CVN letter to Council (Feb 11): Rezoning of 1766 Frances Street (Public Hearing)

February 9, 2020

City of Vancouver Council

Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

Re: Public Hearing Item 1. CD-1 Rezoning: 1766 Frances Street
Agenda: https://council.vancouver.ca/20210211/phea20210211ag.htm
Report: https://council.vancouver.ca/20210211/documents/phea1rr.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) joins the local community and Grandview Woodland Area Council members in opposition to this proposal since it is not consistent with the Grandview Woodlands Community Plan.

This development proposal significantly exceeds the height constraints recommended in the Grandview Community Plan (see p.96) and seeks to impose a 9-storey building in the middle of a residential side street currently consisting of 2-and 3-storey buildings. In the Introduction to the Grandview Woodland Plan, it states that the Plan “sets out a framework or a course of action, to manage change in the community in a manner that reflects community values, good planning practice and the particulars of the place itself.” We do not believe that “community values” and “good planning practice” have changed since 2016 when the Plan was approved.

Also, on page 12 of the report, there are facts that raise questions on affordability and housing mix.

Regarding affordability, only 32% of the units are going to be actually moderately affordable but even these are quite high income wise up to $55,500 for a one bedroom and $78,000 for a two bedroom. And the rest of the units will be market rental. On housing mix, only 36% of the units are for families which is below the 50% target. Given that the affordability is marginal, will not serve people at welfare rates, and unit mix doesn’t meet targets, it is even more questionable that so much extra density is proposed far beyond existing zoning and the Community Plan.

Thank you,

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

Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods Continue reading

CVN letter to Council (Jan 20): Code of Conduct for Council Members and Advisory Board Members

This letter to Council relates to a topic for City Council on January 20, 2021.

January 20, 2020

City of Vancouver Council

Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

Re: The Code of Conduct for Council Members and Advisory Board Members (BY-LAW No. _____)

Agenda: https://council.vancouver.ca/20210120/cfsc20210120ag.htm
Report: https://council.vancouver.ca/20210120/documents/cfsc1.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) is OPPOSED to this proposed new bylaw for the Code of Conduct. The existing Code of Conduct policy covers Council, advisory bodies, and staff, while the proposed bylaw would not include staff. https://vancouver.ca/files/cov/boards-committees-code-of-conduct.pdf

We strongly oppose this change to eliminate staff and the lack of proper process.

As proposed, City staff would not be held to an improved level of accountability or integrity. The proposed role of Integrity Commissioner would not deal with complaints about staff. Staff would continue to solely deal with complaints internally through the human resources department, or possibly just through senior staff such as the City Manager.

Code of Conduct for senior staff such as the City Manager, should go to the Integrity Commissioner too. Complaints about other staff, such as General Managers and Planners, should also have the potential to be appealed to the Integrity Commissioner. As currently drafted, it imposes a lower level of accountability on staff, while increasing controls on City Council and its advisory bodies.

The drafting of the bylaw, including the role and appointment of an Integrity Commissioner, should be transparent and include City Council and the public. There needs to be a “redline” draft text of the document, to show exactly what changes are being proposed relative to the current text of the Code of Conduct Policy. Please send this report back to add staff to the bylaw with a consultation process.

Thank you,

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

Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods

CVN letter to Council: Public Hearing (01/21/21) Item 4. By-law Amendments for Neighbourhood Grocery Stores

This letter to Council relates to a staff referral report going before a Public Hearing on January 21, 2021.

January 18, 2021
City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

Re: Public Hearing (01/21/21) Item 4. Employment Lands and Economy Review Quick Start Actions: Initial Zoning and Development By-law Amendments to Support Neighbourhood Grocery Stores

Agenda: https://council.vancouver.ca/20210121/phea20210121ag.htm
Report: https://council.vancouver.ca/20210121/documents/rr1d.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) is opposed to this rezoning. Proper consultation and planning on this item has been virtually non-existent. The report proposes rezoning through text amendments to allow new commercial development in all RS, RT and RM residential zones citywide.

