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What should council decide on Rize tower Tuesday? Have your say

April 13th, 2012 · 149 Comments

The Vision council will be making a decision Tuesday, after five nights of public hearings and 130 speakers, what to do about the Rize tower rezoning at Kingsway and Broadway.

It was clear from questions put to staff at the end of the last night of public hearings that councillors and the mayor are trying to figure out what their options are for this project. (Complete details on their rezoning application here.) There were a few comments and questions about whether design issues could be dealt with in more detail at the urban design panel and development permit board.

It seemed to be that there can be much more design work done. But council will have to decide on the height and density. I’m not clear myself on whether the issues of a big-box store, the questions about truck traffic on the 10th Avenue bike route next to the building, the suggestions that artist space should be put back in the building, and other things like that are finalized in a council vote on a rezoning.

I’m sure councillors have been thrashing this over extensively and been getting lots of opinions, because this is a project that many see as one that will tell developers and residents how the city plans to handle the difficult job of increasing density throughout the city while respecting resident requests to have it done in a way that meshes with their neighbourhoods.

From all the discussion I’ve heard here and elsewhere, it’s not going to bode well for the future if councillors opt for an answer based on some of the simplistic arguments made.

Voting full approval because “if we don’t, it will kill density and affordability in the city” won’t fly, because that is a message to residents that developers can put in whatever they want anywhere, as long as they’re claiming that they’re creating density near transit.

And killing it won’t fly.

For one, not all opponents to this particular project are opposed to development. There’s one group that is. The people in that group think any development other than social housing leads to gentrification, higher rents for low-income residents and eventual displacement.

But many, many other opponents say they welcome development (some mentioned they live in new projects in the area) but that they want to see new development that meshes with the neighbourhood, not a replica of Yaletown-style towers.

But let’s have an airing here of what council’s options might be besides the two obvious and unsatisfactory ones are: Yes, without conditions for the project. Or No, turn it down.

I’m especially wondering if the people on this blog who are knowledgeable about city processes could weigh in to say what council might be able to do besides an outright rejection or acceptance. I’m not clear myself on what those might be.


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