Category Archives: Posts

Letter to City Council: Changes to Meeting Schedules – Public Hearings during COVID-19 Emergency (for 14-Apr-2020 meeting)

The following letter went to Vancouver City Council on April 13, 2020 in reference to a Council meeting scheduled for April 14.

April 13, 2020
City of Vancouver Council

Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

Re: Changes to Meeting Schedules – Public Hearings during COVID-19 Emergency

April 14 Council Item 1.: https://council.vancouver.ca/20200414/documents/comm1.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) recognizes the need for emergency powers to deal effectively with the COVID-19 emergency. City Council meetings are currently being convened electronically to enable appropriate physical distancing. Options for public participation are being considered. We have stated our concerns regarding these issues in an earlier letter (April 5/20).
CVN letter April 5, 2020: https://coalitionvan.org/posts/cvn-letter-5-april-2020/

The April 14 Meeting Agenda, Item 1, Changes to 2020 Council Meetings Schedule,
proposes the first electronic Public Hearing for May 5, during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the questions posed by ourselves and other citizens have yet to be answered, and public participation is highly problematic (see earlier CVN letter sent today, Apr.13), we would urge Council not to approve this change and to instead not schedule any Public Hearings until restrictions on public assembly are lifted.

Thank you,

Larry Benge, Dorothy Barkley
Co-Chairs

On behalf of the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods Continue reading

Letter to Council: Electronic Council Meetings and Public Hearings during COVID-19 Emergency

This letter went out to Vancouver Mayor and Council on April 5, 2020, regarding Council discussions about possible significant changes to meetings and Public Hearings.

April 5, 2020

City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

Re: Electronic Council Meetings and Public Hearings during COVID-19 Emergency

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) would like to thank Council for not referring the rezoning reports to Public Hearings at the March 31, 2020 Special Council Meeting.

However, some other issues arising from that meeting are cause for our concern.

  • While we recognize the need for special powers for the City under a state of emergency, as recently provided under BC ministry order, we remain of the opinion that these should be used judiciously for emergency purposes to deal with COVID-19. Only the most urgent of business should be undertaken at this time under emergency order, not business as usual.
  • Public Hearings for rezonings do not meet the test for emergency powers and are not covered by current provisions under the BC Order M083. This deals with “Vancouver Council or body” meetings, not Public Hearings .
  • The City Manager advised Council at the meeting that staff are in discussions with the province to expand the provisions of the emergency order to include Public Hearings.
  • Council was advised that staff, without debate, would be establishing procedures for electronic Council meetings and Public Hearings, However, it is Council who has to approve the Procedure Bylaw, so it is Council who will have input into and approve any emergency procedures as well.
  • The public should also be consulted and have input into any proposed procedures for this emergency.
  • The City Manager also advised that Public Hearing referrals should continue. It was suggested that the ‘non-controversial’ rezonings would come forward to Public Hearing first and the  ‘controversial’ rezonings would come later. Exactly how and who would determine what is ‘controversial’ or not, or when the issue would come forward, was not stated. It is not appropriate to make referrals to Public Hearings at this time of crisis when the public cannot be effectively engaged.

Public hearings require full public involvement. There is no clear indication when the restrictions on public assembly will be lifted. If the restrictions remain for more than a couple of months, this can always be revisited.

This is especially important for rezonings of a controversial nature, such as the 28 storeys at the former Denny’s site, Birch and Broadway that is to be considered for referral to Public Hearing at the April 14 Council Meeting.  This should definitely not be going forward under emergency powers.

In addition to withholding non-emergency issues and Public Hearings during the COVID-19 crisis, the public notification process for development should not be disregarded.

On the City’s website there is notification that onsite signs for development will not be provided. We are alarmed that development is proceeding without proper onsite notification signs for the general public to be aware of what is proposed. The demise of the print version of the Vancouver Courier further undermines this situation.

We appreciate the challenges that arise with this crisis. However, emergency powers should be used judiciously for emergency purposes and not for the convenience of pushing through project development without proper process.

We implore Council to not delegate its powers to staff to implement emergency procedures for non-emergency business that would further weaken the democratic process.  The COVID-19 emergency powers should not be used to carry on business as usual without proper public process as required under the Vancouver Charter at a time when the public is struggling with a pandemic.

Sincerely,
Larry Benge, Dorothy Barkley
Co-Chairs

Letter to City Council: CVN offers support to City Council, raises concerns about electronic meetings, Public Hearings

The following letter went to Vancouver City Council on March 30, 2020, offering support during the COVID-19 emergency, and also pointing out concerns regarding electronic meetings and Public Hearings during this time.

City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) would like you to know that we appreciate the work that you have done, are doing, and will continue to do in promoting our health and safety during this time of crisis.

We would also like you to know that we are ready to assist in any way we can, whenever and however such assistance may be needed.

We also recognize the need for special powers for the City under a state of emergency, as recently provided under BC ministry order. While these emergency powers are needed, we trust these will be used judiciously for emergency purposes to deal with COVID-19.

