Category Archives: Posts

CVN letter to Council (for July 21): Vancouver Plan Update-Quick Starts

July 19, 2021

City of Vancouver Council

Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

Re: Vancouver Plan Update and Quick Starts

Agenda: https://council.vancouver.ca/20210721/cfsc20210721ag.htm
Report: https://council.vancouver.ca/20210721/documents/cfsc1.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) is strongly opposed to the recommendations in this report.  Please refer this report back to staff  to allow for more basic planning work and community consultation which should be done prior to any consideration of Quick Start actions.

The data that Council directed staff to provide has yet to be received and the recalibration of the Housing Vancouver targets have yet to be done.

Further there has been no real neighbourhood-based planning or meaningful consultation with residents. Consultation has emphasized special interest groups so far and avoided most of the population of Vancouver. The city’s consultation process continues to be extremely flawed that is designed for a predetermined outcome.

We are opposed to the following Quick Starts:

1. Streamlining Rental Rezoning Initiative – It is premature to consider this proposed rezoning as a quick start before the end of the City’s survey (July 27). The survey results should be available for Council consideration prior to deciding if this should be a quick start.

A Change.org Petition: Our Communities Our Plans, is opposed to these arbitrary rezoning policies and is currently over 3000 signatures.  https://www.change.org/p/city-of-vancouver-council-officials-our-communities-our-plans-99961c91-4a17-497d-86c8-b385b3c0f315

In addition to our point that no neighbourhood-based planning or meaningful consultation has been conducted, the thousands of individual properties that are affected by the proposed rezoning have not been notified. Most are not aware of this initiative.

2. Downtown Eastside Policy Updates to Increase Social Housing Initiative – This would put more development pressure and land speculation on Chinatown, Strathcona and Gastown for 10 storey and higher towers in the heritage districts, and would undermines their heritage character.

3. Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program (MIRHPP) – The proposed amendments would allow bigger towers and have even lower affordability requirements compared to what are already mostly market units under MIRHPP. This program should be cancelled not expanded.

These staff recommendations are premature. Please do not approve the recommendations, and instead, refer this report back to staff  for more planning and consultation work which needs to be done prior to Council consideration of Quick Start actions.

Thank you,

Steering Committee,
Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods

Member Groups of the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods Continue reading

CVN letter to Council (for July 7): OPPOSED – Policy Enquiry Process: Approach and Criteria – Policy to Ignore Policy

July 6, 2021
City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

Re: Policy Enquiry Process: Approach and Criteria – Policy to Ignore Policy

Agenda: https://council.vancouver.ca/20210707/pspc20210707ag.htm

Report: https://council.vancouver.ca/20210707/documents/pspc1.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) is strongly opposed to this proposed policy change.

It suggests allowing spot rezoning proposals to go forward for consideration even if they do not conform to any policy that would allow it. This would undermine all community plans and planning processes so as to make zoning and planning policy meaningless.

While this may benefit the development industry, it would undermine the public interest.

It would make more work for staff, Council and the public to deal with projects that should not be going forward at all.

Please do not approve this report recommendations.

Thank you,

Steering Committee,
Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods Continue reading

CVN letter to Council (for July 6): OPPOSED – Regulation Redesign –Simplifying Height Regulations and Miscellaneous Amendments

July 6, 2021
City of Vancouver Council

Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors, 

Re: Public Hearing – Regulation Redesign –Simplifying Height Regulations and Miscellaneous Amendments

Agenda: https://council.vancouver.ca/20210706/phea20210706ag.htm
Report: https://council.vancouver.ca/20210706/documents/phea4report.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) is concerned about so many different unrelated issues being combined under one report as an omnibus.  Changes to height regulations are complex and would have impacts on the form of development so should be in a report on its own.

Please do not approve this report and instead send this report back to staff to prepare a separate report for the changes to height regulations so that it goes into more detail as to how the changes will affect the size of buildings in various zones.

Further, please give more explanation in the report recommendations for RM8 zones regarding infill.

Please do not combine unrelated items into one report that would change the form of development.

Each item that proposes changes to form or use need separate reports and more explanation on what these changes mean, with consultation of affected neighbourhoods.

