January 25th, 2022 Public Hearing – SkyTrain Focused Homes Forced To Undergo A Skyline Shave To Fit In

Public Hearing – January 25th, 2022
If we hadn’t included it in a title years ago, this public hearing would have been a great setup for a “Grand Slam” pun. In fact, if it wasn’t for a significant amount of public support, city council would never have considered the policy updates that allow for Item #1. This text amendment seeks to transform a Denny’s near the Marine Drive Canada Line station into nearly 600 rental homes ranging from market rates to those that are “deeply affordable.”

The strata homes in Item #2 certainly wouldn’t meet that definition, though some would likely claim it shows our quip isn’t this night’s only missed opportunity. As this six floor building is just a couple blocks from the Commercial-Broadway transit hub, one could ask if this community plan could use a similar update, though a small vocal group would argue it already goes too far. However, their anger has dulled with the approval of four similar proposals in this area.

Frankly, as time passes these applications tend to blend together, as demonstrated by Item #3, the latest doppelganger on the Cambie Corridor. Item #4 is similarly hidden in plain sight, as this text amendment would convert a few strata homes in the podium of a previously approved building across from BC Place into rental townhomes. Arguably the biggest decision our elected officials will make this week won’t happen at this public hearing, but rather at Wednesday’s Standing Committee.

That’s when they’ll decide whether to have city staff set up a test program for Mayor Stewart’s Making Home policy, which would allow six-plexes on up to 2,000 lots currently zoned for single-family homes. Naturally, that’s already drawn plenty of supporters, and opponents, yet it’s your thoughts that could prove most influential, so don’t miss your opportunity to tell our elected officials what you think here.

Backlash Expectations

Item #1 – 622-688 SW Marine DrVery Low
Neither group is that large, but those in support outnumber the opposition by a 3 -1 margin

Item #2 – 2037-2061 E BroadwayLow
Anger continues to decrease as this area’s community vision slowly becomes a reality

Item #3 – 7929-7949 Cambie StVery Low
Like most proposals on this corridor, there’s been literally no complaints

The First Item – 622-688 SW Marine Dr – Very Low

What is it?:
With two 28 and 32 floor towers, this triangular complex will create 456 market, and 117 below-market rate rental homes, with 28 of the latter set at significantly discounted rates. Of course, there will be retail stores on the ground level, and a daycare on the second floor too.

Where is it?:
Here, on a lot most recognizable for a Denny’s restaurant, it’s a short walk away from the Marine Drive Canada Line station, as well as Marine Gateway’s T&T Foods, and Cineplex.

What will it contribute to the community?:
Aside from the already mentioned affordable housing, and daycare spaces, it will pay $12.7 million in levies to maintain our city’s infrastructure. Its large size means it must provide $900,000 worth of public art too (pg 18).

What has changed since it was first proposed?
As a somewhat contradictory condition of its approval, city staff are demanding a reduction in its overall height, yet insist the design should be enhanced to contribute more to the area’s skyline (pg 25).

What was the open house like?:
A virtual ghost town because, as you can see here, none of the 3,600 households notified about it bothered to ask a single question (pg 53).

What are its strengths?:
We imagine plenty of parents will be interested in the daycare spaces, or the affordable housing, but it’s worth mentioning that city staff sculpted the height to ensure it doesn’t shadow Ash Park in the spring, summer, or fall.

What are its weaknesses?:
The new mid-block pedestrian connector, and its plaza terraces look nice, but how will they accommodate those pushing carriages or using mobility devices is another question.

What is the opposition like?:
Only three people have expressed concern about how this building will affect the area’s detached homes, and their availability of street parking (pg 54).

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 – 2037-2061 E Broadway – Low

What is it?:
Similar to several other approved projects on this stretch of East Broadway, this six floor building will provide 54 strata homes as envisioned by the Grandview Woodland Community Plan (pg 122) and View Cone 27.2.

Where is it?:
Here, replacing four owner-occupied detached homes that are a stone’s throw from Laura Secord Elementary, and less than 10 minute walk from the Broadway Commercial Transit Station.

What will it contribute to the community?:
It will pay ~$1.2 million in fees used to provide better city infrastructure, like improved street lighting, with another ~$710 thousand going towards creating new amenities specifically in this neighbourhood (pg 10 & 11).

What has changed since it was first proposed?
City Staff may have implemented the Urban Design Panel’s advice to force a more unified appearance on this structure, but ignored their plea to leave the children’s play area where the applicant team originally wanted it (pg 15).

What was the open house like?:
It seems most at this virtual event owned homes to the north, and were upset that only their views to the mountains would be preserved. If you missed this block party, you can still see the questions asked here.

What are its strengths?:
Its proximity to two SkyTrain lines is something anyone could appreciate., though those with children might be particularly happy that there’s more family-sized homes being included than is required.

What are its weaknesses?:
It’s hard to believe the community planning process that envisioned the future of this part of Broadway didn’t include more retail space on this block.

What is the opposition like?:
It’s been five years since the area plan was approved, and six floor buildings are now permitted on almost every major road in Vancouver, but about half a dozen people insist they don’t belong here (pg 30 & 31).

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 – 7929-7949 Cambie St – Very Low

What is it?:
A typical six floor building that, thanks to the Cambie Corridor Plan’s strict guidelines (pg 111), resembles this proponents previously approved projects.

Where is it?:
Here, replacing two detached homes that are a five minute walk down to all the services offered at Marine Gateway, including the Marine Drive Canada Line station.

What will it contribute to the community?:
It will pay ~$770 thousand in levies used to improve city infrastructure, like sewer lines, and ~$2 million for providing new neighbourhood service, like daycare and below-market housing (pg 11 & 12).

What has changed since it was first proposed?
To ensure this building mimics the others in the area, city staff are requiring the floors above the fourth level to be cut back to accommodate an eight foot setback (pg 15).

What was the open house like?:
As you can see here, it was uneventful, with one person asking about embodied carbon, and another who was curious about how this could fund the creation of a new sidewalk along Ash Street.

What are its weaknesses?:
Not every building needs to be a work of art, but it’s a shame that these designs aren’t given the freedom to express more of an individual identity.

What is the opposition like?:
There hasn’t been any, aside from some concerns about an over-supply of vehicle parking, and traffic congestion (pg 33).

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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