The existing provisions to allow for older grandfathered corner stores to remain are very different than allowing new commercial development in residential areas. There are many issues that should first be considered prior to rezoning. While this may be acceptable in some areas, it requires a neighbourhood context and specific location considerations.

Local businesses in existing C2 zoned neighbourhood centres are struggling and adding more competition by expanding new commercial into residential areas would only make it harder for them to survive. The BIAs have not been consulted. Nor have the public.

The work in the Vancouver Plan needs to proceed on a neighbourhood basis prior to considering rezoning, not afterwards. The cart is before the horse.

Refer to City Hall Watch: https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2020/11/23/new-commercial-in-residential-zones/

Please only accept this report for information and refer it back to staff to consider as part of
neighbourhood-based planning in the Vancouver Plan process.

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

CVN letter to Council: Rezoning referral Report (19-Jan) #6. 3084 West 4th & 2010 Balaclava

This letter to Council relates to a staff referral report going before City Council on January 19, 2021.

January 18, 2021
City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

Re: Referral Reports –Item 6. CD-1 Rezoning: 3084 West 4th Avenue and 2010 Balaclava Street

Report: https://council.vancouver.ca/20210119/documents/rr6.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) believes that it is important that local communities have the opportunity to participate in meaningful consultation on proposed changes within their neighbourhoods. As such CVN supports the efforts of the West Kitsilano neighbourhood groups (West Kits Residents Association, We Love Kits) as they seek time for further discussions with the various parties involved in the proposed project for West 4th Avenue & Balaclava.

As a part of this support, we join them in asking that Council delay the referral of this Report to Public Hearing for the requested time period (to Feb. 23/21) in order to give the parties involved time to complete their discussions before proceeding to Public Hearing.

We thank you for your consideration.

Thank you,

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

CVN letter to Council: Report Back on Random Order Ballot Model Used in 2018 Vancouver Election

This letter to Council relates to a staff report going before City Council on January 19, 2021.

January 18, 2020
City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

Re: Report Back on the Random Order Ballot Model Used in the 2018 Vancouver Election

Agenda: https://council.vancouver.ca/20210119/regu20210119ag.htm
Report: https://council.vancouver.ca/20210119/documents/p2.pdf

While the proposed changes to election procedures may have merit, the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) have concerns about the process on such an important issue.

Elections are fundamental to democracy and changes to that process should not be taken lightly. There should be a robust process that includes Council and the public. This report has only been posted for three working days before council is expected to vote on it. Most of the public are unaware of this and have had no input.

We request that this be referred back to staff for further consultation and consideration before council votes on this important issue.

Thank you,

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

CVN letter to Council: Strong support for establishing Office of Auditor General for City of Vancouver

This letter to Council relates to a staff report going before City Council on November 4, 2020.

November 2, 2020
City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

Re: Establishing the Office of the Auditor General for the City of Vancouver  

Agenda: https://council.vancouver.ca/20201104/pspc20201104ag.htm
Report: https://council.vancouver.ca/20201104/documents/pspc3.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) is in strong support of the recommendations in this report for establishment of the Independent Auditor General Office for the City of Vancouver.

Thanks to Council for bringing forward this report and we are pleased to see the City of Vancouver coming into compliance with governance best practices.

We strongly encourage you to approve the recommendations in the report for establishing the Independent Auditor General Office for the City of Vancouver. Continue reading

CVN letter to Council: Climate Emergency Action Plan – Do not approve, send back for more consultation

November 1, 2020
City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

Re: Climate Emergency Action Plan

Agenda: https://council.vancouver.ca/20201103/regu20201103ag.htm
Report: https://council.vancouver.ca/20201103/documents/p1.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) is pleased to see that council is taking strong action on climate change, however there are concerns about how this 371 page report has been brought forward without meaningful public consultation and a number of the recommendations that are problematic.

We therefore request that this report not be approved at this time, and instead be referred back to staff for more public consultation to address these issues.

