Category Archives: Cityshaping

Delegation to Council Jul 17

Fred Dawkins represented North Van City Voices’ delegation to Council last night. The script follows:

Voices Delegation to CNV Council, 17 July 2017

Good evening Your Worship, Councillors.

I’m speaking tonight on behalf of North Van City Voices.

As everyone here is aware, the city has been undergoing an unprecedented building boom over the past several years. Council has been facilitating this rapid increase in population through density bonusing, consistently going beyond the guidelines that were established by our Official Community Plan just a couple of years ago.

Of course, bonusing is a tool that the city uses in an effort to achieve certain policy objectives. Is it working? We’ll get to that in a minute.

First some context. Voices has been monitoring the growth in housing units in the city, keeping a running total of new units built, approved, or otherwise in the development pipeline since 2011. We have on several occasions pointed out that the city is well ahead of the pace of development required to meet its long-term objectives for population growth. These objectives formed a large part of the rationale behind the City Shaping exercise and the revised OCP that emerged from it. So, how much are we getting ahead of our growth projections?

read more:  NVCV – Delegation Jul 2017

Densifying Vancouver housing for the young generation | Metro News

This article in Metro News talking about generational inequality and backlash from single family neighbourhoods serves to remind us why our group was formed originally.   Existing residents are not necessarily against density, but there is no certainty in the City of North Van with the 2014 OCP.  Density bonuses, transfers and spot zonings are rampant: https://nvcityvoices.wordpress.com/about-us/

Article:

Code Red: Single-family housing is out of reach for young Vancouverites, so re-zone for other types of housing, say experts

Source: Densifying Vancouver housing for the young generation | Metro News

Don’t Leave City Planning to the Planners | The Tyee

Why non-experts should have last say in changing neighbourhoods.

Source: Don’t Leave City Planning to the Planners | The Tyee

By Michael Kluckner and quoting in part:

Under the current system, planners seem to be unable to influence anything other than the built form. In the current Vancouver case, the market is only responding to the economic, not the social, needs of cities, creating a glut of small one-bedroom condos and a lack of new family accommodation.

(Comment from Voices:  Case in point – current application for a new rental building on East 3rd – out of 40 units, 17 will be studios starting at 409 sqft)

Quoting further:

‘In praise of skeptics

Why is public involvement necessary? Because the public is essentially skeptical and conservative — they are the only people whose interests in cities extend beyond the economic and ideological. The public provides a necessary brake on the swings of fashion that bedevil the practice of planning and land development.

Are the public NIMBYs? We are hard-wired as a species to defend turf, and the only thing which trumps it is economic gain. Ask any wealthy person of your acquaintance: “do you have a desire to pack yourself in with strangers, or are you using your money to buy space and light?”

It’s the relationship between planners and the property-development industry that is so problematic, because both see the city as a business opportunity, which is philosophically at odds with people who want just to do their jobs, meet their friends, raise their children and be able to live with a reasonable level of security as renters or owners.

(Comment from Voices: Even more problematic in the City of North Van with the current majority slate on Council primarily funded by developers in the 2014 local election)

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Planners, and their bosses, are addicted to change: neighbourhoods may work in practice but if they don’t work in theory they get “planned for the future.” Fixing things that aren’t broken is a way of destroying the natural evolution of cities. Without the check-and-balance of empowered citizens, you get a situation like the 1950s and 1960s, which is on the verge of happening again. It’s called “green” now; it looked exactly the same but was called “progress” then.

However, I’m not making an argument for no change, but an argument for citizens as partners who are given the same status as planners. City-building is like a three-legged stool: planners, the public, and the property industry. If any leg gets too long the edifice is unstable. City Council, which sits on the stool, is then in danger of being pitched off.

There is a truism that “people are experts at knowing how they want to live.” More than 20 years ago, a youngish Vancouver councillor named Gordon Price told me, “You don’t get re-elected by trampling on people’s dreams.” In the final analysis, it’s about democracy; as Winston Churchill noted, it’s a terrible system but no-one’s come up with a better one.’

Lower Mainlanders strongly against continuing densification

Quoting in part from Barbara Yaffe in the Vancouver Sun:

‘Local politicians for years have tried valiantly to convince Lower Mainlanders the only real solution to unaffordable housing is densification. But if results of a new survey on preferred development are to be believed, there is a big problem with their strategy: The public is not buying it.’

“It’s clear that B.C. residents need a more complete, inclusive conversation with planners and developers about density,” remarked Jack Wong, CEO of the Real Estate Foundation of B.C. which sponsored the survey of 1,701 British Columbians, nearly two thirds of them from the Lower Mainland.

“With a million people expected to move into the Greater Vancouver region in the next 40 years, we need to come up with a new shared vision of what an ideal community looks like.”

Wong’s philanthropic foundation awards grants to non-profits working “to improve B.C. communities and the natural environment”.

His remarks are an understatement. The survey suggests that municipalities have utterly mishandled the task of involving and educating their residents to enable them to cope with the enormous challenges facing the region.

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Developers are more interested in building high-density towers than low-rise buildings because, obviously, there is greater opportunity to profit through economies of scale.

Meanwhile, communities have felt shut out of decision-making, as exemplified by recent pitched battles over official development plans in Marpole and Mount Pleasant, and heritage restrictions in Shaughnessy.

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/barbara+yaffe+lower+mainlanders+strongly+against+continuing+densification/11744689/story.html#ixzz41ZorNbnq

Source: Barbara Yaffe: Lower Mainlanders strongly against continuing densification

OCP conflict, density transfer concerns, 1301 Lonsdale,

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We have received the following from a City resident, quoting in part:

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‘City in a conflict of interest re density transfer for the proposed Hollyburn development?

