All Candidates Meeting for Civic Byelection on Oct 2nd, 2017

Hear from the candidates running for Vancouver City Council on Monday, October 2nd, 2017 at 7pm. The meeting will take place at the Britannia High School Auditorium near Commercial Drive and Napier Street (1001 Cotton Drive).

Do you have any questions for the candidates? Please send these in advance of the meeting to info@gwac.ca. There will also be an opportunity to ask questions from the floor. Election day is on Saturday, October 14th.

Transportation: The location is accessible via transit (bus #20). Parking is available on the north side of Britannia High School (approach lot from Venables Street via Cotton or Woodland Drive).

Petition to City Council: Postpone approval of Vancouver RT5 RT6 zoning amendments to allow community input

The City of Vancouver has proposed changes to the RT5 and RT6 zones under a report to council dated July 25, 2017, that is referred to public hearing for approval. These changes have had little community input, only a few open houses, and most people in the community have not been adequately informed or involved by the city. Read the report published July 13, 2017 here.

The Grandview Woodland Area Council (GWAC) is requesting a more extensive consultation process through a community advisory committee and that specific issues be addressed before this report is approved. Read GWAC’s letter to Mayor & Council.

Sign the Petition Here: http://chn.ge/2wmeXk8

We, the undersigned, believe the RT5 and RT6 proposed zoning amendments are not ready for approval by City Council and request more time to make changes to address the many outstanding issues as identified by the Grandview Woodland Area Council (GWAC).

________________________________________

The PUBLIC HEARING is Thursday, September 21st (reconvening from TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2017)
Register to speak !! Further details are on the City’s webpage: 
council.vancouver.ca/20170919/phea20170919ag.htm

 Let your voice be heard; these proposals have the potential to change our neighbourhood in irreversible ways!

GWAC writes City Council Re: Update – RT5 / RT6 Zones – Proposed amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law for Mount Pleasant and Grandview-Woodland Communities

Please see the letter below stating our opposition to the proposed amendments going to Public Hearing on September 19th & 21st, 2017, detailing the concerns of the Grandview Woodland Area Council.

September 13, 2017
Dear Mayor Robertson and Councillors,
Re: Update – RT5 / RT6 Zones – Proposed amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law for Mount Pleasant and Grandview-Woodland Communities

Members of the Grandview Woodland Area Council (GWAC) attended the city’s information session last night. It is clear that the zoning is still being drafted and likely will be amended again prior to the public hearing agenda being posted on the website later this week. Some of this is positive and some more troubling. But one thing is certain, the timeline is too short for the community to be adequately informed or to respond. We continue to call for changes to the zoning to address our concerns and more time to work with staff to achieve this.
GWAC has the following comments and concerns, in addition to our input submitted September 6, 2017 attached below.

Zoning Schedules:
1. It is good news that the size of maximum lot frontage has been reduced down from 100 ft. to 50 ft. for assembly, that means the most that can be assembled is two 25 ft. lots together. This is an improvement, but there shouldn’t be any assembly at all. Breaking up a street pattern of 25 ft. frontages by introducing a huge multifamily on an assembled 50 ft. lot destroys the historic streetscape and rhythm.
In RT7/RT8 schedules it says: “The maximum frontage for a site for a multiple dwelling shall be the existing frontage of a single lot which was on record in the Land Title Office for Vancouver prior to …” This is what RT5/RT6 should say based on this current enactment date, in order to prevent assemblies or subdivisions, to reduce inflationary speculation, and to protect the streetscape character.
2. Staff clarified the new construction options on their presentation charts, and added a few more options as well. They now propose a multiple dwelling of 3 units plus a single family house at the rear on a 50 ft. lot. This is more than they show on the retention side, although in the fine print it says that more units can be in MCDs on larger lots without specifying.
This new chart, which shows 5 options for new development on the presentation boards and 6 options in the proposed design guidelines, confirm our concerns that there are way more options favouring new construction than for retention options. The new second house on one lot option undermines the infill option for retention, both on small lots and on large lots where character houses could likely be considered underutilized.
Current proposals allow new construction to have a duplex with one secondary suite each, four in total on a standard 33 ft. lot. MCDs for character retention should at least have a similar option for a duplex with a secondary suite each unit as well.
3. It appears that the definition for “underutilized” lot to allow demolition of a character house without penalty has not changed from proposed. Underutilized should especially not apply to heritage listed properties at all.
4. The intent of the zoning has been changed to emphasize retention and renovation of existing character homes. This is a move in the right direction.
5. Front yard changes are still as proposed, with no relationship to the two adjacent properties through averaging as is in the current zoning. This should be restored.
6. FSR has been changed in RT6 to have a low outright of 0.60 FSR for new construction on non-character lots, with conditional increases in FSR. This is restored from the original RT6. However, this has not been done for RT5, which they should to ensure any increases to FSR are an appropriate fit and design for the neighbourhood.

