Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ray Spaxman's Questions re: The DTES

On Saturday Vancouver City Council approved a 30 year plan for the DTES with an extensive list of amendments. While we have not seen the amendments, they apparently address the definition of Social Housing, and other related matters.

I devoted a lot of time to reviewing the plan, especially the financial aspects, and concluded that it is questionable whether it will succeed without funding from senior levels of government. Time will tell if my concerns were valid.

I was also concerned about the potential further concentration of social housing in the DEOD, the absence of a viable strategy to revitalize Hastings Street, and building forms and densities that could threaten the heritage character of the area. Again, time will tell if I'm right.

Before closing this file, I would like to share some questions that were raised by Ray Spaxman, who was very involved with the planning process. While it's obvious to me that I will probably not hear back from staff, I'm hoping they will address the questions Ray raises, because they are thoughtful, and important.  Here's Ray's list:


1.     Is the proposed DEOD condo-free as many people keep saying?
2.     Or, is the basic outright 1 FSR use to remain and provide market uses including market residential if owner so desires?
3.     Did Coriolis include that?
4.     If you are not keeping the I FSR outright aren’t you down zoning the property and therefore the owner can claim compensation?
5.     Why can’t you show a variety of buildings in diagram form to show how the proposed zoning would be distributed in the building? So more people can understand?
6.     How do you see the 25ft wide lots (the vast majority of lot sizes through-out the DEOD), developing at the variety of densities you propose?
7.     Will you be encouraging owners to consolidate to make bigger lots? \
8.     Do you propose maximum lot sizes?
9.     How will ensure that you can achieve the economic occupancy of continuous store-lined streets over such a large area?
10. A LAP Cttee member asked what the following Built Form directions mean. S/he said “A lot of the phrasing in this chapter seems very foreign to me…. Some of the words and phrases sound entirely made up,  “Framing the urban realm”, “Introduce upper level set back”. “Reinforce the urban fabric”. “introduce vitality”. “Respect the unique urban realm adjacencies” and “Improve lane vitality and safety with new development that positively “engages” through active use, durable construction, colour and ambient lighting”. Do design guidelines need to be understandable?
11. What changes in the “urban fabric” can be anticipated as a result of these policies, where might change commence, what might it look like and how will it all come together in the future? 
12. Are we confident that the plan will produce a community that will work? Will there be families? Will it all be singles in the DEOD? What will be the socio/ economic profile of the community? What amenities will be needed by the residents and where will they go?
13. Do we know that when all these densities are built out that sunlight, daylight. privacy, some little views, overshadowing, air circulation, noise, etc , will be dealt with to create a livable place?
14. What will the street scene look like?
15. Would it be wise to actually set out the pros and cons of various alternative scenarios and have open debate about them?
16. Would you like to know the answer to the following questions? Who lives where right now? What conditions do they live in? How are they being affected by change right now? How might we expect them to be affected by future change? Who, where and how do we anticipate they will be specifically accommodated in the DTES?
17. If the funding that Coriolis says is essential doesn’t turn up what is Plan “B”? 

Thanks Ray!

1 comment:

Sally said...

I spoke with City Planners late last week and they confirmed that the 1 FSR remains without change.

I have purchased in the DEOD (in a building with mandated social housing) and I am fine with the plan for an inclusive neighbourhood. I would prefer that to the over homogenization that seems to be occurring in Gastown (where I am also a homeowner)