June 17th, 2021 Public Hearing – Vancouver’s Crème de la Crème Sours On Moderate Income Rental Homes Greenway Approach

Public Hearing – June 17th, 2021

This public hearing’s agenda will let me recap one of my favourite open house experiences, and one that Hannah still rightly scolds me for attending, as I was literally bleeding internally. Even with the post surgical fog, I’ll never forget the shocked faces in the room, though not every project can be that memorable. In fact, Item #1, a six floor building at 5412 Cambie, could easily be confused with several others that have already been approved along this corridor.

Item #2, located between 62nd and 63rd Avenue at 7730-7772 Cambie, is also pretty straightforward, as this six floor building design has been similarly prescribed by the community plan’s guidelines. For this reason, and because they’ve received little public interest, we’ll be omitting them from our in-depth coverage. That said, like Item #3, we won’t ignore the needs of Cambie’s heart, which is why this six floor building, and its ~4,100 sqft. daycare, is where our deep dive begins.

After all, as Item #4 proves, we’re willing to sacrifice more than our time to provide a better picture of our city. Granted, had I know this proposal on Kingsway would be redesigned afterwards, I may not have dragged myself to its applicant-led event after undergoing two hours of surgery, but it does make for a cool story. It could have been much worse, as I can’t imagine combining the effects of anaesthesia with the anger displayed towards Item #5.

It’s obvious the city’s $55 million purchase of the Arbutus Greenway failed to convince Vancouver’s crème de la crème that new housing deserves anything beyond a sour response. They’re ready for a multi-night discussion about these 116 rental homes, 20% of which are voluntarily dedicated to households earning between $30,000-$80,000. With a list of talking points, and plans to alert their allies when it’s their turn to speak to city council, they’ve highlighted the impact your thoughts can have.

Backlash Expectations

Item #3 – 3353 Cambie StModerate
Some neighbours are willing to sacrifice daycare spaces to preserve the area’s small village look

Item #4 – 2725-2751 KingswayVery Low
We’re about the only one’s who seem interested in this proposal’s five year journey

Item #5 – 3609-3687 Arbutus StVery High
Past successes mean this opposition is extremely well organized, with flyers, and form letters


The Third Item – 3353 Cambie St – Moderate

What is it?:
Under the Cambie Corridor Plan (pg 42), this six floor building will offer three new floors of office space, provide a ~4,100 sqft. daycare, and renew the ground level retail stores.

Where is it?:
Here, in the heart of the Cambie Village, on the same block as Biercraft, Rain or Shine Ice Cream, and a public plaza. Roughly halfway between the Canada Line’s Broadway City Hall, and King Edward stations.

What will it contribute to the community?:
There’s clearly a need for more daycare, but since this one won’t be operated by a non-profit, the proposal will need to pay $580,000 in city levies. However, a community amenity contribution won’t be required, as this development isn’t expected to increase this property’s base value (pg 11).

What has changed since it was first proposed?
In response to concerns about how it fits the neighbourhood’s character, city staff are requiring changes in materials, window proportions, storefront treatment, and the pedestrian experience on Tupper Street. For the same reason, they’ve also instructed that the floors above level three be reduced with setbacks.

What was the open house like?:
Though over 2,000 households were notified about this event, it was dominated by one person who submitted 12 of the 14 questions asked, all of which were pretty critical and can be viewed here.

What are its strengths?:
Creating space for people to work, while their children are being look after, and maintaining the Cambie Village’s fine-scale storefronts seems like a win all around.

What are its weaknesses?:
The prescriptive nature of the Cambie Corridor Plan’s design guidelines means this isn’t the most inspirational looking architecture.

What is the opposition like?:
Most of the ~40 complaints focus on the buildings height, and its perceived lack of character (pg 32). As one person explained, they already feel hemmed in by the couple existing three story buildings, so this one is far too tall (pg 1).

