Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods’ Town Hall Meeting – a packed house

The FCRA is a founding member of the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods, a 24 member coalition of community organizations across the city.  The Coalition’s Town Hall meeting featured 11 Candidates, including mayoralty candidates Bob Kasting, Independent,  Kirk LaPointe, NPA, and Meena Wong, COPE.

The Coalition has developed a set of Principles and Goals to guide community planning.   All parties, with the exception of Visio Vancouver, have endorsed these principles which reenforce the basic concepts of CityPlan that the neighbourhood is the basic building block for urban growth and development.  The Principles & Goals stress Collaborative Planning, which includes such tools as a Household Survey of 100% of residents, to ensure all voices are heard in the planning process.  This resulted in one reporter writing: ” Applause loudest for Vision rivals

More complete coverage of the Town Hall can be found at:  coalition van.org

Residents finally at rest from glaring digital screen…for now

One of a trio of giant electronic video screens was being dismantled today. And residents who have been plagued by flashing lights invading their homes can finally sleep at night.

City bylaws don’t apply

The South-facing digital billboard—one of three—was first erected in 2011 under provincial jurisdiction and even though it contravenes city bylaws in size and wattage, the province chose not to comply; the stadium is on provincial land and PavCo, who manages BC Place, is a provincial government agency.

While area residents live in an entertainment district and expect—and enjoy—all that comes with it, they also expect elected officials and laws to protect them from being blitzed by artificial light in their homes (ads that radiate 20 times brighter than limits set by Ottawa, for example). Countless complaints went unheeded.

False hope?

But perhaps this is just a reprieve. Do the dazzling, flickering lights of Vegas-Vancouver await as an Urban Resort goes up in its place? Here’s hoping developers will be good neighbours and keep the strobe lights inside, not in resident’s living rooms.

The City Files its Response — backing Concord’s hardship claim all the way to the bank!

At long last, the City of Vancouver has filed its response to the FCRA Judicial Review Application. Not surprisingly, the City’s response mirrors Concord’s:  The City granted the temporary development permit to Concord Pacific (aka One West holdings) because otherwise Concord would experience “hardship”.

Further, the City maintains that using land zoned for exclusive Park and Recreation use, as a sales centre, is “consistent” with the long term recreational use of Lot 9, known as the Creekside Park Extension.

Further, the City says that a commercial parking operation would also be consistent with exclusive Park and Recreation use.

 

The main body of the responded is included here: Response to Petition

There are 2 supporting affidavits, each one containing masses of irrelevant information.

The Question before the Court is simple:  Is the City within its jurisdiction under the Vancouver Charter to grant a “hardship” exemption to Concord Pacific, allowing it to operate a substantial commercial enterprise on land zoned as a park.

and

 

 

 

Another Neighbourhood Voices Concerns of Promises Unkept

It appears that the renewal of the Marpole-Oakridge Community Centre is not as promised. A few years ago, the facility seemed secure on its Oak Park site. Now Park Board Commissioners are saying they want to move the facility to Granville Street. The Community is fighting back. Read the impassioned speech by one Marpole resident:

September 2014 about Marpole-Oakridge Community Centre renewal

My name is Wendy Hallinan and I live in Marpole. I thank you for the opportunity to speak to the Park Board.

I come here at the urging of Marpole residents who are very concerned about their community centre and rumours surrounding its renewal, one being that it will move to a busy street location (Granville and 67th) which is further from the soon-to-be high-density Cambie Corridor.

Even worse, Dr Moira Stilwell, our MLA said that “the city is thinking about moving the Y to Marpole and the community centre to Langara”. Well, Langara isn’t even in Marpole, so if that remark was meant to be funny, “we are not amused”.

11 days ago, I spoke with Park Board Commissioner Sarah Blyth who was very clear that her personal preference is for the community centre to be rebuilt on Granville St. She suggested that we contact the Marpole Park Board liaison, Aaron Jasper, who, since I have been sitting on the community association board, has never attended a meeting or submitted a report. This is the same Aaron Jasper who recently changed the locks on the Kensington Community Centre, locking the community association out of the building, a move some consider a bit heavy-handed.

How can Marpole expect a fair consultation process when Park Board Commissioners publicly espouse unqualified positions and are disconnected from the communities that they are supposed to be serving?

