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Why one West Ender is not a fan of the STIR towers

April 18th, 2010 · 36 Comments

This letter in from Sarah Isaacs:

Response to Vancouver council dumbfounded over backlash to rental program (April 13, 2010).

As a resident of the West End – epicentre of the opposition to the City of Vancouver’s Short Term Incentive for Rentals (STIR) program – I wish to clarify how little our opposition has to do with either eco-density or the STIR program as articulated by City Council.

We oppose three proposals (one approved) to construct towers in the West End. These towers all require rezoning to double or triple allowable height and density, and are only available to developers via the STIR program.

Three towers in a 200-hectare community constitute a visible and substantial change. Because the West End has a south-westerly exposure, they will block views, shroud smaller buildings in shadow, eliminate much-enjoyed privacy, and block hours of sunlight in a rainy, dark city. Additionally, the rezoning represents a substantial departure from decades-long, strictly-enforced West End zoning and development guidelines.

The Vancouver planning department’s recommendations to rezone suggest they are no longer governed by zoning bylaws and guidelines, but instead by trends in urban planning that include ‘eco-density’ and ‘rental in perpetuity’.

Ironically, the West End is the embodiment of eco-density and rental in perpetuity, with 218 people per hectare, over 80% rental, and laws in place to minimize erosion of rental stock. This is the reason for the backlash against STIR: the city is asking us to sacrifice community character, property values, and liveability to implement goals that the West End already embodies to the greatest extent in the city and perhaps the country.

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