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.

Thank you,

Larry A. Benge, Co-chair
Dorothy Barkley, Co-chair
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
Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council
Dunbar Residents Association
Fairview/South Granville Action Committee
False Creek Residents Association
Grandview Woodland Area Council
Granville-Burrard Residents & Business Assoc.
Greater Yaletown Community Association
Joyce Area Residents
Kitsilano-Arbutus Residents Association
Kits Point Residents Association
Marpole Residents Coalition
Norquay Residents
NW Point Grey Home Owners Association
Oakridge Langara Area Residents
Riley Park/South Cambie Visions
Shaughnessy Heights Property Owners Assoc.
Strathcona Residents Association
Upper Kitsilano Residents Association
West End Neighbours Society
West Kitsilano Residents Association
West Point Grey Residents Association