At Langara University with Dr. Wendy Sarkissian and Guests

Last night I joined Dr. Wendy Sarkissian‘s Urban Planning class at Langara University in the company of dedicated civic activists including Eileen Mosca of Grandview, Gudrun Langolf of Marpole, Ned Jacobs of Riley Park/South Cambie, Randy Helten of Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver and Jak King, president of the Grandview-Woodland Area Council.

Vaisbord@LANGARA2_finalwebsize

Vaisbord speaks to Langara University Planning Students on Oct 21, 2014

It was a great conversation. King’s overview of the event is here on his blog:  Jak’s View of Vancouver.  And kudos to students April and Elona who did a great job of of organizing the session.

Undergraduate Student, Ned Jacobs, Jak King in Sarkissian’s Langara Classroom

Dr. Wendy Sarkissian was featured in a video I posted last year titled: Densification Wars: A Conversation with Dr. Wendy Sarkissian PhD.  Sarkissian’s students who come from all parts of the globe, were eager to be informed about the current state of community and urban planning in Vancouver.

The Langara class began with a discussion of the Little Mountain Project.  A key discussion point was the clip A Moment of Truth.  The flaw within the community consultation process is clearly visible. Planner Ben Johnson must inform the community that their recommendations will never be accepted:  “a higher level of direction” controls the process that includes both senior staff and City Council  — all Vision Party dominated — rendering the entire process, nearly irrelevant.

Vaisbord@LANGARA_websize

Vaisbord speaks on the Little Mountain Project – Vancouver planner Ben Johnson projected on screen, from a video entitled: “Meeting 29: The Moment of Truth”.

I qualify the process as “nearly irrelevant” because the community, with the assistance of the planning department accomplished what they set out to do. The community was ready to unanimously support a final document but that document wasn’t good enough for “senior staff” who opted for a higher density than that recommended by the community. The fact that Vision staff and councillors chose to poison the well in the end was a huge disappointment to everyone, except the developer Holborn Properties, of course.
This, and many other flawed consultation processes are coming back to haunt the Vision Party as it seeks re-election by angry Vancouver communities seeking input into the future of their city.

All for now,
David
For information on how to support the film project go to: http://www.littlemountainfilm.com/

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Meet the NEW architect for Little Mountain – Gary Andrishak

Welcome to the LMP screening room.  

For those of you who missed this meeting last week at the Hillcrest Community Centre, here is your video update. Gary’s talk begins around the 7 minute mark.

Advisory Committee Meeting 38: Meeting the New Architect from David Vaisbord on Vimeo.

Andrishak has stated that he does not see LM as a tower site. He quoted urban design educator and writer Jan Gehl, “a city is not the buildings alone, it’s the spaces between them that matter most.” The Advisory Committee has been concerned about urban space at Little Mountain since 2010. If you want to feel like you were there, open a second window and click through his PowerPoint PDF (courtesy of Vancouver Planning) as he speaks.

In the Q&A that follows Deborah Butler – one of the 7 members of the Advisory Committee who drafted the Community’s Position on the Policy Statement – compliments Andrishak on his presentation, but urges him to consider the neighbourhood’s criticisms of the policy statement as ratified by City Council in 2012.  I would encourage Andrishak to review both Advisory Committee Meeting 35, and Part 1 of the City Hall session of June 2012, which deal with density and height. The Little Mountain Policy Statement itself can be viewed by clicking HERE.

Other subjects covered in the meeting are:

  • The timetable of the Rezoning Process.
  • Rightsizing the retail component of the project.
  • Employing swails to deal with excess water on the property.
  • How the legibility and visibility of ground floor entryways can enhance community.
  • Inclusive design that fits many generations of user.
  • Re-energizing the community around this NEW rezoning process, through new signage around the property or by other means.
  • The constant evolution of the project, and how the new building already renders the old site plan obsolete.
  • The challenges of phasing in Social Housing over the many project phases to come.
  • The timetable for completing the first Social Housing building = late 2014 or 2015.
  • The obligation for all future builders on the site to abide by the policy statement.

PS: The discussion gets heated, and humourous at the end.

With my compliments to all participants in the room.

David Vaisbord
The Little Mountain Project.
Know MORE at littlemountainproject.com

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 #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 #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 #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 #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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