Category Archives: Media Releases

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

The Coalition Requests a Meeting With Mayor Robertson to Discuss Opportunities for Doing Things Better

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 16, 2014

Representatives of 25 Community Groups seek early meeting with Mayor Robertson

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods would like to thank all the participants in this year’s election for their hard work and efforts to better the City we all love.

We look forward to working with the elected Council and Mayor in helping to establish a better relationship between the city and its neighbourhoods.

Our recently developed Principles and Goals document was held up by many candidates as a blueprint for solving this issue, and was endorsed by all parties except Vision.

We appreciate the Mayor’s apology for mistakes made and his promise to do better.  Certainly we want to collaborate with Vision Vancouver to ensure that neighbourhoods continue to be the buildings blocks of our city’s future.

We will be contacting the Mayor shortly to arrange a meeting with him at his earliest convenience. We look forward to a new relationship with the Mayor and Council, one which is beneficial to both groups, and, most importantly, beneficial to the best interests of the City of Vancouver.

Mayor Rejects Collaborative Approach

Mayor Gregor Robertson rejects collaborative process between the city and its neighbourhoods

In an interview with the Vancouver Courier on October 30, 2014, Mayor Gregor Robertson acknowledged that the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods’ principles that promote a collaborative process with the city and communities for community planning was “worthy”, however, he rejected it saying it “doesn’t align with the city’s existing policy”. The Coalition is disappointed to hear this position from the current Mayor on behalf of the ruling Vision party.

The Coalition asked all the parties running candidates in the 2014 civic election if they would support the Coalition’s principles. All parties, except for Vision, supported the principles, including the NPA, Greens, COPE, Cedar, Vancouver First, One City and independent candidate Bob Kasting. This was confirmed in public at the Coalition’s candidates meeting on October 15, 2014 in front of media and an audience of about 400.

“The Principles,” said Coalition Co-Chair Larry Benge, “promote a collaborative process consistent with the city’s CityPlan practice to implement growth that is sustainable, affordable, and livable. Yet Mayor Robertson dismisses this as simply a means to avoid change, when in fact it is a means to accommodate change.”

We are also concerned that the Mayor, in the same interview, said our members come too often to present their opinions to Council. “We conclude that Mayor Robertson does not want to hear alternative views,” said Co-Chair Fern Jeffries. “He wants citizens to refrain from presenting their views, and the opinions of their neighbourhood associations, to our elected officials. We represent a more democratic perspective.”

Further, Mayor Robertson is unaware who the neighbourhood associations are, even after his six years in office. He dismissed them as politically motivated when in fact they are long established non-partisan groups and associations, some with more than 50 years history, with the objective to represent their neighbourhoods on issues that concern them. This is a very important role in our democracy particularly because Vancouver does not have a ward system or any other systematic way of hearing from neighbourhoods.

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods is a group of 25 such associations and groups that came together in the summer of 2013. The Coalition is a vehicle for citizen engagement, for inclusion, and for a collaborative partnership in community engagement. We look forward to a more positive relationship with City Council.

Municipal Parties Endorse Coalition’s Approach to Collaborative Planning

6th October, 2014:  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods is proud to announce that the NPA, COPE, Vancouver Greens, OneCity, Cedar Party, and independent Bob Kasting, have now endorsed the Coalition’s proposal for improving the planning and development process in the City.

One of the major news stories in Vancouver last year was the unprecedented level of discontent with planning and development in neighbourhoods across our city. In response to these concerns 24 diverse communities from all across the city came together to form the Coalition, with a common goal to fix these divisive processes. All member neighbourhood associations gave input to establish principles for a collaborative planning process.

Following those discussions, in April this year the Coalition issued a document called “Principles & Goals” outlining a new and more respectful relationship between the City and our neighbourhoods. The “Principles” define a collaborative, accountable, and transparent partnership that views Vancouver as a community rather than a commodity, and which will produce a livable, inclusive, and sustainable city.

Last month, the Coalition announced a pre-election meeting to which all municipal parties have been invited.  The two-hour Town Hall will take place from 7:00pm on Wednesday, 15th October at St. James’ Hall, 3214 W. 10th Avenue.

Entitled “Planning, Development, and Community Engagement: Putting The Community Back Into Community Planning”, this town hall meeting will investigate how parties plan to bring peace to a divided city. Georgia Straight editor, Charlie Smith, will moderate the discussion with a focus on the Coalition’s “Principles and Goals”.

We call on all parties and candidates in Vancouver to endorse this new collaborative approach before the election in November, and we invite the public to attend and submit their written questions to candidates.

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Download this release: CVN Release Endorsement final.pdf

Planning, Development and Community Engagement: Putting the Community back into Community Planning

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods is proud to announce an All-Party Meeting in advance of the Vancouver Municipal Election.  The meeting will take place at:

 St. James’ Hall, 3214 W. 10th Avenue
 7:00pm to 9:00pm Wednesday 15th October 2014

The theme of the meeting will be:

Planning, Development and Community Engagement: 

Putting the Community back into Community Planning

Each party has been asked to send two candidates standing for either the mayoralty or City Council.  We have already received confirmation of acceptance from five parties.

