January 18th, 2022 Public Hearing – Vancouver’s Ugly Duckling Looks To Get Jacked Up

Public Hearing – January 18th, 2022
Anyone who grew up in a small town in the Canadian Prairies can vouch there’s not a lot to do, especially at this time of year. So it may sound hard to believe, but one of my loving wife’s favourite activities was heading to her hometown’s only 7-Eleven for Slurpees with her friends. That’s something she continues to do today, which is getting tougher as those convenience stores are slowly going extinct, and naturally I tease her whenever one does.

Which is partially why I’m writing this, as city council’s decision to update the Secured Rental Policy last month means this night should be uneventful. After all, Item #1, a six floor rental proposal near the King Edward Village, could now skip this process, and submit a development application instead. Item #2 could do the same, yet while Hannah may cringe at losing another convenience store, many are calling for these rental homes to live up to their name.

However, despite being smaller than the community plan envisions, Item #3 needs our elected officials approval, as it seeks to allow rental homes on two lots zoned for single-family homes. That caused considerable anger last year, which appears to have faded with the construction of two similarly-sized buildings on this block, and reopening of the nearby a Cineplex. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a webslinger to wield the great power that comes with making your opinions heard.

Backlash Expectations

Item #1 – 1369-1381 Kingsway – Very Low
Despite claims this will turn Vancouver into Hong Kong, only two people have opposed this project.

Item #2 – 3304 Kingsway (J@K) – Very Low
Over 70 people have written to support these homes in hopes they’ll be allowed to be far larger.

Item #3 – 185-193 Southwest Marine Drive – Low
There was plenty of opposition at its virtual open house, but this duck seems to have grown on people.

The First Item – 1369-1381 Kingsway – Very Low

What is it?:
As is common on Kingsway, this six floor building will create 49 rental homes, and include retail stores on the ground level.

Where is it?:
Here, right behind the 19 bus stop at the intersection of Kingsway and Knight Street, almost kitty corner to the far taller King Edward Village.

What will it contribute to the community?:
It’s required to pay ~$1.25 million (pg 14) in levies to fund things like replacing sewer and water lines (pg 14), though if the rents are set below a prescribed level (pg 3), it can apply for a ~$725 thousand waiver.

What has changed since it was first proposed?
The original submission, seen here, looks to have been slightly larger. Going forward, city staff are requiring the amenity areas to be enlarged, with space added to the rooftop as well (pg 19).

What was the open house like?:
While one person had a multi-part question about the public realm, five of these seven questions were asked by a lone individual, and all of them can be viewed here.

What are its strengths?:
The landscaping along the laneway makes it feel a lot more welcoming, and there will be no forced departures either, as there are no existing homes here.

What are its weaknesses?:
You wouldn’t know it by looking at them, but the western-most structure is over a hundred years old, and it’s demolition might concern those who love mature buildings.

What is the opposition like?:
These two individuals feel our city is becoming too much like Hong Kong, and that there’s already enough rental housing available. Ironically, one claims they would be fine with four floors, which is two stories less than what city council approved on sites like these last month.

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

The Second Item – 3304 Kingsway (J@K) – Very Low

What is it?:
Already named J@k, this six story building includes 79 rental homes, with retail stores on the ground floor, and a large underground amenity area.

Where is it?:
Here, across from the fire damaged Sir Guy Carlton Elementary school, replacing the 7-Eleven at the southeast corner of Kingsway and Joyce St.

What will it contribute to the community?:
To fund improvements to city utilities, like water mains, it’s required to pay ~$1.46 million in fees, yet if the rents are set under this year’s pre-fixed level (pg 3), it can qualify for an ~$860 thousand waiver (pg 13).

What has changed since it was first proposed?
As demanded by public feedback, city staff are requiring increases to the size of the above ground indoor amenity areas, and the residences themselves. That may come at the expense of some homes, as the size of the building is limited to what is proposed (pg 7 & 8).

What was the open house like?:
Overwhelmingly positive, with 78 comments in support, and only 2 against (pg 41). The eight questions asked at this virtual event, which you can view here, focused mostly on how pedestrian and vehicle traffic would be impacted.

What are its strengths?:
The underground weight room is in a good location, and I think the games room is pretty cool too. More importantly, there won’t be any displacement of long term residents, aside from convenience store Twinkies.

What are its weaknesses?:
I don’t mean to dog pile on an issue that’s already being addressed, but originally some of these homes were really small. Of course, Hannah is sad any time Slurpee machines are lost.

What is the opposition like?:
Apparently unaware that city staff have already heeded their demands. Most only want to see these homes made larger, though at least one person (12:26) would prefer they be cut back further instead.

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

The Third Item – 185-193 Southwest Marine Drive – Low

What is it?:
This is an oddity, as this six floor building, and laneway townhome pair are not only smaller than the Marpole Corridor Plan allows for (pg 6), but will also include 46 rental homes, rather than the usual strata housing.

Where is it?:
Here, replacing two detached homes that are a 10-minute walk from the Marie Drive Canada Line Station. It’s even closer to the Infinity Tire sculpture that marks the big box stores at 26 Marine.

What will it contribute to the community?:
It will pay ~$300 thousand to fund city utility improvements, like larger sewer lines, while an additional fee of ~$530 thousand has been waived since the applicant signed a legal agreement guaranteeing the price of rent for these homes (pg 3).

What has changed since it was first proposed?
While city staff are requiring the inclusion of a children’s play area, a wider internal courtyard (pg 16), and a setback to accommodate the widening of Marine Drive by 15 feet (pg 6), they’ve also insisted the applicant add more living space to comply with the community plan (pg 7).

What was the open house like?:
At first glance it would seem uneventful, as there were no questions asked at this virtual event. That said, 16 of the 26 responses submitted were negative, with many claiming these homes would negatively impact the community (pg 36).

What are its strengths?:
It provides a well-landscaped buffer for its residents from the traffic on Marine Drive, and with five ride-share vehicles, and 104 stalls of bike parking (pg 9), it responds well to the nearby shopping centres, rapid transit, and movie theatre.

What are its weaknesses?:
It’s obvious this site’s seven-foot slope has posed serious challenges (pg 6), and though Hannah likes the look of the apartment building, I’m not a fan of its aesthetics to put it mildly.

What is the opposition like?:
It seems to have withered up, and maybe that’s due to the fact construction is well under way for two similarly-sized buildings on this block that provide non-market housing for seniors and families.

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

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