Vancouver city council to vote on referring downtown tower application to a public hearing

A new highrise tower proposed in the Downtown Vancouver core – is being referred to a public hearing. The 31-storey building will be the same height as the Harbour Centre building (not including the UFO shaped revolving restaurant portion) and replaces the current 8 storey high-rise parking structure.

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Reblogged from The Georgia Straight | Charlie Smith

A Vancouver staff report recommends that council refer an application for a 31-storey building on the southeast corner of Granville Street and Cordova Street to a public hearing.

VIA Architecture submitted the documents to the city on behalf of Granco Holdings Ltd. (Carrera Management Corporation) to increase the floor-space ratio from 9.0 to 24.24. The proposal includes retail space at street level.

In the report, city manager Penny Ballem comments that the application “aligns with the Metro Core Jobs Strategy, the Vancouver Economic Action Strategy, and the Transportation 2040 Plan in that it involves the creation of significant job space adjacent to a major transit hub”.

Waterfront Station is across the street from the parkade.

According to CityHallWatch, there’s been speculation that the super-secretive owner of the Vancouver Whitecaps, Greg Kerfoot, owns the site.

The senior property manager at Carrera Management Corp., Trish Knight, has not returned a call from the Straight to confirm this.

Carrera’s office is in The Landing at 375 Water Street, which is the same building occupied by Vancouver Whitecaps office staff.

From Cordova Street, the proposed tower is roughly the same height as Harbour Centre minus the rooftop restaurant.

Read original article here

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Vancouver Campfire Project proposes fire pits on beaches

Make good choices! Where is the line, do you try to stop people outright and make certain activities illegal, or regulate and provide safe access because you know they’re going to do it anyways? On a side note – I’m not quite sure I understand why a campfire in the middle of a provincial park surrounded by trees is allowed, when one on the beach surrounded by sand and water (both proven fire suppressants by the way) is not.

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Reblogged from The Georgia Straight | Stephen Hui

Students’ idea ignites opposition from fire department

ALTHOUGH OUTDOOR FIRES fuelled by wood are illegal in Vancouver, a group of students is starting a “public conversation” about changing this on the city’s shores. The Vancouver Campfire Project proposes the introduction of designated fire pits on local beaches.

Robert Morton, a global resource systems student at the University of British Columbia, told the Georgia Straight that Calgary, Edmonton, San Francisco, and Seattle all have public fire pits at parks or beaches.

“It’s not a crazy idea,” Morton said in an interview at the Yaletown Farmers Market. “We’re not trying to do something that’s never happened before. These cities are already all doing it. Why can’t Vancouver also do this in a controlled, safe way?”

Hatched at CityStudio, an “innovation hub” that brings together students and city staff, the Campfire Project has submitted to city hall a plan for a summer pilot program involving one fire pit at Jericho Beach. Ultimately, Morton—along with Stuart Dow and Peggy Wong, geography students at Simon Fraser University and UBC, respectively—envisions anywhere from four to 12 fire pits being installed at Jericho, Locarno, Spanish Banks West, and Third beaches.

With a $500 NeighbourMaker grant from the Museum of Vancouver, the Campfire Project staged two events last week to raise awareness of its proposal. Morton and Wong noted that the fire pits would be “bring your own wood”, ringed by river rocks, and located on sand with no seating. They would be situated at least 300 metres from the closest home, have washrooms in the vicinity, and be visible from the nearest road. Signage would outline the relevant regulations and make it clear the fire pits are communal.

“The whole point is that they’re shared,” Wong told the Straight at the farmers market. “The idea is that people will just come and have firewood, and then other people will come and join.”

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Gardens go communal in Southeast False Creek

Let’s be clear here – communal sure, but more in the way that elite posh private schools are communal and their students are free to use the facilities. But not to fear – you too can have access to the gorgeous rooftop oasis of a communal garden, with the small one time investment of $438,000 which gets you exclusive use of 1 bed 1 bath 550 sq ft apartment on the second floor – and unlimited access to the rooftop and skylounge. Feel free to contact me for more information!!

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Reblogged from The Georgia Straight | Stephen Hui

FROM THE ROOF of the James in southeast False Creek, the 360-degree view includes downtown Vancouver, City Hall, and the North Shore mountains. The terrace atop the 155-unit condo building at 288 West 1st Avenue, built by Cressey Development Group in 2012, features a barbecue, kids’ play area, and lounge.

