wrong that the average Vancouverite didn’t even have the chance to weigh in. As the applicant is actively seeking public feedback, we suggest you answer that call by sending your thoughts to contact@leckiestudio.com.

As promised, you can download the complete 37 page opposition document below, personal contact information has been redacted.

Redacted Council Briefing Download

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