Public Hearing – October 6th, 2020 – World Class Aspirations Seek To Light Up Downtown, As Vancouver’s Rental Conversion Continues

Public Hearing – October 6th, 2020
Like anyone that has spent time at city hall, Hannah and I were well familiar with La Taqueria Pinche, but their new location has some gremlins, or rather a few existing, unpermitted mezzanines. That’s led to this night’s lone text amendment as, despite the struggles of operating a business during 2020, the city has required a bylaw amendment just to allow for a small expansion of their Yukon Street venue.

The night’s second item, a four story strata building, is less than 15 minutes away on the Canada Line as it’s practically next door to the 49th Avenue / Langara station. Unsurprisingly, Neither have drawn much attention, which makes this whole process feel as fruitful as walking up to a dark house on Halloween night.

However, the third item should add to the vibrancy of Downtown as it proposes to expand the Creative Energy steam plant, and top it off with a new office building. Together they’ll be joined with an entertainment pavilion that the applicant claims will host a world class sports bar. Time will tell if that’s just a lot of hot air, but the last item has committed to a substantial change that might thrill those navigating Vancouver’s rental market

It’s not often that a strata proposal switches to rental housing, but this one will now create over 300 rental homes next to Joyce-Collingwood station. This has spooked some, who hope to see less homes and more vehicle parking added here, but pales in comparison to the 700 foot building under construction in Burnaby’s Metrotown. Yet, unless there’s a last minute mash of opposition, we expect this will be a quick night, rather than one that has the funk of 40,000 years (audio).

Backlash Expectations

Item #2 – 564 – 570 West 49th AvenueVery Low
It’s less than a block from the Canada Line, but no one seems interested in this four floor strata building

Item #3 – 720 Beatty St & 701 Expo BoulevardVery Low
Very few would oppose creating new offices, and entertainment space near BC Place

Item #4 – 5055 Joyce StreetLow
Some feel a lack of parking, and too many homes will overwhelm this SkyTrain station

The Second Item – 564 – 570 West 49th Avenue – Very Low

What is it?:
A four floor, 31 home strata building proposed under the Cambie Corridor Plan.

Where is it?:
Here, less than a block west of the Langara-49th Avenue Canada Line station, and directly across from Tisdale Park.

What will it contribute to the community?:
It will provide roughly $750,000 in DCL fees for city-wide improvements, and another ~$1,234.000 in Community amenity contributions to the local area (pg 8 & 9).

What was the open house like?:
Rather uneventful, if not a waste of time, as the people we encountered generally came in, walked around, and then left.

What are its strengths?:
It won’t cast any shadows on Tisdale Park, but a taller building probably wouldn’t have either.

What are its weaknesses?:
It seems like a waste to provide this much vehicle parking so close to a Canada Line station, especially since it costs between $30,000 – $100,000 (pg 16) to build each one.

What is the opposition like?:
So far only four people have sent in comments during this whole process, and none have opposed this small change (pg 8).

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.

The Third Item – 720 Beatty St & 701 Expo Boullevard – Very Low

What is it?:
This office building will create ~60,000 square meters (~650,000 sqft.) of new job space, as well as allow for an expansion and upgrade of the steam plant that provides Downtown with low-carbon energy. Also included is an entertainment pavilion that promises to host the best sports bar on the planet.

Where is it?:
Here, northwest of BC Place, by the entrance to the Georgia Viaduct, and along Expo Boulevard below.

What will it contribute to the community?:
In addition to boosting our economy, it will pay ~$4,740,000 in commercial linkage contributions (pg 9) to fund new daycare spaces, and affordable housing. It will also provide a public art piece worth at least $1,300,000, and ~13 million dollars in DCL fees for city-wide improvements (pg 17 & 18).

What was the open house like?:
There was quite a diverse turnout, as this event was held in VPL’s Central Library. Whether they were dressed in business suits, or in well-worn clothes, nearly everyone was impressed by this project.

What are its strengths?:
The design has been so well received that some on the Urban Design Panel actually thanked this applicant for improving Vancouver’s skyline. It also adds some badly needed green space to the concourse around BC Place, and the entertainment pavilion should be a huge draw too.

What are its weaknesses?:
The area along Expo Boulevard is rather spartan, and it would have been nice to see more of the inner workings of the steam plant.

What is the opposition like?:
Out of the over 5,300 people notified, only 2 people have complained about this design, and expressed a desire to see it reduced in scale (pg 55 & 56).

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.

The Fourth Item – 5055 Joyce Street – Low

What is it?:
Originally envisioned as a strata building, it will now offer 360 rental homes, 10 of which will be be rented at 20 % below CMHC averages in the area.

Where is it?:
Here, adjacent to the west entrance of the Joyce-Collingwood SkyTrain station, across from the nearly finished Joyce strata building.

What will it contribute to the community?:
Not only will it pay ~7.1 million dollars in various development cost levies, it will contribute ~$500,000 to public art, and a new city pedestrian plaza (pg 71).

What has changed since was first proposed?:
To make the switch from strata to rental housing economically viable, the height cutback after the pre-application event has been restored, and the rooftop swimming pool has been eliminated. As required by the city’s engineering department, a new vehicle connection between Joyce Street, and the lane has been added, and there’s been several other small tweaks.

What was the open house like?:
Sadly, Hannah wasn’t able to join me at this meeting, and missed out on some tasty treats. Others didn’t appreciate those offerings, but calmed down after they realized this building wasn’t blocking their view.

What are its strengths?:
It’s hard to imagine anyone living at this transit hub will need to incur the costs of vehicle ownership, and the switch to rental housing will save future residents a substantial down-payment. This tenure should also address the Urban Design Panel’s concern over how the landscaped balconies will be maintained.

What are its weaknesses?:
The rooftop amenity still looks nice, but I’m sure some will miss the idea of having a rooftop swimming pool in their building. Conversely, if city council decides to join Edmonton and eliminate parking minimums across the city, the new vehicle orientated laneway might fall into disuse.

What is the opposition like?:
Some have long complained there was too much housing, and not enough parking spaces envisioned next to this Expo Line station (pg 53 & 54) under the Joyce-Collingwood Station Precinct Plan.

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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