Thank you,
Steering Committee,
Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods Continue reading

CVN letter to Council (for July 6): OPPOSED – CD-1 Rezoning: 1405 East 15th Avenue and 3047-3071 Maddams Street

July 6, 2021
City of Vancouver Council

Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors, 

Re: CD-1 Rezoning: 1405 East 15th Avenue and 3047-3071 Maddams Street, 

Public Hearing July 6, 2021

Agenda:  https://council.vancouver.ca/20210706/phea20210706ag.htm
Report:  https://council.vancouver.ca/20210706/documents/phea6report.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) concurs with the concerns raised by our member group Cedar Cottage Area Neighbours (CCAN) in their opposition to this project. Count this letter as opposed.

As noted by CCAN, the project doesn’t conform to the policies under which it is being proposed.

* This project is not on an arterial. There is a lane and City easement between this proposal and the arterial.  All development over the easement is disallowed since 1963 in perpetuity. The easement document from Land Title shows this.

The block faces for this project are on East 15th Avenue and Maddams Street, NOT the arterial.  The City says that if a lot faces off an arterial, within100 m from an arterial, then it can only at most be built to 4 storeys.

* The City’s policy states that only two projects can be built within 10 blocks of each other on ANY arterial to maintain neighbourhood character and this project will make three.

Please refer to the CCAN letter for more information. Continue reading

CVN letter to Council (for June 8): RR1-1 – Regulation Redesign –Simplifying Height Regulations and Miscellaneous Amendments

June 6, 2021
City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

Re: RR1-1 – Regulation Redesign –Simplifying Height Regulations and Miscellaneous Amendments

Agenda: https://council.vancouver.ca/20210608/regu20210608ag.htm
Report: https://council.vancouver.ca/20210608/documents/rr1.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) is concerned about so many different unrelated issues being combined under one report as an omnibus.  Changes to height regulations are complex and would have impacts on the form of development so should be in a report on its own.

Please send this report back to staff to prepare a separate report for the changes to height regulations so that it goes into more detail as to how the changes will affect the size of buildings in various zones.

Further, please give more explanation in the report recommendations for RM8 zones regarding infill.

Please do not combine unrelated items into one report that would change the form of development.

Each item that proposes changes to form or use need separate reports and more explanation on what these changes mean, with consultation of affected neighbourhoods.

Thank you,
Larry A. Benge, Co-chair
Dorothy Barkley, Co-chair
Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods

Member Groups of the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods Continue reading

CVN letter to Council (for June 8): OPPOSED to A, B, C on Internal Development Application and Permitting Modernization Task, comments on D

June 6, 2021
City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

Re: Internal Development Application and Permitting Modernization Task Force – First Bi-Monthly Update – Revising Design Guidelines, Tree Protection Bylaw, Zero Emission Buildings Delay

Agenda: https://council.vancouver.ca/20210608/regu20210608ag.htm
Report: https://council.vancouver.ca/20210608/documents/p1.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) is concerned about so many different unrelated issues being combined under one report as an omnibus.  This makes it much harder to address each issue and the title of the report does not clearly reflect the content.

Reduced Approval Times Generally – The goal to reduce development and permitting approval times is essential. However, this should be done by making the process more efficient as a priority, not by reducing the City’s oversight for quality of design and finished product.

Recommendation A – To not enforce design guidelines in RS-3 and RS-3A, RS-5, RT-3, RT-6, RT-7, RT-8, RT-9 and RT-10 Zoning Districts. Strongly Opposed

* The conditional aspects of the zoning are central to their intent and should not be weakened for expediency.  Staff should streamline the approval process to reduce time without reducing the quality of design that is focused on character and heritage house retention and neighbourhood character. Quality of exterior finishes and windows, including placement for privacy, are an important part of this.

* The proposal would eliminate all landscape review in these zones so that would mean that there would be no requirement for new developments to plant trees or to place planting for privacy screening. This will seriously affect our urban forest over the long term. In one year there can be a lot of damage done. Irrigation systems should be mandatory so that landscaping survives.

* The intent of this pilot appears to be to make these changes permanent. If any temporary changes are approved, they should automatically reverse back after the 12 months.

