Reminder: Public Hearing for 815-825 Commercial

February 11, 2019

This is a reminder that a public hearing on the proposed redevelopment of 815-825 Commercial (and 1680 Adanac) is scheduled for 12th February at 6:00pm at City Hall.  That’s tomorrow night.

The proposal is for a 6-storey mixed use development with commercial at grade and 38 rental units above. There was an open house for the project last April after which I stated my support for most aspects of the design and the mix of apartments proposed.

 

However, I objected to the project in the end, having noted the following at the open house:

“The very first thing I heard one of the developers’ reps say to someone else as I walked into the presentation room was ‘No, these aren’t designed to be “affordable” units. The one beds will probably start at around $2,200 [a month]’.”

The notice from Vancouver Planning says quite specifically that the units will be “affordable”, but the development documents say they will be “market”.  As we have seen in so many recent developments, City Planning seems to think that $2,200 is affordable for a one-bedroom apartment.  I don’t, and I am sure that the 50% of Vancouver workers who get paid median incomes or lower will also disagree.

If you have concerns or interest, please make yourself available to speak at the public hearing.

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Vision Redux At Clark & First

February 10, 2019

For about a year now I have reported on — and fully supported — a major development at Clark Drive and First Avenue  (see here, here, and here).

 

My support for this project has put me on the opposite side of the barricades to most of those with whom I have campaigned on projects in the past, and I have, to be frank, been shocked by some of the NIMBY rhetoric used by a vocal minority of the opponents.  My support, let me make clear, was based a number of factors:

  • the location of the project, at the lowest point of Grandview, combined with the immediacy of the already existing Clark Drive arterial and light industrial 6-storey zoning, made the height of the proposal unproblematic in my view;
  • the integration of detox services seems reasonable to me, and I have yet to see any reliable police statistics to suggest that an increase in crime is to be expected;
  • there is zero heritage value to the lots being used;
  • most importantly to me, it would supply about 100 truly affordable housing units at a point in time when we are facing a critical shortage of available units meeting that criteria.

The press release issued on 16th February 2018 specifically stated that the residential part of the project “will serve low-to moderate-income people.”  Now, a year later, we hear a different story.  According to an article in the Georgia Strait this week, City staff have decided that there will be 90 housing units of which half will be rented at “private rental market rates for Vancouver”.  And even with that, they still recommend that BC Housing be forgiven the $1.9m of development cost levies they should be paying.

This puts a completely different perspective on the project for me, and I have to ask, why?  There are literally thousands of market rental units in the pipeline already; what purpose would these 45 units serve.  We don’t need them. But we do need what we were promised — a supply of genuinely affordable housing for the 50% of Vancouverites who are trying to survive on median or lower incomes.

If our shiny new City Council approves the staff report as is, then one has to wonder if they have already fallen under the thrall of Vision’s private-sector-favouring staff as recent development approval decisions seem to suggest. They can still show some spine by rejecting this report and returning the entire project to its social housing roots.

 


Public Hearing for 815-825 Commercial

January 30, 2019

A public hearing on the proposed redevelopment of 815-825 Commercial (and 1680 Adanac) is scheduled for 12th February at 6:00pm at City Hall.

The proposal is for a 6-storey mixed use development with commercial at grade and 38 rental units above. There was an open house for the project last April after which I stated my support for most aspects of the design and the mix of apartments proposed.

 

However, I objected to the project in the end, having noted the following at the open house:

“The very first thing I heard one of the developers’ reps say to someone else as I walked into the presentation room was ‘No, these aren’t designed to be “affordable” units. The one beds will probably start at around $2,200 [a month]’.”

The notice from Vancouver Planning says quite specifically that the units will be “affordable”, but the development documents say they will be “market”.  As we have seen in so many recent developments, City Planning seems to think that $2,200 is affordable for a one-bedroom apartment.  I don’t, and I am sure that the 50% of Vancouver workers who get paid median incomes or lower will also disagree.

If you have concerns or interest, please make yourself available to speak at the public hearing.


Grandview Rezoning Public Hearing

June 13, 2018

The public hearing for the “Increasing Housing Choice” rezoning in Grandview has been set for Tuesday 26 June at 6:00pm at City Hall.

To repeat what I have written before, I approve the addition of a lot more multi-family buildings in Grandview.  However, unless we guarantee through regulation that they can be afforded by the median income family in Vancouver, then let us not kid ourselves that this is helping the affordability crisis.  As I showed in my short video of some months back, these kinds of market developments are not only unaffordable to the majority, they often destroy currently affordable accommodation.

If you are in the mood, sign up for a speaking spot and enjoy your five minutes (no more) of face-time with City Council.


Important Open House Tonight

June 11, 2018

Tonight there is a formal Notice of Rezoning Open House for the major project proposed for the corner of Clark Drive & First Avenue. It takes place at VCC from 5pm to 7:30pm this evening.

 

This has become a contentious issue in the neighbourhood.  I fully support the project but others have very different views.  A lot of the arguments on both sides have become ideological rather than fact-based, and that, unfortunately, leads to division.

My hope is that this development receives a fast approval and a fast commencement to the project, and that those in the neighbourhood who are opposed will learn to accept that this building is a positive benefit to the community as a whole.


Rezoning Grandview: The Next Step

June 3, 2018

After a couple of Open Houses, and a local discussion at GWAC, the plan to rezone wide stretches of Grandview for townhouses and similar structures along arterials in the neighbourhood such as Nanaimo and E. First is going to City Council on Tuesday 5th June.

The presumption is that Council will refer the report to a public hearing at some point in the near future, which will allow us all to have our five minutes of time to speak our minds.

Personally, I approve the addition of a lot more multi-family buildings in Grandview.  However, unless we guarantee through regulation that they can be afforded by the median income family in Vancouver, then let us not kid ourselves that this is helping the affordability crisis.  As I showed in my short video of some months back, these kinds of market developments are not only unaffordable to the majority, they often destroy currently affordable accommodation.


Clark & East First Avenue Proposal

May 30, 2018

Back in February, I reported on a major new development project happening on the City-owned and barely used block on the north-east corner of Clark Drive & First Avenue.  When it was first announced I stated my support for the concept. Since then, we have seen some preliminary signs and renderings.

It is by any measure a large scale project.  However, for once I think the Planning Department has chosen an excellent spot for such a large building, at or near the lowest point in Grandview, allowing the building to flow sensibly uphill.  With the additional information to hand, I continue to be a supporter and hope that it gets built.  (My only concerns are noise and pollution mitigation at a very busy intersection).

Needless to say, that is not the opinion of a lot of people in Grandview that I know and trust. But this time, I believe they are wrong and making the wrong complaints about the wrong building. I am dismayed to learn, just last night, that even the GWAC Board has taken a position opposing the scale — though interestingly not the concept nor the location — of the affordable housing/detox centre at First & Clark.

GWAC’s regular monthly meeting on Monday June 4th at 7:00pm in the LTC under Britannia Library will primarily concentrate on this development, with a panel discussion comprised of Vancouver Coastal Health, BC Housing, City of Vancouver, and the project architects.  That will be worth hearing.

The City will be holding an Open House about the same proposal on Monday June 11, from 5:00pm to 7:00pm in Room 1236, Building B at VCC 1155 E. Broadway (access of E. 7th Avenue).