The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: The Bad

A new 3-part blog series on The Little Mountain Project.
Part 2

The Bad

Urban One builders enters Little Mountain with blazin’ chainsaws.

URBAN ONE - Construction or Demolition service?

URBAN ONE – Construction or Demolition service?

I’ve heard the words “heritage-trees” uttered countless times.  Three years ago, arborists painstakingly mapped every tree, noting health and potential longevity.

Development Permit shows location of heritage trees bisected by new power lines.

Development Permit shows location of heritage trees bisected by new power lines.

Subsequently, the Planning Department of the City of Vancouver, gave heritage trees prominent status within the Little Mountain Policy statement (see downloadable PDF, particularly page 35 – “TREES”).

URBAN ONE slashes through the canopy for temporary power connections at Little Mountain

URBAN ONE slashes through the canopy for temporary power connections at Little Mountain construction site.

Power Lines once followed established roads through the site.

Power Lines once followed established roads through the site.

Trees should be removed to make way for the construction of buildings, not however, to make way for temporary power lines to be eventually buried underground.

So why did tree removal crews break through the orange tree-protection fences to chop a huge wedge through the the living canopy of the proposed Little Mountain Village Square?

Detail of cuts.

Little Mountain: Detail of cuts to planned Village Square.

A power line route circumventing the heritage trees already existed. Why didn’t URBAN ONE communicate with the City of Vancouver’s Planning Department before launching their logging crew through the boulevard? And what does this say about the safety of the remainder of the “heritage trees?”

We have a lack of communication. After two years of consultation the parties involved might just be a little bit weary of Q&A. Well I have advice for everyone involved: Get used to it*.

If the HOLBORN GROUP and URBAN ONE wish to communicate with the community about what they are doing at Little Mountain and why they are doing it, I offer to them this forum – The Little Mountain Project – in order to clarify their actions.

Coming soon…the ugly.

These signs have been popping up everywhere at Little Mountain since the damage was done.

These signs have been popping up everywhere at Little Mountain since the damage was done.

*The Major Projects division of Vancouver’s Planning Department has promised the community, that the Little Mountain Advisory Group will continue to have an active role to play in the rezoning of Little Mountain. We look forward to the resumption of that process.

David Vaisbord
The Little Mountain Project
Know MORE

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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: THE GOOD! The design panel looks at plans for the First NEW building at Little Mountain

A new 3-part blog series on The Little Mountain Project.
Part 1

Although I’ve written about the preparation and groundbreaking at Little Mountain in 2013, I wanted to write something about the first 6 months of this year at Little Mountain. And the activities have been so varied and bizarre that the only way to describe them was: Good, Bad, and Ugly. So without further ado…THE GOOD!

THE GOOD
Developer begins building social housing at Little Mountain for seniors!

Urban Design panel #3 – The Little Mountain Project from David Vaisbord on Vimeo.

In January 2013 the plans for the construction of the 1st new building at Little Mountain were released. They were publicly revealed for the first time, to Vancouver City’s Urban Design Panel, see above. The panel was impressed. The new social housing is of moderate height and very well designed. Actually, it’s spectacular! Congratulations to the architectural firm of Glair Williams, to James KM Cheng architects and the Holborn Group for welcoming the highly competent and imaginative Glair Williams firm into the project.

Model of new building reviewed at Urban Design Panel

Model of new building reviewed at Urban Design Panel

Congratulations also to the community and activists who thwarted BC Housing’s dreams of demolishing the last occupied building, and compelled the government into thinking about the redevelopment of Little Mountain in a smarter and more humane way. As a result, 53 units of new seniors housing will be fast-tracked. This is particularly good news for senior citizens, who were among the hardest hit by the relocation process. Separated from their beloved neighbourhood, old friends and shopping patterns, many were highly stressed. Many complained of substandard replacement housing, and could not wait to return. Some have already passed away – the interminable wait for new housing was just that.

Rich Coleman at Little Mountain Press Conference 2013

Rich Coleman at Little Mountain Press Conference 2013

The announcement of the new building offered Rich Coleman and the BC Liberals a photo opportunity prior to the 2013 Provincial Election, and I was there to record the event (which I will integrate into feature documentary on Little Mountain).

This project was a huge win for both the activists AND the government, though I don’t think that Minister Coleman* sees it that way.

Exact location of new Little Mountain Seniors' Housing.

Exact location of new Little Mountain Seniors’ Housing. Click on image to enlarge.

*Rich Coleman, in a recent conversation with me, stated that I never had anything nice to say about Little Mountain, so I have proved him wrong, right here. There were good things to report. I don’t write the script. I merely observe the play.

Coming soon…with apologies…the bad.

Respectfully yours,
David Vaisbord
The Little Mountain Project

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POV Magazine features the Little Mountain Project

Hello Friends and Neighbours,

Check out the Summer 2013 issue of Point of View Magazine. A feature article about The Little Mountain Project is inside! It’s a concise overview of what I’ve been doing over the past 5 years.

You can read from here:
POV Magazine & The Little Mountain Project 2013
or from POV Magazine:
http://povmagazine.com/articles/view/the-little-mountain-project-a-hyperlocal-manifesto

POV is Canada’s premiere magazine about documentaries and independent films. If you would like to read the entire issue, you can find it in magazine shops across the country.

The cover looks like this:
(I’ve added the notes in RED)

POV Summer 2013 Issue - Notes by the author

POV Summer 2013 Issue – Notes by the author

Cheers,
David Vaisbord
The Little Mountain Project

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Groundbreaking Event at Little Mountain attended by Housing Minister Rich Coleman

Hello Friends,

I finally had a chance to meet and talk to the Minister today. It was a brief encounter and he made it clear that he wasn’t going to add any more words to our conversation as he bristled and walked away from my camera; but nevertheless, it was satisfying to get it done. There are mythologies passed from generation to generation about how difficult it is to capture the fleeting image and words of Rich Coleman.

Coleman meets Steenhuisen and Chang

Ingrid Steenhuisen asks the Honourable Rich Coleman for an opportunity to meet and talk about social housing issues. (Sam Chang in foreground – Ms. Steenhuisen appears partially hidden behind him) Photo by David Vaisbord at the Groundbreaking at the Little Mountain Project, April 11, 2013.

Minister Coleman shook hands with Ingrid Steenhuisen and Sam Chang,(among the last tenants of the last remnant of Little Mountain Housing) and though he did not refuse Ms. Steenhuisen’s suggestion that they meet and talk about social housing concerns, he didn’t exactly set a firm date. Let me guess when that meeting might happen:  When hell freezes over.

There was very little notice given to the press (and none to the community) about when and where the press conference would take place, but in spite of the tight time frame, some key community critics of the project managed to get there on time, including David Chudnovsky and Ned Jacobs. The developer, Joo Kim Tiah; the architect, James Cheng; the head of BC Housing, Shayne Ramsay, and all of their key associates were in attendance. Apparently, they were on the invite list.

Sam Chang performs his own ground breaking ceremony at Little Mountain, April 11, 2013

Sam Chang performs his own ground breaking ceremony at Little Mountain, April 11, 2013

In his speech, Minister Coleman answered many of my questions, so I didn’t have to ask them outright. He explained what he saw when he looked out over the wasteland at Little Mountain, and his rationale for it. I recorded it and will post it asap.

Minister Rich Coleman behind Media Scrum at Little Mountain, April 2013

Minister Rich Coleman behind Media Scrum at Little Mountain, April 2013

BTW, did anybody see any coverage of the event on the evening news? During a media scrum after the main event was over, the subject swiftly changed from Little Mountain to election politics, using the Little Mountain signage as the background. That blue-coloured background was visible in several election reports, but I did not find any coverage of the groundbreaking event on television.

ps: Vote for Little Mountain Stories web project at http://www.connectthedocs.ca/
Deadline for voting is Friday April 12, 2012 @ 9pm Pacific time.

follow me on Twitter @DavidVaisbord

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Housing Minister Rich Coleman to visit Little Mountain Today!

Hello Friends,

11:45 AM this morning (April 11th) is official groundbreaking for one new building at Little Mountain and Rich Coleman will be there! UNBELIEVABLE? Nobody can remember the last time they saw him at the project, if ever.

I’m going to be there by 11am with video camera to record Coleman, the first official appearance of the author of the destruction of Little Mountain Housing. What will he see when he casts his across the landscape. It’s hard to imagine. But not to dwell on negatives, he’s here to tell us the good news, that congratulations are in order for him and his friends, as they break ground on the building that the residents and community fought so hard for.

Yesterday I shot some footage of BC Housing, sprucing up the wasteland for today’s press conference. Here it is:

Sprucing up The Wasteland at Little Mountain from David Vaisbord on Vimeo.

By the way, if you haven’t voted yet for my new web project: Little Mountain Stories, take a second and make a few clicks. If I get enough votes I’ll be able to pitch this project at the Hot Docs documentary festival in Toronto – it’s just a couple of clicks, but could mean a huge difference in getting exposure and FUNDING for this project.

Please vote, and please share!
Vote for little mountain stories web project at http://www.connectthedocs.ca/

More to come
David Vaisbord
Little Mountain Project

follow me on Twitter @DavidVaisbord

BANNER PHOTO: ASSEMBLED PRESS RECORD THE WORDS OF MINISTER RICH COLEMAN AT THE SOD TURNING CEREMONY, APRIL 11, 2013

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Little Mountain at City Hall: PART 2 of 2

Hello viewers,

This is the second half of the June 2012 Meeting where the Policy on Little Mountain was discussed in City Council Chambers.

City Hall meets Little Mountain June 2012: PART 2 from David Vaisbord on Vimeo.

For those of you came to city hall to speak, who missed work, and patiently waited for your 5 minutes to arrive, this is your chance to see how well you did on camera. There are many view expressed here. Some of the speakers represent the Little Mountain Advisory Group, others come from sectors of the community who did not attend the meetings. Some are simply friends of the developer. The speakers list was open to whoever wanted to speak.
Kudos to everyone for PARTICIPATING. Politics is an exercise which (for the most part), takes place IN PUBLIC and IN PERSON.

David Vaisbord
Little Mountain Project
littlemountainproject.com

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Recent PRESS on Little Mountain, and the overturning of the Eviction Notices.