Earlier this year, we conducted a survey of Marpole residents, community centre users (including students from grade 2 to 12) and people attending our festival. Of the 330 respondents:

  • 10% want the community centre moved to Granville & 67

  • 83% want to keep the current location in Oak Park

  • 93% want to keep the current location if Langara is the new location

When asked to select from a list of 20 activities they would like to see offered:

  • more than 40% said they want a centre for social reasons (to meet friends, youth volunteer work, learning workshops, community gatherings, movie night)

  • more than 30% wanted dance, recreation, team sports, gardening, book club, ice rink

  • more than 20% wanted theatre, art, more club rooms

When asked for further suggestions, respondents identified 2 things that our community centre had in the past: a swimming pool and a stage for performing arts. The footprint for a pool and a disused theatre already exist in Oak Park. A plan is needed to re-open those facilities and then consider what else is required to serve Marpole’s planned 50% population increase.

We are aware of the plan to move the YMCA from Langara to Cambie & 57th. The Young Men’s Christian Association, a private non-profit, is not a suitable replacement for our community centre, a public non-profit. The Y cannot be a substitute for our community centre because it does not offer the social, recreational and creative programs that residents want.

Setting aside the merits of moving the community centre, let’s talk about the process of making that decision. All the buzz about relocation and a “civic centre” combining the community centre with other facilities comes before community consultation has even begun. I have no argument with rebuilding the library at its current location or somewhere else with “proximity to transit”, although I don’t know how close and frequent transit need to be to meet this criterion. But if it has been decided that the library and community centre are to be co-located and if the current community centre is not considered to have “proximity to transit”, then the decision has been made to move the community centre with no input from residents and patrons.

The problem with politicians unilaterally making decisions effecting community centres is that every 4 years community associations and centres can are subjected to political whims of the day. Renewal of the our community centre was in the previous capital plan but not the current one. The city has the money – but our centre’s renewal does not fit current high-profile political priorities.

Residents can only pray that methods used to establish those priorities are better than those used at our community centre which resulted in recent staff cutbacks based on “fitness centre usage” statistics derived from inoperative card scanners and patrons who didn’t sign in.

Few people understand the history of our community centres or the effort it took to establish them. In the beginning, it was the community associations who started the movement. 70 years ago, “the seed and initial push came from a handful of local community-minded people who, in 1944, conceived of the idea that became the spark that ignited the community center movement for all of Greater Vancouver.” That movement started in Marpole.

Our community centre’s significant place in Vancouver history deserves to be acknowledged by having its renewal included in this capital plan.

For your daily chuckle, try some Geezer Humour

At a meeting of the Urban Development Institute’s Under 40’s, a panel of young developers complained that seniors with time on their hands were hijacking the city’s planning processes. Wesgroup Properties vice-president Beau Jarvis said: “While the silent majority is running around the seawall in Lululemon tights with a latte and toy poodle, we have a very social-media savvy, fundamentalist, vocal minority that is literally hijacking the cities in which we work”. He said Seniors “pack official comity plan meetings because they have time on their hands while middle-aged and younger people are busy working.”

Agreeing with Jarvis’s comments were Daniel Boffo of Boffo Properties, and Joo Tim Tiah who runs the Vancouver base of his family’s billion dollar Holborn group.

Not sure what Jarvis’s “fundamentalist” term means, but happy to be called media savvy!! These young developers are now threatening to take their family fortunes to cities which are more developer friendly (and younger?)

These comments prompted a series of responses which are quoted below:

“Look, we’re all familiar with the human life cycle. You’re born, you put on some yoga pants, buy a latte and a toy poodle, go for a walk, and then you die. What more is there?”

“I must remain the silent majority because my poodle just threw up on my Lululemon pants and my latte is getting cold in the meantime.”

“Dear Gran: Could you please use some of your overly-abundant spare time and respond in a thoroughly scathing way? I’m far too young and busy making money…”

“Good thing I own a bicycle, because I’m way too old and blind to drive!”

“I’d like to laugh at these witty comments, but I forgot where I put my reading glasses. And while I was looking for them, I forgot what I was going to read.”

“Wait a minute while I grab my pipe and slippers, and try to remember how to spell Patronizing!”

“Wait for me, I have to change my Depends, grab my walker and toddle on over to meet you for tai chi in the park before we protest at Bard on the Beach plans to gravel over Vanier Park!”

And the last word from Gran:

“My walker lost a wheel so I’m grounded till next pension payment. Nothin’ much to do ‘cept go t’meetin’s.

Listen, you young whipper-snapper. When I was your age I had respect for my elders. Damn right. Those walkers and canes are symbols of years of hard work and learning from the best teacher in the world, experience.

