Update: : Emaar’s proposal for this site was APPROVED by City Council on December 1, 2009
The minutes approving the development can be found at http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20091201/documents/regu20091201min.pdf.
There is an article about it in the Courier: Residents accuse development of using seniors housing as cover.
The Chair of the Dunbar Vision Implementation Committee notes:
This project will be marketed to seniors but there will be no age covenants or other restrictions on ownership. The City rejected those instruments in favour of the establishment of a Seniors Society which would provide the means for residents of the units and other Dunbar seniors to use their common marketing power to purchase services they might need to stay independent. There will be opportunity for community input into the operation of this society in the new year.
This development has been very controversial. It was opposed by the DRA, DVIC and the Dunbar Seniors Housing Trust, but our arguments did not prevail. Some of us are very concerned that the leadership of the Planning department has abandoned the City’s commitment to neighbourhood planning and that the Councillors are not correcting this direction.
Apr 13, 2009: Emaar’s New Development Proposal for 41st & Balaclava
Emaar has submitted a formal proposal to redevelop the area bounded by the Kerrisdale School playing fields on the east to Balaclava on the west, and from 41st Avenue extending north nearly 300′. The proposal is for a building 45′ high.
Here is a link to the REZONING APPLICATION posted on the City’s website.
Neighbours of the site have raised many concerns about the proposal which is going to a Public Information Open House on April 16 (details below). See the neighbours’ FLYER for information on their concerns.
Thursday, April 16, 2009, 5:00 – 8:00 pm: Public Information Open House re: re-zoning application and proposed development at W. 41st & Balaclava, Knox United Fellowship Centre, 5600 Balaclava
- Application by Emaar Canada for
- 4-storey housing project for seniors
- restoration & rehabilitation of the Heritage B Knox Church
- replacement of the church annex building
- Applicant team & City staff available to answer questions & receive comments.
Read the Feb 22, 2008 Courier article about this issue.
On November 26, 2007 several members of the DRA Board met with 8 neighbours representing about 50 residents living near West 41st
Avenue and Balaclava Street, the site of a multi-unit residential project proposed by Emaar Canada (an arm of Dubai-based Emaar Properties
). The neighbours had requested this meeting to discuss the project with other groups in the neighbourhood.
The neighbours are considering organizing a broader community meeting – date and location to be announced.
The development history of the site is well documented in the Administrative Report prepared by Yolande Lambert, City Planning, and presented to Council on September 28, 2006. [Read Council's decisions regarding the report.]
Since that time Emaar has purchased the 4 lots along the north side of West 41st, between Balaclava and Kerrisdale School playing field, and is the present owner today.
The lane to the north, between these lots and Knox United Church lands, is owned by the City as of now.
The Knox lands include the Church and adjacent Fellowship Centre which occupies the two 66′ lots south of the Church and north of the lane. The Knox lands are still owned by the Church as of now. However, Emaar has an option to acquire some part of the Knox lands, which appears to be the Fellowship Centre property. As this is a private transaction, the terms are not available to the public.
Details presented by Emaar to the neighbours on November 19th, 2007 are as follows:
- project to extend from West 41st to the north edge of the current Fellowship Centre property.
- 5 concrete buildings varying in height from 3 to 8 storeys in a stepped arrangement
- site coverage will be nearly 90%
- senior oriented complex (senior-friendly market housing)
- plus/minus 50 units
- average unit size 1,400 sq ft
- majority of units 2 bedroom/2 bathroom
- 120 underground parking spots for residents plus 20 for church (likely with mechanical car park system)
- traffic to be oriented northbound to West 39th
- green space on roofs
- pool at southwest corner (facing West 41st)
- EcoDensity friendly
- external elevators
- geothermal heating
Timeline of Events
- May 28, 2007: Emaar representative attended the Dunbar Vision Implementation Committee (DVIC) meeting to present their proposal for a multi-unit condo development at 41st & Balaclava [see DVIC minutes item 10].
- July 30, 2007: Emaar met with DVIC reps and discussed some general ideas for the project (no plans presented), e.g.: 1 to 5 storey terraced “green” buildings, 40-50 units of 1400-1800 sf, seniors market housing.
- August 2007: DVIC advised Emaar to engage in a public consultation.
- September 27, 2007: Emaar held a public meeting at Knox United Church; no specific plans were presented.
- Late October or early November 2007: Emaar met with the adjacent neighbours group, and again no specific concept or plans were presented.