James residents Matt Cooke and Carlson Hui gave the Georgia Straight a tour of the three raised beds and six pots that comprise the communal garden that occupies the rest of the 14th-floor space. The largest bed is home to 12 plots named after nearby streets, the pots contain herbs, and there’s a compost bin, which will soon be joined by a rain barrel.

“We have all of our lettuces and tomatoes here,” said Cooke, who is a food, nutrition, and health student at the University of British Columbia. “Around the corner, we have mint.”

Although the typical community garden consists of plots maintained by individual users as well as common areas, this rooftop garden is a truly collective endeavour. Participating units pay $25 a year to join the provisionally named James Garden Club and then take part in scheduled planting and harvest days.

According to Cooke, the year-old communal garden has “brought the building together”. Residents have an incentive to help out on harvest days, because they get a share of the crops.

Hui, who works for Lululemon Athletica, noted that strata members approved the communal-garden concept at a meeting in early 2013. He maintained that the garden has been the catalyst for residents to organize events such as barbecues, bike rides, hikes, and potlucks.

“This year, what we found interesting is how this has provided a foundation for community for the entire building,” Hui said. “So, it’s sort of gone beyond gardening.”

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Brian Jackson explains council’s actions to make it easier to save old homes than to tear them down

I’ve always been confused by the city’s Heritage policy, not just the vying between progress / development versus preservation / culture – but really how the city approaches these issues with their proposals and policy. I mean, what on earth is Heritage B classification, it makes no sense and I cannot even rationalize why it was developed this way.

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Reblogged from The Georgia Straight | Charlie Smith

 

VANCOUVER CITY COUNCIL has voted in favour of several steps to protect First Shaughnessy heritage homes and pre-1940s character houses.

“We’re very proud of the fact that we’re moving forward on these,” Brian Jackson, general manager of planning and development services, told the Georgia Straight by phone. “We have received lots of letters.”

First Shaughnessy—roughly bounded by Arbutus Street, West 16th Avenue, Oak Street, and King Edward Avenue—has 329 homes built before 1940. Of those, 80 are listed in the Vancouver Heritage Register, according to a staff report that went to council before yesterday’s vote.

The report also reveals that about one-quarter of Vancouver houses in all of the city’s single-family zones were built prior to the Second World War.

Council approved three recommendations in the report, which Jackson brought forward.

The first is a one-year “Heritage Control Period” in First Shaughnessy. This will prevent demolitions of pre-1940 buildings while the city undertakes a review.

Jackson said that the city has issued a request for proposals to hire a consultant to provide advice.

He expects this work will begin in September.

“We’re really excited about getting two or three bids on this for doing the major upgrade to our heritage inventory that hasn’t been done since 1986—as well as provide that professional advice based on experience throughout North America on what other jurisdictions have been doing to protect their heritage resources,” he said.

Jackson pointed out that under provincial legislation, the city cannot protect heritage and designate buildings without “fair compensation”.

This, he suggested, puts Vancouver at a disadvantage in protecting older buildings in comparison with other cities.

“I think between ourselves and the consultant we can come up with creative ways through density bonusing, fast-tracking, and other incentives that we can offer to make it easier and faster and less complicated to save a heritage or character home than it is right now,” Jackson stated.

Council also voted to eliminate the requirement for a development pro forma on permit-retention proposals adding up to 10 percent more floor space.

Jackson said that this is intended for single-family areas where someone is asking for additional density to save a house.

In the past, the property owner had to hire someone to submit a business case so that the city wouldn’t be granting too much density in return for heritage preservation.

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Vancouver city council sends Oakridge mega development to public hearings

THE BALL IS rolling on plans to turn Oakridge Mall into Vancouver’s next mixed-use mini-city.

Yesterday (February 19), Vancouver city council voted to send plans for a $1.5 billion development on the Canada Line to public hearings.

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Reblogged from The Georgia Straight

The project consists of large commercial spaces, office buildings, a civic centre, underground parking, a rooftop park, and towers more than 45 stories tall housing 2,914 condominiums, including 290 marked as social housing.

