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Architect says design panel that judged Marine Gateway project hampered by conflicts, lack of community plan

January 3rd, 2011 · 73 Comments

Okay, with this letter from architect Nigel Baldwin, a former Urban Design panel member, to city councillors, the langorous Christmas season is now officially over.

Mayor and Council, City of Vancouver

Marine Landing: End of Term Report

Three months ago various groups and individuals from the Marpole neighbourhood and the broader community, including me, appealed to Council to initiate a proper planning process for Marine Landing (formerly known as Marine Gateway).  I believed it essential that this work be completed before approving unjustified development projects which at close to 6 FSR and 350 feet are almost twice as dense and twice as high as anything built outside the central core of Vancouver, and twice as dense but four times as high as any new development proposed elsewhere in the Cambie Corridor Plan.

On December 15, I attended the Urban Design Panel workshop where progress was reviewed.  Noting that a class of UBC design students managed to prepare a vision for a sustainable future for the City as a whole during their fall term, I had high expectations for what our world-renowned planning department could produce for a single neighbourhood centre in the same period.  I came away very disappointed both with what was presented and with the constrained and conflicted review it received.  I left with the following impressions:

  • That the City has missed an ideal opportunity to address the central issues affecting the neighbourhood.  It has failed to do the hard work necessary to generate and evaluate alternate forms of development, to come up with the most sustainable plan for the centre.  We are instead expected to accept uncritically the expedient solution − that is, the developers’ proposals changed only cosmetically in the last three months − and to be placated by faint hopes of future street beautification.
  • That the Urban Design Panel, by allowing architect members with declared conflicts of interest to appear to dominate and/or suppress the critical discussion of built form, has lost its credibility as an independent commentator serving the public interest on Marine Landing issues.  Since the community can no longer rely on the only effective court of second opinion built into the City’s planning and review process, it has little choice but to work outside the system to get its message across to Council.
  • That, given the vested interests in play, I heard a surprising amount of comment from Panel members critical of the broken process that has got us to the present impasse.  The glimmer of hope I took away is that the City might at last listen to this commentary, considering its sources, and finally lead us towards a better resolution for development at Marine Landing.

On the issue of freedom from conflict, the Architectural Institute of BC’s Bulletin 65 requires architects serving on design panels “to act according to standards of unbiased credibility…ADP members must disclose any involvement in an application being reviewed or any other personal or business relationship that might constitute or be perceived as a conflict of interest.  They must (my emphasis) withdraw from the meeting and refrain from any statement, discussion or evaluation of the merits of that application or the parties to it.”

At the beginning of the 15 December meeting, the Chair of the Panel declared that three of the four architects present, including himself, had conflicts of interest; each of them being members of firms with rezoning applications in the Marine Landing neighbourhood currently in process or shortly to be submitted to the City.  The Chair advised that, because the meeting was a workshop not requiring a vote, it had been decided that all three members would remain as active participants in the meeting, believing that the City would benefit more from their commentary than relying only on a single non-aligned voice for architectural comment. There was no public discussion as to whether the Chair should be passed to a Panel member not having a conflict of interest.

I have no reason to suppose that the architects in question had anything but the City’s best interests in mind when agreeing to participate.  They were, however, in an untenable position, since their clients’ interests and the public’s were likely not in perfect alignment, and neither staff nor the public would ever know for sure whose interests they were representing.

The two current rezoning projects creating conflicts were duly presented by their architects; both large, reputable firms carrying significant weight in the profession and the community.  In one case the presentation was made by a different member of the firm, in the other by the Panel member himself, who presented not only his scheme but also aspects of the post hoc urban design justification belatedly developed for the Marine and Cambie “intersection”.  He vigorously defended both in the subsequent discussion period.  When the sole non-aligned architect on the panel, well known for his teaching work, questioned the form of development proposed − asking whether importing downtown building typologies into Marpole was the right thing to do − the applicant-cum-panel-member dismissed his concern by saying that consideration of other forms of development would be merely an academic exercise at this stage.  The non-aligned architect stated his concern more forcefully in his formal comments, and at least one other panel member voiced similar concerns.

