This evening was the Public Hearing for a development at 1766 Frances Street. It is a development that places a 9-storey building in the middle of a small residential side street with a height that is 50% above the limits established by the Grandview Community Plan, and more than 100% above the average height of buildings in that block.
While some Councilors, Carr and Hardwick in particular, bemoaned the battering that the long fought-over Community Plan was sustaining (this not being the first such outrage), the vote was unanimous in supporting the development.
It has to be said that the development ticked a lot of good boxes: it is from an indigenous organization designed to serve low income indigenous families; it includes a daycare facility and other cultural attributes such as a sweat lodge; and the design of the building is quite fetching. None of that is in dispute.
The point that many of us made was that there are other parts of Grandview (some just three blocks away) where such a large building would be both welcomed and would still be in line with the Community Plan. It should not be that the social contract represented by the Community Plan can be brushed aside simply because ticking certain boxes meets others’ desires. Doing so demeans and cheapens the hundreds of thousands of hours Grandview residents put into negotiating the Plan.
The next big fight will be over the Safeway site. That development has none of the “good boxes” to tick that this one did, but you better believe that the Planners and this Vision 2.0 Council will find some excuse or many to override the Plan yet again. As I said in my remarks tonight, the only certainty a Community Plan gives us is that developers will ask for more than is in the Plan and that Vancouver City Council and City Planners will approve their demands.