Public Hearing – April 13th, 2021 – North Shore Inspired Homes Bring A Landslide Of Community Benefits To The West End

Public Hearing – April 13th, 2021
One has to feel a little bit bad for our city council, as this meeting comes not even a week after they finally finished the public hearing that started on March 11th. Granted, Hannah and I know to a certain extent this is self-inflicted, as they often engage in a fair amount of posturing, and that’s the only reason this night would drag on for multiple evenings too.

After all, Item #1 is essentially just a series of policies run through a spell-check. It’s unlikely Item #2 well generate much attention either, as this 18 floor, 215 home rental building on the north side of Columbia Park is humbled by the changes at the Oakridge Centre. Our regular readers will remember we recently covered its Urban Design Panel review, though if Item #3 seems familiar, it will be because of the prescriptive nature of the Cambie Corridor Plan.

I’m not sure why our elected officials still insist on personally reviewing every one of these six story strata buildings, as their designs look nearly identical, and draw few if any speakers. This one is a slight exception, as some of its neighbours believe this is the one spot that this form is inappropriate. In contrast, Item #4 might be expected by the West End Community Plan, yet like others on this block, its design is anything but boring.

It might not be facing any opposition, but this 33 floor, 127 home strata building will enliven the neighbourhood in other ways as it will contribute roughly ~$31.5 million in community benefits. Conversely, on Thursday, city council will consider a proposal to save Vancouver taxpayers both time and money. We’ll dive into that idea, which would see non-market buildings of up to six floors allowed to bypass this process later this week, but for now let’s move onto tonight’s agenda.

Backlash Expectations

Item 2 – 325 – 341 West 42nd AvenueVery Low
The construction at the Oakridge Centre is likely to ruffle more feathers than this application will.

Item 3 – 485 West 28th AvenueLow
There’s a couple angry neighbours, but six floor buildings on Cambie rarely generate any attention.

Item 4 – 1616 -1698 West Georgia StreetVery Low
Much like its open house, so far all the correspondence has been in support.

The Second Item – 325 – 341 West 42nd Avenue – Very Low

What is it?:
Unlike other projects in the Cambie Corridor, this one will provide 215 rental homes, 40 of which will be offered at rates affordable to households earning between $38,000 – $80,000 a year. That said, it’s proposed under the community plan (pg 90), not the MIRHP Policy.

Where is it?:
Here, immediately north of Columbia Park, and a block east of the Oakridge – 41st Canada Line Station.

What will it contribute to the community?:
Aside from the moderate income rental homes, it will pay ~$3.7 million in levies to fund infrastructure throughout Vancouver. It will also provide ~$260,000 for public art (pg 55). In total, this amounts to ~$18,000 per home.

What has changed since it was first proposed?
Despite a lack of opposition, there will be some changes going forward as city staff are requiring it to implement the Urban Design Panel’s recommendations.

What was the open house like?:
Though nearly 1,000 notice cards were sent out, just four people participated in this event (pg 14), and only one question was asked, which you can view here.

What are its strengths?:
The ample amount of bike parking responds well to the multi-modal transportation options in the area, and will ensure the park doesn’t become burdened with car traffic. It has plenty of amenities to keep its residents busy, and the lobby space creates an open, welcoming feeling.

What are its weaknesses?:
It would be nice if the community plan allowed more variety in these designs, and this one probably could use a splash of colour, and a bit more activity along the laneway.

What is the opposition like?:
It seems they’re uninformed, or just ignorant, as some claim this would cast shadows onto the park to the south (pg 46). Others are simply unaware that the Cambie Corridor Plan allows this height, and density, which they believe should have been limited to the busy arterial roads (pg 1).

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

The Third Item – 485 West 28th Avenue – Low

What is it?:
This is a typical six floor building on Cambie Street that will provide 27 strata homes in a design similar to others that have been put forward by this team.

Where is it?:
Here, on a lone corner lot less than a 10 minute walk from the King Edward Canada Line station, and about the same distance to the Hillcrest Community Centre.