In addition to noting the lack of alternative forms of development − which would normally form an essential part of a professional planning process − several Panel members raised concerns over the scope and thoroughness of planning work to date.  One panel member felt that the area under review should be wider than just the immediate redevelopment sites at the intersection (the public deserving to know the City’s broader built form intentions).  He also felt that the planning process should locate neighbourhood facilities such as a library and local retail (a telling comment from a member of the firm whose project contains 97% of the retail space proposed for the area in the form of a 210,000 square foot off-street mall).  The applicant-cum-panel-member called for the City to show some leadership in the planning process.  Others present referred to the current stage of work as “mitigating damage” and “damage control”, not phrases usually associated with a well run planning program.

In his verbal summary of the Panel’s comments, the Chair did not mention any of the concerns expressed over built form or process.

Clearly the Panel’s deliberations did not meet the AIBC’s expectation of “unbiased credibility”.  There are a total of six architect members on the Panel, three of whom I believe to be free from conflict on this item.  With better meeting scheduling, the City could have ensured that it had three independent architects to comment, but it chose to proceed with minimal independent and maximum conflicted architectural advice.

We will never know how the discussion and commentary would have developed if only independent architects had participated.  We will never know how a non-aligned chair would have weighted the commentary in his/her summary or if the minutes (not made public as I write this) would have had a different emphasis.  Since the Panel can now be seen to have taken a position that it needs to defend, a position based on potentially biased opinion and strangled debate, any future Panel support for − or even the absence of criticism of − urban design or rezoning proposals in this neighbourhood will be suspect.

While UBC students developed a vision for the City’s future, the City spent its time agreeing to a name change for the Marine and Cambie area and having the developers’ consultants prepare a conceptual public realm plan with vague promises for themed public art, street furniture and maybe eventually better access to the river.  These gestures in no way substitute for a proper and complete neighbourhood centre plan.

By sending only the schemes proposed by the three developers actively working around the Marine and Cambie intersection for review by the Panel at this stage, the City has shown it has no intention of responding to the direct request from the community for consideration of alternative forms of development.  It is hard not to conclude that the City has never wavered from a Council-initiated intention to bully through the approval of two or three unprecedentedly dense projects prior to the next election, putting short-term political ambition ahead of the long term future of our City.

In the past, by providing independent, credible advice, the Design Panel has often been a key player in resolving conflicts over urban design issues in the City.  Because the Panel has here failed to avoid the appearance of bias, the public can no longer rely on its advice with respect to the development of Marine Landing.  With the community’s last hope of having its concerns heard within the system now extinguished, unless the City swiftly initiates a genuine, first-principles plan offering real alternatives, I predict the New Year will see an ugly and public confrontation between the City and its residents over developments in this neighbourhood.

Nigel Baldwin MAIBC FRAIC

Categories: Uncategorized

  • Morven

    Lewis Villegas # 47

    As I understand the matter, an essential component of tax incremental finance (TIF), is, apart from enabling legislation, a comprehensive zoning process, creation of a TIF district, and community consultation with the affected communities.

    Since we seem at present to have neither comprehensive zoning or adequate community consultation (it seems) we might well be better off with TIF districts.

    But the planning department had better do some homework first as the infrastructure funding groups (as well as the regional Mayors committee) seem pretty keen on this idea.
    -30-

  • Lewis N. Villegas

    Morven, we have the enabling legislature. As I understand it, the City Charter has given Vancouver the ability to issue municipal bonds since the very beginning. The Municipal Charter extended the same borrowing power to all B.C. municipalities.

    The Municipal Finance Authority in Victoria is the issuer of pooled municipal bonds for municipalities to participate in. MFA bonds are very highly rated.

