February 25th, 2020 Public Hearing – Vancouver’s Excessive Beauty Fails To Attract Interest Amidst A Rental Housing Revelation

February 25th, 2020 Public Hearing
Admittedly, I debated whether it was worth my time to write this article, as frankly neither Hannah nor I expected this meeting to generate much attention. Granted, the first item is somewhat notable, as it will simplify the regulations that govern passive house projects, but the next two; a heritage designation and a text amendment, are pretty straight forward. However, after studying one of the later items, I realized a last minute change might complicate this evening.

While Item #4 might look like 5 ordinary, single-family buildings, it’s actually home to 6 tenants. While only 2 have lived here before this redevelopment process started, Vancouver’s policy requires that 6 of the new 88 homes be provided as rental housing to preserve our city’s rental stock. Of course, like the next item, one has to wonder why its community plan doesn’t permit more housing so close to the Expo Line.

In fact, Item #5 is a prime location, a couple blocks from the Canada Line, and our city’s second largest park. Perhaps it’s fitting then that it is easily one of the most attractive looking mid-rise buildings proposed under the Cambie Corridor Plan. Then again, as both of these sites come under guidelines that were formed after years of community discussions, it seems fair to question whether this hearing was really the best use of taxpayer resources.

Backlash Expectations

Item #4 – 3235-3261 Clive AvenueLow
It’s unlikely, but a last minute rental housing revelation may lead to some opposition

Item #5 – 4338–4362 Cambie StreetVery Low
Though its beauty may exceed community expectations, this type of development does not.

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The Fourth Item – 3235-3261 Clive Avenue – Low

What is it?:
This is a six storey mid-rise, with 3 1/2 floor townhomes along Clive Avenue. It will replace 5 single-family houses that were designed to act as a buffer to the SkyTrain (pg 23) and have an average value of ~$1.28 million, with 62 strata and 6 rental homes.

Where is it?:
Here, roughly a block from the Joyce-Collingwood SkyTrain station, and less than a ten minute walk from several parks, schools (1, 2, 3), and the Collingwood Neighbourhood House.

How will it benefit the community / city?
It will pay roughly $1.2 million in community improvement fees, $1.3 million in city improvement levies, and will secure 6 rental homes for the greater of 60 years or the life of the building (pg 55).

Is this the first version?
No, during the rezoning process city staff realized the Rental Housing Stock ODP, approved two months prior to this application, would apply to these 5 CD-1 zoned single family properties (pg 23). As 6 tenants currently live here (pg 8), the applicant has been required to convert 6 strata properties into rental homes.

What are its strengths?:
Given the prescriptive nature of the Joyce-Collingwood Station Precinct Plan, there’s not much to say. It’s good that Vancouver has policies in place to ensure rental housing isn’t lost.

What are its weaknesses?:
Is it sustainable to limit this site to 68 homes, and require 68 parking stall this close to the Expo Line? Also, the indoor amenity space feels a little tight, and a second elevator would be a nice addition.

What was the open house like?:
Though 1,384 notice cards were sent out, only 33 people (pg 42) joined me at this event. Neither Hannah nor the building model were there, but the main concerns I heard raised were about safety of nearby sidewalks.

What is the opposition like?:
It seems only a couple people oppose this project, one of who sent in a handwritten letter expressing their belief that homes like these belong on Kingsway, and not in quiet “residential areas.” In contrast, others would have liked to see more rental housing offered here (pg 43).

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 – 4338–4362 Cambie Street – Very Low

What is it?:
A six floor mid-rise with 68 strata homes, including 6 townhomes along the lane. It will replace 2 single-family houses worth an average of ~$9.14 million.

Where is it?:
Here, two blocks south of the Canada Line’s King Edward station, and a short walk from the Hillcrest Centre and Queen Elizabeth Park.

How will it benefit the community / city?
It will contribute ~$4.5 million in community improvement fees, and 1.5 million in city improvement levies (pg 52).

What are its strengths?:
Both Hannah and I think this is easily one of the best looking mid-rises proposed in Vancouver. The outdoor space on the roof is really well-programmed, and the efforts to save the existing trees are commendable.

What are its weaknesses?:
Given the excellent access to rapid transit, parks and other amenities, it’s a shame the Cambie Corridor Plan allows for so few homes here (pg 53). The rooftop amenity space would be greatly improved if city council would grant a relaxation to allow for a small indoor space with a washroom.

What was the open house like?:
Though 1,017 notice cards were sent out, only 30 people attend this event (pg 35). Many were just trying to keep their kids entertained, as their siblings trained in Phoenix Gymnastics.

What is the opposition like?:
There isn’t much. A couple people feel more trees should be preserved (pg 36), and one person believes this building is excessively large for this area. In contrast, others would have liked to see more two and three bedroom homes provided.

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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