What will it contribute to the community?:
Altogether, each home will contribute ~$102,000. This includes ~$2 million to provide more daycare, and improve parks, community facilities, and transit services in the area (pg 10), with ~$100,000 used to achieve city-wide heritage objectives (pg 11). Another ~$750,00 will be provided to better infrastructure across Vancouver (pg 41).

What has changed since it was first proposed?
In order to be approved, city staff are requiring the addition of a children’s play area, as well as some bird friendly spaces (pg 16 & 18).

What was the open house like?:
Over 1,100 people were notified about this virtual event, yet only eight bothered to “engage” with it (pg 9). Unsurprisingly, some of those who took the time to submit questions later wrote in to express their opposition (pg 1).

What are its strengths?:
These designs might be uninspiring, but they do comply with the community plan’s prescriptive nature. Whether it’s ultimately successful or not, at least there’s been an effort made to preserve one of the larger existing trees on site, and add several new ones too.

What are its weaknesses?:
We can’t understand why anyone would bother to include an oversupply of car parking (34 spaces for 27 homes) with the excellent transit service in the area. For that matter, one can’t help but wonder whether the money, and time spent reviewing this Cambie Special could have been put to better use.

What is the opposition like?:
It seems like it’s mostly coming from one nearby homeowner, who’s concerned about how their privacy will be affected, as they believe the situation is unlike any other on Cambie Street.

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

The Fourth Item – 1616-1698 West Georgia Street – Very Low

What is it?:
This 33 floor building will contain 127 strata homes, and will provide a new pedestrian mews along its eastern edge. It could be taller under the West End Community Plan (pg 50), but has been cut back by ~60 feet to prevent shadowing on Marina Square.

Where is it?:
Here, commuters across the Lion’s Gate Bridge have likely fueled up at this former Chevron gas station at least once, or grabbed a bite to eat at the White Spot that was next door, which is also being transformed.

What will it contribute to the community?:
Each home will pay roughly ~$247,000 to the city’s coffers. Taken together, this ~$26.1 million will be used to enhance transit services, community facilities, and provide affordable housing in the West End with ~$260,000 dedicated to heritage objectives across Vancouver (pg 13). Another ~$5 million levy will be paid for infrastructure improvements, and there’s also a ~$350,000 public art contribution (pg 54).

What has changed since it was first proposed?
Despite the long delay, it’s stayed true to the original rezoning concept. That said, city staff are requiring some improvement to the pedestrian mews, and the overall landscaping (pg 21 -23).

What was the open house like?:
It’s been just over two years since Hannah and I joined over 50 other people at this event at the Westin Bayshore Hotel. That said, it was an uneventful affair, and virtually all of the feedback was supportive (pg 44).

What are its strengths?:
Unlike other proposals in the area, it’s opted for a simple beauty, inspired by the cliffs of the North Shore Mountains. This green space, and eco-friendly waterfall will be a massive improvement to the pedestrian experience of Georgia Street.

What are its weaknesses?:
It’s a huge waste to include 213 parking stalls in the West End, especially as only 124 were needed by city policy. Depending on one’s abilities, the mid-block connection could pose some challenges.

What is the opposition like?:
There really doesn’t seem to be any, but there were suggestions to include more affordable forms of housing (pg 45) .

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

3 thoughts on “Public Hearing – April 13th, 2021 – North Shore Inspired Homes Bring A Landslide Of Community Benefits To The West End

Add yours

  1. Why you do not write about the development process in other cities. Sooner or later the BC government will make it uniform, it is a mess right now.

    Like

    1. The simple (and lighthearted) answer is because there’s only so much time in a day. We have written about the occasional project in the suburbs, but our coverage tends to focus more on Vancouver because it’s where we’ve made our home.

      Of course, we agree there are plenty noteworthy things happening throughout the region, whether it be in Coquitlam, North Van, Surrey, or even Chilliwack.

      Like

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