While the use of electronic council meetings may be required for social distancing under the current emergency, consideration should be given to the fact that without public participation as normally required under the Vancouver Charter, it is not business as usual. Only the most urgent of business should be undertaken at this time under emergency order.

Public hearings require full public involvement and should not proceed under emergency order unless they are truly of an emergency nature. Rezoning is not an emergency so referrals to public hearings should be suspended until restrictions on public gatherings are lifted. This is especially important for rezonings of a controversial nature, such as the 28 storeys at the former Denny’s site, Birch and Broadway that is currently on the March 31 Special Council Meeting agenda.

We appreciate the challenges with this crisis and thank the City for a judicious response.

Sincerely,
Larry Benge, Dorothy Barkley
Co-Chairs

CVN letter to City Council: Support for motion on “Strengthening Representative Democratic Practices in the City of Vancouver”

The following letter went to Vancouver City Council relating to a motion going before the regular council meeting on March 10, 2020.

March 8, 2020

City of Vancouver Council

Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,
RE: Motion B.8 Strengthening Representative Democratic Practices in the City of Vancouver

Motion: https://council.vancouver.ca/20200310/documents/motionb8.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) supports this Motion that directs staff to review the City’s current practices and procedures for gathering public feedback. While there are concerns and differences of opinion amongst our members on the specifics of various issues within the Motion, and a belief that certain aspects need clarification, we stand ready to aid the City staff in such work.

As the text of the Motion points out, the practices and procedures for identifying one’s location is standard practice in neighbouring municipalities, and this information is considered relevant to Council’s consideration of a matter. And the City’s LIP program mentioned includes certification and authentication procedures and processes that may serve as a model. Of equal importance is that when a staff report which goes to Council and/or appears on the City website refers to a petition, it should state the number of signatures supporting or opposing an item, and not just count the petition as a single opinion.

CVN overwhelmingly supports the intent of the motion (that staff be directed to review the process) and certain aspects (e.g. the petition clause), but also believes that certain clauses (e.g. verification) need more clarification as part of the review.

Sincerely,
Larry Benge, Dorothy Barkley
Co-Chairs

CVN letter to Council: Rezoning Application – 1956 – 1990 Stainsbury Avenue (Public Hearing, 21-Jan-2020)

The following letter went to Vancouver City Council.

January 20, 2020

City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

RE: Item 3. Rezoning Application – 1956 – 1990 Stainsbury Avenue Public Hearing Jan 21,2020
https://rezoning.vancouver.ca/applications/1956-1990Stainsbury/index.htm

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) opposes this rezoning application. We are concerned that many issues have been raised by the local community group Cedar Cottage Area Neighbours (CCAN), including such as the following: Continue reading

CVN letter to Council: Simplified & Expanded Zoning & Development Regulations for Passive House Projects (21-Jan-2020))

The following letter went to Vancouver City Council.

January 21, 2020

City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

RE: Referral Report 2. Simplified and Expanded Zoning and Development Regulations for Passive House Projects

Report: https://council.vancouver.ca/20200121/documents/rr2.pdf
Council Meeting Agenda Jan. 21, 2020: https://council.vancouver.ca/20200121/regu20200121ag.htm

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) requests that this report not be referred to public hearing as it has had no public consultation and would affect all residential RS, RT and RA zones across the city.

While we support the objectives of making new construction more energy efficient, this proposal seeks to allow significant increased FSR for new construction that undermines the character and heritage house incentives in RT and RS zones. The report proposes single-family houses would be eligible for a flat exclusion of 16% and duplexes eligible for an exclusion of 18%. This goes well beyond what is required to make up for extra wall thicknesses and creates a large bonus density that undermines retention incentives.

A change of this scope should have had public consultation with consideration of impacts on other city objectives of reducing demolitions of character houses prior to bringing a report for referral forward to council. Continue reading

CVN letter to Council: Miscellaneous Amendments – Zoning and Development By-law and Sign Fee By-law (Public Hearing Jan 21, 2020))

The following letter went to Vancouver City Council. This item was completed on Jan 21, but note that the meeting reconvenes on 28-Jan-2020 for unfinished business.

January 21, 2020
City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

RE: Public Hearing 1. Miscellaneous Amendments – Zoning and Development By-law and Sign Fee By-law

Report: https://council.vancouver.ca/20191210/documents/rr1.pdf
Public Hearing Agenda Jan. 21, 2020: https://council.vancouver.ca/20200121/phea20200121ag.htm

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) is opposed to including major changes to zoning in a miscellaneous amendment report.

The item we particularly are opposed to is as follows:

2) Section 3.2.1(h) – Relaxation for Low Operational Cost Housing
Staff recommend amending the Zoning and Development By-law to give the Director of Planning the discretion to relax the maximum unit density regulations in the district schedules when applying the Zero Emissions Building Catalyst Policy where, due to conditions peculiar either to the site or to the proposed development, literal enforcement would result in unnecessary hardship. In some development scenarios, the current regulation could lead to larger than intended units. The proposed change would permit a greater number of smaller dwelling units to be approved.

