National Emergency Preparedness Week

Drop by Memorial Park on May 11, 2024 for a look at emergency planning in Dunbar

by Carol Volkart, DRA Newsletter Editor

Games for the kids, information for adults — and a peep inside that mysterious shipping container at Memorial Park West!

Head for the park behind the community centre on Saturday, May 11, 2024, between 11:00 am and 1:00 pm for a look at how the Dunbar Earthquake and Emergency Preparedness (DEEP) group is getting us ready for major disasters.

Volunteers will open the shipping container, which usually sits unnoticed behind the tennis courts, to unpack all the items needed to create a central hub for dealing with emergencies — radios and other communications gear, lights, tables, chairs, tents, bollards, and notice boards.

Put all together, it’s a Disaster Support Hub, which will be at the heart of Dunbar’s organizing and communications efforts in case of a major emergency. Residents will be able to go there to seek and offer help, and trained volunteers will be there to communicate with other emergency services and the rest of the city.

The exercise is aimed at getting us all better acquainted with how this will work and how we can get involved. Drop by with friends, neighbours, and/or the family — and yes, there will be a radio game with prizes so kids can get involved too!

Building Booms in Dunbar South

BUILDING BOOMS IN DUNBAR SOUTH

by Carol Volkart, Dunbar Newsletter Editor


Dunbar residents are beginning to see the effects of new city rules encouraging the construction of more housing in low-density areas like ours.

It’s especially evident in the area of 41st Ave. and Dunbar, where construction cranes and “rezoning application” signs are popping up in leafy neighbourhoods of single-family homes.

Most of the projects are happening under the city’s Secured Rental Policy, which encourages five-and-six-storey rental apartment buildings on arterials in low-density areas close to amenities, and four-storey buildings on adjacent side streets.

But new provincial rules will also affect the area. As a result of transit-oriented legislation passed last fall, the bus loop at 41st and Dunbar became a major public transit hub called the  Dunbar Loop Exchange. Eight-storey buildings are expected to be allowed in the immediate vicinity.

Here are some of the projects expected to transform the south end of the Dunbar neighbourhood in the next while:

  • 3449-3479 West 41st Ave. and 5664 Collingwood St.: Construction is already well underway on this six-storey market rental apartment building at the corner of Collingwood and 41st. Approved by city council in 2021, it will be 72 feet high and provide 114 secured market rental units.
  • 3329-3429 West 41st Ave. and 5649-5683 Blenheim St.: This proposal for a 232-unit seniors’ residence, which has drawn significant opposition from neighbours for its height, massing, and shadowing effects, was approved unanimously by Vancouver City Council after an emotional public hearing April 9. Supporters said more seniors’ housing is desperately needed in aging Dunbar, while opponents, many nearby neighbours, said the height of the building will leave them in near-permanent shadow. Originally proposed at 92 feet, it has been reduced to 85 feet with stepbacks on the two upper floors to reduce the problem. All 50 trees on the 10 city lots the building covers will be cut down, along with six of 11 city trees. Another 24 trees on adjacent private properties are threatened.
  • 5650-5690 Blenheim St.: A rezoning application sign on the lawn of a dilapidated, boarded-up house across Blenheim from the seniors’ residence announces a five-storey rental building under the Secured Rental Policy. It recently received rezoning approval in principle.
  • 5650-5690 Blenheim St.: A rezoning application sign on the lawn of a dilapidated, boarded-up house across Blenheim from the seniors’ residence announces a five-storey rental building under the Secured Rental Policy. It recently received rezoning approval in principle.
  • 6081-6083 Collingwood Place: This is one of two controversial five-storey market rental apartment buildings approved last fall for a quiet cul de sac of single-family homes off Collingwood south of 41st. While supporters argued that more such housing is badly needed, many residents told an October public hearing that the 55-foot-high building, which will provide about 30 units of housing, is incompatible with the neighbourhood and urged a different form of development. A key point was the danger of adding more traffic to the narrow, twisting road that services the cul de sac.
  • 6065-6075 Collingwood Place: The bigger of the new projects for this area, this 55-foot-high building will replace two single-family houses with 94 units of housing. The November public hearing was dominated by supporters who argued that it would provide much-needed housing. To get around the traffic issues for this facility, council decided that all vehicular and loading access would be off West 44th.