    Typically, these have been used to pay for infrastructure. The TIF district is a “new” concept for us (it’s been in use in some parts of the U.S. for decades—”put a TIFF on it” is common speak at some municipal halls). As with all financing, there is risk involved.

    However, your post hits on the right idea:

    “… a comprehensive zoning process, creation of a TIF district, and community consultation with the affected communities.”

    We could think of that district as a series of linked quartiers along Cambie, for example. The TIF could pay for community amenities, not just infrastructure. In many cases, when the build out is not concentrated in one site, the infrastructure that is in place below ground proves adequate to handle intensification spread over an entire neighbourhood footprint.

    The TIF could pay for the community consultation process, as well as hiring outside expertise. That would get you the “adequate community consultation” tools which of course are in place elsewhere but not here. Not yet.

    Doing the right thing costs money. In the end, doing it on the cheap is even more expensive.

  • Morven

    Lewis Villegas # 52

    Thank you for that informative reply.

    If the enabling legislation is in place, then I have to wonder why the merits are not seriously discussed by our municipal parties.

    Perhaps the city is too wedded to development levies.

    One does not have to an economic genius (if such creatures actually exist), to discern that upfront development levies add directly to the cost of development and indirectly to housing prices since the levy is passed on to the eventual consumer.

    In contrast the TIF levies are not up front and may (a big may) make housing initially less expensive.

    This is an idea worth serious discussion before the provincial translink groups try and set the TIF rates without regard to the city.

    Do I see regulatory competition on the horizon?
    -30-

  • Bill McCreery

    A simple question, I am not familiar with the concept.

    Would TIF repayments by the area properties be effectively condo fees?

  • Lewis N. Villegas

    “If the enabling legislation is in place, then I have to wonder why the merits are not seriously discussed by our municipal parties.”

    Morven 53

    I’ve often wondered the same thing. Perhaps most memorably with a former Minister of Municipal Affairs and his staff.

    Along with the previous president of the Municipal Finance Authority I made a presentation to the team that was working on the Municipal Charter. I provided this kind of analysis. He provided the fact that most municipalities in B.C. have a very good credit rating and have a lot of room to borrow.

    Old habits are hard to curb. I have not heard of Translink proposals for TIF so it is impossible to comment.

    “Would TIF repayments by the area properties be effectively condo fees?”

    McCreery 54

    No. The way to think of the TIF in our municipal culture is probably best captured by the concept of a “set aside”.

    What the TIF tries to do is to “capture” or “ear mark” a portion of the property tax being paid within a specified district, divert it away from general revenues, and put it to paying off a 10 or 20 year municipal bond.

    It takes 10 to 20 years to retire the debt from the books, but the municipal bonds, in the hundreds of millions of dollars and more, sell in a matter of minutes in the NYC. The proceeds from the bond issue are available right away.

    In the U.S. sometimes this is extended to business taxes as well, tapping into inflows of new retail & commercial to a specified district.

    I am not sure how it works for intensification sites. Could we tap into a portion of property taxes being paid by new construction, but leave the rest of the tax base out? Or, would it simply apply to all properties as in the case of the Local Improvement Area taxes?

    Which ever way it is structured, it is not an additional fee or tax. It is simply the practice of capturing some of the new tax flowing incrementally from new development, and using it to pay off a 10 or 20 year municipal bond.

    Several merits arise in the context of oour discussion.

    Setting the TIF would be an “open and transparent” process. The neighbourhoods that are “giving up the moneys from otherwise flowing into general revenues” would probably want to know the details.

    It is a mechanism for borrowing from ourselves, and leveraging against future growth. Growth becomes the engine of change, rather than something to avoid. We are in effect taking a mortgage out on a neighbourhood intensification plan.

    In order to pass muster the TIF would have to be linked to an urban code that specifies clearly the extent of a full neighbourhood build out. Since it is achieving build out that ultimately pays back the bond, build out targets, marketability, and all the other niceties we usually lump together as “reality” would get a serious airing.

