Grandview-Woodland residents rally for more time on community plan

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      Grandview-Woodland residents packed a community meeting Monday evening (July 8) to voice concerns about the city's planning process for the East Vancouver area.

      About 200 citizens lined up to speak about a land-use directions map drafted for the region, which proposes increased density and taller building heights for parts of the community.

      “Many of us...have participated in the community planning process in good faith over the last year, and none of this type of land use, none of this type of density was discussed,” said resident Blair Redlin. “It’s a very aggressive set of proposals…and so naturally it’s generating a lot of hostility and anger. And this dynamic does not make for good planning, it does not make for good neighbourliness.”

      Vancouver-Hastings MLA Shane Simpson said hundreds of constituents have contacted his office with concerns about the community planning process.

      “Sometimes planning processes go sideways,” said Simpson. “With all the best intentions, they go sideways, and the plans simply are inconsistent with the desire of the community, and the people who live in that community. This is a plan that is fundamentally flawed, and maybe it’s fatally flawed.”

      Draft proposals for the Grandview-Woodland area released by the city in early June include plans for mid- to high-rise towers clustered around the Commercial and Broadway transit hub.

      The city has since backed off its proposal for that specific area of the plan in response to community opposition. In an update sent out to residents July 5, planning staff indicated they are starting a “renewed process” for the Commercial-Broadway sub-area.

      “Because we’ve heard sort of loud and clear about the concerns about tower form, and particularly the height of the towers that we proposed for that area, we’re going to take another look at that,” assistant director of planning Matt Shillito told the Straight in a phone interview before the meeting.

      The city held a workshop last Saturday (July 6) with about 100 residents to discuss alternate forms of density at the intersection. Shillito said further public events will be scheduled at the end of this month.

      But according to Jak King, president of the Grandview-Woodland Area Council, the existing proposal for that area is just one aspect of the community’s concerns. Over 500 people have signed a petition calling for the process for the whole region to be extended.

      “What the petition asks for is another six months added to the schedule, so that we can have workshops as we had on Saturday for each of the sub-areas,” King told attendees at the meeting. “Because perhaps unlike the city, we don’t believe that just solving Commercial and Broadway solves Grandview.”

      Additional concerns voiced by residents at the meeting included proposals for height increases on East Hastings Street, and increased density along parts of Nanaimo Street.

      “We have affordable, quality food shops on East Hastings Street,” said Nancy McRitchie, the executive director of Kiwassa Neighbourhood House, who noted there is a lot of poverty in the community.

      “The area of concern I have is the proposed rezoning of East Hastings Street to eight storeys, where those shops are. And what I’ve been hearing is that what that actually means is that as soon as it’s rezoned, the property assessments go up, the taxes go up, and the costs go up substantially for small businesses."

      Local resident Garth Mullins said he doesn’t want to see any increased density without the inclusion of social justice.

      “We already have that social mix of poor and middle class and working class and everybody that the city aspires to elsewhere,” said Mullins. “We already have a sustainable community with a good balance of cultures and heritage and stuff like that. This is a model—don’t come here to fix it, export it to other places.”

      A draft community plan for Grandview-Woodland is currently scheduled to be produced this fall.

      Shillito told the Straight that staff will look at the timeline over the summer “and see whether that needs to be adjusted based on additional steps that we now need to take to get the plan as we’d like it”.

      He acknowledged there are community concerns about other areas of the plan in addition to the scrapped Commercial and Broadway proposals.

      “We’re going to look at those as well, and we will as part of our ongoing consultation be including discussions about those as well,” he said.

      Green city councillor Adriane Carr, who was one of three city council members who attended the meeting, said she plans to raise the community’s proposal for a six-month extension at today’s (July 9) city council meeting.



      Vision's game.

      Jul 9, 2013 at 12:10pm

      Notice the assistant director of planning Shillito's comments above, i.e. that they are reviewing the plans in light of community opposition. Don't buy it. They will lower the heights of the condos from 35 to 28 stories and then call it a compromise.

      I live in that area and I DO NOT OPPOSE DENSIFICATION, I welcome it. Just not the type of densification that characterizes Vancouver, bland towers that drive out any sort of local character or differences. There is no way that you can have lively streets when you have densely packed 15, 25, 35 storey condo towers. You have dangerous streets that welcome only cars and multinational corporations. Look at those two deserts of sterilty, Yaletown and Coal Harbour, that's wht you get. Along with all the other signs of sterility: Starbucks, Blenz, London Drugs, Whole Foods, Safeway, expensive diners, sports bars, top of the pops danceterias, this week's hipsters etc ad nauseum.

      Buildings of 8 or so stories are fine. More people is great. We want a mix of people, old people, kids, immigrants, poor people, artists. We don't want a monocrop of single, childless 28 - 44 year old worker bees.

      Evil Eye

      Jul 10, 2013 at 7:45am

      The densification cult as practiced by Vision(less) Vancouver, developers and SkyTrain adherents is a false science. What is more damning that the "science of densification smacks of Lysenkoism.

      Lysenkoism is used metaphorically to describe the manipulation or distortion of the scientific process as a way to reach a predetermined conclusion as dictated by an ideological bias, often related to social or political objectives.