The final format is still being negotiated, but we will ask each party to respond in opening remarks to the Coalition’s Principles & Goals document that seeks to significantly improve planning, development, and rezoning processes in the city.  Much of the balance of the evening will be given over to an open-mic opportunity for residents to question the candidates about their planning, development, and zoning policies.

Read the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods’ Principles and Goals (143kb PDF)
http://coalitionvan.org/files/CVN-Principles-and-Goals-Apr7_2014.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods challenges all candidates to support Neighbourhood-Based planning

June 12, 2014: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Angered for years by Vancouver’s divisive community engagement practices, communities from across the city have united as the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods to demand more from elected officials. The Coalition today published its Principles and Goals for Collaborative Neighbourhood-Based Planning in the City of Vancouver. 

The Coalition will be calling on all candidates in the city’s upcoming November election to declare publicly their support of these shared principles. The Coalition, which maintains no party affiliation, will then actively publicize which candidates and parties support the Principles and Goals and which candidates and parties reject a collaborative relationship with neighbourhoods.

The Principles and Goals document calls for re-establishing a partnership between the City and its neighbourhoods, and recognizing neighbourhoods as the fundamental building block for future land use and development. The document asks elected officials to:

• work collaboratively with residents, neighbourhood associations and community organizations throughout development planning processes;

• consider the interests of communities and residents above developer profits;

• work with local residents and local businesses to determine how best to meet city-wide and regional goals within their individual communities.

 

The Coalition now represents a majority of Vancouver neighbourhoods, and continues to attract and welcome new member associations. It has grown to include 24 diverse community associations from all across the city, from the West End, Downtown East Side and Point Grey, to Mount Pleasant, Strathcona and Shaughnessy Heights, all in strong support of a collaborative relationship with their civic government.

“The Coalition has clearly articulated what we expect of our government,” says Grandview-Woodland resident, Jak King, one of the founders of the Coalition. We’re seeking a Collaborative Partnership that is transparent and accountable; Development that builds community, not just bricks and mortar; and a Livable sustainable city that acknowledges neighbourhoods as the fundamental building block for future development.”

In supporting the work of the Coalition, Dunbar Residents Association representative Jonathan Weisman said: “We’ve demonstrated that a collaborative neighbourhood-centred planning process can be very successful. In Dunbar, our community vision continues to enjoy broad and strong support, and contributes to the neighbourhood’s sense of pride and engagement.”

“The absence of neighbourhood-based planning only leads to conflict and opposition to development,” said Fern Jeffries, co-chair of the False Creek Residents Association and a founding leader of the Coalition. “Our statement of Principles and Goals is timely as our neighbourhood continues fighting for a park that has been a legal commitment since 1990. Current plans involved absolutely no meaningful consultation with the neighbourhood, and that has to change.”

The full document detailing Principles and Goals and a complete listing of participating organizations can be found at our web site: coalitionvan.org. Also available is a one-page summary of the document.

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Download this release (232kb PDF)
http://coalitionvan.org/files/CVN-Release-June12_2014.pdf

Electoral Reform, Or Cementing The Status Quo?

April 2, 2014: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Electoral Reform, Or Cementing The Status Quo?

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods urges all members of the Provincial Legislature to reject Bills 20 and 21 and implement meaningful reforms in advance of the November 2014 municipal elections. “Although the Provincial Government says these bills will reform municipal elections, in fact they will just cement the status quo in which Big Business, Big Labour and Major Land Developers control what happens in our cities.” says Jak King, Chair of the Coalition.

Bill 20 will increase municipal terms of offices from three years to four years. “We need more accountability not less” maintains Mr. King. “The Coalition believes that having politicians accountable to the citizens they serve every four years instead of every three years means that elected officials will have a longer time without public scrutiny, able to make decisions that please their Party funders rather than the electorate.”

Current campaign finance rules allow parties to spend unlimited sums — far in excess of what we see in other provinces. Vancouver municipal politicians can accept money from foreign sources. This is very significant for Vancouver’s neighbourhoods as so much of the new housing stock is built for foreign investors rather than for local residents. We urge the legislature to make important amendments. for example, capping donations at an amount consistent with other jurisdictions, and ensuring that only individuals, not corporations can make donations.

The Coalition wants to see real reform, similar to what we have at the Federal level where there are requirements for full disclosure and for limits to individual contributions, where the non-elector influences are severely limited and it is the citizens who have the real influence over party platform and policy direction. One of the most egregious gaps in what is proposed is that Big Business and Big Labour can still make significant contributions in non-election years with no transparency or public scrutiny. Page 2 of 2

 

The Coalition believes that significant electoral reform is critical to improving the relationship between Vancouver’s municipal government and our communities. Last year was named “The Year of Dissent” by the media. “We saw unprecedented numbers of community rise up in protest against forced redevelopment, demolition of affordable housing, extinction of view corridors, and this Council’s ongoing dancing to the tune of major developers and party funders.” maintains Fern Jeffries, Co-Chair of the False Creek Residents Association and the Coalition, “We need the Provincial Government to stand up for accountability and good government”.

