October 27th 2020 Public Hearing – Letters Flood City Hall as Economic Terror Threatens Mount Pleasant, While Middle Class Rental Homes Panic West Point Grey

Public Hearing – October 27th 2020
While we may have spent most of our Halloween puns earlier this month, this night has far more of a connection to that holiday. Whether it’s the focus on public transit, the responses of hundreds of individuals, or the fear some have of renters, there’s a clear connection between the two events. Yet Hannah and I both predict it will be this meeting that is far more ghoulish.

Like any horror film, it starts off rather idyllic with an opportunity to provide restaurants the temporary patios they need to survive over the next year. We don’t expect Items 2 or 3 to generate much conversation either, as neither the heritage designation of a historic First Shaughnessy mansion, nor townhomes on the Cambie Corridor will spark much interest. After all, new housing is often created along arterial roads, or in the case of Item 4, a busy rail-line.

This amendment is also temporary in nature, as it allows for new modular homes at 1580 Vernon Drive. Obviously the need to create these shelter-rate dwellings before another cold rainy winter is self-evident, but the location is less than ideal. The same could be said about Item 5, but it’s unlikely that anyone will have much to say about a four floor building essentially next to a Canada Line station.

In contrast, the plan to create roughly 500 jobs near the future Mount Pleasant Broadway Line station is where things begin to take a dark turn. Certainly those who dominated the feedback of Item 6’s virtual open house think this office building may bring upon the destruction of Mount Pleasant, or at least their increasing property values (pg 46). Had this agenda ended here, perhaps this one night would have been sufficient, but it likely only marks the start of a horror show.

Already, the plan to create 153 rental homes at the western terminus of Broadway has led to the submission of over 300 letters. So far the opposition is winning the day, but with many describing renters as transients (pg 29), they can hardly claim a moral victory. Naturally these voices don’t represent most in West Point Grey, nor the businesses that struggle daily to survive, but unfortunately they are often the loudest.

Backlash Expectations

Item #5 – 203 – 263 West 49 AveVery Low
There’s been several other four floor proposals on this block that have failed to draw any attention

Item #6 – 24 East Broadway & 2520 Ontario StModerate
Of those few who spoke up, over 50% opposed creating new office space in Mount Pleasant

Item #7 – 3701 – 3743 West BroadwayExtreme
There’s already been literally hundreds of letters against these moderate income rental homes

The Fifth Item – 203 – 263 West 49 Ave – Very Low

What is it?:
This four floor building will have retail at ground level, with 78 strata homes above it.

Where is it?:
Here, across the road from Langara College, the local YMCA, and a block from the Langara-49th Avenue Canada Line station.

What will it contribute to the community?:
It will pay nearly $2.5 million in development cost levies, and another $1.34 million to fund various improvements in the Cambie Corridor (pg 10).

What has changed since it was first proposed?
As a condition of council’s approval, City staff will require further improvements to the public realm, and for the townhomes to have interior access to the amenity spaces and parking garage (pg 16).

What was the open house like?:
Completely uneventful, which left us questioning why these meetings are needed for these simple projects. Out of 595 people notified, only 4 have submitted comments (Pg 9).

What are its strengths?:
Arguably the most intriguing aspect of this proposal is that the retail stores will have access from both the street, and the lane, which should make the later feel more safe for neighbouring properties.

What are its weaknesses?:
This area probably could have supported more housing, and a more creative design, but both are restricted by the Cambie Corridor Plan.

What is the opposition like?:
At least one person is worried these will be purchased by foreigners, but others were more concerned whether this much parking was needed near rapid transit (Pg 9).

Want to speak up?:
You can submit your comments using this online form. or register to speak in person or better yet by phone here.

The Sixth Item – 24 East Broadway & 2520 Ontario St – Moderate

What is it?:
Roughly 105,000 sqft of office space located above 20,000 sqft of retail space. It’s proposed under the Metro Core Jobs and Economy Land Use Plan.

Where is it?:
Here, two blocks from the upcoming Mount Pleasant Broadway Line station. It sits along the Ontario Greenway, and is just up the hill from Hootsuite’s head-office.