Recommendation B & C – To amend the Tree Protection Bylaw requirements by redefining the size of trees that would be protected from over 20 cm (8 inches) diameter to over 30 cm (12 inches) while eliminating arborist reports. This would result in a reduction of the number of saved trees. This is proposed as a permanent change to the Bylaw.

* Better to ensure timely review process rather than eliminate review requirements.

* How will the city verify the actual size of trees removed without confirmation by an arborist?

* Will there still be replacement trees required when there is no third party to confirm existing?

* Much of the urban forest is on private property and many trees are at the rear of properties. Allowing trees removed for garages would mean a loss of many of the city’s biggest trees.

* Trees are a major way to mitigate climate change and also reduce run-off into our sewer system.

* Where some flexibility is required for problem trees, there needs to be checks and balances to ensure that the urban forest is retained intact.

Recommendation D – To delay by 12 months the implementation of amendments to the Building By-law, as set out in sections 19 through 42 of By-law No. 12692, relating to mandatory zero emission building construction guidelines for all new homes. While the delay for new homes is questionable given the large amount of new development in the pipeline, there does need to be a delay in how this would affect renovations to existing character and heritage buildings.

On April 29, 2020 Council directed staff to work with stakeholders to update the Bulletin 2014-007 “Conservation of Heritage Buildings and Compliance with Vancouver’s Building By-Law”, to ensure that there is flexibility in the requirements, for modest renovations and additions for heritage and character homes that achieve retention goals, enabling approaches that are compatible with a historic building. Developments and Permits staff have not been available to work on this and need more time.

Staff report: https://council.vancouver.ca/20200429/documents/pspc3.pdf
Minutes:  https://council.vancouver.ca/20200429/documents/pspc20200429min_000.pdf

So if this Recommendation D is not passed, there needs to be a delay in the application of zero emission building construction guidelines to heritage and character buildings in the Bulletin 2014-007 until staff can provide more detailed work on the Bulletin for zero emissions as directed by council on April 29, 2020. 

Please do not approve Recommendations A, B and C. Please also consider our comments on D above.

In future, please do not combine unrelated items into one report.

Thank you,

Larry A. Benge, Co-chair
Dorothy Barkley, Co-chair
Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods Continue reading

CVN letter to Council (for May 18): OPPOSED to Motion for increases up to 12 storeys for ‘social housing’ in RM-3A, RM-4 and other Zoning Districts City-wide

May 16, 2021

City of Vancouver Council

Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

Re: Motion-Increases up to 12 storeys Social Housing in the RM-3A, RM-4 and other Zoning Districts City-wide

Agenda: https://council.vancouver.ca/20210518/regu20210518ag.htm
Report: https://council.vancouver.ca/20210518/documents/b2.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) is opposed to this motion for many reasons.

A summary of the main reasons for opposing this motion are:

* The scale of the proposed buildings are too big at 400% of the outright height and FSR with major negative impacts on existing rentals, land inflation, demoviction and displacement;

* Staff need to provide the data as directed by Council motion in May 2020 to inform the planning for how much social housing is actually needed;

* The city’s definition of “social housing” currently allows 70% of the units at market rent but counts it as 100% social housing when it is mostly market rents. This needs reconsideration and clarification in the near future, as previously considered at Council (see Councillor Fry’s earlier Motion)

* It is undemocratic to allow major increases in height and density without public hearing and undermines community plans.

Social housing with appropriate locations, supports and amenities could be provided in every neighbourhood if the scale, form and context of each neighbourhood were properly considered. This motion doesn’t do this as the proposed scale and form would have major negative consequences for the affected communities without requiring project rezoning public hearings.

Some of the many concerns are as follows:

* The huge increase in scale of up to 400% of that allowed by current outright zoning would increase land lift for the subject property and all of the area around the site. RM-3A and RM4 would go from 3-4 storeys at 1.45 FSR to 12-13 storeys (including exempted top floor amenities) with 6 FSR.

* Staff suggested that with the six storey height limit, the new social housing was only feasible if the land were acquired at no cost, ie already a social housing site. So the new social housing would be at the expense of existing social housing but the number of sites was limited in number. With the increase to 12 storeys, it may well be that redevelopment would be possible with land purchase. This would put many more existing affordable rental units at risk of demolition.