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It’s proposed by Ivanhoe Cambridge and development partner Westbank Projects Corporation, and planned for a 28-acre site at Cambie Street and 41st Avenue.

Documents outlining project specifics state that developers plan on increasing the site’s density from a floor space ratio of 2 to 3.5. The mixed-use development’s location at the juncture of the Canada Line and the 41st Avenue bus route will help limit automobile congestion in the area, according to the proposal.

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Public hearings concerning the application for rezoning will be held during the run up to the November 2014 civil election. Dates for consultation meetings have yet to be scheduled.

Read the original article

Phase 1 – Anticipated Completion Date! – Chestermere Courtyards

Enjoy our latest update photos – and take in the scenery of sunny Chestermere, Alberta! Our sold out Phase 1 is now scheduled for completion by the end of May Oct* – stay tuned for more photos!

(5/17 AN: correction correction! Typo, while I’d love the completion to be at end of May – this article and status being published on the 8th of May makes it seem a bit unrealistic, No?)

Courtyards in Chestermere – Visit the my Project Summary page

To see the full project details and follow development updates as they happen, please visit the project summary page.

West End residents take Vision Vancouver to court over market housing policy

RENTING A CONDO may be cheaper than owning one, but it doesn’t mean that the rental unit is affordable.

This is a central argument in a new legal challenge against the City of Vancouver program that provides incentives to developers of market rentals.

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Reblogged from The Georgia Straight

On February 3 this year, the West End Neighbours Residents Society filed an amended petition seeking a court declaration that Rental 100: Secured Market Housing Policy—and its now-expired predecessor, Short Term Incentives for Rental Housing, or STIR—violates the Vancouver Charter.

The two policies were introduced by the ruling Vision Vancouver party.

“They’re giving away too much to developers in return for not enough back to the public,” WEN director Randy Helten told the Georgia Straight by phone on February 18.

According to Helten, the case will be heard by the B.C. Supreme Court on April 9 and April 10 this year.

In effect since 2009, STIR and the subsequent Rental 100 allowed council to waive development-cost levies (DCLs), reduce parking requirements, approve smaller apartment sizes, and allow developers to build more units than they would otherwise have been permitted, all in return for producing affordable market rental housing.

According to the WEN petition, the city waived about $10 million in DCLs between 2010 and 2013.

The Vancouver Charter allows council to forgo development levies only on three types of projects, one being “for-profit affordable rental housing”.

Moreover, the charter mandates that council defines through a bylaw what constitutes an eligible development.

In September last year, WEN launched a court challenge against STIR and Rental 100. It claimed, in part, that the city didn’t define what constitutes affordable rental housing to justify the non-collection of development levies.

Because of the suit, the city agreed to amend its rules. On December 3 last year, the Vision Vancouver–dominated council defined for-profit affordable rental housing as those whose initial rents do not exceed the following: $1,433 a month for a studio unit; $1,517 for a one-bedroom; and $2,061 for a two-bedroom.

In its amended petition, WEN argued that what the amendments do is simply allow the waiver of development-cost levies for “market rate rental housing” but not necessarily affordable rental housing.

It noted that the average monthly rental rate for a bachelor unit in the West End is $902, and $714 in Marpole. This means that the city “deems developments, with potential rental rates almost twice the City average, to be ‘affordable’ rental housing simply because they are rental as opposed to freehold”.

The amended petition also stated that staff were given “unfettered discretion to waive DCL’s for projects that are not ‘affordable’ at all, but simply market rental”.

Read the original article and follow author Carlito Pablo here.

Meet the Neighbours! – Chestermere Courtyards

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New Chestermere Health Center – next door and better looking in reality than their renderings!

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Playground and Kinniburgh pond right across from the brand new Elementary school!

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The brand new Chestermere Elementary school – just kitty corner from our townhouses. Your kids will be able to walk less than 1 block to get to school!

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Fine homes…fine neighbours – Courtyards is the only multi-family complex in the Kinniburgh area. You are surrounded by beautiful custom designed detached homes all virtually brand new.

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Proposed downtown Vancouver development aims to reshape public space

OUTDOOR SPOTS THAT offer a measure of tranquillity downtown are a treasure.

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Reblogged from The Georgia Straight

Vancouver historian John Atkin knows one, and it’s at the southwest corner of Melville and Thurlow streets.

