June 25 PLUC Summary & Observations

It was an interesting meeting on Thursday. Because you never know how long these meetings will go for I had a separate appointment booked for 11am yesterday and ended up only getting there right on time (almost missed my bus) because I really wanted to stay and see how the table voted on the Pandora development. So what all went on yesterday?

Here is the agenda for meeting.

Here is the video for the meeting.

Consent Agenda consisted of the following items:

80 Saghalie Road Development Permit with Variances to retroactively authorize an existing sales centre and offices. This permit was to also massively increase the permissible commercial spaces and requires that the structures be removed within 15 years because they are sales centres for the larger Bayview Place Development, which will be completed sometime. I’m sure.

Because no pictures were provided I went to take my own.

80 Saghalie Road 1


80 Saghalie Road 2

In doing so, I discovered that sales centre in question is actually quite large. And I imagine it is because these buildings are nicely finished and the majority of Bayview Place is still empty that Council really has no option other than to accept and approve this building.

It’s amazing what can be done with pre-fab trailers.

Superior St (521, 539, 545) Heritage Alteration Permits – As outlined in a basic staff report three heritage houses in James Bay will be relocated to Michigan Street as part of the Capital Park Development.

1202/1208 Wharf Street Heritage Alteration Permit – This is for the Docks Restaurant  and is an application to extend an arbour out from the existing building to provide seasonal coverage of the usable patio area.

1040 Moss Street – Rezoning

I watched a bit of the staff presentation on this yesterday but largely focused on my tweeting as I usually do. I got this tweet back though:

Art Gallery Tweets

Mayor Helps introduced this item by acknowledging the late correspondence that had been received (of support and of concern).

Art Gallery Victoria

Because this proposal is for a significant increase in building floor area and height of the gallery building, staff advised that the primary issue of Council consideration was appropriateness of reduced provision of on-site parking (e.g., 26 spots instead of a historically acceptable and expected minimum of 100 sites). Some discussion ensued on how parking mitigation efforts will be pursued and how the City can ensure that the historical integrity of the Spencer Mansion and surrounding Rockland Neighbourhood be protected.

The staff recommendation was then put on the table:

that Committee forward this report to Council and that Council instruct staff to prepare the necessary Zoning Regulation Bylaw Amendment that would authorize the proposed development outlined in Rezoning Application No. 00476 for 1040 Moss Street, that first and second reading of the Zoning Regulation Bylaw Amendment be considered by Council and a Public Hearing date be set once the following conditions are met:

  1. Applicant to further consider if refinements to the form and massing of the addition could improve visibility of the upper storey of Spencer Mansion, from Moss Street, while enabling the upper floor of the expanded gallery to function as exhibition space.
  2. Further revisions to the proposed Statement of Significance for Spencer Mansion, to the satisfaction of staff.
  3. Referral of Rezoning Application No. 00468 to the Advisory Design Panel and the Heritage Advisory Panel.
  4. Removal of the existing Land Use Contract that is registered on the property title.
  5. Registration of a Section 219 Covenant to secure the details for design and heritage alterations to the satisfaction of staff.
  6. Applicant to explore the feasibility of securing access to surplus parking spaces on nearby properties and through legal agreements.

It received the unanimous support of PLUC.

1008-1012 Pandora Ave – Rezoning

Both the staff presentation and subsequent council discussion and questioning on this proposal were odd to watch. Most of the nearly one hour spent on this proposal consisted of the six members of Council present trying to figure out how and why traffic could and should be able to access this site (shown in green below).

Site of 1012 Pandora

Trouble was that this discussion occurred in absence of any statistics on the number of intended residents at the site, businesses at the site, proposed visitors at the site and or daily expectations for car use at the site. And or current car/bicycle use in the area.

Nor was any spatial 3D or real time modelling provided of anticipated traffic flows in order to make sense of verbal guidance provided by staff regarding how they anticipate traffic will flow.

Nor did it seem that a comprehensive written summary was provided by staff (other than the basic staff report bullet points) of what sounded like significant changes made to the proposed development since the original public hearing on it was scheduled for September 11th (2014) and then postponed.

Nor was any correspondence from the neighbourhood association included in the agenda package despite this proposal having been previously pulled for real and perceived lack of support as a result of how poorly the city communicated what was at stake with this development the last time around.

I was messaging with my partner during this all and when I described the situation to him, his response was: “sounds frustrating”. It actually wasn’t. I found it amusing because I kept wondering what the city’s new Planning Director (who has no municipal experience as Mayor Helps like to say) was thinking while he observed his new staffers and Council fumbling their way through a project they’ve had their hands on for the past three years.

So what actually happened yesterday?

There was some interesting discussion about the City’s Highway Access Bylaw as the root cause of PLUC’s confusion with why traffic from this new development has to come from and travel through the small residential passage way of Mason St instead of the more established roadways of Pandora and Vancouver (that surround the development). The simple response from staff is that the bylaw requires  driveways to be placed on the minor road (e.g., Mason).

Given how Council recently approved their own initiated changes to the Highway Access Bylaw to provide more discretion to staff for such things, I was surprised by their lack relevant bylaw knowledge.

Mayor Helps made an interesting comment that reflected what seems to be her approach to land development – an combination of disinterest and a penchant for believing what she sees at the time is what is actually happening as well as a serious commitment to moving as quickly as possible. Does anyone else see this?

Helps Pandora Devlp

All told, everyone but Helps and Lucas (Madoff, Coleman, Thornton-Joe, Loveday) seemed to have some concerns on this proposal. That said, everyone but Madoff agreed that it was time for a public hearing. And everyone agreed that there will likely be future changes to this proposal prior to it receiving its ultimate approval to go forward. Which, from a procedural perspective I found odd.

One thing to note is that this public hearing may be happening as soon as July 23rd but this apparently depends on the turn around times of the applicant. Staff indicated that they’ll know for sure by the July 9th Council (where bylaw amendments will be read) whether or not the public hearing will be happening on July 23rd.

A final thing to note is that everyone on Council agreed (prior to calling the question) that it will be important for there clear communications from City Hall to the public on this development.

It will be interesting to see if a clear narrative emerges.

The staff recommendation was then passed:

  1. That Council rescind third reading of Housing Agreement (1002-1008, 1012 Pandora Avenue) Bylaw No. 14-069.
  2. That Council amend the Housing Agreement (1002-1008, 1012 Pandora Avenue) Bylaw No. 14-069 by replacing the amended Schedule A that secures 11 non-market rental units.
  3. That Council give third reading of Housing Agreement (1002-1008, 1012 Pandora Avenue) Bylaw No. 14-069 with an amended Schedule A that secures 11 non-market rental units.
  4. That Council refer the Rezoning Application No. 00381 for consideration at a Public Hearing.
  5. Following consideration of Rezoning Application No. 00381, that Council approve a Development Permit for 1002, 1008-1012 Pandora Avenue, in accordance with: a. Plans for Rezoning Application No. 00381 and Development Permit Application No. 000351, stamped June 8, 2015; b. Development meeting all Zoning Regulation Bylaw requirements; c. The Development Permit lapsing two years from the date of this resolution.
  6. That Council authorize staff to execute an Encroachment Agreement for a fee of $750 plus $25 per m2 of exposed shored face during construction, in a form satisfactory to staff. This is to accommodate shoring for construction of the underground parking structure at the property line.

Madoff was opposed and Alto, Isitt and Young were absent.

Zoning Bylaw Improvement Project – Phase 2

This was a policy report from the Assistant Director of Development Services which will require a public hearing prior to adoption because it proposes changes to Schedule A of the City’s Zoning Bylaw. Specifically, the following changes are proposed:

  • Add definitions of “finished grade” and “natural grade”.
  • Amend the definitions of “site coverage” and “setbacks” and the applicable low density residential zones to include a requirement that raised-building features greater than 0.6m in height are subject to site coverage and setback regulations.

I had to leave during the recesses that occurred before this item started. Once I got home thought I watched the video and felt that this item was actually fairly well handled by staff and council:

It turns out that Madoff was the one who drove Council and staff to do something about the zoning bylaw limitations that allowed for two (yes only two)  houses to end up really upsetting their neighbours back in 2011. The staff presentation was quite thorough and spoke to how the proposed amendments would provide Council with regulatory powers they currently lack when considering applications for low density single family houses (e.g., those covered by the R1-A, R1-B & R1-G zones).

The most intriguing part of this was how staff said there haven’t been any more development proposals like the two that kicked this all off but Madoff seemed to disagree. In doing so she made a valid sounding point on how a lot of new houses these days are built after a rock foundation is blasted down (since all the easily available land has already been filled I assume?) and consequently there will be a lot of similar developments coming forward.

But I guess that makes sense.

Madoff made them do work on what seemed to be an obscure issue. Staff said no other development has caused a similar issue since they started doing this work. And Madoff said there will likely be similar issues in the future because she was the one who made the work get done. Mind you, as staff noted in the Resource Impacts section of their report:

Adding the new definitions and regulations as outlined in this report will have a minimal impact on staff resources and the improved clarity may even reduce the staff time required to explain the existing regulations. 

Everybody wins!

The only thing I would have liked to see done differently about this item was for the proposed amended definitions to have been included in the staff report. Because then we all could have seen exactly what was being asked for.

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