* Going from wood frame construction to concrete would increase costs, rents, embodied GHG emissions and demolition waste in the landfill.

* Regardless of tenure, the physical scale and form would be used as a precedent for future spot rezonings, including market rentals and strata.

* This will increase development pressure, increase rental inflation, gentrification, demovictions, and displacements for existing older more affordable rental buildings. Existing rents in older buildings tend to be much lower than new rentals, sometimes even lower than typical subsidized social housing rents, while existing older units are also generally larger. Most of the city’s existing affordable rental apartment buildings are in RM zones.

* The City defines social housing projects as only requiring 30% of the units subsidized below HILs rates and the other 70% of the units could be market rentals, while 100% of the units are counted as social housing. This motion fails to clarify this important point. While it is true that further subsidies may be granted from other levels of government, there is no guarantee or requirement for this as part of the approval process and is subject to qualification and availability of future programs.

* This motion doesn’t even require a greater level of affordability. All increases in height and density should meet the affordability requirements from BC Housing (20%deep subsidy, 50% moderate subsidy, 30% some subsidy ) rather than the Vancouver Zoning and Development By-law.

* Large increases to height and density in RS, RT, and C zones citywide would have the same effects of inflating land values, increased rents and displacement as described above. Possibly even more so.

* Secondary suites are an important part of the existing affordable rental stock. Large increases in building scales for new social housing, of which 70% of the units could be market rents, will lead to displacement, gentrification and demolition of character buildings.

* Large increases to height, FSR and form without a rezoning public hearing is undemocratic and undermines security that zoning is intended to provide.

* It also undermines neighbourhood character and liveability by allowing much bigger buildings that block views, overshadow yards and buildings for gardens and potential solar panels.

* This motion undermines neighbourhood based planning and pre-empts the outcomes of the Vancouver Plan and the Broadway Plan. Any allowance for buildings of this size, with its effects on a neighbourhood, should be considered through a neighbourhood-based public consultation process. Given that the Vancouver Plan is already looking at planning options, including for social housing, it would seem that this motion is out of order.

* This motion is in conflict with existing Community Plans, including the most recent in Grandview Woodland.

Please do not approve this proposed motion.

Thank you,
Larry A. Benge, Co-chair
Dorothy Barkley, Co-chair
Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods

 Member Groups of the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods

Continue reading

CVN letter to Council (for Apr-15): OPPOSED to Amendments in RM-4 and RM-3A Zoning Districts

April 14, 2021
City of Vancouver Council

Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

Re: Public Hearing Item 4. Amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law to Increase Social Housing in the RM-4 and RM-3A Zoning Districts

Agenda: https://council.vancouver.ca/20210415/phea20210415ag1.htm
Report: https://council.vancouver.ca/20210309/documents/rr6.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) is opposed to the recommendations in this report to rezone RM3 and RM4 to allow outright 6 storey rental projects without a public hearing.

While purportedly only for social housing projects, the City defines social housing as only requiring 30% of the units to be subsidized, while 70% can be market priced, but all is counted as 100% social housing.

This could lead to these mostly market rental projects putting increased development pressure on older affordable rental buildings, many of which have lower rents than the new “social housing” that would replace it. This will lead to displacement, gentrification and demolition of character buildings.

It also undermines neighbourhood character and liveability by allowing much bigger buildings that block views, overshadow yards and buildings for gardens and potential solar panels.

The rezoning is in conflict with community plans, including the most recent in Grandview Woodland.

Please do not approve this rezoning as proposed.

Thank you,
Larry A. Benge, Co-chair
Dorothy Barkley, Co-chair
Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods Continue reading

CVN letter to Council (for Mar-11): SUPPORT for Extension of Rental Housing Stock ODP to Require Rental Replacement in C-2, C-2B, C-2C, & C-2C1 Commercial Districts

March 10, 2020
City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

Re: Public Hearing Item 2 [11-March-2021]. Extension of the Rental Housing Stock Official Development Plan to Require Rental Replacement in C-2, C-2B, C-2C, and C-2C1 Commercial Districts

Agenda: https://council.vancouver.ca/20210311/phea20210311ag.htm Report: https://council.vancouver.ca/20210209/documents/rr2.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) strongly supports approval of this report recommendations to extending the areas where the Rental Housing ODP applies to the C2 zones.