Hello everyone,

Here is a selected press list from the last week, on Little Mountain:

David Vaisbord and Red1 at Little Mountain

David Vaisbord and Red1 discuss the last row house at Little Mountain

The Province, Wednesday Oct 24, 2012.
ONE LAST SHOT FOR ‘VILLAGE’ – 24 Oct 2012 Doc maker teams with rapper Red1 to tell story of Little Mountain Housing
The Province, Wednesday Oct 24, 2012.
Saving images of the past On screen – 24 Oct 2012 – Doc maker screens shorts in big to save last Little Mountain unit
The Mainlander, Thursday Oct. 25, 2012.
Tenants win fight against BC Housing: Government cancels eviction notices at Little Mountain.
The Globe and Mail, Thursday Oct. 25, 2012.
Last-minute deal averts eviction for Little Mountain social-housing holdouts.
The Vancouver Courier, Thursday Oct 25, 2012.
Vancouver filmmaker focuses lens on Little Mountain.
The Georgia Straight, Thursday Oct 25, 2012.
Little Mountain resident no longer facing eviction pleased with deal to fast-track social housing.
The Vancouver Sun, Friday Oct 26, 2012.
Vancouver Documentaries probe Little Mountain Evictions.
The Vancouver Sun, Friday Oct 26, 2012.
Social Housing Deal Spares Families.

Last Row House in morning light, late summer 2012.

David Vaisbord photographs last row house in morning light, August 2012.

In the Georgia Straight, Vision Councillor Kerry Jang claims: “We’ve always maintained at the city that we need to find a way of accommodating these folks,” Jang told the Straight by phone. “It’s kind of inhuman to uproot them, right?

Hmmm…then why did it take the concerted efforts of dozens of advocates/activists in public, and behind the scenes, to make this happen?  If this was indeed the view of the Vision Party, why didn’t they denounce the decision to evict the last tenants when it was announced this summer?  Why did it take them till the month of October, to do anything?

Coming up. Scenes from the Screening at the Little Mountain Gallery.

David

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SUCCESS – Little Mountain Tenants will NOT BE EVICTED!

Friends,

This battle has been won owing to the concerted efforts of many!
The last tenants of The Little Mountain Housing Project will not be evicted by BC Housing!

Firstly, I want to recognize the last residents of Little Mountain for their heart and tenacity. It’s been their fight from the beginning. Ingrid Steenhuisen, Sammy and Joan Chang, and Karin Nicholetti have been fighting eviction for over 4 years, and this news must come as a bitter sweet vindication, as they remember the community they once lived in – one that was demolished without just cause in 2009.

To find all the PRESS related to the evictions click HERE.

Two mid-century heritage lamps at Little Mountain lay undisturbed for 3 years .

Two mid-century heritage lamps at Little Mountain lay undisturbed for 3 years .

The mobilization of people and ideas which led to the rescinding of the eviction notices, is well documented by my friends at the MAINLANDER. Please read this article by Tristan Markle and Nate Crompton, it saves me the time to repeat it here. Nate and Tristan are members of the Vancouver Renters Union, one of the key elements of this successful campaign.

The RALLY has been CANCELLED. Tonight we CELEBRATE at the screening at the Little Mountain Gallery: 195 E. 26th Avenue. The FREE screening begins at 7pm with special guests, RED 1, Sammy and Joan, Debbie Lawrance, Ingrid Steenhuisen, Ellen Wordsworth, Me (the filmmaker), and more.

Below, is the press release that came from the City of Vancouver, yesterday.

Office of the Mayor

October 25, 2012

Social housing to move forward at Little Mountain; tenants can remain on site

Vancouver –- Mayor Gregor Robertson says it is good news that social housing at Little Mountain will go ahead, and that a deal has been reached to let the remaining tenants stay on site.

The B.C. government, the City of Vancouver and Holborn Properties have signed an agreement that will allow up to 50 social housing units to be built right away at Little Mountain, prior to the completion of the rezoning process.

“Little Mountain has a long history in Vancouver, and it’s great that we’ve reached an agreement to expedite the social housing and allow the remaining residents to stay on site,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “The social housing is an important first step to building a new and inclusive community at Little Mountain.”

In a solution found with BC Housing, remaining tenants will be able to stay on site without prior relocation and work can start immediately on what will eventually be 234 new social housing units. Those units are especially targeted for families and seniors, and will ensure a full bedroom-for-bedroom replacement of Little Mountain’s original social housing. BC Housing confirms that rent will remain the same – 30% of income – and the hope is that construction will begin in the first part of 2013.

The City will subdivide the lot and expedite permits to help fast-track the social housing.

It’s an agreement that honours the commitment that the replacement social housing units will be an integral part of the first phase of the new development on the Little Mountain site, and also allows households that moved off site to begin returning to their homes on an accelerated basis.

The Little Mountain property in Vancouver, bounded by 33rd to 37th Avenues between Main and Ontario Streets, is being redeveloped into a mixed-use community. As part of the development, the original 224 units of social housing will be replaced with 234 units of new social housing.

– 30-

For more information, please contact:

Braeden Caley
Executive Assistant, Media Relations and Communications
Office of the Mayor – City of Vancouver
Cell: 604-809-9951 – Email: braeden.caley@vancouver.ca

Find the Mayor’s Office on Twitter: @VanMayorsOffice
Sign up for the Mayor’s email updates: Click here

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Little Mountain at City Hall: PART 1 of 2

Here is Part 1 of THE COUNCIL MEETING where the Little Mountain Policy was voted upon, on June 27th, 2012.

Part 1 consists of the major presentations by:
1. Vancouver City Planning
2. The Proposed Developer – The Holborn Group
3. The Little Mountain Community Advisory Group.

Vancouver City Hall meets the Little Mountain Advisory Committee June 2012 – Part 1 of 2 parts from David Vaisbord on Vimeo.

FOR THE RECORD. It is clear to everyone in Council Chambers at the time, that the timeline for “Rezoning and Implementation” is from 12 – 18 months.

Infographic from June 2012 Council Meeting on the Little Mountain Project

This Slide presented by Ben Johnson of the planning department indicates that 12 – 18 months is a standard timeline for REZONING and IMPLEMENTATION.


City Planner, Ben Johnson speaks to the timeline at approx. the 21:40 point in the video. As far as I am aware, this second phase of the planning process has not yet begun. This places the beginning of construction of PHASE 1 of Little Mountain well into 2014.

The developer however, has claimed that the last building must be demolished now, to make way for construction in May of 2013.

This has led to a war of words in the press, in which Vancouver’s Planning department has been quoted as stating: “A development this complex would likely take 12 months of public hearings, assuming that the developer’s plans are within the boundaries of the City’s policy statement; following that is six months of enactment. If it’s concurrent, the project could have shovels in the ground by 2014.”

James Cheng plays Holborn's demo video to City Council

James Cheng plays Holborn’s demo video to City Council


The Ministry of Housing, BCHousing and the Holborn team appear to be willfully ignorant of the facts, as they press EVICTION NOTICES on the last four families at Little Mountain.

Please stay tuned. Part 2 – the Community Speakers – is coming up. Please excuse the delays. Keeping up with the Little Mountain Project is more than a full time job for one person. Volunteers are welcome to contribute. Send an email or use the comment form.

David Vaisbord
Little Mountain Project

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Upcoming SCREENING at Little Mountain Gallery on Oct 26th

Six short films about Little Mountain.

The shorts are part of a work-in-progress created the past 4 years, in support of the families fighting eviction on the social housing site.

Here are the details:

TIME: Friday October 26nd at 7pm.
WHERE: Little Mountain Gallery, at 26th Avenue at Main Street — 195 E 26th Avenue.
WITH: guests “RED 1” of the Rascalz; Ingrid Steenhuisen, one of the last tenants at Little Mountain; Tristan Markle co-founder and editor of of Vancouver’s progressive online news: The Mainlander, and the filmmaker, David Vaisbord.
PRICE: The screening is FREE.

Here’s a short excerpt from a press release that’s going out today:

Vancouver filmmaker David Vaisbord presents six film stories about the Little Mountain Housing Project.
www.littlemountainproject.com suggests ways in which Vancouver citizens can take action, from firing off emails, to joining active citizens’ groups, to speaking at council meetings, and attending public rallies.David began The Little Mountain Project as an experiment in what he calls “hyperlocal documentary filmmaking”, a term which describes a film in which the subject and audience, connected by the Internet, are one-and-the-same. Future projects, listed on the website include a number of multi-platform digital media experiences. His most recent streamed media is The Eviction of Sammy and Joan, which has been viewed over 1200 times over the past 4 weeks. Vaisbord states, “It’s about generating public interest in the way BC Housing and the BC Government abuse the most vulnerable people in society – in this instance, the treatment of blind senior citizens.”

David V
The Little Mountain Project

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David Chudnovsky Addresses Mayor and Council in support of Tenants of Last Building

Last week, following the screening of “The Eviction of Sammy and Joan” in Council Chambers on October 3rd, 2012. Mr. Chudnovsky spoke to the subject of the Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability.

Chudnovsky spoke to Task Force Recommendation 3, which aims to “Protect existing non-profit, social and co-operative housing that may be under threat and continue to protect the affordable market rental stock using the community planning process to focus on strategies to repair, renew and expand the stock neighbourhood by neighbourhood.”

David Chudnovsky at City Hall October 2012 from David Vaisbord on Vimeo.

In view of Vancouver City Council’s own recommendations, Chudnovsky suggested that Council take 3 specific actions.

1. To take a public stand against the eviction. To make a MOTION, expressing your opposition to the eviction, and pass it unanimously, today.

2. To use your influence with BCHousing and the Government of British Columbia, to rescind the eviction notices.

3. To use the rezoning and regulatory powers of the City of Vancouver to encourage the proposed developer to rescind the eviction notices.

Will the MOTION based on his suggestions ever be written and passed?

With the spectre of the October 29th TENANCE HEARING hanging over the tenants heads, it will be interesting to see if this Mayor and Council takes any action. It must be noted that in some circles, this Mayor and Council are perceived to be in the pockets of Vancouver developers. If that is the case, any hint of saying “NEVER AGAIN” to developer aspirations — such as the ones that demolished the community at Little Mountain Housing — may be perceived as “ANTI-DEVELOPER.”

What do you think?

We’re waiting to see what happens next.

David Vaisbord
The Little Mountain Project.

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“The Eviction of Sammy and Joan” screens for Vancouver’s Mayor and Council

On October 3rd, 2012, Council Chambers of the City of Vancouver became a screening room, when I presented my 5 minute cut of “The Eviction of Sammy and Joan,” during the discussion of the Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability. You can view my presentation in the video below.  The short film itself can be viewed HERE.

NB: This screening was significant in the decision that was subsequently announced on October 25th, to preserve the last building, and fast track the construction 50 new social housing units at Little Mountain. Please look for news reports on this website.

Sammy and Joan at City Hall October 2012 from David Vaisbord on Vimeo.

John Grierson (the “father of the documentary film”) was known to say, that if he could get the right dozen people into a screening room to see a film he was happy. I presented the film on the suggestion of veteran civic planner Nathan Edelson, who saw it the previous evening at a screening at UBC. In the Q&A that followed he urged me to edit the over seven minute film to under 5 minutes, in order to make it fit within the 5 minute limitation on speakers before City Council. I did that.