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Somehow the site at the corner of Lonsdale and 13 St West has mutated from an OCP compliant 12 story building with a FSR of 4.0 that nicely fit into the Lonsdale corridor scheme into a 19 story building with a FSR of 4.86

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In summary,
  • Hollyburn would like to have a higher building. Presumably better views will mean higher rent.
  • Hollyburn would like to have a bigger building. Presumably more apartments mean more revenue.
  • The Mayor and Council want to sell some of their excess density to Hollyburn despite the intent of the OCP to use that density for retaining existing rentals units.

Does this justify a change to what is envisaged in the OCP? Why bother having an OCP to begin with if these interests are to be allowed to influence the process.

The motivation of the Mayor and Council should not be influenced by the prospect of selling density. They should simply process a development application that conforms to the OCP. Instead we are faced with yet another a proposal for increased density and height’.

Jim Nicholson

The full submission is here: NVCV- conflict 1301 Lonsdale

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Neighbourhood plan for Moodyville East

Quoting from the North Shore News today:

Imagine a walkable, rideable European-inspired neighbourhood, replete with built-in amenities, greenways and trail access, car-sharing and unique sustainable housing types geared towards families. Welcome to Moodyville East.

Brent Toderian, speaking on behalf of developer Seacliff Properties, made a presentation to council Monday updating plans for the swath of land located east of St. Davids Avenue and south of East Second Street that’s a sub-area of the larger Moodyville planning area.

“We describe it as perhaps a once-in-a-generation opportunity and maybe these kinds of conditions don’t even come along that often,” he said. “We start off with this unprecedented land assembly… as a city planner I’ve referred to this kind of opportunity as a unicorn in the past because it almost doesn’t exist.”

Seacliff has assembled 52 of the 60 lots in the 8.5-acre area and preliminary plans call for the creation of 340 new units.

“I think it’s going to be a very interesting opportunity that other jurisdictions will look to because the common narrative is that you can’t assemble single detached lots and do this type of thing and the City of North Vancouver may be the first municipality to prove that suggestion wrong,” said Toderian, of Toderian Urbanworks.

According to the city’s community development department, the assembly of lands in the area represents the largest assembly in the city since the early 1980s and creates special opportunities for the city and the applicant. “…there’s an opportunity on the City’s side to increase neighbourhood walkability and to provide enhanced universal access on the Spirit Trail between Lower Lonsdale and Moodyville Park.” During his presentation, Toderian discussed the idea of “amenities built in.”

Along with working with city staff on a realigned and improved Spirit Trail in the area he discussed incorporating the Dutch “woonerf model” in the development – which creates living streets as shared social spaces that are used by pedestrians, cyclists and cars.

“The idea of treating lanes as not just places to move and park cars but an actual amenity area particularly for families – we are very excited about piloting this maybe for the first time a Canadian city to do a true woonerf,” Toderian said.

Plans also call for creating community green spaces, such as gardens, and breaking up larger blocks through pedestrian pathways and connections and greater greenway passages linking to the Spirit Trail.

“So the point is we are trying to build amenity into the neighbourhood. As we densify we make this that density is livable through these kinds of amenities.”

The project is also focused on being a model green community and is exploring the possibility of incorporating “passive housing,” which are ultra low-energy units.

“We want to take an approach that looks at the best ideas for a made-in-North Vancouver solution to something that could be a model not only for the city but beyond.”

Also important, said Toderian, is offering a rich variety of housing types, including stacked townhouses, row houses and townhouses, affordable options lock-off suites “We’re emphasizing families in particular but also methods of affordability.”

Coun. Rod Clark worried about the loss of affordable housing in the Moodyville area with new development. “Going forward I would like to know what you will have in the way of rental units and how affordable they are going to be.”

Coun. Pam Bookham asked about the plan to address the issue between the residential interface and the waterfront industrial areas “which basally gave rise to this whole change.”

“We’re trying to do a design that recognizes that the neighbourhood used to look in that direction, the view has now been affected, the intensity of the industrial uses has been increased and so we’d be looking for creative ways to not only soften that impact, address issues through the design of the units… and essentially reorient the relationship inward towards the neighbourhood because it used to be views outward and now we are looking for a design that’s about amenities internal to the neighbourhood. So it’s a bit of rethink,” said Toderian.

Moodyville pre-zoning will be brought to a public hearing in early 2016. Specific details on the southeast Moodyville sub-area development and design controls will be available when bylaws are brought to council for first reading.

 

– See more at: http://www.nsnews.com/news/neighbourhood-plan-for-moodyville-east-1.2157601#sthash.AlX6I2UA.dpuf

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Loss of View Compensation for City residents?

WILL NORTH VANCOUVER CITY RESIDENTS AFFECTED BY LOSS OF VIEWS FROM DEVELOPMENT PURSUE A CLASS-ACTION LAWSUIT TO GAIN COMPENSATION?                 By Kerry Morris – January 19, 2016

‘…I think we want to be clear, from our prospective, listening to the neighbours who are now partners in a way through the purchase, we’ve never considered the conditions to be unliveable or untenable. Frankly, if we did think that way then we wouldn’t have ever supported the initial density. The conditions are inherently liveable. What was affected were the views…’ Said Toderian

So why should City taxpayers give a dam what Toderian thinks? Good question. The answer is; he has either caused your home or condo to double in value, or his comments have started in motion legal challenges that will eventually lead North Vancouver City to suffer the biggest legal losses in its history, and could even bankrupt the community!

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