    Finally, I think this does what the OV should have done. Develops in one place in our city and our region a model that is portable and ready to use in other parts of our city and our region.

  • Morven

    Bill McCreery # 54

    It is always a problem to summarise a complex subject.

    But summarising an Australian publication:

    “Tax Increment Financing (TIF) allows a jurisdiction to take tax revenues derived from increases in property values within a prescribed TIF development area and use ‘incremental’ tax revenues to fund the infrastructure and renewal projects that led to or contributed to the property appreciation.

    The sponsoring government issues bonds to provide the funds necessary for the upfront urban renewal and infrastructure costs. Over time, as these works improve the amenity and liveability of the TIF district and result in more property development in the area, property values and property tax revenues rise.

    The additional tax revenue (above the pre-TIF tax ‘base’) resulting from the TIF infrastructure is then used to service and repay the TIF bonds. ”
    We may be slow in Vancouver to look at this concept which has been around in various forms since the 1950’s.

    It is one way of deflecting the negative impact of development levies on housing affordability.

    Incidentally the UK and Australia are much more innovative in looking at or using TIF as a catalyst for infrastructure and local development.

    Worth a serious look by Vancouver.

    As I said above, it calls for good, sound planning and community consultation in the TIF zone. None of this helter skelter approach to urban planning.
    -30-

  • Morven

    Lewis Villegas # 55

    Our responses crossed.

    You said it far better than I did. Many thanks
    -30-

  • Lewis N. Villegas

    I had not seen information from Australia. Morven 56 provides some interesting bits too.

  • Bill McCreery

    Thank you both. An interesting concept with complexities which need to be properly understood. Yes, it is worth a look.

  • Lewis N. Villegas

    “… a good face to face discussion on the justification and merits of this application, within the context of the Cambie Corridor planning studies.”

    Michael Geller 48

    Baldwin sees it in a different light:

    “…the City has missed an ideal opportunity to address the central issues affecting the [Marpole] neighbourhood.  It has failed to do the hard work necessary to generate and evaluate alternate forms of development…”

    In Baldwin’s vision, the proper context is not “the Cambie Corridor planning studies”, but rather the neighbourhood as a whole. It is difficult to miss the connection between the Cambie Gateway and the Cambie Corridor casting another of Baldwin’s assertions in a darker shade:

    “It is hard not to conclude that the City has never wavered from a Council-initiated intention to bully through the approval of two or three unprecedentedly dense projects prior to the next election…”

    Gateway is part of the Cambie corridor. They go together. Securing approval for one will set new expectations for the other.

    “I would also like to hear a thoughtful discussion on other planning considerations related to transit oriented development around the city, including building heights, densities, and view cones.”

    Geller 48

    Building heights, densities, and view cones… A list remarkable for its brevity, yet encapsulating a fair synopsis of one brand of urbanism that many feel has put our city on the map.

    However, if we are talking TOD (transit oriented development), then we should be referencing an entirely different set of criteria.

    The driving idea behind TOD was the “pedestrian pocket” with requirements that might be summarized as:

    – Human scale urbanism

    – Village squares

    – A hierarchy of streets inflecting to the needs of both pedestrian and fronting residential uses

    – A range of building types

    – Transit systems (McCreery #41); linked park systems; cycling network; and

    – Finance (“economic realities” in Geller 48; & the TIF discussion above).

    When talking about “transparency”, surely this is the very stuff to be transparent about—the bits and pieces that make “good” neighbourhoods.

    This comes closer to Baldwin’s City-initiated, “… genuine, first-principles plan offering real alternatives…”.

    “I would therefore again urge the city to initiate some discussions outside of the Chamber on these very important matters. Frances, you would make a good moderator!”

    Geller 48

    Can’t quarrel with the choice of moderator. This could be the Bulablogs annual shin ding with proceeds going to the homeless shelters.