When the screening was over, there was dead silence. Councillor Andrea Reimer was the first to speak, and directed Mayor and Council to this website, where the longer version can be streamed. A question from Councillor Elizabeth Ball followed. I was not really prepared to talk, as I was up half the night editing the film. I was happy to leave the words to David Chudnovsky, who followed me on the speakers list.

The speech by DAVID CHUDNOVSKY, (former NDP MLA for Vancouver-Kensington) which followed my screening, was a concise exposition on the Mayor’s Task Force Recommendation Number 3: To “Protect existing non-profit, social and co-operative housing that may be under threat,” and how it directly related to the current crisis at Little Mountain, the eviction of the last tenants, and the demolition of the last building.

In conclusion, Chudnovsky made THREE EXPLICIT REQUESTS of the Mayor and his Councillors on what IMMEDIATE ACTIONS TO TAKE.

Mr. Chunovsky’s 5-minute speech will be viewable on my next posting, tomorrow.

See you then,
David Vaisbord
The Little Mountain Project

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Public Screening Tonight with “Cinema Politica”

Five short films from The Little Mountain Project screen tonight at the University of British Columbia.

Here are the details:

TIME: Tuesday October 2nd at 6pm
WHERE: UBC Student Union Building – Norm Theatre.
WITH: CINEMA POLITICA and guests “RED 1” of the Rascalz; Ingrid Steenhuisen, one of the last tenants at Little Mountain; and Tristan Markle co-founder and editor of of Vancouver’s progressive online news site: The Mainlander.

Find out more, on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/events/285629348217987/permalink/289566194490969/

Together we’ll be talking about the past and present crises faced by residents at Little Mountain Housing, and the documentary strategy which motivates my current work-in-progress at Little Mountain. I’m looking forward to discussion to follow the screenings.

David Vaisbord
The Little Mountain Project

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Eviction Delayed for Sammy and Joan: New Hearing Date

Eviction delayed for Sammy and Joan and the last 4 families at Little Mountain!

Sam and Joan 2012 in garden

Sammy (Sim) Chang and Joan Chang in their organic garden, soon to be evicted from their home at the Little Mountain Housing project.


Last week, on Tuesday September 18th, at their HEARING (by teleconference) with the RENTAL TENANCY BRANCH, the tenants with David Chudnovsky acting as their advocate, won the right to have an adjuication IN PERSON.

The date of that NEW hearing was announced YESTERDAY, and has been set for:
October 29, 2012 at 10am
at the RTB office in Metrotown.
Suite 400 – 5021 Kingsway Burnaby, BC.

There is a RALLY AGAINST THE EVICTION planned for that date, infront of the RTB office.

No eviction may take place until a final decision is made by the RTB, so in effect, the tenants won their first battle against BC Housing and the Holborn Group. Lawyers for BC Housing will, without a doubt, seek a definitive eviction date at the next meeting.

Meanwhile, in a recent interview in the Vancouver Sun of September 25, 2012, the Holborn Group’s Joo Kim Tiah, Holborn Group's Joo Kim Tiah at the Jan 2012 Little Mountain Open Housemade some very vague promises that construction could begin in May of 2013. This claim is NOT supported by REALITY.

The tag-team of the Holborn Group and the Ministry of Housing/BC Housing do not have the authority to over-ride the legitimate powers of The City of Vancouver to manage its own rezoning processes. The Vancouver planning department has re-iterated several times, that the process of rezoning at Little Mountain will take at least 18 months, and considering the length of time the site has already remained empty, far longer.

My interpretation is that the accelerated demolition process at Little Mountain has but one purpose:
To close the sale of the Little Mountain lands to The Holborn Group prior to the Provincial Elections of May 2013. BC Liberal Housing Minister Rich Coleman - wants to see Little Mountain cleared for the developer, the Holborn GroupThe BC Liberals are desperate for one piece of good news, and are willing displace vulnerable people (the very people they claim to protect) for short-term political gain.

This is how I predict it will go down:

With the tenants successfully evicted, the sale will go through, and the Liberal Government will announce the success of their strategy. They’ll exhume their promise to build the 14 housing sites, and trumpet their holiness! And then… NO SHOVEL will break ground, NO HOUSING CONSTRUCTION will begin, and the site will remain EMPTY for at least another year.

Amen.

David Vaisbord
Filmmaker
Neighbour – Little Mountain Community

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WATCH: “The Eviction of Sammy and Joan.”

Please note that in September of 2012, the Eviction Order was defeated! This was a major victory for the families who live at Little Mountain, and the community who supported them.

Here is my latest short film about two independent senior citizens shot over the past 3 years, who currently live under an eviction notice at Little Mountain.

THE EVICTION DATE IS SEPTEMBER 28, 2012.

A facebook page: “Stop the Eviction of Little Mountain Tenants” can be found here:http://www.facebook.com/StopTheEvictionOfLittleMountainTenants

The LINK to the PETITION is HERE.

If the Youtube connection is busy, you can view the short film on VIMEO here:

Eviction of Sammy & Joan Sept 2012

There are a number of important issues involved in the eviction of Sammy and Joan. I list a few here:

PHYSICAL JEOPARDY
Sammy and Joan are both completely blind. Sammy fought the first eviction notice in 2009 for good reason, BC Housing did not have a plan to redevelop Little Mountain, and the safety of his wife was of the highest importance. Sammy did visit a number of BC Housing locations prior to deciding to reject with finality the offer to relocate. Every location that Sammy visited displayed environmental hazards – driveways, parking lots, concrete trip zones etc. – which posed a serious threat. I accompanied Sammy on several of those outings, and realized how many small obstacles we negotiate daily, and how we rely on our sight to get around them.

Sammy no longer has eyesight to help Joan negotiate unfamiliar territory. He can not longer assess the danger of any new environment for his wife, or himself. Relocation puts Sammy and Joan’s physical safely in real jeopardy.

DESTRUCTION OF LIVELIHOOD
Sammy is one of Vancouver’s original urban organic gardeners. His garden is his life, and a mainstay of his diet. Sammy is also a chef, and both he and Joan cooks their own food.

Joan has mentioned that BC Housing intends to put them in a facility which garnishes 75% of their income for life support. This means that the facility prepares and cooks all the meals in an institutional setting. Currently Sammy keeps 75% of his income for life support, and buys and prepares food in his way. Sammy and Joan are two independent, blind seniors who live a frugal and healthy life.

Remove Sammy from his garden, and deny this blind couple any control over their diet and lifestyle and you might as well be putting them in prison.

PERSONAL SAFETY
Recent news has brought the safety of many BC Housing operations into question. Seniors have spoken about how dangerous it is to live in BC Housing projects near the downtown east side. One woman mentioned that she had to sleep with “a knife under her pillow.”

BC Housing has been taking to them about Hastings Street (watch the video)! How well will a blind couple fare in such an environment? I’m sure that you can imagine! This eviction will compromise their personal safety.

HEALTH and STRESS
Could BC Housing have picked a more stressful time in Sammy’s life, in which to evict him? The loss of his eyesight in March of 2012 a tragic event. Now, just as he is being offered hope that he might restore part of it, BC Housing burdens him with the stress of eviction. It’s no wonder that he can no longer sleep, and his life, leading up to both his eviction and his eye operation is hell. If BC Housing has anything in their mission statement about ethical and moral values, they are violating all of them at once.

CAN BC HOUSING MITIGATE THE PROBLEM?
YES THEY CAN, by not moving Sam and Joan off the site until it is absolutely necessary, and certainly not in order to perform more “environmental testing” 18 months to two years prior to the commencement of any new construction.

In fact considering the enormity of the Little Mountain property, and the mandate of the developer — to build the replacement social housing in the first phase of development — it is very likely that a building could be built to satisfy that mandate and house Sammy and Joan, WITHOUT them ever needing to be relocated!

If BC Housing choses to pursue this latest round of evictions, they will be proving without a shadow of a doubt that they are not only capable of screwing up on a very large scale (witness the Little Mountain site today), but on the smallest personal level, continuously on the same project. What does that say about this crown corporation?

SAMMY AND JOAN NEED YOUR SUPPORT – NOW.
Find out how, by clicking HERE, and by connecting to this FACEBOOK page.

Best,
David Vaisbord
Filmmaker
Little Mountain Community

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How to support the remaining tenants of Little Mountain

FOUR WAYS TO SUPPORT THE REMAINING TENANTS OF LITTLE MOUNTAIN

1. Sign and circulate the petition.
Find the petition here

2. Watch and share this short film about two of the tenants who are fighting the current eviction:
“The Eviction of Sammy and Joan” by David Vaisbord

3. Make your voice heard by local media:

letters@globeandmail.com
sunletters@png.canwest.com
provletters@png.canwest.com
letters@straight.com
blink@vancourier.com

CBC radio talkback number: 604-662-6690
CKNW radio comment line: 604-331-2784

4. Make you voice heard by officials:

Provincial Government and BC Housing
Premier Christy Clark: premier@gov.bc.ca
Minister Responsible for Housing, Rich Coleman: rich.coleman.mla@leg.bc.ca
Shayne Ramsay, CEO, BC Housing: sramsay@bchousing.org
Dale McMann, ED for Lower Mainland, BC Housing: dmcmann@bchousing.org

Development team
Joo-Kim Tiah, President, Holborn Group: info@holborn.ca
James Cheng & Associates, Architectural Consultants: info@jamescheng.com

City of Vancouver
Mayor Gregor Robertson: gregor.robertson@vancouver.ca
Councillor George Affleck: clraffleck@vancouver.ca
Councillor Elizabeth Ball: clrball@vancouver.ca
Councillor Adrienne Carr: clrcarr@vancouver.ca
Councillor Heather Deal: clrdeal@vancouver.ca
Councillor Kerry Jang: clrjang@vancouver.ca
Councillor Raymond Louie: clrlouie@vancouver.ca
Councillor Geoff Meggs: clrmeggs@vancouver.ca
Councillor Andrea Reimer: clrreimer@vancouver.ca
Councillor Tim Stevenson: clrstevenson@vancouver.ca
Councillor Tony Tang: clrtang@vancouver.ca
CoV’s City Manager Penny Ballem: penny.ballem@vancouver.ca
CoV’s General Manager of Planning and Development: brian.jackson@vancouver.ca
CoV’s City Planning Staff: matt.shillito@vancouver.ca; patricia.st.michel@vancouver.ca; ben.johnson@vancouver.ca; graham.winterbottom@vancouver.ca

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Thinking about wildflowers and Machiavelli at Little Mountain

It is Machiavellian, how BC Housing choses the end of summer to evict its last tenants at Little Mountain. It’s so obvious and disheartening that they chose a time when everyone is on vacation, to deliver mean-spirited information to their most vulnerable clients, when critics and neighbourhood supporters are on vacation, and aren’t ready or capable of reacting quickly to the news.

