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Council gets letter missiles from both sides on Northeast False Creek debate

November 17th, 2009 · 34 Comments

Council is going to decide today on whether to generally endorse the NEFC high-level review, permitting staff to carry on in the same general direction towards a mixed residential-office zone geared to the “entertainment district” being created down there. I would note, for those who seem to think this is some kind of irreversible decision, that it’s just an endorsement or commentary on general principles, not an ODP or rezoning. The whole issue of the park, which is very contentious, isn’t even in the document, since it’s something that Concord has proposed as a possible solution and that staff haven’t had time to process yet. As far as I know, no one is going to make any decisions about the park today; the door won’t be shut one way or the other.

Given all that, thought I’d share two letters I’ve received about what’s going on down there. One from former head city planner Larry Beasley, specifically advocating for the new park design, and one from nearby resident Fern Jeffries.

Here’s Fern

Your Worship and Council:

Tomorrow you will be asked to determine the future of north east False Creek.
We urge you to send back the staff report for more work.  We urge you not to accept a report that has so many unanswered questions.

Throughout the debate in committee, Councillor Deal has asked staff whether accepting the report binds Council on any particular issue.  Mr. Toderain always answered ‘no’.  But then why is this report being brought forward?  Obviously accepting the report will set a direction for developers and staff, or I’m sure Mr. Toderain would not be wasting your time by bringing it forward in its current format.  If you approve this report, developers will immediately submit their applications.  If there are unanswered questions, why risk this significant waste of time and money?
The motion before you also asks that you approve continuation of the Consultative Committee.  I must point out that no members of the Consultative Committee spoke in favour of the report’s recommendations.  On the contrary, members took time out of busy schedules to attend both afternoon sessions to ensure that you are aware that they do not support this report.  Why continue a committee that is consistently ignored?  If you support the consultative process, then you cannot adopt this report.

As you know doubt know, a coalition of 30 communities is meeting on Nov26th to share experiences about the deficits in in the city’s consultative processes.  Let’s not add this issue to their already long list of concerns.

A park on Lot 9 is part of a contract with Concord for 7650 units.  They have now developed 10,000.  Why allow them more density without more green space?
Surely as the last piece of undeveloped waterfront, Vancouver can do something more exciting than condos and a strip park.  The report links “re-shaping the park” with condos along Pacific Blvd.  Why put yourself in this box?  Lot 9 was promised to the city as park a long time ago. Make this promise a reality and then re-think configuration or land swap.  Why be bound by Concord’s plan when they are already in default of their original commitment to devote Lot 9 to the public?  Council allowed this default in 2004.  Please don’t compound that mistake.
Yes, let’s have more density to support sustainability.  But let’s be smart about it.  Building high density where there are very limited amenities will not create the type of diverse community Vancouver needs.  In your committee debate Mr. Rutgers referenced 2003 population figures.  There was no census in 2003.  Indeed even the 60+% growth in 0-5 child population noted in 2006 for that census tract is now out of date. Shouldn’t you be clear on the ‘amenity to population’ projections before making a decision to build for at least 14,000 more residents? No appropriate family amenities will produce a single demographic community with no families.  Smart growth means a full demographic range with amenities that meet the needs of children and families.  While the current report does designate certain buildings as suitable for families, the area will be so deficient in family-appropriate amenities and so congested that these buildings are unlikely to attract that population.
Your proposal to build market rental housing compounds the problem.  Rental Suites in this area (approximately 45% of all units are currently rental)  typically have a higher population than owner-occupied suites.  4 – 6 young people will often share as roommates in a 1 or 2 bedroom unit, where one would predict 2 adults and 1 or 2 children in an owner-occupied unit.  This is typical in all big cities where there is a lack of affordable housing.  Affordable housing is most certainly needed.  But additional market rental will do little or nothing to address the affordability issue.
As you know, both Lot 9 and 6C are designated “park” and taxed accordingly.  Changing this obviously false designation will bring in some immediate income to offset the cost of any delay.
Council is currently considering the future of the viaducts – a major change that will impact the future of these lands.  Why don’t you wait until you have all the information you need to make comprehensive decision that will stand the test of time?
Please don’t rush to folly.
Sincerely,
Fern Jeffries
And here’s Larry
Dear Mayor Robertson and Member of Vancouver City Council:

Re: Henriquez Design Concept for the Northeast End of False Creek

I understand that you have had circulated to you and will consider on this coming Thursday the proposal designed by architect Richard Henriquez for the open space and buildings configuration for the Concord Pacific lands on the northeast edge of False Creek.  Sadly I will not be able to attend your meeting because of travel commitments but I want to offer my advice to you on this design concept.  As many of you know, I was the Co-Director of Planning during the initial and detailed planning and most of the development of North False Creek and did significant work on the northeast sector prior to my retirement in late-2006.  I also completed a post occupancy evaluation of False Creek North recently in my role as a professor at the University of British Columbia School of Community and Regional Planning.  I offer my comments from these perspectives but I want to be clear that I represent only my personal view and have no business relationship or affiliation with anyone associated with the Concord lands that are the subject of Mr. Henriquez’s design.  Also, no one has asked me to write this letter.   I offer my comments because I think this is a pivotal site and its design will set the character of this entire part of our beloved city.  To me this is a matter of primary importance.

As the chief planner for this area over many years, I had constant worry about what would unfold here.  The original design from back in the late ‘80’s, reflected in the current Official Development Plan, was not well worked out because of a lack of time and the scale of what we were then dealing with.  Also, many conditions have changed since that time.  The initiative of the Province to facilitate development around B.C. Place Stadium as well as the recent planning work in this vicinity by your Planning Department staff and various landowners have been excellent and have given me some optimism that we will indeed find the optimal scheme for the area.  What has been lacking is an actual design to bring everything together in a clever way while protecting the significant public equity of the waterfront and park that has always been planned for the area.  Mr. Henriquez has now provided that urban design scheme.

Mr. Henriquez’s design concept is extraordinary – it is brilliant.  I urge you to support it fully, direct your planning and properties staff to make it happen and facilitate its realization in every way you can.  Its merits are worth summarizing.

-The scheme maintains the amount of park area originally designated for the neighbourhood but extends the length of the park significantly along the water.  The east end of False Creek will now have a lavish green setting with this concept, coupled with the Science World park, the Southeast False Creek parks and the waterfront walkway/bikeway.

-A connection is achieved between the East False Creek park system/waterfront and the downtown via Georgia Street.

-A major civic plaza for large gatherings is included at the absolutely pivotal location but separated from major clusters of housing.  It ties together the major existing events facilities with new outdoor event potential.

-A new pier will animate the water of east False Creek and provide a base and anchor for the Dragon Boat Festival.

-A beautiful site is maintained south of the Georgia alignment for a major civic institution.  I urge you to see this as a City land-banked site for one of the many future cultural facilities that will be needed as our city grows and matures – and to secure it absolutely.

-A meaningful configuration of housing and enough housing is proposed to create a delightful and complete residential neighbourhood, with the inner basin of False Creek as its respite.  Can you imagine what it will be like if the right component of shops and neighbourhood services are added near the civic plaza?  The potential for housing is maximized at both the Plaza of Nations site and the Concord Pacific site, along with upland sites, which will take some short-term pressures off of downtown sites for this housing.  This is where housing should be because this is where the natural amenity values are highest.

-The scheme shields the not particularly beautiful structures of the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts, especially if the bases of the towers are lined end-to-end along the shallow crescent with townhouses (what a fabulous family living opportunity would be afforded by those townhouses!).   But the scheme, with minor adjustments to tower locations, still allows significant views to be protected looking north across the lands from the Athlete’s Village.

The design concept incorporates all requirements, trades nothing off that is important and emphasizes the public values of the area.  I think the scheme compliments the work that your planners and others have been doing over the past year – but I think it takes that work much further by giving a meaningful and desirable shape to the future area.  I urge you to approve the work of your staff on the planning side, but don’t stop there or Mr. Henriquez’s design solution might be lost.  I urge you to go further with the following RESOLUTION:

“THAT Council adopt Richard Henriquez’s urban design concept for Northeast False Creek in principle as the basis for further detailed planning and design; and THAT Council direct City staff, in consultation with landowners and neighbours, to bring back a detailed design and a strategy to secure proposed public-use sites reflective of the Henriquez scheme.”

Perhaps this initiative could be undertaken with the actual assistance of Mr. Henriquez.

I implore you not to lose this singular opportunity.  Mr. Henriquez’s scheme is the kind of bold move that has made Vancouver’s core the envy of the world.