    However, a discussion among experts is going to run into the underbelly of our dilemma as articulated by Baldwin:

    “Because the [urban design] Panel has here failed to avoid the appearance of bias, the public can no longer rely on its advice with respect to the development of Marine Landing.”

    Inside and outside the Chamber the lines are drawn, and the expectations for profit are set. By refusing to look at alternative built form to achieve high density; by fudging on the possibility of delivering neighbourhoods with high density, livability and human scale; and by equivocating on the “first principles” for high quality urban environments the emerging picture takes on some of the qualities of the Bush Administration in the months leading to the spring invasion of Iraq. Slam dunk!

    “Shock and Awe” urbanism is what we see in the HAHR, Cambie Corridor, Cambie Gateway, and Mount Pleasant Plan.

    I hope people won’t stand for it.

    I hope our better natures will shine through, embrace the need for a new paradigm, and build in Vancouver two urbanisms with a genuine claim to world renown.

  • Lewis N. Villegas

    CORRECTION: “This could be the Bulablogs annual shin ding with … hostess in full ball gown and … proceeds going to the homeless shelters.

  • Richard

    @Lewis N. Villegas

    How about toning down the rhetoric. You are really getting quite ridiculous. Comparing high density transit oriented development to war is insulting both to the people who have suffered through wars and to those who enjoy living in and being around this type of development. “Shock and Awe” really.

    I understand you don’t like this type of development much but how about actually presenting some evidence of the issues associated with it or even better, suggest some creative solutions that make such density better.

    While you may not like it, there are several advantages to having this much density at a rapid transit station and a major bus look. The big one is that it will minimize the number of car trips as compared to putting this density anywhere else or even spreading around in smaller buildings.

    As has been proven in downtown Vancouver, more high density mixed use development can actually decrease car trips. It is sprawl and auto-oriented development that creates traffic and congestion, not density.

    Another big advantage of putting all the density in one place is that it preserves much of the single family housing. To get the same number of units with lower density developments would mean the loss of more single family housing that many people like. So, we can have the best of both worlds, high density and single family housing. It means tearing down fewer houses as well which decreases the environmental impact.

    The worse possible type of development from a transportation point of view would be to place row houses along Cambie as you are suggesting. That would pretty much guarantee that most people would be stuck driving as many would not be close to transit nor would there be the density to support much retail within walking distance.

    Anyway, I encourage the community to continue fight more more amenities in the neighbourhood.

  • Bill McCreery

    Michael I have to say that Nigel is correct. Even 2 or 3 nice public forums aren’t going to do anything except placate, bumble, obfiscate and disappoint. We’ve had tons of these meetings. They’re a sham and a waste of time (and money). I’ve attended many, I know.

    What’s needed is not more public meetings, but the hard, 1st principles planning work Nigel quite rightly says has not been done by the PLANNING DEPARTMENT. Can I be clearer.

    We also need the Planning Department to start acting like planners. Planners recommend to Council what the rules of the game should be, Council accepts or rejects those rules. Then the public and the developers know what those rules are and can participate accordingly, or not. What’s significant with the current situation is that there are no rules and the process has been turned into a very expensive crap shoot (financially, and for the health of the City and neighbourhoods). Sorry to be so blunt, but, it’s time for the planners to do their jobs or turn in their keys.

  • Vancouver’s green/sustainable pretensions are Green-washings!

    Vancouver is not in the perilous position of, say cities of similar size and cultural isolation in the US, but it is not going to blossom green and sustainable so long as Chinese money props it up. Relying on off-shore money to bail us out is perilous.

    China’s grand plans . . .

    http://e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2138

    . . . have arrived at the same sink hole now sucking dry most parts of the Globalized world: a little secret well kept by the MSM.

    Unbeknown to our inveterate experts on this blog, talk of yet more strange tax techniques, TIF‘s, are no panacea, just chatter.

    Our gossipers are proposing, yet indeed, another layer of unneeded taxation on top of an already over-loaded labyrinth of incentives and DCC’s etc.