Design Guidelines:
7. Staff have added three diagrams for clarity, much less than the original guidelines, but more than the previous draft referred to public hearing; one on how additions should be setback from the original facade, the other two regarding roof pitches and dormers for infill. There still remains to be not near enough clarity in the draft design guidelines , so the original current design guidelines should be instead retained and expanded rather than being reduced overall.
8. There are more guidelines on basic construction as outlined in the schedules. But there continues to be no guidelines regarding finishes and style of any new construction with regard to fit within a compatible character style to suit the streetscape. Even additions and renovations to character houses do not need to match the original house. Only in RT6 do the architectural components of MCDs need to match historic character guidelines. But even in RT6, these guidelines no longer apply to new construction. The original current design guidelines regarding neighbourhood character and architectural components should apply to retention and new- build options in both RT5 and RT6. Both are heritage areas that should be respected.

Conclusion:
Other than these items above, all of the previous GWAC comments attached still apply, especially regarding process. Giving the public less than a week to respond to a final revised draft bylaw, after a short and inadequate consultation process that has had no public input on many of the important details, is entirely unacceptable.
This is no way to plan about half of Grandview and a huge amount of Mt. Pleasant with further city-wide implications in all RS zones. So we continue our call for the public hearing to be postponed until there is substantial changes to the draft as requested by the community.
As the City of Vancouver strives to fulfill its Greenest City and affordability policies, avoiding demolitions through the retention and adaptive reuse of existing character buildings is essential to meet these goals. The RT5/RT6 zoning changes should be amended to ensure that the zoning is better balanced to achieve this.

Respectfully,
Dana Cromie , Chair, Grandview Woodland Area Council

Attachment

September 6, 2017
Dear Mayor Robertson and Councillors,
Re: RT5 / RT6 Zones – Proposed amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law for Mount Pleasant and Grandview-Woodland Communities

The Grandview Woodland Area Council (GWAC) has many concerns about the proposed changes to zoning that will cover about half of our neighbourhood. Many changes are not consistent with the city’s stated goals of character retention, and the public process has not adequately involved the community in many of the important details. This current proposal is not ready for enactment so we oppose it in its current form.

Continue reading “GWAC writes City Council Re: Update – RT5 / RT6 Zones – Proposed amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law for Mount Pleasant and Grandview-Woodland Communities”

Open House for Area-wide zoning (RT) changes Sept 12th, Public Hearing Sept 21st

The City of Vancouver will be showing the public their proposed changes to the zoning that cover over half of Grandview-Woodland at an Open House on Tuesday, September 12th. This event will be held at the Croatian Cultural Centre between 5pm and 8pm (3250 Commercial Drive – Rooms B and C). The City has also scheduled a Public Hearing on this matter for September 19th (details further below).

GWAC outlined many of the shortcomings and issues with the City’s proposed zoning changes in the following letter to Council: http://www.gwac.ca/news/gwac-letter-to-council-on-proposed-rt5-rt6-zone-amendments

Reproduced below is a portion of the City’s notification letter:
This notice contains information about the upcoming public hearing on amendments to the Zoning and Development Bylaw (September 19), as well as two engagement events (September 12 and 14) where you can learn more about the proposed changes. 
Both concern changes to RS and RT zoning in portions of Grandview-Woodland that would increase opportunities for housing choice and improve incentives for the retention of character homes.

