December 8th, 2020 Public Hearing – Vancouver’s Secret Santa Offers A 110 Million Dollar Benefit, While Marpole Rental Homes Hope To Avoid City Council’s Naughty List

Public Hearing – December 8th, 2020
Whether you were raised to celebrate the festivities at this time of year, or come from a different background, I think we can all feel a little joyful that this year is almost over. In fact, this will be the last public hearing this year, although city council still has to finish hearing the final item from last weeks meeting. Which is kind of ironic, as they’ve previously voted to delay making a decision on this night’s last application too.

However, Hannah and I don’t expect Item #3 to draw much public opposition, as the plan to replace TransLink’s former bus storage yard will provide over 110 million dollars in community benefits. In addition to a large cash payout, daycare, and 2 acre park, there will also be over 1,000 homes split between a healthy mix of strata, rental, middle income, and social housing. All that seems to be missing is a partridge in a pear tree.

In contrast, Item #2’s aspiration to restore a fire damaged rental building with 66 new homes in Marpole has drawn substantial opposition. The fear expressed about rental vagrants gathering in their lane has left Hannah and I feeling as stunned as parents who were caught sneaking a cookie from Santa Claus on Christmas morning. Yet, the questions from the city-led open house reveal the primary concern is how it will effect the neighbouring single-family homes.

City council proved that was a key-consideration for them when they cut back a proposal one block south of Item #4 at the first public hearing following the 2018 civic election. Though this project is probably safer as it’s on the north side of East Broadway, city staff aren’t taking any chances. Shifting some of these homes away from the quieter streets, and towards the arterial traffic will pacify most critics, but we expect a vocal few will turn up regardless.

That sentiment will probably prove true for Item #1, but at a reduced scale since this update will better facilitate zero emissions residential buildings. Meanwhile Item #3 won’t draw a single voice, since it has been pulled from the night’s agenda. As for us, we plan to write a few more posts over the next couple weeks before we embrace a short-term hibernation until early January.

Backlash Expectations

Item #2 – 1325 West 70th AvenueHigh
The amount of opposition to these rental homes has caught us completely off guard

Item #4 – 2406-2488 Garden DriveModerate
Buoyed by their previous success, some will try once again to convince council to scrap these homes

Item #5 – 949 West 41st Ave & 5469-5507 Willow St (Oakridge Transit Centre)Low
There hasn’t been much criticism, and most of it is constructive, rather than critical

– (Source)

The Second Item – 1325 West 70th Avenue – High

What is it?:
This mid-rise will provide 66 rental homes, and replace a three story building that was badly damaged in a three-alarm fire.

Where is it?:
Here, next door the Marpole Neighbourhood House, which ironically once served as VFD Firehall #22.

What will it contribute to the community?:
It will contribute ~$500,000 towards upgrading public infrastructure, such as water, and sewer pipes (pg 12).

What has changed since it was first proposed?
To address community concerns about shadowing, and visual impact, city staff are requiring a further setback to the building’s north side (pg 18). For similar reasons, the monochrome colours have traded places, with the darker shade moved to the lower floors.

What was the open house like?:
The pre-application open house was sparsely attended, and not even the Hamburgler attended. Conversely, the city-led event was flooded by the questions of a few nearby homeowners, which you can view here.

What are its strengths?:
It complies with the community plan, and more importantly won’t displace anyone, unlike a nearby project. It’s a simple six-floor building, essentially the modern Vancouver Special.

What are its weaknesses?:
I’m not really a fan of its look, but Hannah thinks it’s alright, and I can admit it has been improved since we first saw it.

What is the opposition like?:
Its steady growth has caught us off guard. Of the 54 comments submitted, 38 were against. These reasons ranged from those concerned about the impact to their view (pg 34), added traffic and street parking demands, and even a worry that renters would be vagrants and do drugs in the lane-way (pg 35).

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 Fourth Item – 2406-2488 Garden Drive – Moderate

What is it?:
Envisioned by the Grandview Woodland Community Plan, these two six floor buildings will provide 109 strata homes. The southern building will also create ~6,000 sqft. of retail space along East Broadway.