This is a major change that applies to all zones city-wide except for CD zones. It should require its own report that discusses the impact this would have on various zones and require consultation with the public in advance. The proposed change is as follows: Continue reading

CVN letter to Council: Items 4 & 5. CD-1 Rezoning: 3600 & 3680 East Hastings Street (Public Hearing Jan 21, 2020)

The following letter went to Vancouver City Council. Note that the meeting reconvenes on 28-Jan-2020.

January 20, 2020

City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

RE: Items 4 & 5. CD-1 Rezoning: 3600 & 3680 East Hastings Street Public Hearing Jan 21,2020
https://council.vancouver.ca/20200121/phea20200121ag.htm

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) opposes these rezoning applications for the following reasons:

• these types of rezoning projects render moot the effectiveness of the years-down-the-road mirage of a City-wide Plan
• these would be blockbusters setting a precedent for additional large buildings in the middle of a C-2C zoned area.
• the building height is overbearing to the houses next to it; 48.8 (160.2 ft.) tall, 14 storeys
• the MIRHP Program is giving a bonus to the developer of 10 additional storeys for providing ±20 units of ‘Median Income’ rental. And the taxpayers get to supply the funds for the additional loads onto all neighbourhood amenities and infrastructure, with the added bonus of waiving CACs and DCLs.
• only 47 parking stalls for 94 units (3600) and 61 for 118 units (3680), in an area already overburdened with on-street parking problems
– area schools are already overcrowded; the community centre is too crowded with no space for small children; and with the waiver of CACs as a bonus to developer, no money to change this situation!
• there is nothing that staff can point to indicating general support for this in the ‘community plan’ as there was no household survey
• height is unprecedented in the surrounding Vancouver neighbourhood; Burnaby is irrelevant, as it is a different jurisdictional authority.

Density and affordable housing are good. These buildings, on these sites, are not. The Coalition recommends that these applications be rejected.

Sincerely,
Larry Benge, Dorothy Barkeley
Co-Chairs

CVN letter to Council: RE: Items 6. Rezoning of Certain Properties in Nanaimo Sub-area of Grandview-Woodland Community Plan, etc. (Public Hearing Jan 21, 2020)

The following letter went to Vancouver City Council. Note that the meeting reconvenes on 28-Jan-2020.

RE: Items 6. Rezoning of Certain Properties in the Nanaimo Sub-area of the Grandview-
Woodland Community Plan, and Related Plan Amendments Public Hearing Jan 21,2020
https://council.vancouver.ca/20200121/phea20200121ag.htm

January 21, 2020

City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

RE: Items 6. Rezoning of Certain Properties in the Nanaimo Sub-area of the Grandview-
Woodland Community Plan, and Related Plan Amendments Public Hearing Jan 21,2020

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) opposes these rezoning applications. We are concerned with the many issues have been raised by the local community group Grandview Woodland Area Council (GWAC) including the following:

• the very long list of amendments to the Community Plan that have been included
• the wider community of Grandview-Woodland never received any public notification of these Plan Amendments
• there were no Open Houses to discuss changes to many sections of the Community Plan that have wide impacts across the neighbourhood
• the full final text and final diagrams for the Plan Amendments have not been included in the report

Community plans should be respected and followed. If the city wants to consider development that doesn’t follow the relevant community plan, there should be a requirement to consult with the local community in a manner consistent with the original process to establish the community plan prior to considering rezoning.

We support the request that Council sever the sections of this item on amending the Community Plan, and at this Public Hearing limit the discussions and final votes to only the rezoning of parcels in the two identified blocks (Kitchener and Nanaimo and E12th and Nanaimo St).

Please vote to delay and defer any changes to the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan (GWCP) until a later date, at which time due process can be followed with considering changes to the Community Plan.

Sincerely,
Larry Benge, Dorothy Barkeley
Co-Chairs

 

Coalition letter to Council: Rental Incentives Review Phase II Report Back (in Council 26-Nov-2019)

The following letter was sent to all members of Vancouver City Council.

November 25, 2019

City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

Re: Rental Incentives Review Phase II Report Back

Agenda Nov. 26, 2019: https://council.vancouver.ca/20191126/regu20191126ag.htm
Report: https://council.vancouver.ca/20191126/documents/p1.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) requests that City Council not approve the recommendations in this report. Many of the recommendations have been brought forward without the widespread public consultation that they require.

If approved, the effects of this 236-page report will be felt broadly across the city in a dramatic and complex way. It is impossible for the public and councillors to adequately read, understand and consider the details and implications of the staff proposals in the few days since the report was made public. Most of the public is likely unaware of it at all.

Adding large-scale new apartment development throughout RS, RT and C2 zones would dramatically reshape these neighbourhoods and render the City-wide Plan process meaningless. It would result in much change before that process even begins.

Council approval of the recommendations at this time would also undermine established local area and community planning in Vancouver. It would also go against general standards for public process and neighbourhood-based planning (e.g. IAP2) to which the City has committed itself.

These proposals need more time to be considered along with other options as part of the City-wide Plan and should not be rushed through as currently proposed. We remind council that the last election signaled the public’s desire for a new approach, not to carry on implementing the former council’s directions and policies. If this report is approved it would undermine opportunities for collaboration. Continue reading