“You can sit in there, be surrounded by traffic, and get lost in your thoughts,” Atkin told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.

It’s obvious why Atkin likes the grounds of the Sun Life Plaza building. In an exuberant stream, water gushes out of fountains at one end, and rushes down terraces to a pool, evoking the sounds of nature.

Resting on steps and benches hidden from street view, one can shut out the hurried noises of the urban environment. The water feature was designed by now-retired landscape architect Don Vaughan as part of the building’s construction during the 1980s.

According to Atkin, the city has come a long way in creating open spaces as inviting as this one.

Atkin knows Vancouver well. He leads tours on foot and buses, providing insights into its past and present, buildings, and neighbourhoods. He has written a number of books, including The Changing City: Architecture and History Walking Tours in Central Vancouver, which was published in 2010 and coauthored by Andy Coupland, a municipal planner.

“Now we design places that actually encourage people to hang out,” Atkin said.

That’s what he hopes to see in a proposed rezoning in another part of downtown, which ironically involves turning an existing plaza into an office building.

Last September, the City of Vancouver received an application to build a 25-storey office tower at the northwest corner of West Hastings and Seymour streets.

It’s the site of a domed court, a public amenity set as a condition to allow the construction of the Grant Thornton Place office building at 333 Seymour Street during the 1980s. The plaza and building are connected by a covered escalator and a circular flight of stairs.

While the plaza at 601 West Hastings Street was intended as a gathering place, it doesn’t attract a lot of people. That’s according to documents submitted to the city by B+H Architects on behalf of the property owner, Morguard, a company with a real-estate portfolio in Canada and the U.S. valued at over $15 billion.

Perceived as “unsafe especially at night”, the plaza is “very underutilized” except during lunchtime “on the nicest of days”, the rezoning application notes.

“There’s not a really good reason to go there,” James Vasto, a principal with B+H Architects, told the Straight in a phone interview on March 13. “Sitting isn’t comfortable. There’s very little retail. There’s one little sushi shop, and not much to do there.”

Compared to the sunlit plaza at 1100 Melville Street, 601 West Hastings Street feels cold, especially with its metal benches and tiled seating areas. According to Vasto, the domed court was “fine” for a while, but the city has outgrown it.

“It doesn’t have great views. It is sort of an odd space, a leftover space,” the architect said.

Vasto said that the new office development will “rejuvenate” the area.

The plan involves a “large public space” serving as a “focal point around which the tower evolves and responds”, the rezoning application states. The base of the tower will be carved away, allowing as much light as possible to enter the plaza. There will also be ground-level retail.

In addition, the proposed development includes 102 parking spots and 78 bicycle spaces underground.

Across West Cordova Street to the north of 333 Seymour and 601 West Hastings is Waterfront Station, the terminus of the SkyTrain’s three lines, West Coast Express, and SeaBus.

The Urban Design Panel, which advises the City of Vancouver on rezoning and development applications, unanimously supported the project in a meeting last November.

Vasto expects the development to be in its permit phase around this time next year.

When it’s completed, Atkin might add the new plaza to his favourite spots to hang out.

Read the original article

Northeast False Creek Website Launched!

The City of Vancouver has announced the launch of Northeast False Creek Website!

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This website will be a major communication tool throughout the planning process.

Northeast False Creek (NEFC) is a local and regional hub of sports, culture, and events venues, including BC Place Stadium, Rogers Arena, and the Plaza of Nations.

NEFC remains one of the largest undeveloped areas in the downtown peninsula.

The City aims to create an active and diverse waterfront neighbourhood by replacing the viaducts with a new ground-level road network.

Removing the viaducts and realigning the road network will maintain the essential movement of goods and services to and from Downtown, and allow for:

  • Improved connections between Vancouver’s historic neighbourhoods and False Creek
  • More park space on the False Creek waterfront
  • Development of the vacant City-owned blocks on either side of Main Street (now interrupted by the viaducts)
  • New housing opportunities, including affordable housing

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Recent Updates (as of Jan 2014)

55 Expo Boulevard (International Village School)
November 1, 2013 – Construction on the International Village Elementary School will move forward, as amendments to the legal agreement registered against Andy Livingstone Park were granted without opposition.

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