Some of the many concerns are as follows:

* Eliminating parking minimums in new residential construction gives too much cost saving benefit to developers, while offloading those costs to residents of the new building and surrounding area.
* Pay permit parking citywide unfairly offloads developers’ costs onto area residents, who will be increasingly squeezed out of street parking due to the removal of parking minimum requirements, and increased costs will make life even more unaffordable.
* Road pricing could be done more practically and fairly. Rather than tracking drivers, which invades privacy, it would be better to price road use through mileage driven or gas taxes.
* Transit should be evaluated based on embodied energy, including the amount of concrete in the Broadway subway and SkyTrain.
* Embodied energy of existing buildings should offset against energy efficiency requirements, especially for character and heritage buildings made of old growth trees.
* Massive redevelopment increases the ecological footprint and GHG emissions through embodied energy. Renovation and adaptive reuse should be prioritized over new construction.
* The general impacts on affordability and how this would affect the affordability crisis should be considered. It is not just a matter of a few equity groups, but the impacts on residents at large and property taxes, both residential and commercial small businesses that continue to struggle under the current tax load.

While we agree that climate change needs to be addressed as an urgent priority, the proposed recommendations seem more to the benefit of the development industry, with costs offloaded to residents and small businesses.

We urge you to refer this report back to staff for more broad consultation with the public to find holistic solutions that benefit the majority of residents and small business, rather than facilitating development and increasing the ecological footprint of the city. Continue reading

CVN letter to Council (26-Oct-2020): Regarding proposed developments at intersection of 1st Avenue & Clark Drive

October 26, 2020
City of Vancouver Council

Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

Re: Proposed Developments at the Intersection of 1st Avenue & Clark Drive

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) supports the City’s placing a priority on creating more affordable housing in the City. However it is opposed to the number of rezonings proposed for the intersection of East 1st Avenue and Clark Drive.

There are currently three projects proposed: BC Housing has announced plans to put 98 units of social housing in two Temporary Modular Housing buildings at 1580 Vernon Drive; there is the Withdrawal Management (Detox) Centre which is slated to occupy the full block on the north east corner of 1st & Clark, which includes 6 and 10-storey podiums and is in the final Development Permit stage and, now, a 5-storey building, again at 1st Avenue and Clark Drive for a tower on the southwest corner of the intersection. The South East corner of 1st and Clark, the former location of Chevron, is now owned by Wesgroup and is likely to be redeveloped which would promise ongoing construction for years on all four corners.

This much density and congestion, on a high volume intersection along a designated truck route to the ports without off-setting amenities to support them and with an already high concentration of supported housing in the vicinity will not make for a successful or healthy community. There is a loss of scale and space in a residential area on the east side of Clark and the loss of critical & eroding industrial area on the west side.

We anticipate that if the city pushes these initiatives through, and there are no amenities for the new occupants other than in Grandview Woodland, there will be a daily migration into a community already under-served by too few parks, the school grounds, and an already unsettled Commercial Drive.

We feel compelled to ask why the concentration of social housing is to be primarily located in Strathcona, Mount Pleasant and Grandview-Woodland? Social housing should be more equitably distributed citywide at scales that fit into each neighbourhood so as not to overwhelm only a few areas that are already amenity deficient. And wherever the social housing is located there needs to be the supports the residents require along with the housing.

We urge you to listen to the affected neighbourhoods that are requesting alternative locations be considered for dispersing social housing in communities currently with little or no social housing and at scales that better fit in the context of each area with the required supports. Continue reading

CVN letter to Council (26-Oct-2020): Opposed to CD-1 Rezoning: 3701-3743 West Broadway, at Alma St. Public Hearing 27-Oct

This letter went out to Mayor and Council on October 26, 2020.

October 26, 2020
City of Vancouver Council

Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart, Councilors and Housing Staff,

Re: CD-1 Rezoning: 3701-3743 West Broadway, at Alma St. Public Hearing
Agenda: https://council.vancouver.ca/20201027/phea20201027ag.htm
Report: https://council.vancouver.ca/20201006/documents/rr_5.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) is opposed to the rezoning as proposed.

We urge you to listen to the affected neighbourhoods that are requesting this proposal not be approved and to allow for the applicant to instead bring forward the previous 6 storey 100% rental rezoning application that is currently on hold.