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARINGTuesday, September 19, 2017, at 6 pm
City Hall, 453 West 12th Avenue
Third Floor, Council Chamber

Increasing Housing Choice and Character Retention Incentives in the Mount Pleasant and Grandview-Woodland Communities – Proposed Amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law
To amend the Zoning and Development By-law to increase opportunities for housing choice and provide additional incentives for the retention of character houses. If approved, the proposed changes would amend the RT-5, RT-5A, RT-5N and RT-5AN Districts Schedule; rezone certain areas from RT-4, RT-4N, RT-5A, RT-5AN, RS-1, RS-4 and RS-7, all to RT-5/5N; and amend the RT-6 District Schedule.
For more information on this application:

Anyone who considers themselves affected by the proposed by-law amendments may speak at the Public Hearing. Please register individually before 5 pm, September 19, 2017, by emailing publichearing@vancouver.ca or by calling 604-829-4238. You may also register in person at the door between 5:30 and 6 pm on the day of the Public Hearing.
You may submit your comments by email to publichearing@vancouver.ca, or by mail to: City of Vancouver, City Clerk’s Office, 453 West 12th Avenue, 3rd Floor, Vancouver, BC, V5Y 1V4. All submitted comments will be distributed to Council and posted on the City’s website. Please visit vancouver.ca/publichearings for important details.
Copies of the draft by-laws will be available for viewing starting September 8, 2017 at the City Clerk’s Department in City Hall, 453 West 12th Avenue, 3rd Floor, Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. All meetings of Council are webcast live at vancouver.ca/councilvideo, and minutes of Public Hearings are available at vancouver.ca/councilmeetings. (Minutes are posted approximately two business days after a meeting.)
For more information on public hearings, including registering to speak:
vancouver.ca/publichearings.

ADDITIONAL ENGAGEMENT EVENTS

In advance of the public hearing on amendments to the Zoning and Development Bylaw, there are two opportunities for residents of Mount Pleasant and Grandview-Woodland to learn more about these proposed zoning changes and ask general or site-specific questions:
Tuesday, September 12, 2017 – Come to an information meeting on the proposed new regulations and guidelines. City staff will be on hand to answer general questions on the proposed amendments to the Zoning and Development Bylaw. The event will be an open format, with residents welcome to attend between 5 and 8 pm.

  • Time and location: Croatian Cultural Centre (3250 Commercial Drive – Rooms B and C). 5:00pm to 8:00 pm.

Thursday, September 14, 2017 – We are hosting a site-specific enquiry night. It’s a good opportunity for property owners or authorized representatives to speak with City staff on a one-on-one basis about a specific property. If you would like to attend, you need to call and book an appointment ahead of time. To request an appointment, please email sam.cameron@vancouver.ca or call 604-829-9266.

  • Time and location: 515 W 10th Avenue – City of Vancouver Development and Building Services Centre. 5:00pm to 8:00pm

GWAC Letter to Council on proposed RT5-RT6 zone amendments

September 6, 2017
Dear Mayor Robertson and Councillors,

Re: RT5 / RT6 Zones – Proposed amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law for
        Mount Pleasant and Grandview-Woodland Communities

The Grandview Woodland Area Council (GWAC) has many concerns about the proposed changes to zoning that will cover about half of our neighbourhood. Many changes are not consistent with the city’s stated goals of character retention, and the public process has not adequately involved the community in many of the important details. This current proposal is not ready for enactment so we oppose it in its current form.
In previous rezoning processes, such as when Kitsilano was rezoned from RT4/RT5 to RT7/RT8, the city had a community advisory committee made up of local residents that worked with the planners on all aspects of the their new zoning.

GWAC requested a similar process when we met with the Manager of Planning and staff earlier in the year. Unfortunately there instead were only a few open houses that did not adequately allow for the needed community input to address our concerns or to explore options.

Grandview is a heritage area that is generally intact with the original buildings still existing.  Most of these character houses have been converted to multiple rental units, some legal and some not. These units are important sources of affordable rentals, especially when we are in a housing crisis.

Retention of existing rentals is dependent on the fate of our character houses. Growing through incremental increases of units of conversions and infill as incentives for character house retention is the sustainable way to create more affordable housing options while not losing what we have and without inflating land values. The current proposal allows too many options for new development that undermines this, including lot assembly.

The new RT5 zone should be given the same neighbourhood character consideration for contextual design and guidelines as the RT6 in west Mt. Pleasant.  We strongly disagree with the proposal to delete  these guidelines for RT5.
We agree with the city’s stated intention to allow densification through incentives to retain character houses. However we do not think this proposal is ready for approval yet and request an extended timeframe to meet with staff and to have the zoning proposal further amended to address the many outstanding issues with this proposed RT5 zoning. A 31% loss of character pre-1940 houses for RT5 is way too much.

Please see the attachment below for more details of some of the many outstanding issues.