Wildflowers at Little Mountain

And what I had really wanted to write about was wildflowers and wildlife at Little Mountain. If there was any good news to report about Little Mountain over the summer of 2012, is that the site had become a place of rebirth, if not for housing then for nature and urban wildlife.

A Field of Dandelions at Little Mountain

It was only two months ago, on June 27th, that all interested parties convened at City Hall to hash out a Policy Statement on redevelopment. And then the BC Liberal Government through its housing organ — British Columbia Housing — lifted its iron fist once again and brought it down at Little Mountain and it was “eviction time” again. But this time, instead of the threat of aesbestos in the buildings, it’s residues of heating oil in the ground water.

Bulrushes at Little Mountain push back up after meeting BC Housing's machete.

But before I go into greater detail on the groundwater testing (in a future blog) can anyone from the City of Vancouver, or BC Housing, or the engineering firm tell me why they had to cut down all the wildflowers? Including a tiny stand of bullrushes – the week after?

David V
The Little Mountain Project, in late summer, 2012.

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Oil tank removal at Little Mountain

The last of 3 heating oil tanks were lifted out of the ground last week at Little Mountain, completing the sold remediation process at Little Mountain. This was routine business. Thousands of tanks are removed by Vancouver home owners each year in accordance with environmental regulations.

Watch the short video here:

Oil Tank Removal at Little Mountain – August 2012 from David Vaisbord on Vimeo.

All three were removed in a day without incident.
Environmental testing of the soil samples takes 2 weeks.

Drilling machinery was seen on site this week. Groundwater testing is the next phenomenon to occur at Little Mountain – a full 18 months early – if necessary at all. (which is doubtful)

Following the logic of the BC Ministry of Housing, it must pay somehow, to destroy communities earlier, rather than later. One must assume that if the deal between Holborn and the BC Liberals can be finalized early, and Holborn can be forced to PAY UP, then the Liberals will have some cash to throw at the debt, or other social housing committments they have reneged upon etc. etc. prior to the rapidly approaching B.C. ELECTIONS.

David Vaisbord
Little Mountain Project

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Recent Media on New EVICTIONS at Little Mountain

BC Housing performs routine Oil Tank Removal at Little Mountain Housing

The first of three oil tanks is lifted from the ground at Little Mountain Housing

Here are a few links to articles on what promises to be a new eviction fiasco at Little Mountain Housing. The Vancouver Courier article of August 1st communicates a few important points by Ingrid Steenhuisen, one of the last and most important voices at Little Mountain, but wastes the second half rehashing old information from the developer regarding numbers of replacement housing. Most of this could be researched on line, and had nothing to do with the urgent and timely eviction issue. The Georgia Straight article which is much better than the Courier article, includes a bizarre comment by Vision councillor Kerry Jang who refers to the last remaining townhouse in plural (“those buildings”) while arguing that it will be difficult to perform remediation tasks around them. Really, Councillor Jang? As of Monday August 13th, all remaining and offending oil tanks adjacent to the townhouse were removed and samples will be sent for testing. There were no “difficulties”. Routine testing of the removal usually takes no more than a couple of weeks. FOOTAGE OF THE OIL TANK REMOVAL WILL BE UPLOADED TO THIS SITE, NEXT WEEK.

This is the final stage of routine remediation at Little Mountain

Oil Tank Removal at Little Mountain on August 13, 2012

Soil Sample Jars at Little Mountain Housing

Workers use jars at Little Mountain to select soil samples from three areas below the old oil tanks.

Final Stage of Little Mountain Remediation accomplished in a day.

Final Stage of Little Mountain Remediation accomplished in a day.

According to the workers at the site, the old tanks were filled with sand over 50 years ago. The sand absorbed most of the oil, rendering the excavation task easy and without incident. What about the claims that other forms of remediation are necessary, and that they necessitate the removal of the last building and the eviction of its tenants, 18 months prior to construction? More to come on this important subject. Important, because it involves the lives of three families who have managed to create a tiny supportive community out of the ruins of the old.

David Vaisbord
The Little Mountain Project.

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NEW EVICTION NOTICES issued by BC Housing

In what seems to be another incredible move by BC Housing – since the tragedy of the demolition of Little Mountain itself 5 to 15 years prematurely – it has come to my attention that BC Housing has handed out NEW EVICTION notices to the last 4 families occupying the last row-house building at Little Mountain.

This move is grossly premature – 18 months or more early – as the Rezoning Process is not yet begun. There are no architectural plans – only a site plan and scale model (which itself is only a sketch) There is no schedule for construction. There is literally no reason to hasten eviction at this point.

In addition, the two-year re-development consultation process (with the City of Vancouver Planning Department, the Community, the Developer) is violated by premature demolition of the last remaining row hose. There is no decision yet, on the final use for the Vancouver Heritage Building. Please view Meeting #27, the Heritage Analysis of the Last Building at Little Mountain. Does the developer realize that he is in contravention of his commitment to an open and comprehensive consultation with the city and the community? Is the BC Liberal Goverment aware of this commitment? BC Housing officials have attended meetings and the last Open House at Little Mountain. Feigning ignorance will not do at this point. Do they have any interest in public process?

Sam and Joan in front of their home and garden at Little Mountain Housing - circa 2009

Sam and Joan in front of their home and garden at Little Mountain Housing – circa 2009

Sammy and Joan Cheng pictured above are a completely blind couple and have lived at Little Mountain for many years. They are extremely vulnerable. At the time that this photo was taken in the fall of 2009, Sammy (who had partial eyesight at the time) had gone to look several times, for suitable apartments for his completely blind wife (Joan) but did not find any which were safe enough, in terms of apartment layout and surrounding street-scape. In a tragic turn of events, Sammy’s remaining eyesight was lost this year. When Sammy had his eyesight he was feisty and fought against relocation. Today he powerless owing to complete lack of sight. At the end of September Sammy will go for surgery on his eye, to implant a new cornea. BC HOUSING HAS CHOSEN TO EVICT HIM ONLY DAYS FROM THE DATE OF HIS SURGERY. Sammy is under incredible stress with both the eviction and his operation coming fast. DOES BC HOUSING HAVE ANY ETHICS WHATSOEVER? What is this monster of an organization, which you and I – the taxpayer – support?

This hasty and unnecessary relocation, propelled by politics, may prove tragic for this couple.

BC Housing claims that there are “environmental concerns” and that they have to do remediation of the residue from buried oil tanks. I have placed footage of the excavation of the oil tanks on line. The 3 tanks were removed in a day.

Nevertheless, BC Housing states that ground-water testing now needs to be done.

Really.

They state that such remediation needs to be done in dry weather. There will be – NO DOUBT – dry weather next summer, when this remediation should sensibly take place. At this point in my investigation there seems to be little reason to perform any additional remediation on the site, but you will hear more about this.

For whom is this “remediation” being done? It may be HOLBORN who are seeking to prematurely demolish the last building prior to further public discussion. Can the developer give us some clarity here? Joo Kim Tiah of Holborn should answer to this.

Who else is instigating this move? The Ministry of Housing? Rich Coleman’s office?

And what does the City of Vancouver, its Mayor Gregor Robertson, and Vision Councillors have to say about it?

David Vaisbord
The Little Mountain Project

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Little Mountain exhibit at Winsor Gallery

The Little Mountain Project at Winsor Gallery.

Until Sunday July 22, an iteration of The Little Mountain Project is on view at the Winsor Gallery, 3025 Granville Street, Vancouver B.C.

Join David Vaisbord at the gallery on Saturday July 21, from 1pm to 3pm, to have an informal conversation about the fusion of art and media, the website, civic engagement, and future of documentary filmmaking. Learn more about the Winsor Gallery Show.

The Little Mountain Project, installation view at ECUAD

The Little Mountain Project, installation view at ECUAD

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A Moment of Truth: a 7-minute clip

I offer you a moment of truth.
Seven minutes from Meeting #29 of the Little Mountain Community Advisory Group, or as Ned Jacobs describes it: “a key point in a meeting between the CAG and the planners when the question of who is calling the shots was asked, but not satisfactorily answered.”
(see full text below)

Moments like these often end up defining an entire process.
It remains to be seen, what happens at City Hall next week.

Commentary on the Little Mountain Community Advisory Group Policy Statement, by Ned Jacobs:
June 21, 2012

In many respects, the Little Mountain Community Advisory Group (CAG) statement and recommendations are consistent with those of planning staff, but they differ in regard to overall density and building heights.

Planning staff have recommended that density in the range of 2.3 to 2.5 gross FSR be considered. This may not seem excessive, compared to net FSR figures for some recent high-density proposals for a single building or a city block, but the Little Mountain site is greater than 15 acres and will include streets and public plazas, which limit the overall ground coverage to about 40%.

For a variety of reasons specific to this site and its context, as well as the place and functions of the Riley Park neighbourhood in the city, the CAG concluded that density up to about 2 FSR was appropriate, but are willing to contemplate the risks of accommodating density up to 2.2 FSR to achieve key public amenities, or 2.3 FSR on condition that the additional units are non-market to increase social housing on the site. A target of 20% social housing is supported by both the City and the CAG, but cannot be achieved unless the province is willing to subsidize construction of at least 65 non-market units in addition to the 234 units they have committed to replace.

2.2 FSR is 50% greater than what could be achieved under the approved Community Vision Directions, which would limit building heights to 4 storeys and about 1.45 FSR. The difference between 2.2 and 2.5 FSR is significant: nearly 200 units, equivalent to about three 8-storey apartment buildings or at least one additional storey on each of approximately 20 buildings in the site plan. It would likely necessitate accommodating parking and traffic impacts from at least 150 additional cars, and put further strain on already stressed amenities and services. The CAG considers 2.5 FSR to be excessive, and highly problematic.

The CAG studied several existing high density large-site developments in Vancouver. In regard to the Olympic Village, at 2.6 FSR, the CAG concluded that the combination of building heights and ground coverage resulted in an overly canyon-like environment, not well suited for a family-oriented development. Arbutus Walk, at 1.9 FSR, was more comparable to the Little Mountain site in terms of neighbourhood context. CAG participants appreciated the human scale and diversity of housing types, which includes rowhouses, but thought that some of the green space is underused and might have been better utilized as floor space, while reducing the height and massing of an overly dominant building.