This Public Hearing proposes that the Rental Housing Stock Official Development Plan include the C-2 zones for additional much needed protection of existing rentals by requiring a one for one replacement. This policy has been helpful in the apartment zones where currently applicable.

We request that these changes are applied to all applications and inquiries for DP or rezonings (unless already fully approved) as of the date that Council unanimously directed staff on November 26, 2019 to bring back a report for Council consideration, as per the following minutes:

https://council.vancouver.ca/20191126/documents/regu20191126min.pdf

  1. 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 existing rentals are under continuing and increasing development pressure, so this is a very important measure to help retain the older more affordable existing rental units. And it is important that the delays in bringing forward this report are not putting more existing rentals at risk during this interim period, proposed from date of referral on February 9, 2021 (see page 12, 6) In-stream applications).

Please approve this important Public Hearing item with the proposed amendment to Recommendation A, “FURTHER THAT the Rental Housing ODP amendments apply to applications and inquires made since the date of Council direction passed unanimously on November 26, 2019, unless a rezoning or Development Permit is already issued by the date of this Public Hearing.”

Thank you, Continue reading

CVN letter to Council (Feb 11): 3084 West 4th Ave and 2010 Balaclava St (Public Hearing)

February 10, 2020

City of Vancouver Council

Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors, 

Re: Public Hearing Item 3. CD-1 Rezoning: 3084 West 4th Avenue and 2010 Balaclava Street

Agenda: https://council.vancouver.ca/20210211/phea20210211ag.htm

Report: https://council.vancouver.ca/20210211/documents/phea3rr.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) joins the local community and West Kits Residents Association members in opposition to this rezoning proposal.

The proposed building does not conform to MIRHPP policies because:

* there are presently more than 3 rental units already on the site;
* it does not transition to neighbouring residential properties
* it does not fit into the context of the area.

More specifically:

1. A sixth floor is not supportable in view of surrounding scale of development

2. Insufficient rear yard (only 6 feet after balconies) so that the six storey building will overshadow gardens in the Santa Barbara next door in late summer afternoons when people want to sit outside. The 6-foot rear yard means that suggestions for trees and urban agriculture are unrealistic.

3. Balconies that protrude a full six feet rather than being inset into the building decrease the perceived depth of the rear yard , directly affecting neighbouring house overlook

4. Insufficient stepback on the top floor of only 4 feet which results in unusable private space for top floor units.

What we would prefer to see, in support of the work already undertaken by members of the neighbourhood, with Scot Hein, well-known urban designer, and the Owners, is to use this opportunity to build a collaborative process with the developer and owners of the site in order to create a secured rental project that fits into the area, helps meet the City wide goals of more rental housing, meets the financial viability test for the owners, and shows how alternate innovative designs can be used to provide rental housing in a project that will garner neighbourhood  support.

This option will also:

* use a more favourable building typology which

–              provides family oriented townhouses over a number of apartments in a more efficient building form

–               provides more efficient design, as there is almost no unusable space since each unit would have its own entrance, and resulting in almost the same amount of livable floor area being provided in a three and a half storey, 2.1 FSR building

–               would result in a much more Covid-friendly design without requiring shared elevators and stairwells and also uses less concrete and has a lower carbon footprint.

* This alternate design also means that the resulting family oriented units will actually be livable over the longer term for a family unlike the tiny two bedroom units being provided. We note that the so-called family units are mostly less than 600 square feet and only one is over 700 square feet (721 Sq.ft.)

We all have learned through the earlier 1805 Larch St. development permit process, that Council and the public should not rely on the development permit process to deal with the problems inherent in a proposal. And, we do not think that Councilors and the public should be trying to redesign a building in the midst of a Public Hearing. We have also learned that suggestions for further ‘consideration’ of possible improvements does not mean that this will happen.

These buildings, these proposals are not temporary things in our environment. They are going to last in our neighbourhoods for our lifetimes, and beyond. We should treat them as such, with due care and attention.

We strongly oppose this proposal.

Thank you,
Larry A. Benge, Co-chair
Dorothy Barkley, Co-chair

Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods Continue reading