    This is yet another attempt by our oleaginous Lewis to control the conversation and get the obsequious, equally know-nothing, Morven into his vacuous web.

    Lewis, has no expertise in anything to do with taxes or civic regulations: he has no expertise period. He is an inexperience, undergraduate architect with a wagging mouth.

    I have known and tried to work with him for ten years. He is compulsive, intrusive, with a virulent hunger to stick his untalented nose into everything.

    Ask him anything and out comes the now dated anachronistic Leon Krier or ancient Rome. He may have been a tourist at some time or another. Right now he relies on Google Street view.

    He loves the charrette. It gives him total power over any group naive enough to fall for his nostrums!

    Be careful: he will dump another quasi Luxembourg, á la yesterday’s Krier, on your unsuspecting community replete in Lombardy Poplars that may not survive in Vancouver’s brutally toxic, soot-ridden, cacophonous urban labyrinths!

    Michael is a half-baked version of the above. Bill is a talented architect who should stick to his expertise and shut the f*** up!

    Vancouver, despite an over loaded, expensive approval authority has never been blessed with mature creative urban design/planning: ergo it falls prey to local gossip and the next carpet-bagger to alight at YVR!

    Baldwin see the main chance and goes for it! Lewis and Michael have a bus load chutzpa that sticks their faces into other people’s business.

  • Morven

    Roger Kemble # 64:

    You are of course quite entitled to your splenetic viewpoint.

    If you understood anything about TIF you would know it is not an extra tax ; it is just the redistribution of the property tax gain incidental to a large development. Without the TIF, the property tax payable would be about the same and the scale of the infrastructure might be less.

    TIF is a financing mechanism not an additional tax.

    TIF has been common in the USA for about 50 years and is used, in various forms widely in the UK, Australia and some Asian countries. Our esteemed MetroVancouver, Translink and the Mayors Council have seriously proposed TIF as an infrastructure funding mechanism so Vancouver architects, planners and developers had better understand the benefits and costs of TIF so they can serve the public interest and their clients interests as professionals.

    What we need in Vancouver is innovation and an opening to new ideas, not the trashing of ideas before the viability is even discussed.

    Censorship of ideas as you seemingly espouse is not the mark of an open society.
    -30-

  • #18“What is it that we truly want to achieve by increasing density?”

    No sir what we want is an affordable, quiet neighbourhood, of mixed occupancy, within walkable distance of most daily amenities: free of vehicular intrusions.

    #22 “. . . we may reduce household emissions and optimize household energy use, but by over-densifying both with residential and commercial, and increasing vehicle traffic in an area that cannot absorb any more efficiently, are we not then forcing the increase of harmful vehicle emissions?”

    Not until we conflate work, wealth creation, education, recreation and daily amenity.

    #25There seems to be a consensus of sorts forming around the net density of 3.0 FSR (floor area = 3x the site area).

    I see no consensus!

    #30Jo-Anne, I think your group has done some good things:” You are patronizing and patently untruthful.

    See my comments . . . #31

    Clearly you have no conception of a “quartier” even though you pay it lip service . . .

    As for Morven #65 . . . a rose by any other name is still a rose!

  • EVENT NOTICE

    “More Extremely Tall Towers for Vancouver?”
    A Citizen’s Forum
    January 11 (Tues) 6:30-9:00 pm
    Vancouver Public Library
    (Central Branch) Alma VanDusen Room
    FREE
    On January 20 Vancouver City Council is poised to adopt two policies to permit extremely tall buildings Downtown (potentially 70, 80,
    90 storeys),in the West End, Chinatown, and Downtown Eastside. But many questions are still unanswered for the public. Hear experts, then discuss the issues and what must be done. Implications include mountain views, skyline, livability, sustainability, gentrification, city finances, schools, public amenities, infrastructure, traffic, seismic safety,disaster response, and the very character of Vancouver. Visit http://www.cityhallwatch.ca for full information. Contact citizenYVR@gmail.com

  • Lewis N. Villegas

    “… there are several advantages to having this much density at a rapid transit station and a major bus loo[p]. The big one is that it will minimize the number of car trips as compared to putting this density anywhere else or even spreading around in smaller buildings.”

