Public Hearing May 8th 2020 – Don’t Call It A Comeback – Vancouver Looks To The Future To Save Its Past

May 12, 2020 – Public Hearing
Updated May 13th, 2020
– Due to a “glitch” in the mail-out notification process, city staff have withdrawn all items except for the heritage designation of the Stanley Ernest Peters Block.

In dealing with my dad’s estate, I’ve grown to appreciate the need for balance in one’s life. When is it okay to move forward? What should be saved, and what should be discarded? These aren’t easy choices, but ultimately to be alive, requires one to grow and respond to unexpected change. That’s true for individuals, and societies, which explains why all but one member of city council has recognized the need to move forward with the public hearing process.

This night will mark the first public hearing that will allow people to have their voices heard without being at city hall. Of course, there will likely be some kinks to work out, as even city councillors have been caught flushing toilets, and using colourful language. Which is why city staff have deliberately selected three items that have generated very little public interest, even though they will all contribute to protecting and growing Vancouver’s culture and history.

The night’s only major item perfectly demonstrates this. It may have spent almost 4 years in the rezoning process, but this long-awaited office building will preserve the Royal Bank Tower with a heritage agreement, and finally seismically stabilize it as well. In contrast, some things shouldn’t be retained, like Vancouver’s bizarre permitting process. It’s shocking that the location which housed Nick’s Spaghetti House for 62 years needed a rezoning application to allow the continued operation of Caffe La Tana and Pepino’s Spaghetti House (both which offer delivery and pick-up services).

Like that proposal, the heritage designation of the Stanley Earnest Peter’s Block has also received little attention. Of course, that might be because the larger development that it will be incorporated into has already been approved. As for Hannah and I, we won’t be returning to our normal schedule yet, but this week we hope to recap our region’s first online pre-application open house that took place earlier this month.

Backlash Expectations

Item# 1 – 619 – 685 West Hastings StreetVery Low
It’s telling that only eight people have commented on this proposal in almost four years (pg 32)

IMG_3286.JPG

(View more photos of the model on our Instagram or on the city’s website)

The First Item – 619 – 685 West Hastings Street – Very Low

What is it?:
A 28 floor office building that will also legally preserve and seismically stabilize (pg 5) the adjoining Royal Bank Tower. This rezoning application was first filed back in 2016.

Where is it?:
Here, almost kitty-corner to the Granville Street entrance to the Canada Line’s Waterfront station, sandwiched between the Sinclair Centre and the Harbour Centre on Hastings Street.

What was the open house like?:
Held back in 2016, this event was one of the first I attended. I still remember that one of thirteen attendees was very upset (pg 32), as their Realtor had promised them this site would never be developed, forever preserving their view from the Jameson House.

How will it benefit the community / city?:
It should help alleviate our city’s critical shortage of office space, and has earned the support of the Downtown BIA. The cost it will incur to conserve the Royal Bank Tower is valued at $9,633,000, it will pay a further ~$3,278,000 in Development Cost Levies, and contribute another ~$314,000 to public art funding (pg 15).

What are its strengths?:
It’s super cool that a mirror system (pg 13) will be used to illuminate the lightwell, and its design will also ensure the Royal Bank Tower will not collapse in a pile of rubble if there’s an earthquake.

What are its weaknesses?:
Some feel that it should imitate the historic look of its neighbour, but I think it’s more respectful to have a modern design, rather than one with a mock heritage look.

What is the opposition like?:
Even though its height is below the limits of the View Corridor Policy (pg 4), one person believes it should be reduced. Another expressed this area was already oversaturated, and overcrowded, suggesting it should be built it the Downtown East Side instead. (pg 33)

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

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