Analysis of 5-storey infill proposal at 1102 Commercial Drive. Public input due May 20th

A proposal for a 5-storey infill building has been filed for 1102 Commercial Drive, at the corner of Napier Street. Many residents of Grandview-Woodland will know the site by the current two-storey building with Moja coffee, and formerly containing the Florida Market.

The City of Vancouver has provided an opportunity for public feedback on this proposal. Comments can be made on or before Friday, May 20th for staff consideration in the review (the wepage also notes: “However, comments will be considered up until the date of decision”). Further details are on the City of Vancouver’s website:

Comments can be sent directly to City staff via email: (604-871-6412)
and to (604-871-6703)
Please note that the planner now assigned to the proposal is Sangeeta Vishwakarma, the previous contact was

There are a number of issues with this proposed 5-storey development, the most serious of which is that it does not appear to conform to the limits set under the current zoning bylaw.

Current zoning does not allow for:
• a 5-storey, 48.5 ft tall building anywhere on the site
• a setback of 7.16 feet is not permitted in the rear under any circumstance (the 5-storey building wall would be 2.16 metres from the laneway)

Furthermore, there are issues of scale, fit and neighbourliness. One of the urban design conventions in the “C-2” zones is to have a building step back toward the laneway so that the scale transitions from a 3 or 4-storey building along an arterial road to housing on residential blocks. Across from the laneway to the east are a couple of duplex, two-storey ‘Vancouver specials’ on 33’ lots (10.5m wide). The proposed abrupt change in scale is not neighbourly. As well, there will be issues not just with privacy, but with shade later in the afternoon.

Based on the width of the lane, a minimum building setback of 15.1 feet in the rear would be required, even when allowing for the maximum relaxation outlined in section 4.6.2 of the C-2C1 zoning bylaw.

The current building height that is allowed outright is 10.7 metres, or 35 feet (for 3-storeys).  A relaxation can be requested to a height not exceeding 13.8 metres (45 feet) that could allow for a 4-storey building. The regulations do not allow for a further relaxation on the relaxation to exceed the maximum height on this site.

The proposal would see the removal of a tall, mature street tree. Work would need to be done on the hydro lines as well on the laneway.

The suggested choice of siding installed “using pre-formed pre-coloured aluminum joint materials” is not compatible with the recently renovated building frontage on Commercial nor is it neighbourly and sensitive to the materials in the buildings in the vicinity.

A single information sign is tucked away around the corner of the site on Napier Street, there is no information sign posted prominently at the 1102 Commercial Drive address. This has limited the ability of the public to comment on the project.

The City’s description of the proposal is as follows:
• retaining the existing two-storey Heritage B building;
• a new five-storey infill residential building with 8 secure market rental units at the rear of this site;
• a proposed maximum height of approximately 48.5 feet;
• a proposed floor space ratio 2.7 (approximately 10107.5 square feet);
• one-car share parking space having vehicular access from the lane; and
• removal of one street tree on Napier Street.

The zoning bylaw is available here :

Setting the record straight
As a result of the ongoing Grandview-Woodland Community Plan, there is a freeze on new rezoning applications. This 5-storey infill proposal is a Development Permit Application that would require the approval of City staff to proceed. City staff can only permit the application if it is allowed under existing zoning.

Zoning limits what you can and cannot do on property. This proposal exceeds current zoning limits, and none of the relaxations outlined in section 5 of the C-2C1 bylaws apply to this site condition. City Council, and not staff, have the power to rezone land in Vancouver.

The City of Vancouver has a series of predefined zoning types that are commonly used for commercial districts along arterial streets. The Drive uses variants of the “C-2” zoning that are also used along Kingsway, Fraser, parts of Main Street, West 4th Avenue and East Hastings and Nanaimo. The specific variant of C-2 used along this stretch of Commercial Drive is C-2C1.

According to the information sign, the current Acting Director of Planning, Jane Pickering (email:, will review this proposal behind closed doors. The zoning alternately allows for review of this proposal in the public by the Development Permit Board (DPB).