July 9th, 2019 Public Hearing – Transformative Rental Homes Could Face A Federal Challenger As Remote Controlled Robots Shield Vancouver’s Children

July 9th, 2019 Public Hearing
Some may have been shocked last month when we accurately predicted that the majority of Vancouver City Council would vote against allowing 21 rental homes into Shaughnessy. However, given their voting records and rhetoric, we expected that Councillor Fry, Hardwick, and Swanson would find some reason to vote no. Combined with Councillor Bligh and Kirby-Young’s vote against even allowing the public to speak on the issue (pg 19), it seemed obvious these homes were doomed.

Now, we’re going to make another bold prediction, which is that a NDP Member of Parliament will come out to speak against adding 121 rental homes to Fraser Street. That might seem like a risky move given the upcoming federal election, but a community meeting late last year revealed that one member of parlament shares a concern over these changes to the neighbourhood’s character.

Certainly the other items will not evoke any similar response, as townhome proposals along the Cambie Corridor usually fail to illicit any reaction, and its hard to argue against increasing job space Downtown.

Backlash Expectations

Item # 4 – 1166 West Pender Street – Low
Concerns over construction impacts on the neighbours have largely been addressed.

Item #5686 East 22nd Avenue, 3811-3833 Fraser Street & 679 East 23rd Avenue Moderate
While much of Fraser Street is eager for new growth, this area had mixed feelings.

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The Fourth Item–
1166 West Pender Street

What is it?:
A 32 floor office building that will provide 33,500 sq.m (361,000 sq.ft.) of floor space. It’s proposed under the Rezoning Policy for the Central Business District (CBD) and CBD Shoulder.

Where is it?:
Here, at the 11 floor former home of the Canada Revenue Agency’s Vancouver Tax Services Office. It’s sandwiched between The Melville, Vancouver’s tallest all residential building, and The Stack, which will be tallest office building.

What was the open house like?:
While the weather was frightening, the discussions at the open house certainly weren’t. A small attendance presented some very reasonable concerns about the impacts to nearby daycare facilities.

What are its strengths?:
It roughly doubles the amount of job space currently offered here, which will be a real boost given the shortage of office space in Vancouver. The design is also quite attractive, and the amenity space will offer anyone lucky enough to work here stunning views of Burrard Inlet.

What are its weaknesses?:
While the addition of a mid-block pedestrian connection is a great improvement to the public realm, its design may be challenging for some depending on their age and ability.

What is the opposition like?:
Pretty reasonable. Worries about impact to the neighbouring daycare spaces (pg 40) have led to implemation of several measures to mitigate that impact (pg 12), including the use of remote controlled demolition equipment. While some neighbours (pg 2) are upset about the loss of their view, others understand this was an expected outcome of living next door to the Central Business District.

Want to Speak Up?:
Email your thoughts to City Council at publichearing@vancouver.ca. or register to speak in person here.

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The Fifth Item – 686 East 22nd Avenue, 3811-3833 Fraser Street & 679 East 23rd Avenue

What is it?:
This fairly standard mid-rise will offer 121 rental homes, along with some retail space. It’s proposed under the Affordable Housing Choices IRP.

Where is it?:
Here, on a very challenging sloped property comprised of an old service station, 3 pairs of duplexes, and one single family home.

What was the open house like?:
There was a very mixed reception. Some were eager to welcome these new homes, but others preferred to retain the neighbourhood at it exists today, insisting people should be happy to drive from the Fraser Valley to work in Vancouver. As Hannah noted, I had a rough experience with one very aggressive person.

What are its strengths?:
Almost half the new homes will be large enough for families, and the new retail space and nearby schools should enable residents to live, play, and shop local. The choice of materials, colours, and the townhomes along the lane were really well received by the Urban Design Panel.

What are its weaknesses?:
Given the above, it seems silly that city policy requires so much parking to be provided here. Similarly, the required mezzanine level in the retail area has given some the wrong impression this is actually a 7 storey building (pg 10).

What is the opposition like?:
A coalition of diverse interests. Some don’t want to see any change in the area, or want the City Plan to be completed first. Others want to see more parking added (pg 3), and a few are concerned about the loss of one of Vancouver’s first service stations. Judging by the tone of this November townhall, it seems they may have found a champion in their local Member of Parliament.

Want to Speak Up?:
Email your thoughts to City Council at publichearing@vancouver.ca. or register to speak in person here.

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