Coalition writes City Council on “Housing Vancouver Update” (June 19)

June 18, 2018
City of Vancouver Mayor & Council

Dear Mayor Gregor Robertson and Councillors,

Re:  Council June 19: Housing Vancouver Update and Related Reports RR-1(a), RR-1(b), RR-1(c), RR-1(d) http://council.vancouver.ca/20180619/regu20180619ag.htm

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods again finds itself seriously concerned with the lack of proper planning processes at City Hall. This week’s agenda has a 681-page package of proposals for Council’s consideration, including referral to public hearing, without giving adequate time for affected communities to view, comment or to have their input reflected prior to referral. These reports should be accepted for information only and referred back to staff for a meaningful public consultation process before consideration by Council after the fall election, not rushed through in the summer.

The problematic proposals presented include the following:

  • New housing initiatives produced in consultation with industry stakeholders only.
  • Changes to zoning across the city being referred to public hearing with no consultation.
  • RT7 & RT8 to be eventually rezoned to the new RT5 from Grandview, with some changes for more infill proposed to be referred to public hearing now with no prior neighbourhood consultation.
  • RS zones across city to be rezoned. First changes being referred to public hearing include changing the RS zones to outright strata duplex by changing intent, allowing for two front doors and reducing front yards to allow for infill, with no public consultation.
  • Changes to parking bylaws across the city. Reduced requirements with new development and increased requirements for street permit parking.
  • Changes to laneway houses to allow larger and taller with no design guidelines. Only               consulted industry and users. Designed to benefit new development not character               retention.
  • Allowing the Director of Planning more power so fewer projects need to go to Development Permit Board. This affects all kinds of existing zoning bylaws, which will all be amended.
  • Changing RT10 in Cedar Cottage to RT11 from Norquay. Referral to public hearing.
  • Many Guidelines and Policies being repealed including CityPlan Rezoning Policy.

A few specifics:

  • Many people have referred to RT-7/8 zoning as desirable, as it has built-in disincentives for demolitions; hence the marked lack of demolitions in those neighbourhoods. We oppose the proposed change to align this zoning to RT-5 zoning schedule, which includes less disincentives to demolition. We believe that changes to RT-7/8 can be dealt with in meaningful consultation with the neighbourhoods affected, within the context of the existing zoning.
  •  We are opposed to changes to RS zoning across the city without meaningful participation of the affected neighbourhoods. While we are not against changes to zoning per se, we feel that a program (the Making Room program) which seeks to homogenize our neighbourhoods into an urban wasteland of conformity with even more incentives for demolition, by failing to recognize the strength, the character, the texture, the uniqueness of our neighbourhoods which form an element of this city that defines its very quality, is a failed program before it even starts. And, there is no evidence included that indicates the program will provide housing that local buyers can afford.
  • We are opposed to changes to Laneway House regulations with no guidelines. Again, every area of the city has its own unique considerations, and these changes, if needed, should be made with community input, and the creation of suitable guidelines as to their design. There should also be consideration given to inclusion of disincentives to demolition of housing on the same site as an incentive for character retention.
  • We oppose the granting of decision-making powers to the Director of Planning in lieu of the Development Permit Board. While this may seem to be a streamlining exercise, it more importantly removes access to a part of the democratic process from the public.
  • The repeal of the entire existing CityPlan Rezoning Policy, while justified where other Community Plans have superseded it, does not make sense if the Visioning Policies produced by it have not yet been implemented.

General comments:

Bringing 681 pages of significant policy changes to Council, with little or no meaningful public consultation, and with a very short period of time for the public to digest, shows a lack of respect for due public process.

Meaningful public consultation, which we continue to promote, may seem to take more effort. However, in the long run this produces policy that results in shorter implementation times, and less cost to the city. It also historically leads to a better city, a happier city, and a less anxious citizenry.

These reports should be for information only and referred back to staff for a meaningful public consultation process before consideration by Council after the fall election.

Sincerely,

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

Also provided was the full list of CVN member groups

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