Thank you for considering my comments and advice on this matter.

Sincerely,

Larry Beasley, C.M., F.C.I.P.

Cc: Richard Henriquez

City Manager

Categories: Uncategorized

  • Wally Epuc

    There isn’t necessarily a contraciction between the two views. Larry is writing about the overall urban form; Fern is talking about how that form gets implemented – the FSR, the amenities we require of the developers in consideration for the demand their developments create as well as aknowledging the exisitng deficit of amenities that Fern points out and that Larry’s post-occupancy study of the earlier north False Creek neighbourhoods found so clearly. Council’s job is to bring both perspectives to bear and give staff direction on how to proceed. We’ll see what they are made of.

  • Larry tells us Richard’s plan is “brilliant”.
    One Googles in vain . . . is it a secret waiting to joyously surprise council?

    Please, may we see it?

    Richard or Gregory link your plan to Frances’ blog, so we may have the pleasure, before council makes the fatal decision.

    With trepidation, and with great respect for talents and record of familia Henriques, I confess to skepticism . . .

    . . . yet with hope!

    Local UD and UD’ers have a pretty dismal record to date.

    http://www.theyorkshirelad.ca/New.Nanaimo.Center/pudpn/Commentary.pdf

    Despite Larry’s exhortations to the contrary.

    There is a huge gap between “urban designers” and “urban design”: planning schools churn them out with abandon.

    The former have proliferated exponentially yet the product of their labours, i.e. urban design, is not immediately experiential and tangible.

    Interestingly we flock to see the best examples created, elsewhere and long ago: terms created well before either were conceived.

    There are very real and historic constraints on “urban design”:

    ie. Historic, centuries old land ownership laws, 18/19 century English closure laws and, even older fractional reserve banking: that we have ignominiously inherited.

    They pall over us, invisible and unmentionable, prevailing over our cities like an IMECA 300 cloud!

    So . . .

    Knowing our erudite and intellectual post-istas, is there need to elaborate?

    Good luck Richard and Gregory, you have centuries of prejudice to over come . . . I suspect, sin enmbargo, you will do okay . . .

  • Colin

    I agree…can we see this incredible plan? Everyone is talking about it, yet few seem to have actually seen it.

  • Joe Just Joe

    A very base version of Henriquez’s plan is listed on the presentation boards of the last open house on the city’s site. I linked to them earlier but a quick google search should find them. His plan obviously takes it to much greater detail and can’t be included because it wouldn’t be far to compare it to the other base plan. It’s up to the owners of the plan if they would like to release it or not but since it’s a work in progress it wouldn’t be in their interest to do so. But look at the base plan for a very good idea of the plan.

  • Now JJJ let me see.

    We the public may not see Richard’s plan for proprietary reasons: that seems hardly to fit the city’s open public process . . . be that as it may.

    Where, then, does the Henriquez plan stand? Is it in competition with NECF High Level Review or did Richard put this together for his own satisfaction.

    Was Richard commission by the city to compile an alternative? If the latter is it not in he public domain?

    From my own professional point of view I am not impressed with the NEFC HLR, nor am I impressed with Central Area Planning.

    And what, pray, authority do you have JJJ?

    Are you a paid functionary of city hall and if so would not disclosure to that effect be ethically appropriate, on this blog, so we the public know where you are coming from . . .

    You have the link to the Henriquez plan. Please link it!

  • Bill Lee

    Linear parks!?

    They don’t work, are insincere, and become the “property” of the greedy elitist neighbours.

    See the travesty called the Arbutus Village Linear Park where city found that there were worries about drug dealers even there and then.
    (I see that Google.sh now offers QuickView PDFs instead of HTML for the city documents found under Linear+park+Arbutus).

    A square park and cut throughs is better. They may not want screaming kids playing ball sports, but the residents are living in vertical morgues anyway.

    The city doesn’t have goats and hates to cut grass, and any linear park will be a pavement and grass monstrosity as they are doing in the Powell Street Grounds (Oppenheimer) or the extreme removal of shrubbery (!Shubbery!!) from Grandview park.

    O for the quiet jewels of square parks like the discretely hidden Humm Park.

    That site is where the old Gasometer was, seen in many pre-1960s pictures of the view to the east of downtown. Many PAH compounds in the surrounding soil, though they expect time has remediated them.