Besides whatever happens around the Dunbar loop transit hub, there’s obviously much more development to come in this part of the community. Look south across 41st from the development site, and a land-assembly notice stares back. The next six-storey apartment building may be on its way.

Club Offers Fun on the Green

dunbar lawn bowling club dunbar vancouver bc

CLUB OFFERS FUN ON THE GREEN

by Carol Volkart, DRA Newsletter Editor

As the Dunbar Lawn Bowling Club heads into its 2024 season, its leaders want you to know that rolling a bowl or tapping a croquet ball down a perfect green is a grand way to spend a summer evening or afternoon.
     “It’s relaxing outdoors in a beautiful setting and it’s lots of fun,” says Carol Guilbaut, president of the picturesque club nestled in the heart of Dunbar’s Memorial Park West. “Friendly is the key here.”
While the club has recovered well from the pandemic, with last year’s membership above pre-COVID levels, membership chair Claudia Campbell says attracting and maintaining members is a constant challenge, especially in an aging community like Dunbar.
     And so Campbell and Guilbaut are working hard to build the club into the go-to spot for young and old alike in Dunbar.
     Anyone older than 18 is welcome. Lawn bowling and croquet are both on offer. Lessons and mentorship are available. Flexibility is key, with afternoon, evening and weekend games. There’s no requirement to commit to regular play or sign up for a team – teams are created out of whoever drops in that day. Social events such as barbecues and picnics are frequent. And it’s easy for newcomers to give the games a try; drop by the club any Saturday between May and October for a quick introduction to lawn bowls in the morning and croquet in the afternoon.
     Lawn bowling is a competition to roll bowls (rounded on one side, elliptical on the other, causing them to swerve) as close as possible to a small white ball called a jack.  As with curling or bocce, much of the fun is knocking the other team’s pieces out of the way. Because it’s gentle on the joints and muscles, lawn bowling suits all age groups.

Vancouver Plan Implementation – Repeal of CityPlan Community Visions

October 31, 2023                                                                                                                

City of Vancouver
453 West 12th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V5Y 1V4

Dear Mayor, Council and City Staff

Re: Vancouver Plan Implementation – Repeal of CityPlan Community Visions

The Dunbar Residents’ Association is immensely concerned about the recently released report going to Council on November 1, 2023 that proposes to repeal CityPlan Community Visions. We oppose the repeal. If it is to happen, however, we urge that CityPlan’s key central philosophy of robust community engagement be retained and that all Vision documents be permanently and readily available on the City’s website.

The Dunbar Community Vision was approved by Council in September of 1998 after a year and a half of extensive community engagement and consultation. While that was 25 years ago, our understanding is that Visions such as ours were intended to be living documents regularly updated with community involvement.

The DRA has always been eager to collaborate with the City on changes affecting the community and Dunbar Vision but, over the years, have noticed declining City interest. Now we learn, with only a few days of advance notice and no preliminary discussion, that the Dunbar Vision is to be eliminated on the grounds that it has been superseded by the Vancouver Plan and is supposedly at the end of its original lifetime.

We urge the City to institute a proper engagement process so that Dunbar residents, and all other Vancouver residents, can work with the City in helping meet the challenges of current realities. Whether the work is carried out under CityPlan or the Vancouver Plan, we believe the key to success is ensuring local residents are deeply involved in the evolution of their communities.

Our city is growing and changing and Dunbar residents would like greater opportunities to participate in the continuing development of our city and our neighbourhood.

Yours truly,

Board of Directors, Dunbar Residents’ Association

Public hearing – multiplexes and RS-zoning changes

September 13, 2023

City of Vancouver
453 West 12th Avenue, Vancouver, BC V5Y 1V4

Re: Public Hearing – Multiplexes and RS-Zoning Changes

Dear Mayor, Council and City Staff,

The Dunbar Residents’ Association wishes to state its opposition to the Multiplex proposal now before City Council. We have long been on record as supporting increased density to our area, but this proposal would allow excessive, overwhelming change without proper consultation with residents.