The Coalition is committed to developing a better relationship between the City of Vancouver and the city’s neighbourhoods. Meaningful community engagement and local resident influence over land use and development is critical. Bills 20 and 21 undermine this, making it easier for elected officials to avoid public accountability and continue to respond to the influences of major corporations.

We want real reform, reform that will redress the undue influence and power of money in our local political system.

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Download this release (232kb PDF)
http://coalitionvan.org/files/CVN-Release-Electoral_Reform_or_Cementing_Status_Quo-Apr2_2014.pdf

 

West End Zoning Amendments – Public Hearing January 23, 2014

January 23, 2014  – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

West End Zoning Amendments – Public Hearing January 23, 2014 

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods today wrote to the Mayor and City Council stating that the Coalition “is opposed to the zoning amendments for the West End as currently proposed. We have major concerns that the zoning amendments have been brought forward for approval without acceptable community input based on the West End Community Plan which has been flawed in the same ways that City Council has recognized in three other current planning processes.”

West End Neighbours, one of our member residents associations, has provided many examples of problems with the current zoning amendments, including the following:

  • The West End Community Plan was not the product of a meaningful public engagement exercise.
  • Residents have not had a fair chance to digest the many and complex proposals – and the City has not done an adequate job of educating residents, or even of answering questions following the release of the Plan.
  • Insufficient rationale was provided for the West End needing to absorb 10,000 more residents.
  • The City failed to adequately explore or evaluate with our community the variety of options for housing these theoretical future residents.
  • The Plan is imposing what the vast majority of residents did NOT want. Most residents surveyed by the City indicated they did not want new buildings exceeding 11 storeys in height. But the Plan, and the proposed zoning changes, propose that almost all new dwelling units be provided in buildings exceeding 11 storeys.

The objective of the Coalition of Vancouver Communities is to create a new development and planning paradigm that will stress community involvement and local influence in land-use and zoning decisions. We have major concerns about the current planning processes and is observing with interest how the City addresses the concerns of the West End.

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Download this release (123kb PDF)
http://coalitionvan.org/files/CVN-Release-5-Jan23_2014.pdf

 

Pearson Dogwood Lands Report Rushed To Judgment

January 20th 2014 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Pearson Dogwood Lands Report Rushed To Judgment 

Vancouver, B.C. – The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods expresses its serious concern that once again the City of Vancouver is short-changing the public by publishing a detailed 118-page policy document a mere six days before an important Council decision.

The future of the 25-acre Pearson Dogwood Lands, bounded by Cambie, 57th, Heather and 59th, will be debated by City Council on Wednesday January 22nd. This is a major development, with plans calling for more than three million square feet of gross floor space, including towers ranging in height up to 28-storeys (265 ft/ 81m). The cost of the development is likely to exceed $450 million.

An important development, yes; but the public have been given just six days to study the report by Assistant Planning Director Matt Shillito called the “Pearson Dogwood Policy Statement” which will “guide the future rezoning and development.”

The release of this report with so little time for the public to study it and its implications is in line with a series of such delayed publications. A few examples of many:

  • the zoning changes to the West End Community Plan have been issued just ten days before the relevant hearing;
  • the Mount Pleasant Community Plan Implementation Report was published with just 6 days notice;
  • the public was given only a week to study the Jackson Report on four Community Plans last September;
  • the massive Transportation 2040 policy was approved just three working days after being published.

In none of these cases was timing of such importance that the hearings could not have waited until after a reasonable period of study was allowed. The short notice given to the public to respond to such important reports makes a mockery of genuine consultation and citizen engagement.

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods proposes to work with the City to co-create a framework for a meaningful consultation process, including minimum publication times, engagement, and reasonable discussion of options as part of a new approach to planning.

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Download this release (123kb PDF)
http://coalitionvan.org/files/CVN-Release-4-Jan20_2014.pdf

West End Community Plan Flawed

November 18, 2013 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Re: West End Community Plan – Council Committee November 20, 2013

Dear Mayor Robertson and Councillors:

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods is opposed to the adoption of the West End Community Plan as currently proposed. The West End Community Plan has been flawed in the same ways that you recognized in three other current planning processes, and the West End deserves fairer treatment than immediate adoption will allow.

West End residents tell us that the most important final stage of consultation has been rushed, the community still has many unanswered questions and concerns, and important gaps remain in the content of the draft Plan. We are sure that Council will agree that everyone is seeking a thirty-year plan that West Enders can accept and that the entire city can be proud of. The current Plan does not meet that objective.

We request Council to not adopt the Plan at this time. Instead, we ask that it be referred back to staff and the community, utilizing an improved process, with innovation in engagement techniques to more fully address the community’s concerns. For example, we believe the City should provide visualizations of streetscapes so that the public can see the real impacts of proposed revisions in land use provisions. Knowing that extra work is still required, we also request an extended timeline for completion, and adequate additional funding.

The objective of the Coalition of Vancouver Communities is to create a new development and planning paradigm that will stress community involvement and local influence in land-use and zoning decisions. We have major concerns about the current planning processes. Please be assured that the Coalition is observing with interest how the City addresses the concerns of the West End. Continue reading