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CVN Calls on Mayor and Council to Endorse Principles and Goals for Collaborative Neighbourhood-based Planning

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods has sent the following letter to the City of Vancouver Mayor and Council, calling on them to endorse CVN’s Principles and Goals for Collaborative Neighbourhood-based Planning, as revised January 8, 2016. This is an updated version of the Principles and Goals document originally issued in 2014.

January 15, 2016
Dear Mr. Mayor and Councilors:

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) represents twenty-six community residents’ associations across the City of Vancouver. Our member associations include a broad cross- section of the Vancouver population. CVN is both non-profit and non-partisan.

CVN came together as a coalition in 2013 and collaboratively developed a shared statement of Principles and Goals for Collaborative Neighbourhood-Based Planning in the City of Vancouver. Almost all political parties in the recent municipal election endorsed these Principles and Goals. To provide additional clarity, CVN has recently updated the April 7, 2014 document to: include transportation planning, specify that “residents” are owners and renters, recognize diversity and remove an outdated reference to the 2014 election.

We call on each of you to:
• Fully and officially endorse the Principles and Goals for Collaborative Neighbourhood-Based Planning in the City of Vancouver (rev. January 8, 2016).

• Ensure that the successful candidates hired as City Manager and Director of Planning fully support the Principles and Goals for Collaborative Neighbourhood-Based Planning in the City of Vancouver.

• Incorporate these Principles & Goals in all City planning including Housing, Transportation and Land Use.

Please find attached the latest edition of the Principles & Goals document.

We look forward to hearing from you and to using CVN’s Principles and Goals document as a basis for constructive collaboration between City Council, the Planning Department and Vancouver’s many communities.

Sincerely,

Larry Benge, Co-Chair
Dorothy Barkley, Co-Chair

On behalf of the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods

Member Groups of the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods

Arbutus Ridge Community Association
Arbutus Ridge/ Kerrisdale/ Shaughnessy Visions
Cedar Cottage Area Neighbours
Chinatown Action Group
Citygate Intertower Group
Community Association of New Yaletown
Crosstown Residents Association
Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council
Dunbar Residents Association
False Creek Residents Association
Grandview Woodland Area Council
Granville Burrard Residents’ & Business Association
Joyce Area Residents’ Association
Kitsilano-Arbutus Residents Association
Kits Point Residents Association
Marpole Residents Coalition
Norquay Residents
NW Point Grey Home Owners Association
Oakridge Langara Area Residents
Residents Association Mount Pleasant
Riley Park/South Cambie Visions
Shaughnessy Heights Property Owners Association
Strathcona Residents Association
Upper Kitsilano Residents Association
West End Neighbours
West Kitsilano Residents Association
West Point Grey Residents Association

CVN Sends Letter to MPs re Federal Assistance for Transit and Housing

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods has sent the following letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to all the local Vancouver federal MPs, and to key ministers responsible for federal infrastructure and funding. This letter is also available for download as a PDF: CVN Letter to MPs-Nov.30-2015.pdf

November 30, 2015

Federal Members of Parliament, Vancouver Ridings

Re: Federal Assistance for Vancouver Transit and Housing

Dear Vancouver Member of Parliament,

Congratulations on your recent election as a Member of Parliament for the Vancouver area. We look forward to working with you to represent the interests of Vancouver neighbourhoods in Ottawa.

What we are Requesting

We note that the Federal Liberal Party platform included providing infrastructure funding for transit and housing. We heartily applaud these funding initiatives, which we believe are long overdue.  However, we have serious concerns about how these funds may be implemented in the City of Vancouver. We therefore are asking that the federal government require conditions be met to address these concerns prior to approving federal infrastructure funding.

Transit and Housing Infrastructure

We are requesting that transit funding be conditional on citizen support for the transit and related land use plans. This also applies to implementation of housing infrastructure funding.

We ask that the new federal Liberal government:

  • require a full and transparent public process in the City of Vancouver to determine the most publicly supported option for rapid transit on Broadway before federal funding for transit is provided;
  • support more affordable transit options that provide broad distribution of benefits;
  • not use Public Private Partnership (P3) funding models;
  • not use development to fund transit;
  • ensure that land use patterns around transit, and for new social housing, are an appropriate fit and compatible with our community supported plans; and
  • extend co-op housing operating agreements that are now expiring.