- November 19, 2007: Emaar again met with the neighbours group. At this time Emaar presented specific plans and a detailed model of the proposed project (photos above) and indicated that they would be presenting these plans to the City shortly.
- At the time of this writing: we understand that the City has not yet received a formal application from Emaar.
As part of the rezoning process it will first be necessary to rezone the Knox lands to include a new 4,000 sq ft Fellowship Centre behind the Church. A second rezoning would be required to convert the residual Knox lands, the city lane and the properties on West 41st to CD1. NB: CD1 zoning essentially is a “holding” zoning whereby the owner and the City would negotiate what eventually would be allowed.
Concerns expressed by neighbours include:
- increased traffic on the adjacent local residential streets
- crime that the parkade will draw
- significantly reduced sunlight to neighbouring properties (including Kerrisdale playing field) due to the height of the buildings
Most of all, the neighbours are concerned that the project, as proposed, clearly will not fit with the overall character of the neighbourhood. In particular:
- the project extends northward from West 41st some 300 feet – well into single family territory
- the excessively high buildings will tower over existing homes
The neighbours are organizing a broader community meeting tentatively set for Thursday, January 24, 2008 at 7 pm at the Dunbar Community Centre.
Feedback is being received from residents as well as other affected/interested groups including Kerrisdale Elementary School, Kerrisdale Socce Association, the DRA Seniors Housing Committee and the Dunbar Vision Implementation Committee, and will be posted to this site as available.
The neighbours have indicated that the developer is being encouraged by City Planning to put forward a case for a seniors’ demonstration project which would also engage the ideals in the draft EcoDensity charter.
The view of the DRA Board is that the project as described is objectionable and clearly does not comply with the Dunbar Community Vision.
For example, both the significant extension of the project northward beyond the lane and the excessive height of some of the buildings are patently inconsistent with approved Vision directions.
The Board is further concerned with the guidance City Planning is reportedly providing the developer to encourage increased density and greater building height than is supported in the Vision.
The Board relies on the Dunbar Community Vision — which was developed as part of a City planning process engaging neighbourhood residents — when making its comments, and urges that any development submission respect the Vision and reflect the desires of the community.
As part of the AGM, the DRA hosted an “Ask Your Politicians” session on November 19, 2007 from 8:00 – 10:00 PM at St. Philip’s Church, immediately following the AGM business meeting.
City Councillors Suzanne Anton, David Cadman and Raymond Louie and Park Board Commissioners Ian Robertson and Loretta Woodcock kindly agreed to participate. This meeting was chaired by Robin Elliot, Professor of Law at UBC.
The first issue raised noted that there had been little improvement to the streetscapes in Dunbar over the years whereas other neighbourhoods had seen improvements. There was also a concern that Dunbar has a large number of “free” newspaper boxes cluttering the sidewalks. Advertising at bus stops and the billboard at 41st and Dunbar detract from the neighbourhood.
The Councillors noted that advertising at bus stops is limited to a contract the City signed several years ago. Also billboards are governed by City regulations, however within these regulations billboards can be erected on private land.
Councillor Cadman noted that even when the City has tried to have a non-conforming billboard taken down (e.g., at the Lee Building, Broadway and Main) the owner refused to do so. It is not possible to enforce the order other than for the City to remove the billboard at great (taxpayers’) expense.
There are also regulations about the number of newspaper boxes permitted and the Councillors urged residents to contact City staff to report any concerns. Due to staffing shortages, many issues rely on citizens to submit complaints.
Councillor Anton noted that Dunbar is in the process of establishing a Business Improvement Association and the BIAs in other neighbourhood have been quite effective in working with the City to effect streetscape improvements.
Pacific Spirit Park Lands
Residents commented on the recent transfer of two parcels of Pacific Spirit Park as well the University Golf Course to the Musqueam Nation as part of court-ordered negotiations related to the golf course. The Park Commissioners and the City Councillors expressed concern about the loss of park land and advised residents to convey their concerns to the Metro Vancouver Parks Committee. It was noted that Councillor Elizabeth Ball represents Vancouver on that committee.
Later in the meeting, a PSP supporter asked residents to attend the next meeting of the Metro Vancouver Board of Directors to be held November 23, 9:00 a.m. at the Metro Vancouver office, 4330 Kingsway to show their support for the Board taking a strong stand on preserving all park lands.
