January 19th Public Hearing – Urban Design Problem Child Unlikely To Spoil Town Centre Couple’s Special Night

Public Hearing – January 19th, 2021
For those weary of watching the horrible events that gripped our nation’s southern neighbours, Hannah and I suggest tuning into this public hearing for a relaxing night. There could be an angry voice or two, but as three of these four come under existing community plans, this should be a pretty calm affair. Only Item #1 is proposed under the Rental 100 policy, and ironically it’s seen the least amount of opposition, likely because of its location on Kingsway.

As Item #2 is also located on an arterial road, it should also be spared most of the opposition that proposals in the Broadway Triangle can evoke. In fact, the Urban Design Panel may have actually been its biggest critic, as they’ve never actually granted their support. Conversely, those who live near the transit hub formed by the crossroads of the R4 and Canada Line have grown to accept the changes taking place in the Oakridge Municipal Town Centre.

There are a couple individuals who remain steadfast in their opposition, but it’s doubtful the student geared rental homes in Item #3 will draw much ire. As Item #4 sits between its predecessor and the Oakridge Centre, we think its rental, strata, and office space should draw minimal attention as well. Hopefully that leaves our elected officials rested for Thursday night’s discussion about the Employment Lands, and Economy Review Quick Start Actions.

These range from allowing more employment space along 2nd Avenue, and healthcare offices in the Mount Pleasant Industrial Lands, as well as removing barriers to artist studios in similar areas. They also hope to provide flexibility to encourage retail stores in the Downtown Eastside, and allow for local corner stores throughout Vancouver. Unfortunately, a lack of public correspondence makes it hard to provide an accurate expectation of that meeting, so we won’t be providing a more in-depth post on these issues.

Backlash Expectations

Item #1 – 810 KingswayVery Low
Only one person has opposed replacing this former Canadian Tire with rental homes

Item #2 – 2246 – 2268 East BroadwayLow
Its location on the edge of the Broadway Triangle should quell most opposition

Item #3 – 441 – 475 W 42nd AvenueVery Low
There’s plenty of change in the area, including Item #4 on the other side of the lane

Item #4 – 5740 Cambie StreetVery Low
It’s across the road from the Oakridge Centre, enough said

The First Item – 810 Kingsway – Very Low

What is it?:
A fairly typical six floor rental building that will provide 103 homes, and a semi-public lobby activated by a corner restaurant.

Where is it?:
Here, a block east of Fraser Street. It’s replacing a building that still shows traces of the Canadian Tire that used to occupy it before Sammy’s Designer Flooring took over.

What will it contribute to the community?:
As the applicant hasn’t applied or been granted a waiver, they will pay ~$2,400,000 in city-wide Development Cost Levies (pg 53).

What has changed since it was first proposed?
We’re not sure what has changed since it was first contemplated in 2018, but city staff are requiring the applicant to incorporate all of the Urban Design Panel’s recommendations as a condition for approval (pg 21).

What was the open house like?:
We never attended the 2019 applicant-led event, which generated just one comment card. Despite over 1,300 being notified, last year’s city-led virtual session saw a similar turnout, with 15 people leaving comments, only one of which was opposed (pg 38). You can view the questions asked at the latter meeting here.

What are its strengths?:
The neighbourhood-focused lobby drew praise from the Urban Design Panel for its potential to set a welcome precedent for creating more public spaces. Add in a new public plaza on the corner, and townhomes along the laneway, and this area should begin to feel a lot more friendly.

What are its weaknesses?:
Hannah is not a fan of the long hallway from the parkade on the west side of the building, and both of us wonder whether this large site on the south side of Kingsway could handle a taller building.

What is the opposition like?:
There’s literally just one person. Despite the lack of any impact on the neighbours, they wanted a shorter “more human scale building” (pg 39), and expressed there’s too much rental housing available in Vancouver already.

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 Second Item – 2246 – 2268 East Broadway – Low

What is it?:
A six floor building proposed under the Grandview Woodland Community Plan that will provide 57 strata homes.

Where is it?:
Here, roughly a ten minute walk away from Commercial-Broadway SkyTrain station, and near several schools that are expected to see sizable amounts of space within 10 years (pg 4).

What will it contribute to the community?:
It will pay nearly $1,200,000 in city-wide improvement fees, and additional $750,000 in community amenity contributions (pg 43) in a part of our city that hasn’t added any homes since 2016 (pg 41).