Additional Requests for Federal Programs to Address Affordability

  • reinstate the RRAP program in which CMHC gave grants to low income earners for upgrades to older housing for health, safety and energy efficiency;
  • provide federal tax incentives for rental housing and for the retention of heritage homes; and
  • use federal powers to make housing in Vancouver more affordable for local residents through protection from an unregulated global housing market.

1) TRANSIT:

Negative impacts of transit tied to high density transit-oriented development

The Metro Vancouver Region’s designation of major transit infrastructure routes as Frequent Transit Development Areas (FTDA) encourages, requires and supports extremely high density development. This is the city and region’s proposed direction for the area referred to as the Broadway Corridor from Nanaimo/Commercial Drive to UBC, 4th Avenue to 16th Avenue. While this plan would involve a radical transformation of the Broadway Corridor and affected neighbourhoods, public consultation has been minimal with community input not reflected in the plan.

The proposed first phase of development of the Corridor is identified to be a subway from Vancouver Community College to Arbutus Street. If the first phase is approved, the city has indicated it would be also looking at land use designations west of Arbutus to UBC in anticipation of a phase two extension of a subway to UBC. This will have significant impacts on neighbourhoods in and surrounding the Broadway Corridor without their support.

Under this scheme for the Broadway Corridor, the City’s Transportation 2040 policies and the KPMG report propose that development could be similar to that of the Cambie Corridor, on the Oakridge Mall scale (redevelopment approval added 11 towers up to 45 storeys in height) as a model for sites such as the Jericho Lands. This scheme would not be an appropriate fit for our neighbourhoods and would destroy its existing character and not provide the kinds of medium density family-oriented housing that are so desperately needed in our city.

Worse yet is the very real possibility that neighbourhoods could be transformed by transit-oriented development and densification well in advance of transit infrastructure that may not be provided for decades, if ever. Meanwhile, intense levels of new development would add further congestion to the already severe impacts of UBC commuter traffic.

Amenities Starved for Transit Funds

Problems arise if subway funding is tied to a Public Private Partnership (P3) model, or if development is used to fund transit. These funding models would divert Community Amenity Contributions (CACs) paid by developers into funds that would pay for transit rather than for amenities for the community and its increased population. This is an unacceptable form of downloading the cost of transit onto cities and communities.

The Future of Transit

It is by no means certain that, in the long term, future transit systems will be dominated by large scale high cost projects. It is clear from the recent transit plebiscite that the public is fed up with continually paying for high cost transit, and is demanding more accountability.

Proponents of a Broadway Corridor subway would like to boil the choice of options down to efficiency and “megaproject” economic stimulus. However, the broader implications of competing public transit visions for Vancouver and its neighbourhoods are vastly more complicated and significant.

There are other options to promoting a nodal pattern of high-rise development through high-cost underground rapid transit on a single corridor. Others advocate for a high-capacity, at-grade transit network that is more evenly distributed and reinforces a pattern and scale of urban development that is more affordable, livable, socially productive and supports businesses on a broader city-wide scale.

Studies have shown that a more evenly distributed transit network is also more cost effective (see below results of a UBC- based study). These studies indicate that it is also vastly more sustainable from an environmental perspective to replace existing fossil- fuelled diesel buses with a combination of higher-capacity, zero-emission electric streetcars and articulated trolleybuses. The existing transit grid could have more frequent transit and expanded routes throughout the city and on key routes of heavy demand.

For the price of this….

 Image showing single Broadway subway line, serving a small area of Vancouver                   

We can have this…

Image showing a grid of transit lines, serving nearly the entire area of Vancouver

Equivalent electric streetcar network deliverable for same cost of proposed Broadway Corridor subway (Condon, et al, 2008, The case for the tram; learning from Portland, Sustainability by Design – An examination of alternatives to an underground extension of the Millennium Line to UBC, Foundational Research Bulletin, No. 6.)

How This Affects Us

There is a real danger that our neighbourhoods, and in particular larger sites such as the Jericho Lands, could be planned and built based on an outdated approach and faulty assumptions. Many informed sources suggest that a nodal based approach to transit, based on transit megaprojects and high rise development, is probably not the way of the future as some have suggested.

The Federal Liberal Party platform said only that they would support “rapid” transit on Broadway, but rapid transit can take a variety of forms other than a subway. Rapid transit could instead be streetcars or rapid electric trolley buses, or other combinations of grade level transit at a fraction of the cost as noted in the example above.

2) HOUSING:

Social and Co-op Housing

The co-op housing projects built under CMHC programs were covered by operating agreements that provided federal funding supplements. Many of the operating agreements are expiring and need to be renewed to ensure ongoing public ownership and subsidized rents for the most vulnerable in our society. We understand that the new federal government is now considering these extensions and we strongly support this.

New infrastructure funding should be provided for new social and co-op housing projects subject to appropriate design controls to ensure that the size, scale and design elements are consistent and compatible with our local area plans and are community supported.

Reinstate the RRAP Program – In addition to funding for social or co-op housing , the federal government could reinstate the RRAP program in which CMHC gave grants to low income earners for upgrades to older housing for health, safety and energy efficiency.

Federal Tax Policies as Incentives for Rentals and Heritage Retention

Tax advantages are needed to encourage long-term ownership of lower-rent buildings and incentives for retention and upgrade of solid older buildings. This helps to reduce inflationary pressure on rents and loss of more affordable older rental stock.

As an incentive to retain heritage buildings only, capital gains tax laws should be amended, for up to two secondary suites on one house lot to be allowed to still qualify for principal residence exemption from capital gains tax as long as they are non-strata family or rental and the owner occupies the main unit. Perhaps long term owners could be allowed to also occupy one of the secondary units. This provides incentives for heritage retention while also encouraging more rental units and providing mortgage helpers to assist home ownership.

Protection from Global Housing Market – The purchase of housing is largely unaffordable for local residents in Vancouver. Action is needed to protect communities from an unregulated global housing market in which local residents are at an unfair disadvantage since local real estate is becoming disconnected from the local economy and work force. We ask the federal government to correct and better enforce tax and other regulations, as well as to create additional preventative measures to protect the local housing market.

In Conclusion, we hope you will deliver this message to the Prime Minister and your fellow MPs and ensure our communities’ interests are represented. We would like to meet with you to discuss plans for transit, land use and housing affordability in Vancouver. Please confirm receipt of this letter and let us know when would be a good time to meet.

Sincerely,

Larry Benge, Co-Chair

Dorothy Barkley, Co-Chair

On behalf of the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods

Member Groups of the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods

  • Arbutus Ridge Community Association
  • Arbutus Ridge/ Kerrisdale/ Shaughnessy Visions
  • Cedar Cottage Area Neighbours
  • Citygate Intertower Group
  • Community Association of New Yaletown
  • Crosstown Residents Association
  • Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council
  • Dunbar Residents Association
  • False Creek Residents Association
  • Grandview Woodland Area Council
  • Granville Burrard Residents & Business Association
  • Kitsilano-Arbutus Residents Association
  • Kits Point Residents Association
  • Marpole Residents Coalition
  • Norquay Residents
  • NW Point Grey Home Owners Association
  • Oakridge Langara Area Residents
  • Residents Association Mount Pleasant
  • Riley Park/South Cambie Visions
  • Shaughnessy Heights Property Owners Association
  • Strathcona Residents Association
  • Upper Kitsilano Residents Association
  • West End Neighbours
  • West Kitsilano Residents Association
  • West Point Grey Residents Association

Link to Tyee: UBC Professor Patrick Condon http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2016/01/25/Bad-Transit-Projects/

Link to Common Ground: Elizabeth Murphy http://commonground.ca/2015/11/federal-funding-should-support-an-accountable-transit-plan/

Transit Plebiscite raises concerns and questions from neighbourhoods about Broadway plans

Media Release: March 17, 2015
 
The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) strongly supports improved public transit; however, CVN has not taken a yes or no position on the transit plebiscite. There are many concerns about the proposal in general that the public needs to be informed on.

In the lead-up to the Transit Plebiscite, there has been much public debate about increasing taxes and the problems with TransLink. However, there has been little discussion about some of the details of the proposed transportation package, and its implications for massive development, especially along the Broadway corridor. Before the public can determine whether to vote yes or no, this discussion needs to take place so that voters can make an informed choice.

In a recent BC Supreme Court decision, it was ruled that the public should be provided all relevant information, presented concisely and intelligibly, in order to enable informed public input.

In particular, we call on the City to more clearly, explicitly and fully inform the public about plans for the Broadway corridor to facilitate comprehensive public discussion about these proposals. In order to find out what is really proposed for the Broadway Corridor, one must wade through a maze of links and many reports. The facts are not being clearly set out for the average person to be informed.

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods is concerned that voters are being asked to make a hugely important decision about the future of transit in Vancouver based on inadequate and confusing information. In its Principles and Goals document CVN states,

“… a goal of the planning process must be to ensure that all pertinent information is readily available to all concerned. To this end, the planning process must:

  • Include detailed and accurate information on projected and actual impacts of major development projects and other significant planning decisions or policy changes

  • Ensure that information provided to the public is timely, accurate, detailed, and complete.”

The information provided in the lead-up to the Transit Plebiscite relating to the Broadway corridor does not meet these goals, and has not led to a full public discussion of these key issues. See the Appendix, below for further details of the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods’ concerns.

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Appendix: Concerns about the Transit Plebiscite

  • Scale of development along Broadway Corridor: It has been stated in city documents that if a subway were approved, development along the Broadway Corridor would be similar to the Oakridge and South Cambie areas of the Cambie Corridor. The City’s KPMG report gives Oakridge and Cambie/Marine as examples of development scale for the Broadway Corridor. Oakridge mall includes 11 towers of up to 45 storeys in height. This is out of scale and character with the local area plans along the Broadway Corridor. Will Broadway be lined with tall towers?

  • Frequent Transit Development Area (FTDA): The Broadway Corridor is proposed as a future Frequent Transit Development Area from 4th Ave. to 16th Ave., Commercial Dr. to UBC. This is a regional designation that gives TransLink and Metro Vancouver influence on land use decisions. Will this lead to Metrotown scale development in the entire Broadway Corridor that overrides local area plans and neighbourhood character? Will local influence in land use decisions be diminished even further?

  • Using development to fund transit: Even if the sales tax increase is approved for transit, it will cover only a portion of the proposed costs. The federal and provincial governments have yet to commit to their portion. Transportation 2040 identifies development as a possible funding source for transit. Will development be used to fund transit, with or without the sales tax funding? Will this not lead to a loss of civic amenities such as parks, community centres, libraries, daycare, etc.? These are supposed to be funded by development charges, such as DCLs & CACs. Should transit, which is not a civic responsibility, be funded by these development charges? Will this type of transit funding result in large density bonuses above what is allowed under local plans?

  • Development preceding transit: If development precedes transit completion, there will be more people without adequate transit, which will make congestion even worse than it is today. The first phase to Arbutus is part of the initial 10-year plan, so it could be a decade before it is operating. The City and TransLink anticipate a phase 2 from Arbutus to UBC in a second 10-year plan. The Jericho Lands, west of Alma, have been identified for transit-oriented development. However, if development of the Jericho Lands is underway now, and the public transit to support it will not be available until the second phase, further increased congestion is inevitable. Is this going to be like the Evergreen Line where there was increased congestion during 20 years of development before the transit got built?

  • Choice of technology: The subway has been pre-selected for this plebiscite without allowing public input on other options, such as Light Rail Transit, Rapid Buses, etc. Although TransLink did do some consultation on the various transit options, the public has not been given an opportunity to choose. What is the level of support from current Broadway businesses and affected neighbourhoods for various transit options and where is that published?

  • Broadway transit: above or below ground? TransLink shows the proposed SkyTrain route from VCC to Arbutus, but it doesn’t show what locations are above grade and what are below grade as a tunnel. What exactly is proposed?

  • Bored tunnel or cut & cover: The City says they are opposed to cut and cover, but there is no guarantee the subway portion will be a bored tunnel. Is a bored tunnel priced in the budget? Will this be a situation like the Canada Line where the initial design called for a bored tunnel and a contract change allowed cut and cover to save costs?

  • Transit service for the whole city: Vancouver, designed for streetcars before the automobile age, is a grid of arterials. Anyone in the City is within a 5 to 10 minute walk from an arterial. If most of the funding is put into just the Broadway Corridor, how will the rest of city get equally improved transit service? While some new B-lines are being added, not enough improvements are identified to better the transit across the city.

Download this release: CVN Media Release-V10.Final 3.17.15