The information and engagement processes surrounding this proposal have been so poor that most residents aren’t aware of it even to this day. The reality is that not everyone is on social media or avidly following City Council or Shape Your City on the internet. No postcards were sent to affected addresses, so people did not receive any written notice either and are unaware of how severely impacted they soon may be.

While developers were heavily involved in the creation of this plan, community associations like ours weren’t even informed about it. Where were our workshops?

We urge Council to put the brakes on this proposal while a better engagement process takes place. Improve the plan. Then, begin with a small pilot project that tests its effectiveness and impact, and revise it accordingly before instituting something citywide.

The loss of trees and green space, along with parking and infrastructure problems are of major concern, especially when the resulting housing will be affordable to so few. And the plan would incur the demolition of older homes which have long provided affordable secondary suites for seniors, students and young families.

The DRA is a member of the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods and supports the points in its extensive submission on this issue. Please refer to CVN’s informative Appendix September 11, 2023.

Please consider our concerns and vote no to a plan that would drastically transform our neighbourhoods without the informed engagement of Vancouver residents.

Yours truly,
Board of Directors
Dunbar Residents’ Association

Rezoning application at 3581 West 30th Avenue

July 10, 2023

City of Vancouver
453 West 12th Avenue, Vancouver, BC V5Y 1V4

Re: Rezoning application at 3581 West 30th Avenue

Dear Mayor, Council and City Staff

The Dunbar Residents’ Association (DRA) Board writes in opposition to the proposed rezoning application for 3581 West 30th Avenue from RS-5 (Residential) District to RR-2A (Residential Rental) District, to permit the development of a four-storey market rental building at a height of 13.7 m (45 ft.) and a floor space ratio (FSR) of 1.75.

In referencing the Dunbar Community Vision (1998) “Approved Vision Direction 20.1 Community Involvement in Decision Making : Community residents should have more input, and more timely input into decision making about changes in their community, such as development projects, transit planning, street and traffic changes, park design etc.”

The application would set significant precedents for the Dunbar community given that the proposal is for a residential (non-arterial) street. We recommend that the applicant work with the Dunbar Residents’ Association, and in turn the affected residents, to come up with a proposal that works for both the applicant and the Dunbar community.

For example, we believe the Approved Vision Direction 7.1 should be considered. “More housing variety should be provided in Dunbar by rowhouses, four- and six-plexes and duplexes, which have many features of single-family houses but would cost less.”

Timely engagement with community members impacted by development could contribute to better outcomes for liveability in our neighbourhoods.

We appreciate and support the City’s efforts in adding density and a variety of forms of housing in all neighbourhoods and would like to be a partner in these discussions and decisions.

Yours truly,
Board of Directors, Dunbar Residents’ Association

Rezoning application for over-height seniors’ community care facility

July 5, 2023

City of Vancouver
453 West 12th Avenue, Vancouver, BC V5Y 1V4
Attention: Nicholas Danford, Rezoning Planner

Re: Rezoning application at 3329 – 3429 West 41st Avenue and 5649 – 5683 Blenheim Street for a Seniors’ Community Care Facility

Dear Mr. Danford,

It came to the Dunbar Residents’ Association (DRA) Board’s attention last month through communications with concerned residents in Dunbar that a rezoning application at 3329 – 3429 West 41st and 5649 – 5683 Blenheim for a Seniors’ Community Care Facility was linked to the Dunbar Community Vision.

Having had several conversations with Amica and Pooni Group, we were aware of the proposed project. We were, however, not aware during those discussions that the project was proposed under the 1998 Dunbar Community Vision. We had assumed incorrectly that the project was being proposed under the enabling six-storey Secured Rental Policy, allowing for a maximum height of seventy-two feet. We were also not aware at that time of the project’s proposed height of 94 feet.

Once aware of these aspects of the project, members of the DRA Board began to undertake a careful review of the application and became aware of the project’s proposed height and massing and the significant impact it would have on liveability for area residents, especially those to the north of the project.