Where is it?:
Here, right around the corner from Bon’s Off Broadway, and roughly a 10 minute walk to the Commercial-Broadway SkyTrain station.

What will it contribute to the community?:
As this is a strata proposal, there will be a significant amount of fees paid. These include ~$3.5 million toward local community improvements, as well as another $2.5 million in development cost levies to improve city infrastructure, like sidewalks, and sewers (pg 51).

What has changed since it was first proposed?
The preference of those who attended the pre-application open house led to a ground level connection between these buildings. Public feedback has also led a city staff imposed condition that will see more homes located along Broadway to soften the transition to the inner neighbourhood (pg 20).

What was the open house like?:
It was a fairly quiet affair as, though over 1,000 people were notified of the event, only 50 turned out (pg 39). Many would have liked to see more housing added here, but the opposition was clearly better prepared, as they came with a literal list of demands.

What are its strengths?:
It complies pretty well with the local community plan, and though their layout is relatively similar, the colour palette helps them stand apart with a stronger look, and softer, warmer appearance. It’ll also gives those waiting for the #9 bus some new places to grab a bite to eat.

What are its weaknesses?:
The neighbouring homeowners expressed opposition to the idea, but an amenity patio on the roof would have been a lovely feature. It’s also unfortunate that city staff are demanding more living space be shifted to the traffic on Broadway to accommodate these same voices.

What is the opposition like?:
They’re actually quite successful, as they’ve previously convinced city council to cut back a proposal one block to the south in order to protect the neighbouring single-family homes. Ironically, those who would like to see more housing included here have also been classified as opposed by city staff (pg 40).

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 Fifth Item – 949 West 41st Ave & 5469-5507 Willow St (Oakridge Transit Centre) – Low

What is it?:
It will include 1,120 strata, 180 market rental, and 45 moderate income rental homes. There will also be 330 social housing apartments, a 69 space daycare, 2,300 sqft of retail space, and a 2-acre park. This will spread out in five phases, all of which are expected to be completed by 2031.

Where is it?:
Here, at the former home of TransLink’s bus barn. This vast parking lot, and service building, is across the road from the Jewish Community Centre, and kitty-corner to the Heather Lands.

What will it contribute to the community?:
The social housing it will build and turn over to the city is valued at $65 million, and the 69 space of childcare are worth another $8 million. The park represents another $5 million, and there will be a ~$2.4 million public art contribution. Finally, there will be nearly $32 million paid in CAC and DCL fees. When added together, the total fiscal benefit is assessed at over $110 million (pg 38).

What has changed since it was first proposed?
There’s been several changes, which have slightly increased the allowable heights, the amount of retail space, and resulted in 0.2 FSR increase. The social housing has also been consolidated into one building to make it easier for a future operator to manage, and seen an addition of 30 homes after a last minute demand by city council (pg 16).

What was the open house like
There’s actually been a couple, but generally all have been well received. Even though 5,999 were notified of the first city-led event, only 27 people submitted feedback, and just 12 bothered to leave their comments during the second event that was held virtually (pg 101).

What are its strengths?:
It follows Vancouver’s tradition of providing homes for people of all backgrounds, and places for them to play as well. The new plaza spaces to the north of West 41st Avenue are a big improvement, and will draw people into the quiet spaces and park beyond them.

What are its weaknesses?:
It’s hard for us to think of any, as even the Urban Design Panel didn’t provide any recommendations. That said, the inclusion of a café or something similar along the park would provide a nice rest stop.

What is the opposition like?:
It’s been pretty tame, with constructive comments about general design issues. These include ensuring the social housing isn’t segregated, that future transit needs are considered, and to look at providing a diversity of retail spaces (pg 102).

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.

One thought on “December 8th, 2020 Public Hearing – Vancouver’s Secret Santa Offers A 110 Million Dollar Benefit, While Marpole Rental Homes Hope To Avoid City Council’s Naughty List

Add yours

  1. Your analysis of the NEW Community at 41st and Oak is lacking. This together with Heather Lands, New Eric Hamber School will change the Oak St. Corridor forever. Many people will just move away Traffic is going to be much havier than now with no relief in sight.

    Liked by 1 person

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