    When is someone going to suggest filling in the Eastern end of False Creek, a la Hong Kong’s dwindling Victoria Harbour, for (del) appropriate(/del) luxury tour housing?

  • Bill Lee

    I’d suggest a visit to City Hall via http://vancouver.ca/CTYCLERK/archives/forsale/index.htm and pick up a copy of :
    “False Creek” by Robert K. Burkinshaw
    Published 1986
    ‘Provides an overview of the history of False Creek, 1792-1983. Focusses on what were considered to be major developments in and around the waterway and on the changing ideas of Vancouver’s citizens and officials concerning the role of False Creek in the city’s life.’
    Price: $8.49 plus tax

    You might also really enlarge the postcard picture on that City Clerk page showing the view from about Columbia and Keefer looking south…. “False Creek through the Georgia Viaduct, 1939” http://vancouver.ca/CTYCLERK/archives/forsale/images/fcreek.JPG

    ‘No no, False Creek was always intended to be elite towers’
    Inside: blank

  • grounded

    I think JJJ must be referring to page 17 of the September open house display boards found here: http://vancouver.ca/commsvcs/planning/nefc/public/pdf/sep09/boardscombined.pdf.

    I also found boards from a January open house that also offer 3 profile views and a top view on page 20: http://vancouver.ca/commsvcs/planning/nefc/public/pdf/jan09openhouseboards.pdf.

    As another potential wrinkle to the Creekside Park extension issue, I noticed that it is mentioned in the Additional Information box on page 15 of the September boards that “As a condition of the sale of the False Creek North lands, the Province assumed costs to remediate contaminated soils. The Creekside Park Extension will receive contaminated soils from Area 6C, west of Carrall Street.” Not having been around for the Expo lands deal, does anyone know if the province would have had to keep the money for remediation in trust for whenever the city is ready to proceed with the project? If not, given the current economic climate could the province’s apparent lack of funds delay the park’s extension?

  • Joe Just Joe

    Richard wasn’t commissioned by the city, hence why the city has no ability to share the plan without consent of the owner.
    As for what authority I have, none whatsoever, have I claimed any besides having seen the plan and personally believing it to be superior?
    I’ll let those with authority decide for themselves.

  • Thanqu for the links. I have had them book marked for some weeks.

    You will notice in the latest models all parts, open spaces, parks buildings access etc are treated as discrete elements.

    This is not cohesive concept: the work of amateurs.

    I look forward to Richard piping up!

  • For decades this city has maintained a ratio of 2.75 acres of park space per 1000 residents throughout all developments.

    Where developers were unable to provide the necessary park space, they were required by the city to pay millions of dollars for other amenities to compensate. If all developers have had to meet this standard under councils of all political stripes, why is this particular council making a special deal with Concord?

    According to Geoff Meggs, they want us to accept a retractable stadium roof given to a highly-profitable, privately-owned business. I like Councillor Meggs, but he can’t seriously mean that a stadium roof is a local community “amenity.”

    Something is going on during this council’s many secret in-camera meetings that isn’t serving the greater good of the communities affected. I would urge council to recommit to the city’s long-standing practice of 2.75 acres of park per 1000 residents in every new development, and to ensure local density also provides local amenities to make this part of the city more, not less, livable.

    Otherwise the Mayor may find he’s unleashed the Greyest City Action Team, not the “greenest,” by the time his term is through.

  • Bill, linear parks typically are used by way more people than “square parks” for walking, cycling, inline staking etc. The Seaside path is a perfect example of this. Anyway, the linear park proposed will still have lots of green space for people to use. The buildings would also shield the park from the traffic noise and pollution of Pacific Blvd and the Viaducts (if on the off chance they are still standing) and will also ensure children, balls and dogs don’t end up in the street.

  • Frank

    Sean, I totally agree. The roof is a private benefit for the stadium owners and their customers. It should not substitute for real parkland and other public amenities.

  • Hoarse Whisperer

    I hear a rumbling in the distance if this level of density without commesurate ammenities goes forward…surely, our ruling city council cannot be bought so cheaply?

