October 5th, 2021 Public Hearing – No Boos Expected For Vancouver’s Town Centre Rental Homes

Public Hearing – October 5th, 2021
As comedy can help keep powerful institutions humble, I’ve joked that perhaps Vancouver’s new Auditor General should examine if public hearings are held primarily for the taxpayer funded catering. Hannah often notes even bad humour occasionally reflects some truth, and Item #1 demonstrates how enacting wider changes can be more efficient than individual reviews. Granted, increasing the space allowed for light industrial jobs in the False Creek Flats Innovation District isn’t controversial, but neither is the rest of this agenda.

In fact, Item #2 was actually brought forward by seven multi-million dollar homeowners that are seeking to absorb the space meant for Alma Street’s expansion into their own lands. As traffic volumes north of W 4th Avenue never reached their predicted levels, the Department of Engineering has endorsed this, and will instead eventually reallocate a couple of existing lanes for pedestrians. Conversely, Items #3 & #4 are located almost kitty-corner to a transit hub that will only grow in importance.

They’re really a package deal, as this mix of moderate income and market rental homes basically share a block in the heart of the Oakridge Municipal Town Centre (pg 62). We’re certain neither will garner much interest, leaving us puzzled why after over 10 years of consultation, city council insists on personally reviewing every Cambie Corridor Plan rezoning application. Ironically, there were plans to simplify this process, but the scheduled February public consultation never occurred (pg 2), so make sure to speak up now.

Backlash Expectations

Item 3 – 357-475 West 41st AvenueVery Low
Maybe this would be controversial a decade ago, but that’s no longer the case.

Item 4 – 325-343 West 41st AvenueVery Low
Only three comments were submitted, with none opposed.

The Third Item – 357-475 West 41st Avenue – Very Low

What is it?:
As per the Cambie Corridor Plan, these 14 and 22 floor buildings are linked by a shared podium (pg 74). Combined, this will include ground level retail stores and 419 rental homes, with 64 set at rates affordable to households earning between $38,000– $80,000 per year.

Where is it?:
Here, between Alberta St. and a laneway adjacent to Cambie St. It’s along the north side of West 41st Avenue, and replaces eight single-family homes, worth an average of ~$4.6 million each. Directly to the east is Item #4.

What will it contribute to the community?:
Altogether it will pay ~$3.9 million in fees, and provide 64 moderate income rental homes as a neighbourhood benefit (pg 58). This breaks down to a ~$600,000 public art contribution, a ~$250,000 levy on the commercial space, and ~$3 million charge to fund city-wide sewer, water, and other infrastructure improvements.

What has changed since it was first proposed?
Back when it was first revealed in July 2019, there were 76 hotel rooms included in the podium, but these were converted to rental homes three months later. To be approved, city staff are requiring several improvements to the public realm, and a reduction to the western building’s perceived height (pg 24 –26).

What was the open house like?:
The applicant hosted event drew 35 people, with the free food generating the most interest. Slightly more people attended the city-led meeting, yet few of these 53 individuals were upset, and most of them calmed down after realizing they could still build something similar on their lands. Not surprisingly, only five comment cards were submitted, with just a couple expressing concerns (pg 48).

What are its strengths?:
It’s a wonderful location, next to a future nine-acre park, and extremely well served by rapid-transit. Residents will also have access to large common amenity areas, and a residential feeling will be maintained by the townhomes along the lane.

What are its weaknesses?:
377 spaces of car parking less than a block from major transit hub seems like a huge waste of space, and it’s a shame that none of the family-sized homes have more than 2-bedrooms. The design is pretty plain, but that’s due to the extremely prescriptive community plan.

What is the opposition like?:
Unlike their neighbours who are looking to cash out, a couple individuals continue to fight against the changes that are already happening in the area over concerns their homes may end up in shadows (pg 49).

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

The Fourth Item – 325-343 West 41st Avenue – Very Low

What is it?:
Again, under the Cambie Corridor Plan (pg 74), this 10 floor building will provide 83 market rental homes, as well as 9 that will be set at rates affordable for households earning moderate incomes.

Where is it?:
Here, a block from a Canada Line station, it’s replacing two single-family homes worth nearly $5 million at the northeast corner of Alberta, and West 41st Avenue. It’s directly east of Item #3.

What will it contribute to the community?:
The 9 moderate income rental homes fulfill its neighbourhood amenity contribution (pg 17), and agreeing to provide rental housing rather than strata tenure is a benefit valued at ~$1,250,000. That said, it will still pay ~$700,000 in fees used for upgrading sewers, water pipes, and other city-wide infrastructure (pg 16).

What has changed since it was first proposed?
Despite the lack of public interest, city staff are requiring improvements to the laneway (pg 24), and a reduction in the perceived height (pg 23) in order to comply with the Urban Design Panel’s recommendations.

What was the open house like?:
It shared both its applicant-led and city-led open house events with Item #3, and it garnered almost no attention. Only three comment forms were submitted, none of which expressed any major concerns. (pg 46)

What are its strengths?:
Its design basically aligns with what the Cambie Corridor Plan prescribes, and anyone renting here will be able to enjoy a well-programmed rooftop amenity deck.

What are its weaknesses?:
Considering the public disinterest, as well as the proximity to the Canada Line, and a R4 rapid bus stop, perhaps this could have provided more homes, or less parking.

What is the opposition like?:
There’s none that we know of (pg 78).

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