What has changed since it was first proposed?
In response to the Urban Design Panel’s commentary, city staff are requiring a revision to the lower three floors of the north frontage to invoke a more single-family feel (pg 10).

What was the open house like?:
Of the nearly 1,000 people notified about this virtual event, only 17 submitted a comment form, and only a couple questions were asked.

What are its strengths?:
Rather than opt for the typical Vancouver mid-rise look, the design team crafted something colourful, and different, which naturally has sparked some criticism (pg 33).

What are its weaknesses?:
Some have expressed far more homes should be allowed considering it’s so close to the Commercial-Broadway transit station, or that they should be located on the quieter side streets instead.

What is the opposition like?:
They represent a third of comments received (pg 31), and hold a strong belief that only four floor buildings should be allowed on this stretch of Broadway. The only letter to council echoes this view, and claims the community plan was corrupted by city staff. Perhaps last year’s Urban Design Panel should also be included, as they requested the project’s re-submission without providing recommendations for improvement.

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 Third Item – 441 – 475 W 42nd Avenue – Very Low

What is it?:
This 18 floor building under the Cambie Corridor Plan will create 124 student-focused rental homes, with 29 set at rates comparable to those under the Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program (pg 61).

Where is it?:
Here, in the heart of the Oakridge Municipal Town Centre. Roughly a block away from the Oakridge – 41st Avenue Canada Line station. It shares a laneway with Item #4.

What will it contribute to the community?:
In addition to the 29 non-market homes that constitute the community amenity contribution, a further ~ $3,500,000 will be paid in city-wide Development Cost Levies (pg 61). There will also be a public art contribution of ~ $250,000, and four ride-share vehicles will be provided for at least three years (pg 35).

What has changed since it was first proposed?
The design guidelines of the Cambie Corridor Plan are pretty inflexible, so it’s likely not much has changed. Nonetheless, city staff have included conditions of approval that reflect the Urban Design Panel’s advice to improve the laneway, frontyard, and reduce the perceived height and massing.

What was the open house like?:
We were joined by fewer than 45 people at the Jewish Community Centre for this 2019 event, even though almost 1,000 notifications were sent out (pg 49). Most were interested in learning how they could either sell or redevelop their own homes, with a couple who were focused on city policies.

What are its strengths?:
The applicant has opted to institute several Transportation Demand Measures (pg 29), which has lowered the parking required from 100 stalls to 43, saving between $50,000 – $70,000 per space. The amount of bedrooms included in some of the homes could also serve large families.

What are its weaknesses?:
It would be nice if the community plan allowed for a bit more creativity, or at least some added colour in the design.

What is the opposition like?:
In a somewhat paradoxical view, they both fear an increase in traffic volumes, but also want more underground parking added to ensure there’s room for their cars on the street. They also worry allowing this form of building on a side street will negatively impact the remaining single-family homes (pg 51).

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 – 5740 Cambie Street – Very Low

What is it?:
Envisioned in the Cambie Corridor Plan, this building will contain a range of uses with office space for profit, and non-profit organizations, as well as 80 rental and 133 strata homes.

Where is it?:
Here, directly across from the Oakridge Centre and Canada Line station. It also shares its laneway with Item #3.

What will it contribute to the community?:
The space created for non-profit organizations has been valued at ~$12,000,000 (pg 16). Additionally, it will provide a public art contribution worth $562,000, and a further ~$7.5 million in Development Cost Levies to improve city infrastructure (pg 60).

What has changed since it was first proposed?
We never attended the applicant-led event, so we’re unsure if any have been made so far. There will be some refinement going forward, as city staff have crafted conditions of approval that incorporate the Urban Design Panel’s suggestions to improve the openness of the mid-block plaza, and enhance the southern tower’s rooftop (pg 23).

What was the open house like?:
We weren’t among the 7 people who attended the applicant-led event in 2019. That said, most of the 30 people we saw at the city-hosted meeting were simply curious about the ongoing changes in the area, and less than 1% of the 700 people notified submitted a comment card (pg 47).

What are its strengths?:
Creating office space for non-profit organizations is very commendable, and it’s nice to see the architecture gives a nod to the existing building by incorporating a grate element at the podium level.

What are its weaknesses?:
Given the breadth of amenities, and transit in the area, it seems wrong that city policies requires it to provide 288 parking stalls (pg 2).

What is the opposition like?:
Even with the R4, Canada Line, upcoming public library, community centre, daycare, and sewer improvements underway, some feel that the neighbourhood can’t support this much housing (pg 48).

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: