Author Archives: Coalition R

Letter to Council (16-Sep-2020): Opposed to Motion B3 – “Missing Middle” Housing Pilots

September 15, 2020

City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

Re: Motion B3 –  “Missing Middle” Housing Pilots  
Agenda: https://council.vancouver.ca/20200916/cfsc20200916ag.htm
Motion: https://council.vancouver.ca/20200916/documents/cfsc3.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) agrees with the aim of this motion to provide more affordable, innovative housing options. However, CVN continues to oppose this motion, including the Mayor’s reported amendment, based on concerns that this proposed motion will not accomplish the intended goals.

Achieving the stated goal through citywide spot rezoning would contradict the intent of developing a neighbourhood-based citywide plan and could potentially produce unintended consequences leading to the development of more intensive high-end market housing that inflates land values in the areas affected.

Additionally, this would increase speculation and demolition of older, more affordable housing, causing displacement while also undermining the few character house retention incentives currently existing in zoning and City policy. The RT zones in particular have a lot of missing middle character housing already that would be put at risk of demolition.

This displacement, demolition and land inflation would also apply to the Mayor’s proposal. It would significantly increase FSR and the number of strata ownership units with only minor affordability measures, and no requirements for retention of character houses.

Neighbourhood-based planning processes integrated into a citywide plan will deliver substantially better results. There are many options that could be put into place as quick starts once identified through the planning process.

We would be prepared to work with the City on identifying other options that could be put in place to increase affordable housing options.  Any of these approaches should recognize the unique characteristics and needs of each neighbourhood so as to best adapt any actions to that neighbourhood, thus following the intent of zoning by-laws and local community visions and plans.

Seeking truly effective solutions to the need for affordable housing, we oppose this motion.

Continue reading

Letter to Council (15-Sep-2020): Opposed to motion on Open Option Parking Policy – Removing On-Site Parking Minimum Requirements

September 15, 2020

City of Vancouver Council

Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

Re: Item B.3. Open Option Parking Policy – Removing On-Site Parking Minimum Requirements    

Agenda: https://council.vancouver.ca/20200915/regu20200915ag.htm
Motion: https://council.vancouver.ca/20200915/documents/b3.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) is strongly opposed to this motion to deregulate onsite parking requirements for new construction.

While there may be exceptions where parking relaxations are warranted, which should be determined through a neighbourhood-based planning process, the demand for parking is not going away anytime soon and should continue to be required in new construction. In fact the demand for onsite parking will only increase as vehicles transition to electric and require secure parking for overnight charging.

When adequate parking isn’t required, it doesn’t change the fact that new households usually own vehicles, so they instead will be required to park on the already congested streets. And this would further inhibit the shift to electric vehicles without an onsite parking stall for charging.

This would be an additional subsidy for developers who could add in as many units as possible while offloading any infrastructure for parking onto the city and surrounding neighbourhoods. People who currently depend on parking on the street in front of their homes will no longer be able to do so and may have to park blocks away.

Onsite parking is important infrastructure that each new development should provide to ensure liveability, accessibility for persons with disabilities, for families, for an aging population, and for the continued shift to vehicle electrification. Please do not approve this motion as proposed since it is not in the public interest. Continue reading

Letter to Public Hearing (23-July-2020): Opposed to amendments to Zoning and Development By-law (C-2, C-2B, C-2C, C-2C1 Commercial Districts)

July 22, 2020
City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

Re: Public Hearing – Amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law to Increase Rental Housing in the C-2, C-2B, C-2C, and C-2C1 Commercial Districts
Agenda: https://council.vancouver.ca/20200723/phea20200723ag.htm
Report: https://council.vancouver.ca/20200623/documents/rr10.pdf

While the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) supports adding more rentals, we are opposed to the approval of the recommendations as currently proposed for the following reasons:

  • The City has not yet brought in needed protection for existing rentals in C2 zones as directed by Council in November 26, 2019 as follows: “THAT Council instruct staff to prepare a report for consideration for referral to public hearing to amend the Rental Housing Stock Official Development Plan to extend rental replacement requirements to C-2, C-2C, C-2B and C-2B-1 zoning districts city-wide.”;
  • The proposed amendments to the outright provisions for strata properties will inflate land values, which will increase property taxes for small businesses;
  • There has been no notification of residents and owners living in these areas; and
  • There has been no neighbourhood-based planning process to consider context.

We therefore request that Council refer this report back to staff for more work on neighbourhood-based planning and public consultation, and to report back to Council with amendments to address the concerns raised by the public, after the Rental Housing Stock ODP has been amended as previously directed by Council on November 26, 2019, as quoted above.

Specifically, the proposed rezoning amendments have three components:

  1. Introduce incentives for rental housing by allowing 6-storey market rental development as part of the zoning for local shopping streets
  2. Create ‘rental only’ zoning as part of the city’s zoning by-law to allow the 6-storey developments to be for rental only
  3.  Make other changes to the C zoning by-laws and Design Guidelines for both rental and regular residential development

While #1 and #2 raise concerns as identified above, we are particularly concerned about #3. The considered changes are problematic for the proposed amendments for the outright provisions of the by-laws for strata. The main changes are related to increased height and decreased setbacks, which allows a bigger envelope for more density to be built out, and all of this has broader impacts on the surrounding area.

These are some of the concerns raised by member organizations and we are sure that each neighbourhood will have additional concerns based on their specific context. Continue reading

Letter to Council for 21-Jul-2020: Opposed to amendment to City’s Audit Committee

July 19, 2020
City of Vancouver Council

Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

Re: Item 1. Amendment to the City’s Audit Committee
Agenda: https://council.vancouver.ca/20200721/regu20200721ag.htm
Report: https://council.vancouver.ca/20200721/documents/r1.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) is opposed to the recommendations in this Amendment as it appears to be in conflict with the recommendations regarding the necessary independence of the Independent Auditor General Office.

We strongly encourage you to instead approve the recommendations in the Report Back on Establishing the Office of the Auditor General for the City of Vancouver, https://council.vancouver.ca/20200722/documents/pspc3.pdf
and in the Appendix A by the Canadian Audit & Accountability Foundation. https://council.vancouver.ca/20200722/documents/pspc3appendixA.pdf Continue reading

Letter to Council for (22-Jul-2020): Strong support for ‘Establishing the Office of the Auditor General for the City of Vancouver’

July 19, 2020
City of Vancouver Council

Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

Re: Item 3. Report Back on Establishing the Office of the Auditor General for the City of Vancouver

Agenda: https://council.vancouver.ca/20200722/pspc20200722ag.htm
Report: https://council.vancouver.ca/20200722/documents/pspc3.pdf
Appendix A: https://council.vancouver.ca/20200722/documents/pspc3appendixA.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) is in strong support of the recommendations in this report and Appendix A for establishment of the Independent Auditor General Office for the City of Vancouver.

Thanks to Council for bringing forward this report and we are pleased to see the City of Vancouver coming into compliance with governance best practices.
However, CVN would like to point out that another report for Council’s consideration the day before on July 21, report item 1. Amendment to the City’s Audit Committee appears to be in conflict with the recommendations regarding the necessary independence of the Report Back on Establishing the Office of the Auditor General for the City of Vancouver. https://council.vancouver.ca/20200721/documents/r1.pdf
We strongly encourage you to instead approve the recommendations in the Independent Auditor General Office for the City of Vancouver report in the report and Appendix A by the Canadian Audit & Accountability Foundation. Continue reading

Letter to Council for 21-Jul-2020: Opposed to Item A.3. Regulation Redesign – Amendments to Land Use Documents

July 20, 2020
City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

Re: Item A.3. Regulation Redesign – Amendments to Land Use Documents
Agenda: https://council.vancouver.ca/20200721/regu20200721ag.htm
Motion: https://council.vancouver.ca/20200721/documents/a3.pdf
(see Appendix A for list of Plans & Guidelines for amendment.)

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) is opposed to proceeding with the proposed amendments. This motion proposes to amend many Community Plans, Area Plans and Guidelines for zoning by-laws across the city. See motion attached and linked below. However, there were initially no attached documents of what was proposed to change.

Then late this evening, the night before the Council meeting to consider this, the City has posted 38 major land use planning documents, including Community Plans, Area Plans and Design Guidelines for zoning by-law schedules, without any redlined document nor staff report to show what has changed or why.

Council or the public cannot consider this without knowing what is being proposed.

The only a link in the motion is to the redline to the zoning by-law changes approved last month. This is not what Council is being asked to amend by this motion.

The public and Council need the redlined proposed amended Community Plans and Guidelines, with an explanatory staff report, in order to comment or make an informed decision. That information is missing and there has been no public consultation on these proposed changes.

Therefore, this motion should not be approved. Please refer this back to staff to report back with more information, including redline documents of all proposed amendments to Community Plans and Guideline, with a staff report, after community consultation, for Council consideration Continue reading

Letter to Council (July 9 Public Hearing): Petition, Opposed to CD-1 AMENDMENT: 2538 Birch Street (formerly 1296 West Broadway)

July 9, 2020

City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,
Re: Petition Opposed to1. CD-1 AMENDMENT: 2538 Birch Street (formerly 1296 West Broadway)

Agenda: https://council.vancouver.ca/20200709/phea20200709ag.htm
Amendment: https://council.vancouver.ca/20200709/documents/phea1SandR.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) voiced our opposition to this amendment in a previous letter to Council. Further to yesterday’s letter that outlined the many reasons for our opposition, this letter provides an additional relevant petition. We continue to support the building of affordable rental units in the city with proper planning and good urban design.

The new petition was initiated by concerned citizens a week ago, with 1472 signatures at the time of this writing and growing hourly, signed by many members and non-members of this Coalition from across the city, which “aims to move the City of Vancouver away from arbitrary rezoning policies and back to meaningful public participation in neighbourhood-based planning.”

See petition here:
https://www.change.org/p/city-of-vancouver-council-officials-our-communities-our-plans-99961c91-4a17-497d-86c8-b385b3c0f315

The petition specifically names the MIRHPP program as a problematic City policy that is “causing major damage to the City, its neighbourhoods, and its citizens” with precedent-setting spot rezonings. This project is one of the more egregious examples of this program.

The petition is consistent with the stated goals of the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods in our Principles and Goals document that calls for meaningful neighbourhood-based planning processes.

We continue to urge Council to oppose this amendment. The developer already has 16 storeys of rental under the recently approved CD-1 rezoning and can proceed with that, which the local community supports. Continue reading

Letter to Council (for July 7): Opposed to “Missing Middle” motion, with reasons

July 5, 2020
City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

Re: Motion B6 –  “Missing Middle” Housing Pilots    

Agenda: https://council.vancouver.ca/20200707/regu20200707ag.htm

Motion: https://council.vancouver.ca/20200707/documents/b6.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) agrees with the aim of this motion to provide more affordable, innovative housing options, and it is timely to think about creative choices to fill that need. But we have concerns that the motion as proposed will not accomplish the intended goals. Therefore, CVN opposes this motion.

Achieving the stated goal through citywide rezoning would contradict the intent of developing a citywide plan and could potentially produce unintended consequences leading to the development of more intensive high-end market housing in the areas affected. Additionally, allowing higher density spot rezoning everywhere would increase speculation and demolition of older, more affordable housing, causing displacement while also undermining the few character house retention incentives currently existing in zoning and City policy. To date, spot rezoning has been notably ineffective in meeting the housing needs of local residents. Neighbourhood-based planning processes integrated into a citywide plan will deliver substantially better results.

There are other options that could be considered to better maximize affordable housing availability working within current zoning and neighbourhood plans. It seems that many modifications could be put into place with no delay without costing the city a great deal of money. These would also have the benefit of not actually changing any zoning in a major way. For example, an approach could be to simplify renovation requirements to ensure retaining current housing, including heritage housing. Fast track the designation of heritage housing for retention. Such changes would be minor and effective. Consideration could be given to supporting co-ops, co-housing, and land trusts. There are other equally effective changes that could be made without having to rezone wide swaths of the city prior to the development of a full citywide plan.

We would be prepared to work with the City on identifying other options that could be put in place to increase affordable housing options.  Any of these approaches should recognize the unique characteristics and needs of each neighbourhood so as to best adapt any actions to that neighbourhood, thus following the intent of zoning by-laws and local community visions and plans.

Seeking truly effective solutions to the need for affordable housing, we oppose this motion. Continue reading

Letter to Council (June 25 Public Hearing): Opposing omnibus rezoning – Regulation Redesign – Amendments to Zoning & Development and Parking By-laws

June 24, 2020

City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

Re:  Public Hearing – 1. Regulation Redesign – Amendments to Zoning & Development and Parking By-laws

June 25 Public Hearing
Agenda: https://council.vancouver.ca/20200625/phea20200625ag.htm
Report: https://council.vancouver.ca/20200625/documents/phea1referralreport.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) opposes this omnibus rezoning.  While the intention of streamlining and improving the permitting process is a good one, this report goes much further than simply improving processes by suggesting alterations to many sections of the Zoning Bylaw. This is a very controversial rezoning that should especially not be going to a virtual Public Hearing during a pandemic.

