urbanizta

Archive for November, 2009|Monthly archive page

THE BOTTOM LINE

In Uncategorized on November 9, 2009 at 11:43 pm

A website BY citizens, FOR citizens on “1401 Comox, Radical Rezoning”

FASTEN YOUR SEAT BELTS, Vancouver, in the next few months, our city is about to take a crash course in democracy, urban planning, rezoning, and community visioning.

On November 3, 2009, Vancouver learned that the West End area was about to undergo a fast-track rezoning of the site where St. John’s church stood as an important part of the community for 100 years. The city staff and developer have provided the required information on the rezoning and development application. Naturally, the community will have a lot of questions. So begins this process. As the world’s eyes turn on Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics, all the stakeholders (see “Analysis” page) in this rezoning will be collectively displaying Vancouver’s state-of-the art, 21st century urban planning expertise, vision, and practices. What will they witness? What will be the outcome for the West End?

According to the official plan, people can submit written comments until Dec 22, but the first chance for the community to speak in a public meeting about this rezoning and development will be the actual day that city councilors vote to approve the project, some time in the spring. (Some cities would take a few years of consultations to go through a significant rezoning and development.) The West End’s current community plan is decades out of date, but this project forces a rapid decision that does not fit in with the existing plan. Some people think it’s inevitable that the West End become a forest of 25-storey highrises, but is Manhattan the only possible model for us? What other models are possible? How much “density” should the West End take in the context of increasing density in the whole city? A new community plan is sorely needed here. But the final decision on rezoning and development at 1401 Comox is likely to be made by council within four months. It is likely to set a precedent and affecting the rest of the West End for a few generations in the future. All citizens of Vancouver should watch this case, because the same processes could visit your neighborhood any time.

The community needs more information in an understandable form in order to wade through this process. City Hall has full time professionals working for them. Westbank Developments, Peterson Investment Group, and Henriquez Partners have all the resources (lawyers, researchers, communications experts and so on) of corporations running literally billions of dollars worth of developments (see “Analysis” page). On the other hand, the community has a budget of zero, and individuals living here are busy with their day jobs to pay mortgages and rent. The odds are heavily stacked and needs rebalancing.

On July 8, 2008, the following motion was carried unanimously by City Council: “The City of Vancouver undertake a complete review and reworking of the 1989 zoning regulations and other pertinent regulations governing the residential and commercial districts in the West End in consultation with community groups and organizations, property owners, interested West Enders and City staff.”  We note that WERA has already been calling for such a review for several years, but this review has yet to be scheduled. Is it fair to force through such a dramatic rezoning application on this lot before the review is completed?

This website is dedicated to collecting information from the community, neighborhood and citizen’s perspective, to foster a rational debate in the community. Various views will be presented. Check back from time to time, as the site will be updated as information, opinions, and ideas come in.

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