    Richard 62

    If you are the same Richard, your ideas about transit routes and network capacity that we discussed a year ago on the Rees blog were stunning. Objections to calling a pig a pig (Skytrian blights neighbourhoods) probably mean that we have to probe further. One of the reasons why the Cambie Gateway has come forth is that the Canada Line is in the air for 900 feet by the time it reaches the station. This part of the neighbourhood is blighted and so the towers move in.

    [Blog Reader Alert: Richard and I tend to answer each other’s questions in detail—i.e. this one is gonna be a long one].

    I challenge the view that this will “minimize” the number of car trips. Outside the tower zone (i.e. downtown) single family homes use cars. The best we can realistically hope for is to get them down to one car per family (I am assuming here a nuclear family demographic—I haven’t seen any info on that). So the transit will be there, but so will the cars. Reductions in vehicular volume will only be had by taking away road space, and that is not being proposed. I bet you and I both would like to see a Marine Drive BRT/LRT on dedicated R.O.W.

    “As has been proven in downtown Vancouver, more high density mixed use development can actually decrease car trips.”

    I don’t think we can make 1 : 1 comparisons between downtown and the rest of the Lower Mainland, including the rest of Vancouver.

    “It is sprawl and auto-oriented development that creates traffic and congestion, not density.

    Another big advantage of putting all the density in one place is that it preserves much of the single family housing.”

    I hope it is clear that these two statements are in conflict.

    I don’t know why it should be a goal to preserve “single family housing”. As Baldwin suggests, what we should be doing is planning at the scale of the neighbourhood as a whole. We want to make distinct communities into a patchwork of urbanism run by City Hall.

    “To get the same number of units with lower density developments would mean the loss of more single family housing that many people like. So, we can have the best of both worlds, high density and single family housing. It means tearing down fewer houses as well which decreases the environmental impact.”

    This is a valuable contribution. The towers are needed outside the downtown in order not to mess it up for the single family houses, which is everyones optimum form of dwelling. Old paradigm.

    New paradigm selects a range of building types, including single family, and zones by type in order to build walkable neighbourhoods.

    It is the resulting quality of the urban environment in these new neighbourhoods—including ready access to good transit—that will be the key contributor to getting people out walking and out of their cars.

    Outside very special and unique zones, towers blight the urban environment and produce the opposite result.

    We have already heard from others that walking to the Cambie Gateway is just not an option. I’ve had similar experiences with station area development (that’s not TOD BTW) in Toronto.

    Massive areas of urban wasteland and super scaled arterials surrounding an ugly mass of buildings with a train station buried somewhere in the middle of it all.

    So, if we must contrast: station area development & transit oriented planning are old and new paradigm respectively.

    “The worse possible type of development from a transportation point of view would be to place row houses along Cambie as you are suggesting. That would pretty much guarantee that most people would be stuck driving as many would not be close to transit nor would there be the density to support much retail within walking distance.”

    The arterials are spaced 0.5 miles apart. You should be able to access transit on Oak and on Main (0.65 mi). A 10 to 12 minute walk to Canada Line should not be a problem—that’s subway service.

    The building type you feel will under perform is the very same in use throughout London, England. Surely, we’re not going to quibble about that Capital’s density and transportation?

    My suggestion is that the building type is street oriented, fee simple 2.0 FSR fronting all our arterials. Each lot releasing 10 feet to the R.O.W. as it redevelops for a total widening of the R.O.W. of 20 feet. What we give up in tower land-lift we make up in a TIF district.

    Along Cambie, or on any arterial where there is commercial zoning in place, we should zone a different building type. One that is accessible, has retail on the ground, and is flexible on uses on the second level. It has structured parking.

