Telus Garden developer puts on Vision Vancouver fundraiser

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      Vision Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson held an October 25 party fundraiser, which was attended by numerous developers and architects. According to a Vancouver Sun report, the event at the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel was organized by developer Ian Gillespie, president of Westbank Projects Corp., to coincide with the release of Vision’s economic plan.

      The Vancouver Sun article neglected to mention an intriguing coincidence: a week earlier at a public hearing at Vancouver City Hall, the Vision-controlled council unanimously granted approval in principle to Westbank’s huge downtown mixed-use development, Telus Garden. The project will be built on the block bounded by Robson, Richards, West Georgia, and Seymour streets. It includes a 459-unit residential building, 56,617 square feet of retail space, and a 37,940-square-foot-expansion of the Telus office building on the site.

      The rezoning application was filed by Henriquez Partners, which will design the project. In return for being allowed to develop the project—including a 45-storey residential tower—Westbank has offered a $10-million community-amenity contribution to the city. Most of that—$8 million—would fund a future city park at the corner of Richards and Smithe streets. Another $1 million would provide tenant upgrades to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation building at 700 Hamilton Street, and the remaining $1 million would fund open space, greenways, or bikeways in the general area of the development. None of the community-amenity contribution was allocated to childcare, heritage, or housing.

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      monty/that's me

      Oct 27, 2011 at 6:40am

      Where is the affordable housing--particularly for seniors? What will TELUS pay for renaming of BC Place? $10 million for anemities--a park for $8 million? who are these guys kidding? should not a mixed-use development include 30% for non-market housing?

      Perhaps Charlie can do an interview with Simi and let Vancouver residents know what is really going on??

      Today I will be a mobile senior at Occupy Vancouver. Other seniors are invited to join this alliance against greed and corruption and the call for the restoration of democracy. Cheers.


      Oct 27, 2011 at 11:15am

      It's important to mention some of the "increases" that Westbank was able to achieve on this site as a result of Vision Vancouver's approval of the rezoning application. The previously permitted residential floorspace on the site was 127,400 square feet at a density of 5.0 FSR. As a result of the rezoning, Westbank is now permitted to build 448,200 square feet of residential at an FSR of 17.59 - some of the highest density ever approved in the city. At a (conservative) estimate of $750 per square foot, this amounts to approximately $240 MILLION in additional residential real estate value created through Vision Vancouver’s approval. And yet, even with 320,000 square feet of residential floor area added to this property, somehow none of this new floor area could be designated for rental apartments or for (genuine) affordable housing? Something is seriously wrong with the way the City of Vancouver is selling zoning.

      N Jacobs

      Oct 27, 2011 at 3:44pm

      A $10 million CAC is a pittance for this mega-project. It's a sweetheart deal for Vision Vancouver's favourite developer. Why no Housing agreement? Because including renters, especially the low income variety, might scare away offshore buyers and cut into profits. Why no daycare? Working people with children can't afford to get into the Vancouver housing market. Sick of developer patronage and public rip-offs? Say bye-bye to Vision and NPA--Vote NSV and COPE.

      james green

      Oct 27, 2011 at 7:42pm

      You forgot that Ian and his cohorts at Westbank were involved in the Woodwards project and also made contributions to Visions 2005 and 2008 campaigns. Who is in each other's pockets. It's the old back room, you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. Or better put, this is political corruption at its worst..
      Yet until we limit contributions and change the conflict of interest laws nothing about this is illegal but unethical, yes.
      And pointing fingers at the NPA or Vision changes nothing. As mother used to say, two wrongs don't make a right.
      Both parties take advantage of selling their votes for cash and that's the way the dirty little game in Vancouver politics is played.

      W. End

      Oct 27, 2011 at 9:59pm

      Where is the Planning Dept. in all of this? Or are they beholden to their political masters?

      K Williams

      Oct 29, 2011 at 9:34am

      I was a Vision supporter and applaud what they have done with adding bike lanes. But this just makes me sick. I'm voting COPE, NSV and Green. This goes too far.

      Mike Klassen

      Oct 29, 2011 at 10:19am

      Thanks, Charlie. Please note that Anton was absent for this vote, so it was unanimous only with Vision/COPE.

      Reality Check

      Nov 9, 2011 at 4:43pm

      Jeeze people, try reading the article. The rezoning was approved by the COPE councillors as well so obviously the fundraiser had no impact on the decision. There was also no public opposition to it so again, what is the big deal. In addition to the $10 million in CAC's, there is also an $8 million park.

      If any of you really wanted affordable housing included, which would have been great, you should have spoken up before the rezoning, not after when it can't make any difference at all. Now, you are just playing politics.

      @Mike Klassen

      So are you saying that Anton would have voted against it. I suspect not so why even bother with commenting.

      Save Vancouver

      Nov 9, 2011 at 10:03pm

      Reality Check-COPE has become little more than Vision's nutless poodle, so of course they will vote with their Vision masters.