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Mayor backs away from tall buildings in Downtown Eastside, tho Chinatown okay

January 20th, 2011 · 9 Comments

What a surprise. (Not, when I think about it for 10 seconds.)

After a last-minute, intense lobby against a proposed city policy to allow taller buildings on a select group of sites near Chinatown — a lobby that included the city’s two former directors of planning and former mayor Mike Harcourt — Mayor Gregor Robertson has announced there needs to be more community consultation on the Downtown Eastside locations.

Mayor to introduce motion for more public consultation in Downtown Eastside

Mayor Gregor Robertson will be introducing a motion today at council to have more public consultation and engagement on planning in the Downtown Eastside, saying there needs to be more community consultation before moving forward with proposals for taller buildings.


He will also be calling for the creation of a Downtown Eastside neighbourhood committee to facilitate a neighbourhood-led engagement process.
“We’ve heard loud and clear from people both in and outside the Downtown Eastside that they have major concerns about the proposal to allow taller buildings in the neighbourhood,” said Mayor Robertson. “The long-term revitalization of the DTES requires broad community buy-in and support, and we don’t have that yet.
“Our goal is revitalization that includes the Downtown Eastside community. We want to build a diverse neighbourhood that includes a mix of incomes and more affordable housing. But right now, more work needs to be done to build consensus on how we move forward.”

With the report covering an area that spans Gastown, the Downtown Eastside, and Chinatown, the Mayor says it is important to distinguish which areas support the recommendations and can proceed, and which ones have concerns that need to be addressed.
“We’ve taken a thoughtful approach to revitalization, and some parts of the report, like Chinatown, have broad community support and are ready to move forward,” said Mayor Robertson. “The concerns we’ve heard are focused primarily on the Downtown Eastside and the impact on low-income residents, and so we need to take some more time to address those issues.”
When the initial Historic Area Height Review report was approved in early 2010, council also asked staff to undertake a social impact study of development on the low-income community in the DTES. Work on this study has been limited to date and more time is needed for information to be collected.
“The community in the Downtown Eastside is right to say that there has not been enough study on the social impacts on the low-income population,” said the Mayor. “The City only has so many resources and staff need more time to look at it in detail. More investment now in engaging the community and bringing stakeholders together will pay-off in the long run for the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood and the city as a whole.”
To enhance and accelerate the planning and consultation process in the Downtown Eastside, the Mayor will be calling for the creation of a community committee, chaired by one member of the Building Communities Society and one member of the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council. The committee would engage with local residents and provide a report to council by December 31, 2011 on community priorities for planning and development in the neighbourhood. As well, the City would commit to completing the social impacts study by December 31, 2011.
Mayor Robertson is recommending that until the social impacts study and the community committee’s report are complete, that council respect existing plans and policies for the Downtown Eastside.
“We’ve heard from the community that they want more engagement in the planning process, and this is a way to do it,” said the Mayor. “A citizen-driven engagement process will supplement the City’s work underway and help craft an inclusive, diverse vision for the future of the neighbourhood.”

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  • Keep the smooth little men in expensive suites our of this neighbourhood . . .

    http://members.shaw.ca/urbanismo/DTES/DTES.charrette.html

  • Victor

    Oh, I see the mayor recognises a citizen – driven engagement would be a good thing? That is exactly what the West End Neighbors have been calling for in the West End.
    Can he please stop the sham of the Mayors West End Advisory Committee and do as 11,000 residents have signed a petition asking for: an updated comprehensive plan for? What is good for the goose is good for the gander.
    If he sets up a Mayors ChinatownCommittee, the residents should be very cautious as the issue gets sidelined to back rooms. These are only time fillers and public appeasement for sure.

  • Max

    Gastown, the DTES and Chinatown all flow into each other.

    How can you hold off on one area and not the other two.

    It makes no sense.

    A proper, all inclusive plan needs to be done which includes the entire area. Not part and parcel of.

  • Mira

    The Mayor and his council are a bunch of #&**@#! Now I’m reading in Georgia Straight that Jang, urged by his NDP caucus!?! is thinking to infest or not to infest provincial politics as well. It never ends with these fools.

  • The Fourth Horseman

    Perhaps Councillor Jang sees some writing on the local government wall?

    Just sayin’…

  • The Fourth Horseman

    ..and he would, since council cut the anti-graffitti budget.

  • Gentle Bossanova

    Max is right. The Historic Area is a continuum that must evolve that way. Towers in Chinatowns are as much of a sore as towers in Gastown, Oppenheimer, and Strathcona.

  • So here’s my suggestion.

    I think I’m right that 150 high buildings will be out of scale on most if not all of the proposed Chinatown sites, but I could be wrong. So, in advance of the Public Hearing, it would seem entirely appropriate for the city planning department to prepare drawings illustrating what buildings of this height would look like from different angles on each of these sites. Then we’ll all be able to formulate more informed opinions.

    So far, I have seen the long term view impact of the proposed height increase, and would note that while the additional height doesn’t obliterate the top of the mountains, it does reduce the amount of mountains visible from the designated viewpoint. However, I think the neighbourhood views are more important, and we should be able to see these…

    This seems quite reasonable, doesn’t it. Perhaps if enough people make this suggestion to the city staff and members of council, it may happen.

  • Here’s my suggestion: The Mayor and his council were too afraid to debate Mr. Harcourt, the SFU profs and the BCS, but I’m not.

    I’ve written to Mr. Harcourt, the SFU Profs and the BCS challenging them to host a public forum at which we can debate these issues.

    They Mayor may shrink from controversy, but I like a good discussion and I’ve now publicly challenged Mr. Harcourt and co. to name the time and place.

    They can bring all of the heavies they can muster. Academe vs street-smarts.

    Are you up for a fair debate, BCS?