  • gmgw

    Hoarse, there was no need for Council to be “bought”, cheaply or otherwise. In the long tradition of Vancouver city councils, they obligingly and collectively dropped their pants and bent over for the developers– the same courteous and submissive service Vancouver’s councillors and planners always eagerly provide for any major developer who so much as raises an eyebrow at them. The only difference in this case is that this Council was able to whore itself out to four major developers at the same time. What a thrill that must have been for them. If any proof was still needed that Vision’s just another way of saying NPA, here it is… which leaves me with the interesting problem of just who in the hell I’m going to vote for next time around, ’cause it sure ain’t gonna be these a-holes.
    gmgw

  • International globalization is described as a “giant vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity” sucking money into a “blood funnel”! You can say the same thing about the off shore thugs that are bleeding this city white.

    And you guys are jerking yourselves off on square parks, lineal greens and bike rides . . . in-line “staking”(sic) whatever the hell that is and retractable roofs . . . density without commensurate amenities . . .

    With commentary like that this little town ain’t going anywhere . . . get a life for god’s sake . . .

    ” whore itself out to four major developers” you got that right . . .

  • GMGW, you really do have a wonderful way with words! And I’m not being facetious. I may not always agree with what you write, but I certainly admire the way you write it.

    For those of you not at the Saturday morning community forum, Gord Price raised the issue of density and green space during the panel discussion with Jim Green. By way of background, Sean Bickerton is correct in noting that the 2.75 acres/1000 parkland requirement has been in place for decades. In the case of Bayshore, meeting the requirement would have left little available space for the buildings, but the city still demanded a payment in lieu, based on the price of land in the area, DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE SITE WAS NEXT TO STANLEY PARK AND HARDLY DEFICIENT IN GREEN SPACE.

    Although Brent Toderian said on CBC this morning 2.75 acres/1000 is a target, and rarely met, this is not entirely true. It was met in the balance of Coal Harbour, CityGate, and all of the phases to date on the north shore of False Creek. It was also met at SEFC.

    In the discussion with Jim Green Saturday morning, Jim defended reductions in park space in order to achieve higher densities. I joked that maybe that should be my platform should I run again in the next election!

    While I will not defend until death the 2.75 acres/1000 requirement, it is important to note that it has been applied to major developers in the past, and if it is not to be applied here, then there should be as a minimum a payment in lieu requirement to fund other community amenities to benefit the new residents.

    If staff aren’t quite sure how to go about this, go and find Ken Dobell and Brent Macgregor. They certainly did an admirable job for the city when negotiating with me on Bayshore.

  • Fern Jeffries

    Interesting to see my letter to Council juxtaposed to Larry Beasley’s. His letter prompts me to make a couple of points to clarify what hopefully this Council should have known when they read his correspondence:
    1. Richard Henriquez did not come up with a plan spontaneously. He was paid by Concord Pacific to develop a plan that would give them more density.
    2. The 9.06 acre park land was to be provide for 7650 units. Now Concord wants more than the 10,000 units it already has.
    3. The Henriquez/Concord plan – the pier, boathouse etc. merely incorporates the 2006 Parks Board design. There is nothing new here.
    4. While Mr. Beasley foresees a vibrant new community with shops and services, the Board of Trade and local merchants who participated in the City’s so-called’consultative committee’ were unanimous in criticizing the staff report for not including sufficient commercial space.

    I enjoyed Mr. Geller’s recounting of his negotiations on the issue of park ratio and community benefits. Why do other developers live up to their commitments when Concord is able to weasel out of successive promises? It was the first Vision Vancouver council, in 2004, under former Mayor Campbell that enabled Concord to develop Cooper’s Quay without delivering the 9.06 acres Creekside Park site according to their agreement. I don’t fault Concord – they are just doing what developers do. I do fault elected officials who forego community benefits.
    Another blow to the people from this latest folly of Council — according to staff calculations, Council’s decision to build market rental housing costs us over $30 million in community benefits.

    Kudos to the Parks Board who voted against allowing Concord Pacific to build on lands previously designated as park!.

  • David

    BOO Vancouver City Council! They sold out and pissed off the residents of North East False Creek and future generations, by reneging on decades of honoring the 2.75 acres of park per 1000 residents while creating the highest density in the city. Park board and public consultations, resident groups and even golden boy Larry Beasley are all deeply saddened by your collective brain fart.

  • David

    BOO Vancouver City Council! They sold out and pissed off the residents of North East False Creek and future generations, by reneging on decades of honoring the 2.75 acres of park per 1000 residents while creating the highest density in the city. Park board and public consultantatioss, resident groups and even your former golden boy Larry Beasley are all deeply saddened by your collective brain fart.