Supportive Housing at 16th and Dunbar
The DRA circulated an information sheet summarizing the latest information about the 12 supportive housing sites that will be developed by the City to provide social and supportive housing for low income singles who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
The wording of the Memorandum of Understanding related to this initiative appears to indicate that the site at 16th and Dunbar St. will be used to house approximately 50 tenants, 1/3 to 1/2 of whom have a mental illness and are referred and served by a mental health service provider. The remaining 1/2 to 2/3 of the tenants would be core need (low-income) singles.
The Councillors indicated that the population to be housed at a given site will not be determined until the service providers for each site are selected. This was confirmed by Rob Whitlock, the Senior Housing Officer for the City of Vancouver Housing Centre.
Councillor Cadman noted that, while the City is pleased to see the Province providing funding for social and supportive housing, they have only committed funding for the initial planning of these sites. He also noted that the social and supportive housing proposed in this initiative is focused only on low-income singles including those with mental health and/or substance abuse issues, with no provision for low-income families or seniors.
Councillor Anton repeated her remarks from the 2006 DRA AGM that the City was prepared to address any safety concerns that neighbours had. (Also, see comments of Constable Braithwaite of the Community Policing Office in the DCP report from the Business Meeting of the 2007AGM.)
The Councillors also indicated that residents will have an opportunity to express their opinions at a Special Council Meeting to be held on the evening of December 12. After Council has heard from residents they will vote on the proposal.
Councillor Anton extended an invitation to members of the DRA Board and Vision Implementation Committee to arrange a time to visit the supportive housing facility at 39th and Fraser that opened in August of this year. The site has only been open a few months but there seems to be no problems for the neighbours.
Park Commissioner Woodcock reported anecdotally that a relative lived very close to the site, and although initially her relative had been very concerned about safety issues, she has not experienced or heard of any problems.
One important point that the Councillors made was that Vancouver was doing more than its share of providing housing for the homeless, and the surrounding municipalities needed to do more.
Proposed Development at 41st and Balaclava
A question was raised about the scope and design of a luxury condominium development proposed for 41st and Balaclava St. Emaar Properties, a development company based in Dubai, is proposing to build a 50-60 unit complex that would extend along 41st Ave from Balaclava St. to the Kerrisdale school playground and north some 300 feet to include the property where the existing lane and Knox United Church Fellowship Centre sit. The proposal currently includes at least one building as high as 8 storeys. This is considerably taller that the 4 storey maximum proposed for housing along arterials in the Dunbar Vision document. Residents are very concerned about the size of the complex and its impact on immediate neighbours in particular.
Councillor Cadman was emphatic that these projects must follow the Vision. Councillor Louie said densification projects “are happening all around the city but the overarching principle should respect the Vision process and input from neighbours.” Councillor Anton noted that there would be ample opportunity for neighbours to provide input. (However, later in the meeting, a resident pointed out that neighbours had overwhelmingly opposed the demonstration project at 39th and Dunbar St. and yet the Councillors had approved it unanimously.)
Queen Elizabeth Park Observation Tower Proposal
Residents are strongly opposed to the proposal for a privately developed and operated 60m observation tower atop QE Park. The park commissioners noted that the idea behind an observation tower at QE Park is to provide the unobstructed views that visitors previously enjoyed before the trees grew so large. It was suggested that the 360 degree view could be restored by selective removal of some trees (replacing them with younger smaller trees) and pruning of other trees.
The commissioners reported that the Park Board budget was cut by $800K last year and the Board was looking at ways to make up this loss of funds. It was also noted that visits to QE Park by tour buses are way down, perhaps due to the RAV line construction along Cambie St.
Both Commissioners noted that they were not personally very supportive of this particular tower proposal and wondered if residents might be more open to an observation tower with a more harmonious design (possibly a wooden structure) for the site.
The topic of EcoDensity came up several times during the evening. Councillors Cadman and Louie are critical of this initiative, in particular that no one really knows what it means.
Councillor Cadman asked how EcoDensity proponents can promote reducing our ecological footprint while at the same time supporting the construction of big box stores (such as those proposed along SE Marine Drive) with thousands of cars converging on these stores daily. He noted that the Fraser industrial land should be retained for industrial purposes, otherwise people will be living in Vancouver and commuting to Surrey and beyond to work.
Councillor Anton assured residents that EcoDensity was not an attack on single family housing as other groups have suggested.