If the elders said that historical places are irreplacable, I’d stop and think on that. If they said cities need to be designed for everyone in them, not just the rich, I would mull that over too. If they said that money for social supports is a matter of priorities, I’d pay attention.

If they said that ‘create(d) wealth’ didn’t trickle down, I’d pause and consider. They might just know a thing or two.

Seems to me those things should be political. Seems to me you youngsters should be listening, learning, and thinking for yourselves, not sitting around whining about having your self-serving schemes shot down.”

A disturbing example of the demolition of affordable housing in Marpole. Concord and the City Together Again!

Marine Gardens is a model affordable townhouse project in Marpole on Marine Drive just east of Cambie St.

Released: September 15th, 2014
Where Is The Missing Land Title For Marine Gardens?
(And All That is Wrong with City Planning)

The land title that would show the City of Vancouver’s acquisition of the property on which Marine Gardens is located, is missing from the BC Land Title Registry. This is significant given that residents have been told that the land was originally donated to the City as a park (Delta View Park) with the stipulation that the trees never be cut. The City plans to demolish the townhouse community, and all its trees, to erect more skyscrapers.

Six years ago, I attended the first of many Open Houses and Public Consultations over the 34 story Marine Gateway project currently being built across from Marine Gardens at Cambie and Marine Drive.

Like most who attended, I was not opposed to development in Marpole, but I wanted it to enhance the best features of our neighbourhood as one of the “more” affordable, family-oriented areas of the city. Most of us felt that the 34 story Marine Gateway project was too tall and completely out of scale with our neighbourhood.

At meeting after meeting, planners trotted out the same project assuring us that we had been heard and that the skyscrapers had been moved back a few centimetres to reduce the shadowing on the local school playground.

It was a textbook example of all that is wrong with the planning and public consultation process under Vision Vancouver. It was a waste of time with our comments ignored while Vision boasted about its unprecedented level of (meaningless) consultation.

It was at one of these first Open Houses that the City brought a model of my neighbourhood with clear plastic skyscrapers overlaying many of the existing structures – including my townhouse community- Marine Gardens.

I advised City planners at the time that I had been told that Marine Gardens was built on land that was donated to the City as a park and that the trees were never to be cut. The development they were proposing would necessitate the complete removal of virtually every tree on the site.

I also advised them that Marine Gardens became a showcase for the United Nations Habitat for Humanity Conference, held in Vancouver in the mid-1970s, and was built as a model community. It became the prototype for many of the co-ops that followed.

I went down to the Vancouver Archives and amongst the sketchy records, was able to verify that Marine Gardens had indeed once been “Delta View Park,” and that in the early 1970s, City Council had stipulated that it must be used for “garden apartments.”

The records were too sketchy to understand how land purportedly donated to the City as park land, ever came to be developed.

In 2007, after more than thirty years of maintaining Marine Gardens, the original developer retired and put our community on the market. It sold for $12.5 million. Four years later, Concord Pacific bought it for almost double the price – $23 million.

At three separate meetings, Concord Pacific’s top executives have advised us that the City pressured them to buy Marine Gardens. With their sweet deal in False Creek where they have a 20+ year outstanding commitment to build a park, with City permits to use the space for commercial purposes (a parking lot, a Presentation Centre, rentals to Cirque de Soleil – even an Olympic Pavillion that apparently paid $1.3 million), all while paying no property tax – it is hard to imagine how they could say no.

Since the City itself pressured Concord Pacific to undertake the re-development at Marine Gardens (the two proposed skyscrapers match what was on the City’s model years before Concord was involved), it can hardly reject Concord Pacific’s rezoning application based on public opposition.

This has created a scenario whereby the rezoning application for Marine Gardens has not yet gone through the democratic process (it has not gone before Council and there has been no public hearing) but we have received a letter from Brian Jackson, the head of the City’s Planning Department, advising us that saving Marine Gardens “is not an option.”

This is a clear violation of Article 566 of the Vancouver Charter which stipulates that, “Council shall not make, amend, or repeal a zoning by-law until it has held a public hearing thereon, and an application for rezoning shall be treated as an application to amend a zoning by-law.”

Recent efforts to obtain the historical land title to verify the story behind Marine Gardens, came up dry. The title search company was unable to find the title we need and says it is missing from the records.

Something is seriously, if not legally, awry with the planning process in Vancouver, and it is showing up all over the City.
And the missing land title for Marine Gardens? Under the circumstances, it raises a lot of questions.

Jillian Skeet
Marine Gardens
Jillian Skeet is a writer and national/international affairs consultant. She has lived at Marine Gardens for 11 years.