  • Innervational_Resident

    It was not met in SEFC, Coal Harbour, etc when looked at in an overal context.

    Furthermore, what are the metrics used to calcuate park space? In SEFC, the City in trying to get to a higher per acre park count, counted water!! 15% -20% is actually water lot!

    Why can’t hard surface be park? The Roundhouse is a park! It’s clear that in Vancouver Park does (and should) mean more than just green space. … we have always been inventive with our park space …. lets not pretend otherwise.

    Also, 2.75/1000 is such an arbitrary figure… really it is…. why are we so focused it? We need to focus on what park space is, how it is used and how it is programmed. We have a lot of “dead park space” in the city… focus on the utlity, not simply the size.

  • Joe Just Joe

    Simple solution, solve the problem with the stroke of a pen. Close off all boat access in false creek east of Abbott and call the space a water sanctuary and then allow it to be included as park space. They would then be within their “target range” and on paper everything would be fine.

    I won’t be surprised if within a decade we see the ratio adjusted . Perhaps instead of a per population ratio it will eventually become an area of the city ratio. The city appears to be moving that way with it’s goal of everyone being within 500m of a park (but no mention of the size of the park). That ratio is currently 80% of the city within 500m of a park and it would not be difficult to increase it to 100%. (expensive but not difficult).

  • gmgw

    Nice idea, JJJoe, but a little impractical for those of us who can’t walk on water.

  • I am not opposed to density at all. I welcome it. We lived in Manhattan for 20 years, and loved that rich, dense urban environment.

    but what made it livable was the vast amount of the city devoted to parkspace.

    Is this council going to be the first council in 2 decades to renege on our long-standing commitment to a 2.75/1000 Green City? After all promises to the contrary, do they really think the Greyest City is the way to go?

    It would be a betrayal of decades of councils of all political stripes taking the hard votes and pushing back developers to insist on that minimal standard. This is not what voters were promised.

  • spartikus

    and call the space a water sanctuary and then allow it to be included as park space.

    Because it’s time government finally moved to protect the world famous coral reefs of False Creek from the Aqua Ferry scourge.

  • Glissando Remmy

    Thought of the Day
    “I suspect that the majority on the City of Vancouver Council is connected as in an anachronistic series circuit. They cannot afford to let go, really. They are all holding hands, with Gregor closing the circle, his fingers, up…the power source.”

    Also, I have a confession to make, I am afraid of circus clowns. I am particularly scared when they are riding their undersized bicycles, honking their horns and spraying water on the unsuspecting spectators from their flower shaped water throwers. And then, there are the shoes. Big, “gianormous” rainbow coloured, gummy soled, dog shit left on grass squishing machines.
    But, enough about Vancouver Vision…

    To the topic now.

    What about dogs in the city?
    My dog is not fussy. He doesn’t care if the park is linear, square, rectangle, oval, stripes shaped. No Siree Dog! Hey, he is only passing through, taking a dump, moving on, no hard feelings. But. He. Needs. His. Patch. Of. Green.
    Without it he may as well stay at home and do his thing on the rug, in the kitchen, which would be uncivilized, especially for a Dalmatian.
    All things said the city should review the ratio to something like this: 2.75/ 1000 + 101 Dalmatians. Got it?
    They live in Vancouver and this keeps them busy too!

  • MB

    I’m less interested in a numbers game (2.75/1,000) than quality of space. To me devoting 100% of the waterfront to the public realm in the form of a linear park was a major achievment in other parts of Vancouver, and see no reason why NEFC should be any different. Too many cities have yet to realize what a public asset waterfront really is and prefer to leave it privatized. So what if they’re 15-20% short of the 2.75/1,000 in NEFC?

    Sean Bickerton mentionend that NYC has devoted a significant amount of land to park space. Well, I really don’t believe they’ve achieved anything close to 2.75/1,000 in Manhattan. Though Central Park could be called New York’s “Stanley Park”, you’d be hard pressed to find generous green space from mid-Manhattan south. Moreover, the FDR freeway took over huge parts of the Manhattan waterfront, something Vancouver has purposely avoided to its great merit

    However, green spaces like Washington Square (and many even smaller spaces) are absolutely delightful gems and add much vitality to a very dense city.

    Sounds like some would prefer that the city wrestle developments from the evil developers and have the city form its own development company, perhaps put every little development detail out to public referenda, or do nothing more than build walls around the city and pop a glass bubble on top.