    The issue of height is related to the width of the fronting R.O.W. Buildings would not exceed 1 : 2 aspect ratio to the street. But that’s the general rule of the built form.

    In specially designated precincts, the urban design could be fine tuned to specific local conditions, and to achieve different results. Feel free to read “towers” into that.

    “… the community to continue fight more more amenities in the neighbourhood.”

    Food Fight urbanism, then?

    I am in shock and awe over the paucity of the proposals coming out of the city; the transportation folks; and the general disposition about urbanization in our region—including the Gateway Project, and the “Solution” to the north side of the CN Yard fly over in Port Coquitlam.

  • I am pleased to see a Citizen’s Forum being planned for the 11th, but do hope the city planning department is invited to participate.

    I’d also like to see the title changed! It is too provocative. Hopefully this can then be a good discussion, rather than a rant!

    If City staff are there, I’ll be there.

  • Aiden E

    @Roger Kemble 64 and 66, I thought you were done on this thread. See your post 31.

  • Bill McCreery

    I will too.

    Citywatch should be commended for putting this forum on. Why isn’t the City doing this kind of thing, not just one downtown at the Library, but across the City in each neighbourhood which will be affected by this PROPOSAL.

    Are zero / no City of Vancouver public consultations OK to fundamentally change one of the key planning initiatives which has made Vancouver an internationally recognized city? Is this “open and transparent” civic government?

  • 1972+/- we, the Kitsilano Area Resource Committee (KARC), were successful in talking down a wall of towers on the York/Third slopes west of Yew.

    Towers, BTW, are not the problem. The problem is the complexity of the urban context.

    The towers now standing, in Kits, are the last until the next onslaught: and the director of planning must have better reasons for land-lift than, then D. of P. Bill Graham’s excuse: views from sail boats in English Bay.

    I have mentioned this before but it is worth repeating in view of the coming Citizen’s Forum gab fest.

    KARC’s success was the end, in my recollection, of the city listening.

    Be aware there will be, among the assorted speakers, two or three who were declaring, just a couple of years ago, Vancouver World-Class Paradise! They’ll be there protecting their rears . . .

    IMO the current onslaught of land-lift is driven by an impecunious city rather than a desire to provide commodity, firmness and delight.

    OV we know, but there is a pit of red ink we know NOT!

    Vancouver is not in danger of slipping into English Bay: it is just a befuddled mirage . . .

    http://members.shaw.ca/urbanismo/thu.future/vancouver.failed.html

    . . . indeed a gross misconception of what we thinq it is induced by hyper-expensive wishful thinquing and hangers on who have a professional vested interest in the status quo, plus two or three oleaginous attention seekers hogging the mikes.

    Listen to them, please. Then make up your own minds.

    Not represented will be the majority of souls who are harassed by daily living.

    So, the coming iffy Citizen’s Forum! Too much analysis leads to paralysis. Good luck.

  • Well, since I promised I’d attend the ‘citizens forum’ if Brent Toderian attended, I did attend. Sadly, Brent was not afforded an opportunity to speak, but I heard on CBC that he might be organizing a briefing soon.

    While I believe that Randy Helton and his colleagues are well intentioned, (they want to save the environment) I must say I found the presentations very naive and uninformed

    (Mr. Helton expressed shock and dismay re: the Metro regional growth management study…why haven’t we heard about this, he asked…referencing some comments on the UDI website.. The fact is, this has been one of the most publicized consultative initiatives over the past few years, with literally hundreds, yes, hundreds of presentations and consultations….)

    As for the analysis of building heights, views and capacity, what seemed like an ‘anti all high rise’ presentation by a landscape architect was simplistic, rambling, and terribly naive.

    Jean Swanson’s tirade against any more condominiums in the DTES was misguided, and I won’t comment on Ned Jacob’s presentation other than to say after about two minutes, the organizers started manoevering to get him away from the mike.

    All in all, a most disappointing effort. That being said, there is a need for more understanding and discussion on this most important topic.