What will it contribute to the community?:
It will pay nearly $2.5 million in development cost levies, a $240,000 public art contribution, and an $800,000 commercial linkage fee to fund neighbourhood improvements (pg 49). In addition, a new Mobi bike share station will be included on this site.

What has changed since it was first proposed?
Since it was first submitted, roughly 30 extra vehicle parking spaces, at an estimated costed of $50,000 a stall, were added to satisfy the city’s minimum parking requirements. Though the FSR appears to have increased, it’s likely only because the underground retail space has been included in the new total.

What was the open house like?:
Though it was hosted in the existing building, the pre-application event was pretty uneventful. The city-led event was hosted online, and while over three thousand postcards were distributed, only 87 people left feedback (pg 13). The eight questions that were asked can still be viewed here.

What are its strengths?:
It will provide enough room to create 500 new jobs that otherwise wouldn’t come to Vancouver as, despite Covid-19, our city remains critically short on office space. The artwork on the underside of the overhangs fit well into Mount Pleasant, and so will the improved retail spaces.

What are its weaknesses?:
Given its location, there probably should have been more bike parking included.

What is the opposition like?:
Of the comments received, over half opposed creating new job space in this area. The concern was it would negatively impact the livability and character of the neighbourhood, and ultimately lower the value of their properties (pg 46).

Want to speak up?:
You can submit your comments using this online form. or register to speak in person or better yet by phone here.

The Seventh Item – 3701 – 3743 West Broadway – Extreme

What is it?:
This apartment building will contain 153 rental homes, with 20% legally secured at rates for those with moderate incomes.

Where is it?:
Here, occupied by a strip mall (and two single family homes) that should be familiar to anyone who’s visited UBC, as it’s across the road from a 99 B-line stop. In its former life,ķ this ~$17 million property hosted a club (The Blues Palace) run by Tommy Chong before it was shuttered due to neighbourhood complaints.

What will it contribute to the community?:
In terms of cash, it will pay over $200,000 in development cost levies, and almost $250,000 for new public art (pg 72). In the longer term, 20% of these homes will only become more affordable, as their rents will be tied to the unit, rather than increased with each new tenant.

What has changed since it was first proposed?
Public feedback has led to some major changes. The design once criticized as a prison, has been replaced with a more muted look that fits with the other 1970s apartment buildings to the north. More importantly, the perceivable height has been lowered, as the walls that ringed the rooftop have been removed.

What was the open house like?:
Crowded, loud, angry, and often cruel. Some at this event wished they could tear down the existing buildings down the street. Others felt young people should leave the city unless they earned $300,000 a year. These comments were so plentiful they were noted by others, and were even reflected in the official city report (pg 61).

What are its strengths?:
There’s no way to underscore how badly needed these rental homes are, as a household would need an income of over $100,000 to be able to buy even a studio apartment in this neighbourhood (pg 14). The amount of parking seems reasonable given Broadway’s exceptional bus service.

What are its weaknesses?:
This design may reflect the look of the 1970s, but it would have been neat to see a tribute to the old theatre that was replaced by this 36 year old parking lot.

What is the opposition like?:
Almost professional, as some of these same individuals successfuly overturned a city policy that allowed for similar buildings in this area nearly 40 years ago. Despite opposing a 6 floor building here in 2017, there are those who claim they would now support it. Others were more blunt, describing this as Stalinist (pg 2), a monstrosity (pg 4), a sore thumb (pg 6), and worried that Mayor Kennedy Stewart will once again “compel” city council to approve this building (Pg 8 & 13).

Want to speak up?:
You can submit your comments using this online form. or register to speak in person or better yet by phone here.

2 thoughts on “October 27th 2020 Public Hearing – Letters Flood City Hall as Economic Terror Threatens Mount Pleasant, While Middle Class Rental Homes Panic West Point Grey

Add yours

  1. Looks like the office building on Broadway has to go all the way to P7. If they had to go from P6 to P7 to provide those extra stalls, the marginal cost of providing that 7th level of parking is probably more like $75k. I don’t think you could build a the first level of parking for $50k a stall in that location and site size.

    Liked by 1 person

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