In regard to building heights, planning staff recommend that most of the buildings range from 4 to 8 storeys, with up to two buildings of 12 storeys. The CAG recommends that the majority of buildings be in the 4 to 6 storey range with no building greater than 10 storeys (or 100 feet) in order to preserve high quality public views to and from Queen Elizabeth Park, reduce shadowing, and provide better transitions of scale to the surrounding neighbourhood. There was little public support at the open houses for buildings over 9 storeys. The developer, Holborn Properties, is asking Council to amend the staff recommendations to permit consideration of one 14-storey building to provide “punctuation.” It also seems doubtful that Holborn will ne willing to provide the full complement of Development Cost Levies (DCLs) and Community Amenity Contributions (CACs) on the market units and, when it comes to rezoning may balk at the recommendation that all 234 replacement social housing units be built in the initial phase of construction.

Many CAG participants have a strong sense that the City’s “Little Mountain “planning team” is not actually comfortable with the density (up to 2.5 FSR) that they have recommended, but are responding to directions from “higher levels” within the administration. If these directions are in fact coming from the Mayor and/or powers that be on City Council, this is a problem because it means that professional arms length between our planners and our elected officials has been compromised. It was rumoured that on several occasions Planning Director Brent Toderian considered resigning because parts of some planning staff reports had been rewritten in the office of the General Manager and sent back with the expectation that he would “sign off” on them, and that Toderian’s discomfort with this was a major factor in his being fired “without cause.” One CAG member questioned whether the LM density recommendations are “circular”, meaning that the decision-makers are instructing staff in regard to recommendations, presumably to create the appearance that staff supports those decisions. Here is a link to a 7-minute video segment (by documentary film maker David Vaisbord) of a key point in a meeting between the CAG and the planners when the question of who is calling the shots was asked, but not satisfactorily answered. littlemountainproject.com

Ned Jacobs is a founding member of Riley Park/South Cambie Community Visions, Community Advocates for Little Mountain (CALM), and a participant on the CAG.

David Vaisbord
Observer + Participant
The Little Mountain Project

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NOTICE of Upcoming City Council Meeting – June 27

For those of you who may not be on the City of Vancouver’s email list, here is the notice that was emailed today.

Hello Advisory Group,

The Little Mountain Policy Statement will be considered by City Council next Wednesday afternoon, June 27 at 1:30pm. The agenda and the Council Report have been posted to the City website (Little Mountain is item #4 on the agenda): http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20120627/ptec20120627ag.htm

Please note that the draft Policy Statement (“Appendix A”) is included as a separate item due to its size.

At this Committee of Council Meeting, staff will be giving a presentation followed by short presentations by representatives from the Holborn Team and from the Little Mountain Community Advisory Group. After this, members of the public are allowed up to 5 minutes each to address City Council on the subject. Council may ask questions of you or of staff after you speak. If you wish to speak, please see this page:
http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/mayorcouncil/speaktocouncil.htm

For general information on the Standing Committees, please see:
http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/mayorcouncil/standingcommittees.htm

Regards
Ben Johnson

Senior Planner, Major Projects Group, Community Planning Division, City of Vancouver
t 604.871.6943 | f 604.873.7045 | ben.johnson@vancouver.ca
Little Mountain Housing Program Homepage http://vancouver.ca/littlemountain

If you are new to this process, the quickest way to get up to date is to watch Meetings 29 and 35, which are summaries of City Planning and the Community’s Analysis of the Little Mountain redevelopment plan. Please go to my POSTINGS or ARCHIVE for further details.

David Vaisbord
Little Mountain Project

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Meeting #35 The Community’s Position on Little Mountain (Heading to CITY COUNCIL)

Meeting #35  
The Advisory Group presents the Community’s perspective on the Little Mountain redevelopment plan.

June 5, 2012

In order to create a community response to “Meeting #29 – The City’s Position on the Little Mountain Plan,” a Community Advisory Group (CAG) sub-group was chosen, to draft a report, which they would present to the whole group for input and revisions. This is the presentation and Q&A which followed.

Input from that meeting has been incorporated into the draft that was presented there. The final report will be presented at the UPCOMING hearing at Vancouver City Hall which takes place NEXT WEEK, on Wednesday, June 27, 2012, at 1:30pm.

Little Mountain Advisory Group sets up Presentation at Meeting #35 - June 5, 2012

Little Mountain Advisory Group sets up Presentation at Meeting #35 - June 5, 2012

Click HERE for the rules on how to sign up to speak to Vancouver City Council.

A note on the posting of meetings to the Web:
I am presenting the most important final meetings (#29 & #35)close to one another in my postings. At this time, please go to my Vimeo site to watch Meetings 30 through 34.

David Vaisbord

Community member

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What is The Little Mountain Project?

It’s bigger than you think.

NOTE: This project has NO AFFILIATION WHATSOEVER with the three most powerful actors in this public play — City of Vancouver Planning Department or The Holborn Group, the developer of the property, or the Government of British Columbia/BC Housing. Please be aware that the blog that calls itself The Little Mountain Project Newsletter, is the publicity of
The Holborn Group.

The Holborn Group is currently managing a very strong publicity campaign on the internet, to generate support for their very high density housing plan at Little Mountain. Check it out HERE.

Begun in 2008, and in continuous evolution and production since that time, The Little Mountain Project is a multi-platform hyperlocal documentary, conceived by veteran independent documentary filmmaker and Little Mountain Community member, David Vaisbord. The Little Mountain Project is a multi-layer, multi-year experiment in documentary filmmaking that will observe and record in detail the entire process of demolition, planning, and construction of the last major redevelopment project in the city of Vancouver. The subject of the redevelopment of social and affordable housing in Vancouver is of critical interest to almost everyone in this city. This project will untangle the web of influences which shape this city’s policies and processes around these housing issues, as well as the subjects of community, density, and livability. The end results of the process – over many years – will include: a feature length documentary film, web projects (you’re reading one), a site specific art/sign project, and art and museum gallery installations (Winsor Gallery July 2012). To name a few.

Over 250 hours of footage have been recorded to this date.

Look for more complete information about The Little Mountain Project on this website, and the purpose of this particular website, click on “What is LM Project.”

David Vaisbord
June 2012

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Meeting #29 The City’s Position on Little Mountain (Heading to CITY COUNCIL)

Meeting #29
THE CITY’S POSITION on Holborn’s Little Mountain Plan.
April 3, 2012

The Planning Department outlines their support for, and criticisms of the Holborn Concept. By defining their position, the Planning Department defines the difference between their position and that of the community. Shocked and surprised? No, not really. The community understands the challenges ahead.

Full Meeting:

In the meeting…

The Advisory Group compliments the planning department on their work, but finds that although the planning departments criticisms are many and good, their overall density of the site is unworkable at their suggested range of 2.3fsr to 2.5fsr.

The Advisory Group suggests that the maximum density be pegged at 2.3, as was represented as the point at which the developer would make a profit and the community get the amenities it wants. (Coriolis presentation Meeting #23)

Patricia St. Michel’s power point presentation can be viewed in complete PDF format on the City of Vancouver’s Major Site Planning Pages. If your computer screen is big enough you can view both the PDF and video at the same time, getting the best visuals and commentary simultaneously.

Shorter Version: 45 min.

Highlights of the Short Version:

00:45 – Ben Johnson of City Planning presents Holborn’s density numbers:
1834 housing units of which 1600 are Market and 234 are Social Housing.
Density Range 2.5 – 2.8FSR.
01:30 – Patricia St. Michel of City Planning presents the City’s critique of Holborn design.
02:29 – Holborn’s Little Mountain plan shown to have higher density than Olympic Village.
03:15 – View analysis from Peak of Queen Elizabeth Park, across Little Mountain Site.
05:45 – Summary of height and density changes requested by the City Planning Department.

Summary of Planners changes to Holborn housing plan

07:45 – Patricia St. Michel states City Planning’s preference for a 2.3 to 2.5 FSR range.
08:00 – Community Discussion Begins
08:00 – Where is shadow analysis at Xmas time? Answer has to do with Northern Climate Challenges.
10:00 – Issue of South site transitions rapidly rising from 4 to 7 stories.
10:50 – Why lower scale buildings and tighter courtyards (in keeping with single family neighbourhood) are not an option.
12:39 – James Cheng mentions that there may not be a housing solution that the Little Mountain Neighbourhood will accept.
13:29 – Community Member (Deborah) thanks the Planning Department on their careful analysis, principle and performance based, and the ways the height trimming is considered and why…but argues that the amount of housing load that is being considered for the site is too much.
17:10 – Ben Johnson argues that Holborn will need to earn the extra density above 2.3 with exceptional housing design.
17:40 – Frustrated observer argues that sunlight discussion is irrelevant.
19:00 – Patricia discusses “Mystery Lake” and water features on the site.
19:30 – President of the Neighbourhood House argues that the deal is good.
20:30 – Norm Dooley (RPSC) argues that Arbutus Walk (Meeting #15) is a better model for Little Mountain housing, and that Little Mountain won’t solve all of Vancouver’s problems. Applause follows.
27:00 – From the very beginning, the entire BC Gov’t concept is wrong, when “We’re selling the house to pay for the furniture.”
28:00 – Another notice of Mystery Lake.

"Mystery Lake" in Little Mountain housing design

28:30 – Neighbourhood House Executive Director argues in favour of the plan owing to costs of building and land, (Arbutus Walk built many years ago) and the amenities delivered.
32:00 – Frustrated observer says “Go ahead full force!”
33:30 – Resident argues that this new housing plan is a stark change for this community.
35:00 – Ben Johnson explains how the city will present both their position and the position of the Little Mountain Advisory Group to Vancouver City Council.

Super Sized Olympic-style density was proposed for Little Mountain Housing

Things START TO HEAT UP here:
36:00 – Resident wonders if the next 3 meetings are worth attending, since the City has presented the essence of their position. The answer is vague.
38:30 – Ned Jacobs argues that even if 2.3 is the best number owing to the political pressure that is exerted on City Planners to increase densities during further development phases.
40:45 – Resident of North of 33rd Avenue Group asks if the City would acknowledge a consensus of the residents of Little Mountain at 2.3FSR and adopt it? The City answers that there are levels of senior management at City Hall who have provided direction of 2.3 to 2.5 FSR owing to multiple city priorities. So the answer is no.
42:00 – WHO is the HIGHER LEVEL? (of decision making in the city)
43:30 – This is YOUR community, but not YOUR city.
44:30 – Ingrid Steenhuisen points out how far the community has come in the acceptance of high densities – of which 2.3FSR is a high density.
45:20 – A discussion ensues about how a Little Mountain Advisory Group Sub Group could write a report which would send a powerful message to Vancouver City Council about their agreement regarding the density which they see as maximum for their neighbourhoods.

After considerable discussion it becomes clear that there will be 3 different presentations that go to council:

One by the Planning department,
One by the Holborn Group,
One by the Advisory Group.

But there is a considerable amount of finessing to take place, so it is unclear what the city’s final position will look like. By the end of this meeting, there is considerable tension in the room, as what goodwill that once existed between the planning department and the citizens apparently evaporates. Ben Johnson states that at a higher political level there is approval of their recommendations. Considering the considerable investment of time, effort, and intelligence in the process, community members wonder if council will consider their input at all.

The Advisory Group does not consider that its input has been narrowly defined by self interest, but by the needs of the surrounding community and the city as a whole, in terms of amenities, infrastructure (including transit, traffic, cycling, park, educational, social, arts issues etc.)and the crisis in social and affordable housing.

Next episodes:
Meeting #30 Traffic and Transportation issues

Meeting #31 Amenities & Affordability
Meeting #32 Holborn speaks to former residents
Meeting #33 **Design Panel – Uploaded 2 weeks ago** check “Recent Posts”
Meeting #34 Sustainability Policies and Little Mountain
Meeting #35 ADVISORY GROUP PRESENTS THEIR RESPONSE
MEETING #36 COUNCIL MEETING JUNE 27, 2012.

Olympic Village vs Little Mountain densities


Heading to City Council:
The finish line has been tentatively set for June 27, 2012.
That’s the date when the Little Mountain Advisory Committee, the City of Vancouver planning department, the Holborn Group, and You make your thoughts known to Vancouver City Council about the deliberations of the past 2 and a half years. At the meeting the planning department will present a policy statement on the current plans, for the approval of City Council. If approved, the policy statement will guide the future rezoning process at the Little Mountain site. The rezoning process (up to a year or more in duration) will include public and legal processes.

David Vaisbord
Little Mountain Neighbourhood

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Meeting #28 Consensus Building at Little Mountain – (Heading to CITY COUNCIL)

Meeting #28
Consensus Building at Little Mountain
March 2, 2012

In this community-only meeting — Holborn Group was requested not to attend — the point of the gathering is to move toward building consensus (or near consensus) within the Advisory Group so that the report to council has a clear sense of the community’s positive and negative responses to the developer’s design. Community members revisit their concerns about the current proposal using a CARD WRITING exercise. The exercise is preceeded by a POSTAL CODE analysis of the January 2012 OPEN HOUSE results.

Brief Notes on the meeting:

2:40 — Conversation about the history of the Advisory Group process, moderated by the community Chairperson, Ron Mayers.

6:40 — Ben Johnson (planner) recognizes that the Little Mountain Advisory Group has come a long way in terms of learning and growing over the years of this process, but not necessarily a long way in supporting or endorsing the latest proposal by the Holborn Group. Johnson suggests that the Group’s position should become clearer through the next round of the process.

12:00 — Al Buium of RPSC mentions that a number of Vancouver City Departments, such as Engineering, Traffic, Parks and Recreation, and Schools have not yet made any presentations yet, and Johnson answers that they will appear. Important to note that a representative of Vancouver Engineering does voice an opinion at the URBAN DESIGN Panel Meeting #33.

14:00 — Postal Code analysis. A higher negative response to densities and other aspects of the design was correlated to closer proximity to the site. Discussion follows on the accuracy of the data.

26:00 — The Card Exercise. Three cards were given to each participant, who were asked to write down their three biggest concerns about the project, one on each card. Results of the exercise demonstrate the challenge of balancing all of the concerns. Excellent discussion follows.

1:15:00 — Lisa Schwabe, a senior citizen, presents her concerns about Little Mountain.

1:21:00 — CALM member Catherine Hembling, presents information on new Social Housing Developments based on new financial models in the United States and Europe. The term “Values-Based Banking” is introduced.

FULL Unedited Meeting Below:

Next Up: Meeting #29 The City’s Position on Little Mountain

Heading to City Council:
The finish line has been tentatively set for June 27, 2012. That’s the date when the Little Mountain Advisory Committee, the City of Vancouver planning department, the Holborn Group, and You make your thoughts known to Vancouver City Council about the deliberations of the past 2 and a half years. At the meeting the planning department will present a policy statement on the current plans, for the approval of City Council. If approved, the policy statement will guide the future rezoning process at the Little Mountain site. The rezoning process (up to a year or more in duration) will include public and legal processes.

David Vaisbord
Little Mountain Community Member
Documentary filmmaker

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Meeting #27 Little Mountain OPEN HOUSE Analysis (Heading to CITY COUNCIL)

Little Mountain Redevelopment
Meeting #27
The OPEN HOUSE Analysis
February 28, 2012 (an intense meeting)

Heading to City Council:
The finish line has been tentatively set for June 27, 2012. That’s the date when the Little Mountain Advisory Committee, the City of Vancouver planning department, the Holborn Group, and You make your thoughts known to Vancouver City Council about the deliberations of the past 2 and a half years. At the meeting the planning department will present a policy statement on the current plans, for the approval of City Council. If approved, the policy statement will guide the future rezoning process at the Little Mountain site. The rezoning process (up to a year or more in duration) will include public and legal processes.

I will post exact details regarding time and date as I receive them from the planning department or you can click here to find them yourself.

Since January I’ve written a thesis on documentary filmmaking and new media, and as a result, postings to this blog were sporadic. But it’s written, and now time to concentrate on this process.

The series of meetings titled “HEADING TO CITY COUNCIL” represent the FINAL POSITIONS of each of the three groups as they head to Council. You will find them here, starting at number twenty-seven. So far there have been 34 meetings. Number 33, the Design Panel is already up.


Meeting 27 is a good one to start with, because it was the first meeting to follow the OPEN HOUSES of January 2012. The North of 33rd Avenue citizens’ group had not attended any previous Advisory Committee Meetings and were in a state of understandable shock when they saw Holborn’s Model for the first time. They were so upset that they called their own press conference. They brought a considerable amount of drama to the meeting, most of which was warranted — some of which was due to the fact that they had not participated in the process and were not up to speed with the program. Nevertheless, in subsequent meetings they have proven themselves to be an asset.

So, WELCOME to the Advisory Group, North of 33rd residents!!!

And a note of caution to communities in Vancouver: Attend your public meetings or else…

The statistics presented in Meeting #27 are important and warrant close analysis. Meeting #28 (uploading next week) looks at them again with respect to postal codes, and correlations are made between distance from the site and opinions expressed.

I have produced 4 videos from that evening:
1. A 12 minute CLIP of highlights from the entire meeting.
2. The Heritage Report on the last standing building
3. The Complete Meeting including the Heritage Report & Open House report.
4. The 1 minute Global Television Report that was broadcast the same evening.


The Heritage Report
Donald Luxton gives a thorough analysis of the heritage value of the last remaining row house on the site, and historical background on the history of social housing in Vancouver. It’s essential information for anyone interested in the history of social unrest around housing issues in this city.

In addition, Global Television did a decent job of covering the evening event. CBC News was also there, but I did not catch their broadcast.

David Vaisbord
littlemountainproject.com

Little Mountain Neighbourhood resident speaks to TV News on February 28, 2012.

Little Mountain Neighbourhood resident speaks to TV News on February 28, 2012.

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Meeting #33 Urban Design Panel (2nd) discusses Little Mountain (Heading to CITY COUNCIL)

    Little Mountain Redevelopment – URBAN DESIGN PANEL
    Meeting #33
    Wednesday May 9, 2012

    Dear Viewers,

    The deliberations of the Second Urban Design Panel took place on Wednesday May 9 at City Hall.

    Synopsis: Although there is high praise for the site plan and James Cheng’s architectural firm and associates, there remains fundamental concerns about the high density of the site, with regard to traffic and transit flow in and around the site. These concerns were voiced by the engineer in the Urban Design Panel. The quality and number of replacement social housing units were also of concern, and discussed.

    Here’s the back story.

    Two years ago, the Design Panel reviewed the Site plans for Little Mountain — schematic diagrams showing the placement of major roadways and access points onto the site, and general areas of open space and building masses. See the footage go to littlemountainproject.com ARCHIVE and open Meeting #14.

    Last week on May 9, this meeting touched upon all of those issues, including height and density. For those of you who have attended the last few Advisory Group meetings, you will have heard the city’s perspective already, though it has undergone further refinement. Ideal density according to the City of Vancouver Planning department (see Meeting #29) is now seen to be somewhere between Arbutus Walk (see Archive Meeting #15)and Olympic Village. (Meeting #6 – The Olympic Village Tour)
    They present this to the Panel.

    TO THINK ABOUT:
    IN THE URBAN DESIGN PANEL MEETINGS, THE COMMUNITY (the public) DOES NOT HAVE A VOICE.

    David V
    May14, 2012

    Architect Veronica Gillies of Vancouver's Urban Design Panel comments on Little Mountain Plans

    Architect Veronica Gillies of Vancouver's Urban Design Panel comments on Little Mountain Plans

    The role of the Urban Design Panel is to give impartial and professional advice to the Director of Planning, Development Permit Board or City Council on any proposal or policy affecting the community’s physical environment. The Panel is strictly an advisory body and makes recommendations only. It does not have the authority to approve or refuse projects or make policy decisions. The public is welcome to attend the Urban Design Panel meeting, but may not address the Panel. The meeting will be held in the Town Hall Meeting Room (City Hall, main building, 1st Floor, 453 West 12th Avenue). Little Mountain is the fifth item on the agenda and is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.

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Little Mountain Project wins FARRIS AWARD for Art and Social Media

Tonight (May 5, 2012) I’m at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, celebrating the completion of my Masters Degree.

The Opening Night of the Graduate Show starts at 5pm and ends at 10pm.

The Duration of the Grad show is from May 6 to May 21, 2012.
Open daily from 10am to 6pm.

Update: David Vaisbord wins FARRIS AWARD for Art & Social Media at Emily Carr University, for the Little Mountain Project.

Elements from Vaisbord's Little Mountain Project on display at the ECU Masters of Fine Arts Degree Show


The large installation includes two video screens with headphones, and an illustration of the interface of the upcoming Little Mountain Project Social History Website. The Charles H. Scott Gallery houses graduates of the Masters of Applied Arts.

See you there.

David

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Meeting #21 Massing exercise number TWO

Meeting #21, was the second major “massing’ meeting of 2011.

This is the second of two density exercises done by the Little Mountain community advisory committee. The community embraces the challenge of forcing (though they may not agree with them), extraordinarily high densities on the site plans. Meetings #20 and #21 will be of interest to everyone who wants to contrast the Little Mountain community’s concept of appropriate massing & density to the Holborn Groups current concept of appropriate massing & density.

The FSR range provided by the architect is FSR 2.0 to FSR 3.25. The omission of the base model FSR 1.4 is noted by one group, who chose to build an FSR 1.4 model on their site plan by omitting a large number of foam chips.

Modern Architecture for Little Mountain

Image from James Cheng's Architecture Slide Show


Timing of the meeting:
0:00 – Meeting opens with general business on selection of community co-chairperson.
5:00 – James Cheng introduces workshop, presents slide show and Dutch architecture book.
15:40 – Community presentation of workshop models begins.

The results show the creativity and intelligence of the community group in dealing with the challenges of densification, and the group is happier with the freedoms of the second workshop.

DV

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Meeting #20 Modern Architecture slide show, UBC students & Massing exercise number ONE

Meeting #20, was the first major “massing’ meeting of 2011.

This posting will have THREE PARTS, starting with the first part,
UBC Students show their ideas for re-development in a pre-meeting event:

UBC Student ideas for Little Mountain – Meeting #20 from David Vaisbord on Vimeo.

The second part is James Chengs Modern Architecture Slide Show:

Meeting 20: James Cheng’s Architecture Slide Show from David Vaisbord on Vimeo.

The third part is the complete meeting:

Meeting #20 – Complete Meeting from David Vaisbord on Vimeo.

Meetings 20 and 21 were formative community discussions on density at Little Mountain — without prior knowledge of the Holborn Group density plans.

The re-development of Vancouver is not a spectator sport.

Littlemountainproject.com

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OPEN HOUSE 2012: The Video

For those who couldn’t attend, here’s two nights of recording combined into an eight minute clip:

Little Mountain Open House Jan 26 & 28 2012 from David Vaisbord on Vimeo.

Don’t forget to send your feedback to the city on line until FEBRUARY 10, 2012.
Check the Little Mountain site at Vancouver Planning for images of information boards presented at the Open Houses. Click on THIS LINK to got to ONLINE SURVEY.

Canal St East side - Little Mountain models

Canal St West side - Little Mountain models

A Tower Concentration in proposed development

Note: Click on the images to enlarge; then, click on “Full Size is 1440×1080” caption to go to maximum dimensions.

Little Mountain development at 37th and Ontario

Little Mountain development at 33rd and Ontario

Important to remember that an estimated 700 cars per hour will exit and enter from the site at rush hours, the traffic you see in this photo is the average flow at approx. 2am Sunday nights. A neighbour who works in childcare asked me yesterday, if the amenities, such as daycare, for preschool and after-school care especially, are in place for a development of this size? As a member of the Advisory Committee who has been to every meeting, I answered no. She has promised to attend a meeting.

Here’s a brief quote, as we contemplate the future of Vancouver, from a sociologist, named Robert Park:

“The city is man’s most consistent and, on the whole, his most successful
attempt to remake the world he lives in, more after his heart’s desire. The
city is the world which man created; it is the world in which he is
therefore condemned to live. Thus indirectly, without a clear sense of the
nature of his task, in remaking the city, man has remade himself.”

If you want to know more about cities and neoliberalism here’s a link to an interesting talk given by economist David Harvey in 2007 titled:
Neoliberalism and the City.

The Little Mountain Project

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Open House 2012: Bigger turnout on DAY 2

The Open House on Saturday January 28, 2012 had an even bigger turnout than the first night. Here are a few photos from the successful 3-hour event. I’ll put up more detailed photos of the development up when I upload THE VIDEO next week.

Don’t forget to send your feedback to the city on line until FEBRUARY 10.
Check the Little Mountain site at Vancouver Planning for images of information boards presented at the Open Houses. Click on THIS LINK to got to ONLINE SURVEY. Of course, watch the short video of the last meeting prior to the Open House HERE, before you sign anything.

Note: Click on the images to enlarge; then, click on “Full Size is 1440×1080” caption to go to maximum dimensions.

Entrance to Little Mountain on Main street showing proposed community square

As densities and towers rise around it, this community square gets smaller. Previous versions of this model had a much larger community space.

City Signage for Little Mountain Open House

Little Mountain community members greet public and hand out information at the door

Public Scrutiny of Little Mountain FSR 2.8 model

A large screen creates virtual tour through Little Mountain

Developer Speaks to Press about Little Mountain Plans

Little Mountain community members discuss options

Below are the handouts that community members hand-delivered to hundreds of houses in the neighbourhood.

click to enlarge

Many more detailed images of the models, and commentary to come….

Cheers,
David Vaisbord
Self appointed documentary filmmaker in residence
Little Mountain

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Open House 2012: Huge turnout for first night

Hundreds lined up for the first of two Little Mountain Open Houses on Thursday night, January 26th at Brock Elementary school. Both supporters and detractors of the new FRS2.8 development plans showed up in force. See the photos below.

Video footage will be uploaded next week, after the second Open House on Saturday January 28. See previous postings for time and location of last Open House.

Line up to get into Brock School extends half a city block.

Entrance to Brock School - Main Street at 33rd Avenue

Detail of New Little Mountain Model FSR 2.8

Note: Click on the images to enlarge; then, click on “Full Size is 1440×1080” caption to go to maximum dimensions.

Sorry, No Seniors Housing in this plan.

Making Considerations

Holborn display their demo video for Little Mountain.

Holborn display their demo video for Little Mountain.

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Meeting #26 Heading to OPEN HOUSE 2012 – It’s HOT in here.

Little Mountain Development
Meeting #26
December 2011


1. Meeting #26 — The 10 minute highlights clip.

GET INFORMED prior to the Little Mountain OPEN HOUSES, scheduled for next week – info at the bottom of this posting.

The Holborn Group’s Final Submission to the Community
I’ve connected 2 videos to this posting, which are as follows:

1. A ten-minute Highlights video – watch this for a quick overview.
2. The complete two-hour public meeting.

PLEASE NOTE: If you’ve watched the 10-minute clip, and want to hear more of what the community has to say about this development, start viewing at roughly the one-hour mark. Highlights of the complete 2-hour meeting are listed further down this page.


2. Meeting #26 — The Full two-hour meeting.

Escalating tension and conflict.

Was there any doubt, when this whole thing began more than 2 year ago, that in the end the developer would be wanting massive density levels at Little Mountain? It only took them 2 years to get around to mentioning it. To their credit Vancouver planning department have their own criticisms of the Holborn proposal, and appear to be listening to the public throughout.

Model of Fsr 2.8 - for THIS Open House


Model Preview Photos
You will not find photos of these models anywhere else but here, prior to the Open House. So take a good look at them before you attend the Open House. The top of each building has a sticker that indicates the number of stories.

Images at left: Top image is the FSR 2.7 from the July 2011 Open Houses. Lower image is the FSR 2.8 (Higher density) proposed in the presentation destined for the upcoming Open House. Click on them to see greater magnification and then chose Full Size.

Note that FSR 2.8 in this new model, though higher density than FSR 2.7 accomplishes this by slightly lowering building heights, and reducing green space between the buildings. Top height is 14 stories on Ontario street, which is two stories higher than Queen Elizabeth Park. To put FSR 2.7 into context link to Density Models – The Movie! which I shot after the July 2011 Open House, when 6 density models were presented, from the base concept at 1.45 to the developer’s dream density of 3.25 FSR. According to an independent financial analyst (Meeting #23 Part 2) FSR 2.25 should be sufficient to ensure financial success of the project.

Special guest at this meeting was city councillor Adriane Carr, (Green Party). We hope that she came away with some new insights. Joo Kim Tiah (The Holborn Group President – who makes a rare speaking appearance here) has stated his intention to take this plan before City Hall.

Projected view from duck pond at QE Park

Also, check out this Mainlander New article about Meeting #26 at this URL: http://themainlander.com/2011/12/12/little-mountain-why-the-struggle-for-social-housing-is-more-pressing-now-than-ever/

Connect to the The City of Vancouver’s Little Mountain Site Planning Program, and their NOTICE OF THE OPEN HOUSES.

Here are some of the MAJOR TOPICS and HIGHLIGHTS of Meeting #26 (complete two-hour meeting) and where to find them:

00:02 – Joo Kim Tiah explains why iconic Social Housing defender James Green resigned from The Holborn Group.

00:07 – Ben Johnson briefly discusses the pocket of single family residences to the North and East of Little Mountain (bordered by Main and 33rd) known as the NE Quadrant, and plans to integrate them into the larger development plan. Ben goes on to give short overview, interesting if you’ve never heard it before.

00:10 – Johnson explains the consequences of a “disconnect” between where the community wants to be, and where Holborn wants to be — it will go to City Council.

00:12 – Johnson answers question: “How far is this plan from the community vision?” You can find out for yourself by viewing Meeting #25, the analysis of public opinion gathered from the last July 2011 Open House.

Little Mountain Redevelopment: Meeting #25 Public Comments Analysed from David Vaisbord on Vimeo.

00:14 – Architect James Cheng presents overview of the last 2 years. If you’re new to this process you may want to review this. Cites the Stanley King process, viewable at Meeting#1 The Stanley King Experience (short version) and Long Version.

00:24 – Cheng suggests that the Community Advisory Committee accept responsibility for the hardship of the former residents of Little Mountain, who have been waiting 2 years to return to their homes – since the BC Gov’t demolished them. Translation: “Hurry up and approve this development.” Also see David Chudnovsky (1:02).

00:26 – Cheng suggest that saving trees on the site preserves the “memory” of the site as the first major social housing project constructed in British Columbia. Also see Ingrid Steenhuisen on memory (1:09).

00:33 – Christopher Phillips landscape presentation – green elements.

00:40 – Traffic projections on the new site plan – only for people who drive.

00:46 – Views of Models and Presentation materials – take a look at ‘em. Put them into context by linking to Density Models – The Movie! which I shot after the July 2011 Open House, when 6 density models were presented. You’ll understand what densites of 1.45 to 3.25 FSR look like.

Little Mountain Redevelopment: Density Models – The Movie! from David Vaisbord on Vimeo.

00:48 – Pat St. Michel presents the planning department’s critique of plan. Lot’s of height – no daylight.

1:00 – Neighbour comments on shadow impacts, and that presentation materials only show March, but not December shadows. Say goodbye to the sun.

1:02 – Former MLA David Chudnovsky makes compelling arguments for the rejection of the plan and the developer, owing to absurdly high density, lack of affordability and transparency. Among other things, he refutes James Cheng’s plea for the suffering of the ex-tenants. (00:24). He reminds the assembly that it was his community that fought long and hard against the premature demolition, and that the responsibility for the suffering of former residents should be borne by those who destroyed it: the Liberal Government of British Columbia and The Holborn Group.

1:09 – Ingrid Steenhuisen (Little Mountain project resident) asks why memory of the housing complex – in the form of the preservation of the last building currently standing on the Little Mountain site – has not been thoroughly investigated. A rebuttal to Cheng’s idea that tree preservation is sufficient. (00:26)

1:13 – RPSC’s Norm Dooley, makes compelling arguments for the rejection of the plan and the developer citing lack of sustainability on any level. In particular, he contrasts the Holborn plan to similar successful re-developments across Vancouver which densified — within reasonable limits. Norm mentions Arbutus Walk, which was toured by the Advisory Committee in 2010 and viewable on Vimeo at Meeting #15 Arbutus Walk – Touring a major housing site.

Little Mountain Redevelopment: Meeting #15 Arbutus Walk – Touring a major housing site – Low Res/Standard Def from David Vaisbord on Vimeo.

1:22 – Ned Jacobs challenges the notion that there will be sufficient civic amenities to service a project of this scale, owing to current overcrowding at the new Hillcrest centre.

1:26 – Community member recalls the past 2 years of meetings, and reminds the architect that the community has waited for 2 years for him to lay down his cards with respect to the scale and scope of the project. She argues that the community has come a long way to accepting higher density, but that the scale of the proposal is impossible to accept.

1:42 – Community members suggest that community and developer may part company.
_________________________________________________________________

Little Mountain Public Open Houses:
Thursday Jan 26 @7pm – 9pm
Saturday Jan 28 @11am – 2pm
Brock Elementary School – 4860 Main street (at 33rd Ave)

_________________________________________________________________

David Vaisbord
Self-appointed documentary filmmaker-in-residence.
Little Mountain Community

Note: If you have questions about FSR and the economic arguments mentioned in discussion please view Meeting #23 – PART 2 The Economic Analysis in this video series. In this meeting, the independent financial analyst identifies FSR 2.25 as being sufficient for the developer to make a profit, and public amenities to be constructed. Watch it here:

Little Mountain Redevelopment: Meeting#23 – PART 2 The Economic Analysis from David Vaisbord on Vimeo.

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Housing Debate 2011 – Anton vs “Occupy Vancouver” vs Robertson

I recorded this debate for three reasons.

The first is that I attended and recorded the only previous debate of its kind, in exactly the same time and place, 3 years ago. The debaters were Peter Ladner and Gregor Robertson. In that debate the future of Little Mountain was still not certain. Both debaters were asked if they would be in favour of delaying its demolition. Ladner answered no, he was in favour of the Liberal government’s ideas. Robertson’s answer was vague: he was willing to look into other options. The rest is a fascinating and convoluted story, that has left you (the taxpayer) holding onto land with all its economic value stripped from it (for the next 5 to 25 years) for the benefit of an off-shore developer, while a viable community was destroyed, dispersed and forgotten.

Read all about it in Tommy Thompson’s thesis on Little Mountain. It really gets swinging by page 80. There’s a link to it on this website.

The second reason I attended, was that I wanted to know more about the future of Vision’s homeless and affordable housing strategy for Vancouver, and hear Anton’s challenge to it.

The third was to see if Vancouver’s homeless and underhoused were any more militant after 3 years of record real estate increases, and reno-victions.

The Great Debate/Opera

So on to the Great Debate, which if you missed it no worries, my camera was at the eye of the storm, thanks to Lauren Gill (Vancouver civic election candidate and winner of Last Candidate Standing) who gave me a seat in the candidates area.

Lauren Gill was active in the movement to save Little Mountain Social Housing Project. I met her in 2008, as I began shooting my documentary there. In fact, she set up the one and only “Occupy Little Mountain” camp in the winter of 2009.

Lauren Gill

As I expand my web documentary at littlemountainproject.com scenes with Lauren will appear on line. She is sharp, articulate, and compassionate.

A note on the DEBATE/OPERA:

Clearly, there not sufficient time structured into the debate for the public to pose questions to the candidates. Anton and Robertson “had other business to attend to” just as soon as Q&A began.

Promises are made to the attending public

As a result, promises that the public would speak after “official questions” were not kept. At least 20 audience members who lined up at the open microphone did not speak. This audience did not come to be spoken to, they wanted dialogue. Why was there not ample time for Q&A? You’ll have to ask the organizers and the participants to answer that one.

Zimmerman asks the debaters to accept questions from the public.

What “Occupy Vancouver” was shouting throughout the meeting, may have been right after all: “City hall is not listening…” However, I have to say to say this to OV, that although Democracy may at times “look like this”, it’s not its best side. The uproar that followed was however, free and entertaining political theatre.

There was never any danger of a real riot. I didn’t see any Canucks jerseys in the crowd.


Click on the image above to play the video.

NB: Apologies to Mayor Robertson for the typo in the opening credit of the video. (“you say Robinson, I say Robertson!”) It will be corrected asap. Actually it won’t. Sorry about that I’ll have to blame my staff. Where are my copy editors?

Closing words by Sandra Garossino, Independent Candidate for City Hall.

Finally, kudos to St.Andrew’s-Wesley United Church for taking on the the challenge of presenting this increasingly contentious debate.

Stay tuned.

Yours
David Vaisbord
filmmaker
littlemountainproject.com

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Meeting #25 The Summer 2011 Open House Analysis

Meeting #25
(Little Mountain Neighbourhood House Sept. 20, 2011)
The Analysis of Comment Forms from the July 2011 Open Houses

This thumbnail photo below, is a graph that shows strong community opposition to an element of Holborn’s (the developer) July 2011 site plans.

Little Mountain Redevelopment: Meeting #25 The Community Voice & the July 2011 Open Houses from David Vaisbord on Vimeo.

Note: If the size of this video image is too small, by clicking on any of the blue highlighted links above you will connect with my VIMEO site, which allows you to chose from a wide variety of screen sizes.

If you were one of the 500 people who attended Little Mountain’s July 2011 Open Houses, you have to watch this presentation. Here you will find some of the results of the Comment Forms YOU FILLED OUT resolved into easy-to-read graphic representation. Much to think about.

In the second part of the video the architect, James Cheng gives the committee a lecture on density and our growing city. He warns the group that the proposal that received the highest approval rating – the lowest density proposal – will never be built. Mr Cheng states that Holborn Properties would rather “walk away” from the housing project.

So where do we go from here? Does the community’s aspirations for this property match those of the developer, or will they always be at odds? And why did Jim Green, one of Vancouver’s most notable social housing advocates, recently resign as Holborn Properties’ representative for this project? Mr. Green appears at this meeting but does not address the group. I wonder if he will return to the project as an independent observer or participant?

James Cheng promises to go back to the drawing board, and come with new ideas as soon as (rumour has it) the end of November, so MORE COMMUNITY MEMBERS need to come out to the next meeting. Big decisions ahead!


Here’s more interviews from the Open House not previously uploaded to this site, including voices of a couple of visitors to the Open House, the architect, and an urban planner.


And if you haven’t seen it yet, don’t forget to watch my favourite video from OPEN HOUSE 2011.

I’m looking for fresh ideas on how to include more community voices into this web-based project. If you are interested in sharing your opinions by appearing on video, on this site, email me at vaisbord@gmail.com and we can talk about where and when we can record it.

Please leave your comments below.
littlemountainproject.com

Best,
David Vaisbord

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Little Mountain Redevelopment: Meeting #1 // The Stanley King Experience

Meeting #1
The Stanley King Experience
Originally Experienced: Feb 3, 2010

In the words of the immortal Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein ll: “Let’s start at the very beginning, it’s a very good place to start…”

In recent meetings of the Advisory Committee I’ve heard a tone that mixes exhaustion and authority in the voice of architect James Cheng, when he proclaims that: “We’ve been meeting for a year and half…!” And he’s right. The community knows that – they’ve attended all of them, unpaid. The community also attended both Open Houses in June of this year, and the reaction to the density models was unanimously negative. I’ll link to the charts in the next posting. But let’s get back to the beginning…

In February of 2010, the community of Little Mountain came out on mass, put aside preconceptions or prejudices, and 3 hours of their time to engage in a workshop led by Stanley King. The ideas generated were fresh and inspiring. 20% of those ideas were incorporated into the architects current (July 2011) plans. The other 80% vanished. What was the point of that exercise?

WHERE CAN YOU FIND THE RESULTS OF THAT MEETING?
Right Here. I’ve provided a link to the City of Vancouver website: Little Mountain Site Design Workshop hosted by Stanley King
You just won’t see most of these images and comments mentioned anywhere else. That’s why I’ve subtitled the short clip “the feel-good exercise”.

The exercise was one of documenting “community values” which were to become the “performance criteria” of the developer’s vision as reflected through the work of the architect. Stanley King urged us to: Look at OUR drawings, compare them to the ones James Cheng is NOW showing us and ask, “how did he incorporate our drawings into his housing plan?”

To take one example: Where are the community gardens? Even the Olympic Village now has a community garden.

Below, is the 2 short minute clip. You can access the longer 20 minute version of Meeting #1 by clicking on this link.

Little Mountain Redevelopment: Meeting #1 The Stanley King Experience! from David Vaisbord on Vimeo.

Best,
David Vaisbord
Filmmaker
Little Mountain Housing

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Little Mountain Redevelopment: Meeting #23 // The Tipping Point

This Little Mountain Advisory Committee meeting is particularly important to an understanding of the planning process, prior to the official Summer 2011 Open Houses. WHAT EXACTLY IS GOING ON*** with those density models can be answered by watching the 3-part series below. I’ve divided the meeting into three essential subjects for your viewing pleasure.

***How the developer’s proposed density models went from sane to insanely dense.

This is how they divide:

Part 1: The Density Reaction.
Deals with the community’s first reaction to density models.

Part 2: The Economic Analysis.
The redevelopment economics of Little Mountain is essential viewing for anyone living in the most expensive city in the world, and surprisingly easy to understand. Learn essential city planner jargon such as “land lift”. Compliments to Mr. Blair Erb of Coriolis Consulting for a compelling performance.

Part 3: A Memorandum to the Community of Little Mountain.
The architect reads the “Memorandum of Understanding” (signed by Mayor Sullivan in 1997). Floor opens up under participants. Warning: Watching this last act of the series may raise your blood pressure!

Make sure you’ve watched part 2 (financial analysis) before you watch this one. The question arises: Will Holborn Development, with the implicit support of the Liberal government force another 1000 units onto the Little Mountain site (condo heights will rise from 8 stories to 18 stories) to “PAY” for the replacement of pre-existing social housing? Housing that was GUARANTEED by the provincial government and BC Housing as a “GIVEN” owing to its destruction in the first instance?

The community takes a collective gasp, but the story has not yet reached its climax. Hold onto your seats for the surprise ending!

Note: Next week I’ll post the First Meeting of the Advisory Committee, in which the community was asked what the wanted to see in the redevelopment plans. It all began with the Stanley King Experience…

David Vaisbord

THE MEETINGS:

 

Little Mountain Redevelopment: Meeting#23 – PART 1 The Density Reaction from David Vaisbord on Vimeo.

Little Mountain Redevelopment: Meeting#23 – PART 2 The Economic Analysis from David Vaisbord on Vimeo.

Little Mountain Redevelopment: Meeting#23 PART 3 – A Memorandum To the Community of Little Mountain from David Vaisbord on Vimeo.

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