      Metro Stockholm has an area of 6,488 square kilometres, with a population of just over two million (population density 320 per sq. km) By comparison, Metro Vancouver has an area of 2,877 sq. km, with a population of 2.5 million (pop. density 856.2 per

      Stockholm has three heavy-rail metro lines, with a total length of 106 km; five suburban rail lines, with a total length of 300 km; and four LRT/tram lines with a total length of 30 km.

      Vancouver, with a larger population and more than twice the density, has only 68 km of mini-metro; and a 69- km commuter rail line with service limited to five trains in and out each week day.

      Vancouver has almost three times the population density Stockholm has but a fraction of rail transit options. We have not invested in affordable transit.

      Lysenkoism has become the false prophet of planning and the densification cult, and the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan nothing more than greedy land developers and "bought" politicians trying to up-zone properties, allowing higher densities, creating massive profits for those who own the land.

      The density game is nothing more than a type of money laundering.


      Jul 10, 2013 at 11:23am

      Here's a tip from other neighbourhoods who have been through this. Trust me, the city isn't backing down. They will return with the same towers but add a few meagre amenities to justify them. An unscrupulous community group will be bribed into loudly supporting the project. There will be a big and noisy public hearing at an awkward hour, on very short notice, during which the public will be completely ignored. Anyone opposing will be pilloried for opposing the urgently needed amenities. The word NIMBY will be flung around in the same context as "witch" during the Spanish Inquisition. Vision will then unanimously approve it, at that the point the amenities will begin to mysteriously vanish (think of the Qmunity center in the West End or art studios in the Rize). Don't be surprised if a few stories actually get added to the towers during this whole process to compensate the developer for the amenities that he will never provide. Vision will claim to be green and progressive every inch of the way. Don't believe any of it, they are nothing but a developer greenwashing machine.

      enough already

      Jul 10, 2013 at 12:40pm

      interaction with the community is great but if you listen to every mind numbing detail from small minded people who's only concern is that nothing should change anywhere neighbourly and affective is that going to be?
      Honestly, do you want to welcome people to your "hood" or just say do? ....because without density you will not get a lowering in prices for a first time home buyer.
      Funny thing is, these same people who own property in this area will be the first ones to jack there home prices up once the city talks about densification. So please, spare me the greedy developer talk, yes there in it for profit,but that's nothing compared to the land lift these people have made...lets at least be honest with ourselves.

      Rob Hines

      Jul 10, 2013 at 4:20pm

      I used to live in East Van. It's a great neighbourhood in a city that is growing by leaps and bounds. It also has a fabulous transit hub at Commercial-Broadway and a major Metropolitan corridor - Hastings.

      The issue of affordability isn't an issue of plopping a few towers here and there, it's an issue of supply and demand, and of course the willingness of government to supplement for where the market leaves those behind.

      My point is that we need to build up, somewhat. We need to build new buildings today for those affordable units 30 years from now, and we need a bit more density. The underlying nature of the East Side with 1 to 3 story walkups and single-family detached dwellings if more density is inserted on Hastings and at key transit nodes.

      I don't see how eight stories along a major route is over board or how accommodating more people is a drag on the area. And, property taxes aren't necessarily tied to new development. Things are going to change and saying NO isn't an option. It's better to provide constructive criticism than stall everything completely.

      pickler dickler

      Jul 10, 2013 at 9:14pm

      I can only assume that the Hastings rezoning will happen. In the last 6 months I have seen numerous buildings, lots and full city blocks from Nanaimo to Main St. suddenly get listed and instantly sell....this is also going to suck big time for Strathcona.

      I have lived in Sunrise for 10 years and it has had some moderate development done in that time - this plan is like napalm to the neighbourhood.

      I am done with this city council and Mayor Rubberhead - I wish this was an election year so I could vote them all away.


      Jul 11, 2013 at 7:09am

      The question is not about density, which will continue it is just a matter of how, but about the wholesale exclusion and destruction of existing viable communities. Perhaps the answers lie here:
      "Sponsoring a Vancouver 2020 event makes a strong statement about your brand’s commitment to thoughtful leadership and ground-breaking innovation.
      Join us in leading the conversation with the businesses and people working to define the real estate market that will change the way we do business and live our lives."

      But wait, once again, residents aren't invited to the gold rush, just the speculators. And how we live our lives isn't on the agenda.

      Save Vancouver

      Jul 12, 2013 at 11:41pm

      And yet hundreds of witless Commercial Drivers will bitch about this developer-giveawayand at the same time vote for Mayor Moonbeam because of his way cool organic garden and bike lanes.

      Priced Out

      Jul 29, 2013 at 10:02am

      Greater Vancouver Growth: 1970-2011; +1.28 million people (32k per year)

      Grandview Woodlands Growth: 1970-2011: +500 people (14 per year)

      These numbers are stunning. GW has not been doing it's bit to welcome new folks and reduce the city's footprint and dependence on cars. Living in a single family home within a 15 minute drive of a CBD should be as socially unacceptable as smoking in a daycare.