Everything ground to a confused halt in the Downtown Eastside last month, after city council — apparently bowing to pressure from a Mike Harcourt-led community group plus others — delayed voting on a public hearing to increase allowable building heights in DTES.
Since then, city manager Penny Ballem has been working with the two main community groups interested in this issue, the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council and Harcourt’s Building Community Society, about how to have a neighbourhood planning process.
The theoretical idea behind all this is to come up with a long-term, overall goal for the area in terms of what the mix of housing should be (right now, it’s about 10,000 low-income units and 3,000 private-market condos), along with other uses.
In the short term, many people — planners at the city and owners or developers in the area — are flummoxed about what is actually going on, with some perceiving that the neighbourhood groups are now in control.
So Ballem has been sending out the message, loud and clear, that the city is not going to stall everything down there. As my story says, 150-foot towers of condos are not on, but other projects are, including one or more housing projects that will require rezonings.
Interesting to see the city manager get so directly involved in this area and the community negotiations, something that I can’t imagine Ken Dobell or Judy Rogers ever doing.
(P.S. Sorry for the paucity of blog posts lately. I’ve been working on some big projects, which see the light of day soon.)