Respectfully,
Dana Cromie , Chair, Grandview Woodland Area Council

​Attachment to letter from Grandview Woodland Area Council (GWAC) dated September 6, 2017

GWAC concerns about the proposed RT5 zoning changes

1. Character criteria and “underutilized” sites:
Based on the city’s figures, 31% of pre-1940 houses could be demolished. This is way too much.
Grandview was generally built out prior to 1940 and most of the original houses still exist. The character criteria proposed is too onerous if the city expects that only 80% will likely qualify as character houses. Further, by increasing the definition of “underutilized” sites from 0.30 FSR to 0.45 FSR, the city expects another 14% of those considered character will not qualify based on size. So that means only 69% of the existing pre-1940 houses will qualify for character house retention incentives and that 31% will potentially be demolished. That would be a tremendous loss to the character of our neighbourhood and to affordable rental suites.
Most of these pre-1940s houses could be restored and upgraded with multiple units as a sustainable means to accommodating growth. Even small houses are ideal for bigger infill options or additions and should be retained.

  • The character house criteria should be revised to ensure most pre-1940 houses qualify as character houses to be retained with incentives.
  • The definition of underutilized lots should be left at the current 0.30 FSR, especially for lots with 50 ft. frontage and greater. And “underutilized” site designations should not apply at all to heritage listed properties on the register. They can always be densified through retention infill options.

2. Economics:
We are concerned that there are more development options proposed for demolition and new construction than for character house retention incentives. This may have the unintended consequence of loss of older more affordable rentals in character houses, while increasing inflationary speculation.
It is proposed that a new duplex can have two secondary suites, a total of four units. While a character house can only have three units in a multifamily conversion dwelling (MCD) that requires full code upgrades of the original house. There is not even a retention option to have two secondary rental suites, with a main floor unit, that the Secondary Suite Program could make more affordable and feasible to do through code relaxations.

  • Allowing four units for new construction on a small lot is too much.  Use dwelling unit density at 74 units per ha. for MCDs and infill for character retention and 64 units per ha. for new construction as per typical RT zones such as current RT6 and RT8.
  • Character houses should be allowed to have more suites under the Secondary Suite Program.
  • If a character merit house is demolished for a new house,  they should not be able to build a laneway house too.
  • A new house can also have another small house on the same lot which undermines the retention incentives for infill, so this should not be allowed for new construction.

3. Site assembly for multifamily development:
Site assembly for new multifamily development will lead to speculative inflation and should be avoided.
In other character retention zones like RT8, no site assembly is allowed. However, this proposal allows up to two lots assembled for 50 ft. to 100 ft. frontage sites for multifamily. And the amount of new development is increased from 62 units per hectare to 74 units per hectare. Previously the 74 units per hectare was reserved only for character retention options and this should be reversed as per section on economics above.
Grandview already has many areas zoned for new apartment and townhouse development. The RT5 zone should be used primarily for character house retention conversions and infill, not new large site assemblies for multifamily development and demolition that lead to speculative land inflation.

  • No assembly should be allowed in RT5. Under 4.2 Frontage, the maximum and minimum lot frontage should be the single lot frontage existing at the time of enactment of this zoning change.

4. Design guidelines:
Grandview is a heritage area since most of the original housing stock still exists. Exterior house and streetscape design are very important and need design guidelines to ensure contextually sympathetic implementation. We agree with the design guidelines being retained in RT6 west Mt. Pleasant, but disagree with guidelines being dropped for the new RT5 in east Mt. Pleasant and Grandview. The existing design guidelines have served us generally well and should be retained for now. A review for improvements, or for adding options for modernist design where appropriate, should involve detailed community input in a much more fulsome future process.

  • Keep existing design guidelines for both RT6 and RT5.

5. Front yards:
Front yard setbacks should remain flexible and contextual as per current regulations and guidelines rather than changing to a rigid setback. Director of Planning has discretion to vary setbacks when required. Proposed changes specifies the front yard setback regardless of context.

  • Retain current setbacks that are 20% of lot depth or the average of the two adjacent properties, with further guidance on how this should be applied in design guidelines. Specific cases can be varied.

6. Parking relaxations:
Parking relaxations should be made for character retention initiatives, but not for new construction. There is only so much street parking and relaxation priority should only be given to character retention as an incentive.

7. New RT5 zoning boundaries:
We are concerned about the locations of some of the new RT5 zoning boundaries. We would like to go over a detailed review with staff to clarify the rationale that was not part of the consultation process to date.

8. Building code relaxations and streamlined permits for character house retention:
Currently, the city makes it very difficult to renovate character houses. Incentives should include more building code relaxations and streamlined dedicated permit approvals for character house renovation and infill.