Although the application is linked to the Dunbar Community Vision, many aspects of the proposed project depart from its stated intentions.

Vision Direction 9.1 Seniors Housing identifies that “Seniors should have a variety of choices of housing that allow them to stay in the community as they age (e.g., congregate housing, intermediate and extended care).However, with Vision Direction 9.2 Seniors’ Lowrise Housing, “Lowrise buildings (up to four storeys) committed to seniors should be permitted, provided the scale and design fit into the neighbourhood. They should be located near local shopping and transit.

It is in Vision Direction 9.2 that the application departs significantly from the Dunbar Community Vision, specifically in scale and design that fit in to the neighbourhood. Further, although not stated, one would assume four storeys to be in the range of forty feet.

The project’s proposed height of 94 feet, width of 496 feet, and depth of 129 feet, is a substantial change from the properties to the north where houses range in height from 25 to 35 feet and the average lot’s width is 50 feet. This difference in scale is significant.

Further, the design of the project needs to be sensitive to the fact that the lots immediately to the north are on average one hundred feet in depth. The atypical depth of these properties would mean that the shadowing would be even more significant than if their depths were the more-common one hundred twenty feet. The design needs to keep this in mind to maintain the liveability of the properties to

Further, the Dunbar Vision document notes that Seniors’ Housing Rezonings Vision Direction 9.2 “…would be implemented through site-specific rezonings. That means that when a group that is organizing housing for seniors finds a site, they would be able to apply for a rezoning. Each rezoning would be considered in consultation with neighbours.We have learned from the neighbouring owners that there has not been meaningful consultation and they feel that their concerns have been neither heard nor addressed.

This requirement for consultation is restated in Vision Direction 20.1 Community Involvement in Decision Making where Community residents should have more input, and more timely input, into decision making about changes in their community, such as development projects, transit planning, street and traffic changes, park design, etc.

Vision Direction 14.2 addresses Preserving Existing Private Greenery. “There should be more preservation of existing trees and major shrubs on private sites than is now required.” With the current proposal, the adjacent neighbours will experience an irrevocable loss to nature with the proposed removal of seventy mature trees at the back of the property including the wildlife that inhabits those trees. More should be done to preserve existing trees and major shrubs.

As stewards of the Dunbar Community Vision, the DRA Board is requesting the following for the rezoning application with a view to maintaining liveability for those who would be impacted by the proposal:

1. Consultation – that there be sufficient consultation with neighbours who would be affected by this application to ensure that their concerns are addressed. Stefan Aepli, Architect AIBC, SIA, LEED AP, a member of the Urban Design Panel, advocated that there be more study for impact on neighbours.

2. Ceiling height – that the ceiling height for each floor be reviewed. At the Urban Design Panel review on May 24, 2023, Bryce Rositch, Architect AIBC, AAA, FRAIC, architect for the project, specified that nine-foot ceilings would provide sufficient air circulation. The drawings however show an allowance for ten-foot ceilings on most floors.

3. Height allowance for mechanical equipment – with respect to the height required for mechanical equipment, many members of the Urban Design Panel thought that the height allowance for mechanical equipment could be reduced. Reza Mousakhani, P.Eng., CPHD commented that at least a foot could be taken off.

4. Massing – that the overall massing be reviewed with a view to breaking up the massing so that more sunlight can filter to the north. Kai Hotson, Architect AIBC, member of the Urban Design Panel referred to the project as “a big wall.”

5. Setbacks – that setbacks of the building mass to the property lines be increased, most importantly the setbacks to the north, with a view to reducing the impact on neighbouring properties.

6. Shadowing – that minimizing shadowing to the north be a component of a review of height, massing and building setbacks.

7. Fence to the north of the lane – we recommend that the design decisions for the fence be made in consultation with the neighbouring properties, that it be built with environmentally friendly materials, that along with suitable planning it provide privacy, and that it be light-friendly so that light can filter to the properties to the north.

8. Traffic study – that a thorough traffic study be conducted for minimizing congestion and maximizing pedestrian safety, keeping in mind that an increase in traffic would be generated not only by the current proposal but also the six-storey development to the west and the five-storey development to the east.

9. Community Amenity Contributions (CACs) – we recommend that consultation take place with the DRA for input on what contributions would add value to the community.

Yours truly,
Board of Directors, Dunbar Residents’ Association



Let’s Talk About Seniors

by Bruce Gilmour, DRA President

As a very visible presence on Dunbar Street, with my white cane and beautiful companion dog Falina, I get stopped a lot by people who know I’m president of the Dunbar Residents’ Association. Very often, the ensuing conversations are about seniors’ issues – no surprise, since the latest census shows that in our area, more than 20 percent of the population is 65 or older.

For example, in the Stong’s checkout line, someone who identifies me with the DRA says: “Do you want to know what you are missing? There is no dialogue about seniors’ housing and supports.” Outside, a 72-year-old woman stops me on the street to say the removal of her nearby bus stop may force her to leave Dunbar. “The demands on my strength do not allow me to shop and safely return home with what is now a four – when it was a two-block – walk to my closest stop,” she says.

Then, at a recent library session on the resiliency of the elderly in climate extremes, questions arise about the lack of local services for seniors and why they must travel to the Kerrisdale Seniors’ Centre to access them.

One hopeful sign is that the new city council is planning to create a dedicated full-time planning position focusing on seniors. Here’s what I think that planner could do to help:

• Open a conversation with seniors about making Dunbar a “complete community” – as envisaged in the Vancouver Plan – that works for them, as well as for other residents.

• Explore how the city can ensure that street-level retail aligns with the needs of local residents.

• Ensure that transit serves the needs of seniors, including the provision of enough easily walkable bus stops.

• Look at the recreational and cultural opportunities in Dunbar. Do civic amenities like libraries and community centres offer what seniors want and need?

• Ensure streets and sidewalks are designed to serve pedestrians of all ages and abilities. Adequate benches and controlled crosswalks encourage walking and help residents stay healthy and connected.

• Ensure that seniors have ways of staying engaged and informed at the neighbourhood level, whether through websites, social media or printed communications.

The DRA wants your ideas and feedback about how seniors can age well in Dunbar. Email us at dunbarseniors@dunbar-vancouver.org.

Salmonberry Days are back!

Theme : Re-discovery

May 17th to 31st 2023 Dunbar’s Environment Festival

Among the newer happenings are:

1. New birders’ walk with Graham Sunderland

2. Visit City Farmer Compost Demonstration Garden with Michael Levenston

3. Pollinator Planting with Farmer Alex Kaiser

4. 40 Years Behind the Wheel with Angus McIntyre

Welcome to the mini-version of the Salmonberry Days Festival for May 2023. The planning committee had started to plan for our 2020 event when COVID arrived and everything was put on hold. We put several video walks and talks together as we all started to Zoom. Three years later we are embarking on a smaller version of two weeks. This will allow us to monitor attendance and get feedback for the events. Check out the guide for new and repeat activities, especially if you moved to our neighbourhood in recent years. Most events are free and led by volunteers.

And of course we know – with gratitude – that Salmonberry Days events are located on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Musqueam people.

The Salmonberry Days Fair, traditionally held on the last weekend of Salmonberry Days at the Dunbar Community Centre, will not take place this year.

Remember World Migratory Bird Day on May 13th this year. And check out the campaign to name the Canada Jay/Whiskey Jack as Canada’s national bird. Birding is a wonderful activity, available to all. http://www.vancouverbirdweek.ca

Please keep a lookout for the Dunbar-in-Bloom pamphlets in June.

And of course we know – with gratitude – that Salmonberry Days events are located on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Musqueam people.

The Salmonberry Days Fair, traditionally held on the last weekend of Salmonberry Days at the Dunbar Community Centre, will not take place this year.

Remember World Migratory Bird Day on May 13th this year. And check out the campaign to name the Canada Jay/Whiskey Jack as Canada’s national bird. Birding is a wonderful activity, available to all. http://www.vancouverbirdweek.ca

Please keep a lookout for the Dunbar-in-Bloom pamphlets in June.