Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

New Ecodensity Charter

with 4 comments

Brent Toderian wrote to me to let me know that the revised Charter and its accompanying documents are now available on the City website.

Now I have been gamely plodding through all this, and my first reaction is that it could have been made a lot easier to follow. The full text of both versions of the Charter are there, but as separate documents. It would have made reviewer’s life easier if there had been on one set of pages with the changes highlighted. Most word processing software packages can do this easily (“tools/compare versions”).

The staff report is thorough, and is at pains to point out what the staff heard and how those concerns have been addressed. But I was not at any of the events where concerns were expressed, so I have no idea how those who did express them will feel about how well they have been addressed.

One thing that did jump out at me however was this

New housing will also come through some additional large sites that are yet to be planned (e.g., Arbutus Village, Little Mountain, and the former Transit Bus Barns in Oakridge).

I do not know anything about Arbutus Village but Little Mountain is happening right now – so “yet to be planned” seems a bit of an odd phrase to apply to it. And the Oakridge “Bus Barns” (they are not called that by the people who run them) are going to stay as a Transit Operating Centre for some considerable time. They are currently being used as a Community Shuttle base, a place to commission new trolleybuses and a storage space for buses awaiting disposal. Early plans to redevelop the site to high density housing were rejected by the City, throwing a large wrench into Translink’s financial plan for disposal and use of the funds elsewhere. My advice would be not to expect too much new housing here any time soon. Finding sites for new operating centres is harder than redeveloping existing occupied housing.

Oakridge deadline

I welcome the attention now being paid to affordability, and the seeming willingness to allow existing homeowners to add secondary suites and lane houses. I am sure there are a lot of empty nesters who would like to stay in their neighbourhoods but have less lawn to mow and a new source of rental income for their retirement years. A lot of density can be added that way, but I think we need a bit more of a codified approach that people can understand ahead of time. The sort of approach advocated by Andres Duany, which eliminates much of the staff – and political – discretion in these issues. Duany says that is more efficient. I think it is more important that it is more transparent and fair. Since I think what caused the uproar was that the citizens of Vancouver have a very low level of trust when it comes to the City dealing with property development issues. At least, that was what I heard in the voices raised against EcoDensity Mark 1. And that is not Brent Toderian’s fault. It is Sam’s – and by making himself the man proposing the change it became political – and personal – and not about the virtues of the idea itself but the credibility of its source.

Frances Bula has a very short piece in today’s Sun which does not add much, but notes that towers for eastside seem to have been dropped.

Written by Stephen Rees

May 15, 2008 at 10:57 am

Posted in housing, land use, Urban Planning

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4 Responses

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  1. Here’s the link to the Arbutus Village redevelopment plans as of January 2008.

    7 acre site
    570 to 700 housing units
    80,000 to 100,000 sq. ft. retail
    10,000 to 15,000 office
    4,000 to 5,000 sq. ft. community centre
    2,000 to 3,000 sq. ft. senior centre
    buldings up to 9 storeys

    Construction in 3 phases from 2010 to 2016.


    May 15, 2008 at 11:35 am

  2. Brent Toderian is not the saviour of EcoDensity by a long shot. He doesn’t see EcoDensity as affordable, he doesn’t equate density with smaller living spaces – just higher buildings.

    and all this talk about about secondary suites and carriage houses as mortgage helpers while including them in the EcoDensity Charter only promotes affordability for homeowners. It does nothing to promote new and affordable home ownership itself.


    May 15, 2008 at 10:45 pm

  3. If there is an increase in secondary suites and carriage houses I assume that they would be rental accomodation. I suppose a really creative type might turn his house into a condo, but it seems unlikely. But surely more rental availability would help a bit towards housing people who cannot afford to buy?

    Some of those higher buildings have very small suites in them – at quite ridiculous prices.

    “Density will not cure the common cold”

    Stephen Rees

    May 16, 2008 at 8:59 am

  4. There’s another open house for Arbutus Village on Thursday, May 29, 4-9 pm at the Hellenic Community Centre Gym, 4500 Arbutus Street.


    May 26, 2008 at 2:51 pm

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