Tag Archives: Density bonus

Questions linger over taller, denser proposal

Letter from Jim Nicholson in the North Shore News today regarding the 19 storey proposal from Hollyburn Properties at 1301 Lonsdale: (full details of application here: http://www.cnv.org/Property-and-Development/Projects-and-Developments/Current-Developments/1301-1333-Lonsdale-Avenue)

North Vancouver – Dear Editor:

When city council approved the new official community plan in March 2015, a last-minute change added a special study area at the corner of Lonsdale Avenue and West 13th Street adjacent to city hall.

As stated in the OCP: “This site’s location at the southern extent of the Central Lonsdale City Centre makes it visually important in defining the city centre. This study would consider the possibility of an increase to maximum building height at this location.”

This was as a result of a proposal by Hollyburn, which reads in part “… we have found that the mix of uses and density for this site in the 2014 OCP is appropriate. We also believe that the city should allow more height flexibility.”A new proposal from Hollyburn was submitted in September 2015. The mayor and council subsequently directed the city planner “to process the development application with a density bonus and transfer.”

More density – not just height.Hollyburn’s 19-floor proposal is 70 feet higher (60 per cent greater) than the OCP maximum height of 120 feet. The design has a floor space ratio of 4.86, which is 22 per cent over the OCP. The city has conveniently offered to sell a density transfer of 23,713 square feet to Hollyburn to support this proposal.

Why is a density increase being considered when Hollyburn originally said that the density in the OCP “was appropriate”?

Is the city operating at arm’s length in supporting a density increase given that the density is being transferred from the city hall site?

How is this study to be done? The city planner intends to “review and refine the building design, including the fine grained retail character on Lonsdale.”

Is this sufficient to ensure that the end result is “visually important” in defining the city centre?  What solutions are proposed to address the increased traffic congestion at the intersection of 13th Street and Lonsdale Avenue?

Is taller really better? Is increased density at this intersection better? Will alternate building designs, which conform to the OCP, be considered?

There is merit in putting this site under study due to its location next to our award-winning city hall and the Prescott and Centreview developments. Hollyburn will be presenting its proposal at an information session on Jan. 12. Let’s all make sure that Hollyburn and the city fully meet the intent of the special study area.

Jim Nicholson North Vancouver


– See more at: http://www.nsnews.com/news/questions-linger-over-taller-denser-proposal-1.2146677#sthash.nkKhzDGZ.dpuf



On the Unintended Consequences of Inclusionary Zoning

On the Unintended Consequences of Inclusionary Zoning.


The City of North Vancouver has been using this policy when approving new developments as a method to increase ‘affordable housing’.  i.e. the Onni development, the Kimpton and many more.  Some Councillors have argued that much more could be done with the money to benefit more people.

This article agrees with those Councillors,

“Affordable housing policies have a long history of hurting the very people they are said to help,” says Emily Washington, citing public housing and rent control as evidence. She would also add inclusionary zoning to the list of failed policies.

“While support for older housing affordability policies has dissipated, the same isn’t true of inclusionary zoning,” writes Washington.

“IZ has emerged as the affordable housing policy of choice because it has the benefit of supporting socioeconomic diversity, and its costs are opaque and dispersed over many people.”

“However,” writes Washington, “IZ has several key downsides including these hidden costs and a failure to meaningfully address housing affordability for a significant number of people.”

After acknowledging that inclusionary zoning beneficiaries win a lottery, Washington explains that “IZ’s effects are not limited to beneficiaries, and its costs are not fully borne by developers. Because developers will lose money on the IZ units they build, this cost has to be made up in the market rate units in order for the project to go forward. This adds to construction costs and also incentivizes luxury units that can better absorb the cost of the IZ units relative to more affordable construction.” Stated another way: “IZ appears free to everyone except developers because it’s not paid for out of city budgets. But ultimately housing consumers share in the cost of IZ units through a hidden tax.”

Full Story: How Affordable Housing Policies Backfire

Metro’s definition of ‘inclusionary zoning’:

1.1 What is Inclusionary Zoning?

Inclusionary zoning refers to a regulatory instrument available to
local government that either encour
ages or requires the provision
of affordable housing as part of residential developments.
Typically, an inclusionary policy will require new residential
developments to include a percentage of affordable housing units
as a condition of development approval.

The objectives of inclusionary zoning policies are to:
• increase the supply of affordable housing through the
recapturing of value that is created by public decisions to
change land use;
• create that socially and economically integrated
communities; and
• provide opportunities for residents to obtain affordable
housing in locations that are well located to employment,
transportation choices and services.

Inclusionary zoning may be combined with density bonusing and
other incentives such as relaxed development regulations,
lowered development fees or fast-tracking permits to offset the
cost of providing affordable units.


Vancouver reviews developers’ fees for community amenities

Vancouver reviews developers’ fees for community amenities.

This article follows up previous posting:



Province wakes up to effect of developers’ fees on house prices

Province wakes up to effect of developers’ fees on house prices


From the Vancouver Sun, quoting in part:

They are saying, in effect, gone are the days when a city could have a developer pay to build the next pet project that is on the city’s list of “wish we could have” cultural or recreation facilities.

The central theme in the guide repeatedly reminds local governments to consider who ultimately pays for these additional costs in the form of CACs and how they affect housing supply and housing prices. In fact, there is a three-and-a-half-page simple textbook-like lesson in the guide on urban land economics, a case study in the appendix and a whole section of the concluding summary dedicated to educating local governments on the fundamentals of supply and demand.

I’ve never seen any similar lesson produced by the Union of B.C. Municipalities, but I have seen more than a few consultants’ reports drafted by planners who dismiss the simple realities of supply and demand. These consultants have long argued that when a developer agrees to provide a CAC, the cost is borne by the developer or they deduct it from what they would have paid for the development land.

The province’s guide points out that “real estate market economists and historical evidence indicates that this in unlikely.” Ironically, the consultants’ reports municipalities have relied upon are from planners and not real estate market economists.

This guide appears to be a gentle nudge in advance of a leash being put on municipalities if they fail to follow the advice offered in it.

I suspect that leash could ultimately feel much like a choke chain if local politicians and their officials don’t wake up and admit that there is a connection between their actions and the price of housing.

The guide can be found at cscd.gov.bc.ca/lgd/intergov_relations/library/CAC_Guide_Full.pdf


Barbara Yaffe: Vancouver owes developers a clear and efficient way of setting amenity contributions

Barbara Yaffe: Vancouver owes developers a clear and efficient way of setting amenity contributions.

Quoting in part:

Amenity contributions have been paid by developers for years in exchange for building-density bonuses awarded by the municipality.

Here’s how the system works: When Vancouver rezones a developer’s land to award it greater density, boosting profit for the developer because they can build more residential units — it turns around and negotiates with the developer for a payment of 70 to 80 per cent of a designated portion of his expected additional profit, to be used for community amenities.


Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Barbara+Yaffe+Vancouver+owes+developers+clear+efficient+setting+amenity+contributions/9615210/story.html#ixzz2w3DecL4n

Voices comment: in the City of North Vancouver the policy (or lack of) has resulted in wide variations to developers.  The new policy may restrict this, details including statistics of previous recent developments:  http://www.cnv.org/~/media/483FAFFDA5AB43D1906AAAA2EC064FEF.pdf


Take the cash or ignore the cash? – Density Bonuses

Re:  City seeks advice on Density Bonusing

Two sides of the argument from the North Shore News:

Take the cash:



Ignore the cash: