CVN letter to Council (for Nov 2): Streamlining Rental Rezoning Public Hearing (opposed)

November 2, 2021
City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

Re: Streamlining Rental Rezoning Public Hearing

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) acknowledge that there are many different ways to provide more rentals and to accommodate growth. However, CVN is strongly opposed to the recommendations in this report and this arbitrary, citywide approach that lacks neighbourhood context.

We also oppose the combining of dramatically different types of rezonings into one public hearing, an approach that is very confusing to the public.

* The proposed C2 changes to zoning schedules and design guidelines include changes to:
– outright 4 storey strata with increased heights and decreased setbacks
– the addition of 6 storey rentals

* The proposed RS/RT zoning changes allow random spot rezonings for rental-only apartment buildings based on new RR zoning schedules approved in advance, up to 6 storeys on-arterials and up to 5 storeys off-arterials

These different types of rezonings should be in separate reports and public hearings.

There has been no neighbourhood-based planning processes. Most of the areas included in this rezoning have CityPlan Community Visions prepared with extensive public input, but they have been completely ignored in these proposals. The most recent Community Visions were approved by Council as recently as2010 and were intended to cover 30 years.

Please do not approve the recommendations in this report and instead, refer it back to staff to separate the two major zoning initiatives, allow for neighbourhood-based planning work and community consultation, and provide proper notification to the properties affected.

The planning-related data that Council directed staff to provide has yet to be received and the expected recalibration of the Housing Vancouver targets has yet to be done. Each neighbourhood should be meaningfully consulted on how data-based and needed growth is to be accommodated, including new rentals. The solution is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Each neighbourhood is unique, and planning should consider the local context.

Consultation by the City has emphasized special interest groups and avoided most of the population of Vancouver. The City’s consultation processes continue to be flawed and appear to be designed for a predetermined outcome.

A petition, Our Communities Our Plans, is opposed to these arbitrary rezoning policies and is currently over 4100 signatures.

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

The report anticipates that each spot rezoning would have its own public hearing, but that is not in fact the case. The province has introduced legislation to amend the Local Government Act in order to waive public Hearings. If that legislation passes, it likely will eventually be applied to the Vancouver Charter as well. It proposes that no public hearing would be required if the proposal is consistent with the Official Community Plan (OCP). Likely, the City of Vancouver would adopt any RR rezoning policies as part of the OCP through the Vancouver Plan, the result being that public hearings may be waived. This makes the current lack of democratic process in the preparation of this report only that much worse.

The previous versions of this proposal exempted heritage properties as eligible sites, but that exemption has now been removed. Contrary to claims in the report, most heritage buildings are vulnerable to demolition because only those few that have been voluntarily registered on title by their owner are safe from demolition. Most heritage buildings can currently be demolished, and this proposed rezoning would make retention options impossible.

The proposal also means that character house retention incentives would be completely undermined in these areas, with up to block-long land assemblies and significant damage to community character. Smaller and older existing houses will be especially overwhelmed if the enormous buildings being proposed are built beside them.

The report suggests that this rezoning will help renters with low to medium incomes. However, even the few new social housing that may be produced is generally more expensive and much smaller with less outdoor space than many existing secondary suites that would be lost. Also, the land inflation that this rezoning policy would generate would have big affects on affordability generally.

This rezoning would also amplify the effects of the proposed removal of the Parking Bylaw minimum onsite parking requirements for new developments. The result of this rezoning would mean that these projects will flood the surrounding area with vehicles and have no place for electric vehicle charging, thereby delaying the shift to electric vehicles (EVs).

In summary, the recommendations in this report take the wrong approach. Instead, please refer this report back to staff to separate the two major zoning initiatives, allow for more neighbourhood-based planning work and community consultation, and provide proper notification to the properties affected.

Thank you,
Steering Committee,
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
NW Point Grey Home Owners Association
Oakridge Langara Area Residents
Residents Association Mount Pleasant
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