This is the clear message coming from the affected residents associations who are members of our coalition: West Point Grey Residents Association, West Kitsilano Residents Association, and the Upper Kitsilano Residents Association.

There also is a petition: No Tower @ Alma & Broadway, that currently has over 3500 supporters, and continues to grow.

This shows broad community opposition to the current proposal and it is the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods policy to promote neighbourhood-based planning with support for the positions of the local communities.

Thank you,

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

Continue reading

CVN letter to Council (5-Oct-2020): Opposed to approval of “Vancouver Plan Phase 1 Report”

This letter went out to Mayor and Council on October 5, 2020.

October 5, 2020

City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart, Councilors and Housing Staff,

Re: Item 1. Vancouver Plan Phase 1 Report: Public Engagement Summary, Provisional Goals and Update on COVID-19 Community Recovery Actions      

Agenda: https://council.vancouver.ca/20201006/regu20201006ag.htm
Report: https://council.vancouver.ca/20201006/documents/p1.pdf
Revised Report (5:30 pm): https://council.vancouver.ca/20201006/documents/p1-highlights.pdf

Although the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) wants to participate in the Vancouver Plan process, we are opposed to the recommendations in this report and request that Council reconsider proceeding with this as proposed.

The 76 page report was only released to the public two business days ago on October 1, and it has even been revised just this afternoon with no indication of what has been changed until after 5:30 pm.

* Proposed Vancouver Plan Provisional Goals not ready for endorsement:

There has been no broad public consultation on these goals as drafted by staff. These are not ready to be adopted and should only be received for information. We urge City Council to refer this back to staff for public consultation, including more options and an emphasis on issues including affordability, liveability and neighbourhood character. Goals should be co-created by the public, not determined by staff.

The document makes no mention of recalibrating the Housing Vancouver Strategy targets using transparent data, which was directed by Council months ago. The full data requested has not yet been provided to Council and the public.

The report does not address the need for a meaningful neighbourhood-based community planning process, and instead is focused on specific groups.

* Appendix B Proposals should be for information only:

The proposed Appendix B includes actions to continue existing spot and area rezoning policies such as MIRHPP, arterial and transition area rental incentives, and C2 rezoning, all going ahead before the Vancouver Plan process and reframed here as COVID recovery. Those actions are in fact an implementation of the previous Council’s policies. Staff are proposing to continue implementation of them through a separate program, outside of the Vancouver Plan process, and contrary to recent Council direction to staff.

Please note that the “Our Communities Our Plans” city-wide petition  specifically opposes these proposed policies. It is now close to 3000 signatories and growing.

https://www.change.org/p/city-of-vancouver-council-officials-our-communities-our-plans-99961c91-4a17-497d-86c8-b385b3c0f315

These policies should not be implemented where they result in significant  precedents being made, before consultation and plan development under the Vancouver Plan.

We ask that you immediately halt the precedent-setting rezonings, and instead allow each neighbourhood to consider and provide input into what kinds of new housing choices go forward and where, through the Vancouver Plan. Please refer to the CVN Principles and Goals document  for reference. In the 2018 civic election it was endorsed by all currently-elected parties. (Vision Vancouver did not endorse it.)

* Need for an Interim Rezoning Policy

Typically, whenever a planning process is undertaken, the City will have an interim rezoning policy. This was done for all of the past community plans and the corridor plans for Broadway.

Therefore, please consider adding the following to the Recommendations in this report:

D. THAT Council direct staff to implement an interim rezoning policy, with specific terms to be approved by Council as is typically done during planning processes in order to avoid pre-empting or diverting the planning process with rezonings that set new directions or preclude options that could emerge during the planning process, including quick starts for community supported options.

We encourage Council to receive this report for information, but not to approve the recommendations. Please send it back to staff for more work. Please also pause the current spot rezoning policies during the Vancouver Plan process and return to neighbourhood-based planning, where local community  opinions are reflected in the planning outcomes for their neighbourhoods. Emerging supported options can be brought forward as quick starts once identified by each community.

Thank you, Continue reading