Among our concerns:

  • The city is combining a large number of amendments on unrelated issues as an omnibus change to the Zoning and Development By-law for various zoning schedules, for various Official Development Plans, for the Parking By-Law and other land use documents.
  • The changes to various different zoning types (C, I, RS, RT, RM etc.), By-laws or Plans are too complex to be all in one report and should be separated into multiple reports that could provide detailed information and explanation on the impacts of the various changes.
  • Although there now are ‘red-line’ documents provided to show what is changed in context with the original by-law, there still is no detailed explanation of what each amendment means in practical terms to the built forms or development process. This lack of transparency makes it difficult for Council and the public to really know what is changing.
  • Suggested changes are substantive alterations to zoning and regulations, with a variety of impacts, not just minor text amendments, which simplify the language or streamline the process.
  • There are substantive new powers proposed for the Director of Planning to vary zoning bylaws without going through the Board of Variance. The current Council should maintain checks and balances on the powers of the Director of Planning, and know it has a big responsibility to future-term Councils to ensure good governance.
  • There was no substantive public consultation which dealt with the specifics of the many changes to various sections of the Bylaws. Public Hearings are not a substitute for full, public engagement. They are one tool in a bag of many that together complete a proper engagement process. It is typical for the public to provide input prior to the staff’s recommendation for referral to a Public Hearing.

This rezoning, without adequate detailed explanations, all lumped together in one report, is very difficult to understand. It needs those relevant documents and more details to be included, or at least referenced with links, and further clarifications as to its effects, divided into related zoning types in separate reports, with separate presentations at Public Hearings.

And adequate public input needs to be included in the drafting of this smorgasbord of changes, sufficient to be understandable to a lay public, before they are referred to public hearing. Until this occurs, CVN opposes these amendments. Continue reading

Letter to Council (for June 23): Opposed to ‘Amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law to Increase Rental Housing in the C-2, C-2B, C-2C, and C-2C1 Commercial Districts’

June 22, 2020

City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

Re:  Referral to Public Hearing –10. Amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law to Increase Rental Housing in the C-2, C-2B, C-2C, and C-2C1 Commercial Districts

June 23 Council Agenda: https://council.vancouver.ca/20200623/regu20200623ag.htm
Report: https://council.vancouver.ca/20200623/documents/rr10.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) is opposed to this controversial rezoning amendments going forward as proposed. The process used to bring this proposal forward to Council was flawed, and it is not appropriate to refer controversial rezoning amendments such as this to Public Hearing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of the many concerns we have with the current proposal are as follows:

  • At the November 26, 2019 City Council meeting, Council gave direction to staff to protect existing rentals by bringing forward a report to consider “to amend the Rental Housing Stock Official Development Plan to extend rental replacement requirements to C-2, C-2C, C-2b and C-2B-1 zoning districts city-wide. There are many existing rental units in the C2 zones that should be protected by this policy amendment first.
  • This proposal is in conflict with the Interim Rezoning Policy for Kitsilano and West Point Grey that requires a “collaborative neighbourhood-based process” which has not, as yet, taken place. Additionally, the IRP restricts rezoning to projects already approved to proceed, and to future collaborative neighbourhood-based processes that focus on rental-only zoning along Broadway and West 10th The other area covered by Interim Rezoning Policy east of Vine for the Broadway Plan is exempt from the proposed C2 changes.
  • No neighbourhood-based context has been considered.
  • There are two parts to the proposed rezoning:
    • The proposal increases outright development for strata by:
      • raising the height of the commercial level that also increases the views of the residential above, increasing both value of units and land,
      • decreases or eliminates setbacks, front and back, that allows more FSR to be landed than would be allowed under current zoning.
    • It adds conditional rental development with relaxations to heights of 72ft. and six-storey without any differentiation between major and minor arterials or consideration of neighbourhood context.
  • No notification has been given to affected or adjacent properties for advanced consultation prior to referral.
  • It increases development pressure, land values and property taxes for small businesses, which undermines those businesses that were already struggling even before COVID.
  • It implements a citywide, complex and controversial rezoning proposal in July in a pandemic with audio only (Council and speakers) in a virtual public hearing.

CVN opposes this referral to Public Hearing and we request that instead the report be referred back to staff for more work and revisions to address the concerns we have raised and to engage in further public consultation. Continue reading