  • I too questioned where the 2.75 acres/1000 requirement came from. Park Board staff will tell you it is not arbitrary. It was determined based on the actual provision of park space in the city, divided by the population, excluding Stanley Park.

    In response to the above comments, I agree that the park space need not be grass. It could include’ hard landscaping’….Indeed, I argued that it should include the area of shoreline walkways created by the developer…that was a battle!

    I am surprised to read that Coal Harbour and SEFC did not achieve the 2.75/1000 requirement. This is not my understanding at all, but I would welcome further evidence that the requirement was not met. (Although I would accept that the new man made environmental island be counted…but not the water!)

  • Wally

    Interesting to note that Michael Geller says that Ken Dobell did a good job negotiating for the City on Coal Harbour amenities. What’s different here is that Ken was negotiating for the developers. Hence we get a stadium roof as a “public amenity” and a Council approved mandate for a ton of density without anything resembling policy teeth for staff to use to get anything for the neighbourhood. As for Jim Green, he has been a developer ‘wanna be’ for years.

  • Frank

    If the goal of 2.75/1000 can’t be met then other public amenities can be provided instead, but they should be real amenities of use to local residents. I don’t see how the stadium roof would qualify….unless they plan to allow the stadium to be used as an off-leash dog area during non-event times!

  • MB

    Now there’s an idea …. convert the BC Place stadium roof to an elevated public park park.

    It’s even bigger than the new convention centre green roof, which is off-limits to general public access.

  • Patsy McMillan

    Interesting comments from everyone especially Michael Geller who is “in the know” regarding park to person ratios and payments – in – lieu for park space not provided. Even if 2.75 acres per 1,000 residents is a target ratio it has still been used to calculate the cash – in – lieu to the city if this target is not met. Let’s keep in mind that the target amount of park space for NEFC ‘s 7,200 new residents is 19.8 acreas. Only 5 acres of that has been accomplished in hard surface, not green space. A much needed youth area under the viaduct and an open plaza at the foot of Georgia St. A net deficit of 14.8 acres. The Creekside Park extension of 9.06 acres was provided for the original density that the City contracted with Concord Pacific. So it is part of the “Old Deal” not part of the “New Deal” currently being discussed.
    The Henriquez plan was privately commissioned by Concord Pacific so it is not in the public realm as yet. This being said, I find it particularly damning that when a dozen Concord real estate agents and the VP Development for Aquilini showed up at the recent False Creek Residents Assoc. meeting to disrupt the meeting, they all had copies of the plan that “they were not supposed to show to anyone”. The assistant sales manager for Concord even suggested that it would be an even better plan to build the condo towers along the water and have the park in behind, along Pacific, in order to allow new purchasers a better view.
    Most knew nothing about the background but, I think, had been told to infiltrate the meeting in order to be disruptive and argumentative. Fortunately we are able to see through this kind of futile tactic and has made us even more determined to not let this happen.
    Our new mayor and Vision council who most voters thought would never let this happen has indeed dropped the ball and is willing to sell out to the developers. Mayor Robertson’s comment in the Vancouver Sun on Thursday morning says it all when he is quoted as saying that we don’t need another large park in Vancouver because we have Stanley Park and Pacific Spirit Park. The latter is not in Vancouver and the former was a gift to the city from 3 enterprising and grateful greenhorns who appreciated the need for green space in a booming urbanity. If not we would most likely have condo towers there as well. This statement is very reminiscent of what Marie Antoinette said just before the onset of the French Revolution . “Let them eat cake “. Elitist then and elitist now.
    I also take some umbrance re: the Beasley letter and I quote from the Aquilini site: re employees
    ” With 30 years of civic service, Larry Beasley’s achievements in land use and planning have reshaped Vancouver’s city centre creating a model for city planner worldwide. ” So as an employee of Aquilini, one of the four developers involved in this project, I would suggest that he is not arm’s length from the profits of this development.
    So far, nobody has made comment about our recent findings regarding the BC Assessed value of this contentious piece of property. For the past 20 years the land east of Abbott St. to Quebec St., the eastern portion of the lot adjacent to GM Place and the area under the viaduct, totally, have been assessed for $192,000 paying city taxes last March 2009 of less than $4,400 . Low, because this land is all designated as PARK LAND and should be kept as such. This would be the opportune time for the land to be removed from re-zoning by whatever means is legally possible by either the city or the Prov. Gov’t. so that a landmark park could be developed on the last remaining waterfront property in Vancouver. Precedent for this would Vancouver vs. CPR when the rail company wanted to build condos along the Arbutus line. The city took them to court and won.
    This would also save the BC taxpayers millions of dollars in soil remediation costs as we are the ones responsible for that endeavor.
    Don’t be foolish enough to throw this away without a fight. Once gone, we will never get it back and we will all be the loser.

  • MB

    A little clarity please.

    Loaded phrases like “selling out” do not apply to the waterfront park. There is no way under the sun (or, as it were, the rain) that condo towers will be built right on the waterfront and block access for the public. Councilors of any stripe will put their futures in serious jeopardy if they voted for such a giveaway. Waterfront as a public amenity is sacrosanct in downtown.

    The issue is utilizing what little open space is left on the downtown peninsula (already blessed by the 1,000 acre Stanley Park and several hundred additional acres of additional waterfront park and public open space) for more housing + a linear waterfront park of limited size, or less housing + a larger park.

    And I’ve been to meetings where both anti + pro development crowds use identical and very, very typical tactics to disrupt meetings and overwhelm a speaker’s list. Rules can be equally bent by opposing interests.

  • Innervational_Resident

    Here is a copy of my letter to Mayor and council. Please see my note re Citygate (Patsy’s group)

    Dear Worship and Council,

    As an owner in Spectrum, I have followed with great interest the public consultation process surrounding the City of Vancouver’s North East False Creek, Higher Level review.

    What has struck me most, is that this exercise of a “High Level Review” has never been clearly defined or understood (by staff or the public) and therefore it has fallen sadly of track.

    My understanding (after attending the recent open houses) is that this HLR report is a guide that sets broad goals and guidelines for future rezonings and ODP modifications. However, in past open houses last spring, staff alerted me that this HLR would replace the ODP and set a new vision, density targets and would allow landowners to go to rezonings immediately. What is the actual exercise of the HLR?

    In any case, the process has been dragging on for well over a year and still I do not see a vision being defined for the area by City staff. In my mind the HLR should have been a return to first principles as was the case with the policy broadsheets process which brought us the 1990 ODP. That was a phenomenal visioning exercise that set the baseline for the ODP and the subsequent rezonings we have seen to date. It is so sad that we instead have a report that avoids FSR, gets into density (but not specifically into benefits or where they are located) and lacks any kind of real guiding principles other than “live, work, play”.

    I cannot find the Richard Henriquez plan online, but saw it (in grainy quality) when watching the council video last week. It was the first time I saw a plan that looked at the area and said “what’s best for residents today and for residents moving forward”. He didn’t seem to be suggesting a smaller park and I was eager to hear more, but with only 5 minutes for him to speak I did not get a full account of his plan. I was lead to believe that it would connect Georgia street down to the water (great for us Spectrum residents!), create a park that focuses and increases public space on the waterfront among other items. This sounds excellent!

    While the HLR report is a lost opportunity, I do understand that City staff have a tough job to do. There are several landowners, with various goals, aspirations and timing requirements. The neighbourhood contains residents (citygate) whom feel they are owed a park and have become irrational as anger blinds them to any possibilities that do not involve the punishment of “sins” for the developers, Concord Pacific. This issues has become personal for them and is counterproductive to positive, world-class city building.

    I ask that as you prepare to debate this report today you reflect on the opportunity at hand. Yes its tough, yes there are very hard issues, but this is YOUR opportunity as councillors to make a mark on a definitive piece of land that could tie east and west together and create a new “Vancouver model” for the next 20 years. We did it before in 1990 with the first ODP, now please lets focus on what the future holds for this area, not what grievances are held, what obligations must be wrung out of developers and punishment levelled. I live in the area and want to start a family. As a new $500M roof is built next door, I hope other benefits (which are always delivered in the NEFC through private development activities) will follow as development continues and more bodies fill a derelict space.

    Consider what works. Lets hear more from the Heriquez group and lets lay off density at this stage and talk about land use, urban form and what a great park really looks like. My request to you council is that you ask staff to work on this Henriquez plan, figure out the park and that a planning exercise to create a new ODP for the area be put in place, not more modifications.

    Yours truly,