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


The Fourth Item – 2725-2751 Kingsway – Very Low

What is it?:
The latest version of this mix of 4, 5, and 10 floor buildings will provide retail at the ground level, with 242 strata homes overhead, as envisioned by the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan (pg 54).

Where is it?:
Here, across from the Purdy’s Chocolate Factory, at the former home of Harvey’s Furniture & Appliances, and a tire shop. It’s roughly kitty corner to Norquay Park, the best one in the community.

What will it contribute to the community?:
As this is a strata building, it will be paying a lot of city fee’s, including $5.2 million for city-wide improvements, and $2.6 million for those in the immediate neighbourhood. There will also be public art worth $380,000, or $300,000 in cash to locate one off-site (pg 11).

What has changed since it was first proposed?
There’s been three versions since it was first proposed in 2017. In 2018, a version that included the old Fountain Tire was included to allow for another 10 floor building, and the latest version’s sleek design was put forward in 2019. Naturally, city staff are requiring some further tweaks too.

What was the open house like?:
As I had a fresh four inch surgical wound, it was fortunate the 2018 applicant-led event drew a small turnout. The city-led event in 2019 also had a low turn out, and Hannah wasn’t there either as she was out-east to attend a family member’s funeral. Given our history, perhaps it’s for the best we were unaware of the 2017 applicant-led event at the time.

What are its strengths?:
There won’t be any displacement, and after five years there’s been plenty of consultation. Hannah really likes the required lighting feature (pg 7), and new modern look, which seems to better respond to the 14 floor building / plaza combo that will eventually replace the Purdy’s Factory (pg 54).

What are its weaknesses?:
We imagine these homes would have been a lot more affordable if this process hadn’t dragged on for five years.

What is the opposition like?:
Most of it has related to traffic volumes, and a lack of street parking (pg 36). A couple others are are very upset that more people have moved into the area, as it’s ruined their “freedom from unreasonable disturbances,” and have threatened to move away if this is approved (pg 1).

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


The Fifth Item – 3609-3687 Arbutus St – Very High

What is it?:
These two six floor buildings will provide a combined total of 116 rental homes, of which 20% will be offered at rates affordable to households earning $30,000 – $80,000 a year. This wasn’t required, but rather was something the applicant voluntarily put forward.

Where is it?:
Here, across from the Arbutus Greenway, roughly a 15 minute walk, or 5 minute bike ride from the future Broadway Line SkyTrain station, and even closer to the Arbutus Centre.

What will it contribute to the community?:
In addition to the moderate income rental homes, it will pay a ~$840,000 levy to improve civic infrastructure (pg 68).

What has changed since it was first proposed?
In order to be approved, city staff are requiring the applicant to further differentiate the design of the two buildings, enlarge the courtyard between them, and incorporate screens to prevent views of the neighbouring single-family homes (pg 25 – 26).

What was the open house like?:
Though only 480 notice cards were sent, over 250 mostly opposed comments were received, which shows those few who live nearby are very engaged. Common views expressed were that “transient” renters should be forced to live in busier areas, as they would disrupt the neighbourhood with crime, and negatively impact property values (pg 44 – 45). Most of the the questions were of a similar nature, and you can view them all here.

What are its strengths?:
The voluntary decision to provide moderate income rental homes is really something else, especially given the proximity to a future SkyTrain station. The rooftop amenities ensure there will be plenty for residents to do at home, and the terraced setback on the eastern side is really respectful to the neighbours.

What are its weaknesses?:
Despite the fiscal challenges of providing these middle income homes, we’re sure some will seize on the fact that the proposal isn’t paying more in various development fees.

What is the opposition like?:
Quite successful, as they managed to delay the expansion of the Arbutus Centre for years, and persuaded the Development Permit Board to eliminate a floor of homes from the Ridge. Their network has come up with form letters (see below), posters, and are even urging their their grandchildren to speak against these homes. They’re joined by allies like We Love Kits (1), and others who fear a massive influx of people into the area (pg 3).

-(Source)

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

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