May 17th & May 19th, 2022 Public Hearings – The West End’s Hidden Legacy Returns To A Greener Future

Public Hearings – May 17th, 2022, and May 19th, 2022

With over 50 people already registered to speak on the Broadway Plan, it would be easy to forget there are three public hearings scheduled this month. So to simplify things, Hannah and I have combined this week’s zoning bylaw reviews into this post, and we’ll save the Heather Lands discussion for next Monday. After all, unlike an architect who’s opposed to one of this week’s rezoning applications, and the aforementioned community plan, we endeavor to provide accurate information.

May 17th, 2022
That behaviour is unusual for that profession, however this night starts off fairly typical, with Item #1 seeking to correct a few typos, and similar mistakes, in previously approved rezoning applications. This standard format continues with Item #2, a townhome proposal near Columbia Park, which, as usual, reflects concerns about how the Cambie Corridor Plan has affected street parking availability. Item #3 also comes under that policy, though its residents probably won’t need to rely on their cars for transportation.

That’s because this six floor building is located a five minute walk away from the Marine Drive Canada Line station. Given these forms have become common along this arterial road, it’s not really worth spotlighting, especially since it hasn’t attracted much notice (pg 34). In contrast, we feel obligated to highlight Item #4, as it’s taken five years to reach this point, and a last minute disinformation campaign has formed around this unique looking West End tower.

May 19th, 2022
Like a younger sibling, this evening has drawn barely any attention, which is unfortunate as its agenda focuses on the future of social, historic, and environmental sustainability. Its first item demonstrates the need to adapt, as it amends the Downtown Eastside Plan to better facilitate the creation of non-market housing while retaining its heritage buildings. Item #3 and Item #4 seek to do something similar, yet neither offer any increased affordability.

Instead, they’re both applying for a small 0.1 FSR bonus to preserve Grandview Woodland’s Kilpin Residence, and Shaughnessy’s Morrison Residence respectively. Item #2 is more future focused, as it incentivizes gas stations to include E.V. charging stations with dramatically lower business licensing fees. Ultimately, this night shows that as things changes they can also stay the same, still as none of these have drawn any serious attention, your thoughts can have a greater impact if you write in or speak up.

Backlash Expectations

May 17th 2022
Item 4 – 1668-1684 Alberni St – Very Low
Several similar proposals have been approved nearby without much complaint.

The Fourth Item – 1668-1684 Alberni St – Very Low

What is it?:
Created by the renowned firm Revery Architecture (formerly known as Bing Thom Architects), This 39 floor, weave inspired strata building will provide 94 homes, as envisioned by the West End Community Plan (pg 49).

Where is it?:
Here, south of the former White Spot on Georgia Street, in an area becoming known for its distinctive architecture.

What will it contribute to the community?:
It will pay ~$37 million to improve neighbourhood amenities, like the community centre, and another $6.6 million in levies will be used to improve civic infrastructure, like the sewer system. There will also be ~$460,000 provided to fund public art (pg 13).

What has changed since it was first proposed?
Originally the intent was to preserve 1668 Alberni for rental housing, but that was nixed due to a city policy that requires an 80 foot separation between residential towers (pg 3).

What was the open house like?:
In the nearly five years since Hannah and I attended its pre-application, and city-led open houses, the venue they were held in has been demolished, and almost replaced. Needless to say, we don’t remember much, though the staff report shows most complaints were about traffic congestion (pg 43).

What are its strengths?:
There’s no displacement as it’s replacing two condo buildings, one of which only has a single home per floor. It’s subjective, but both Hannah and I think this is a really beautiful looking design.

What are its weaknesses?:
The Urban Design Panel, and some public feedback, worried the large reflecting pool could end up resembling a moat-like barrier to the community (pg 7).

What is the opposition like?:
They’re either a little disingenuous or just confused, as their small group includes an architect well known for opposing the Broadway Plan who claims this will block an unspecified view cone, despite it being hidden behind taller structures (pg 8).

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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