I attended the February meeting of the Grandview Woodland Area Council last night. There was a full house and a lot of intelligent community discussion.
The scheduled speaker was Malcolm Bromley, general manager of Vancouver Parks. However, for the second month in a row he cancelled his appearance at the last minute. It is as if Grandview and the east side doesn’t count for anything in his mind. I doubt he will be invited again.
In Bromley’s place, three neighbours of a proposed development on Grant Street, two of whom are professional architects, gave a presentation in opposition to the project as currently designed.
The developer has purchased four lots — 1535, 1545, 1549, and 1557 Grant — and proposes to demolish the 1½ -3 storey heritage houses on those lots and to build a 6-storey secured rental apartment complex of 40 units. Four of the units will be 3-bedroom, 12 of two bedroom, and 24 with one-bedroom. They claim that this will be a “family-oriented” development even though the majority of units are unsuitable for families with children.
The zoning under the Community Plan allows for a 6-storey apartment building (although formal approval and a public hearing is still required) but the developer will be seeking a number of zoning changes including a significant reduction in parking requirements. They wish to supply just 19 automobile spaces for the 40 apartments.
This proposal is one of the five allowed under the Pace of Change regulations in the first three years of the Community Plan. Because it will be secured rental, the developer will have the Community Amenity Charges (CACs) waived, saving considerable expense.
The presenters have written to the Planning Department with their concerns. They explained that a large 6-storey building in the middle of this block of 2-3 storey houses would be out of place, especially as there is no planned transition between the smaller houses and the apartment building. They note that there are considerable slopes both east-west and north-south, and no lane, making access to the new building and along the narrow Grant Street very difficult, especially for emergency vehicles. The shadowing of the neighbouring houses is expected to be extreme. There are also issues of noise and the loss of heritage trees.
It was noted that these will be market rentals (one-bedroom suites starting at about $1,800 a month) and so will add nothing to affordability in the neighbourhood. The four houses being demolished are all currently rentals and most have basement or other additional suites. It was pointed out by several members of the audience that in Grandview there are virtually no “single family houses”; most so-called SFHs have additional suites and are therefore twice or more as dense as some might think.
Several other audience members called the project a “block buster” which will inevitably lead to more such projects in similar low-rise streets and blocks.
The neighbours are now awaiting the developer to make a formal application to the city for rezoning. The GWAC Board will consider their position on the development.