Wednesday, May 6, 2015

From PriceTags — Planners, Profs to Vancouver Council: We are "concerned about the future planning direction in the city"

April 13, 2015 
To: Mayor and Councilors, City of Vancouver 
Re: Procedural Fairness for the Proposed Re-zoning Application at 508 Helmcken Street (RTS No.10912)

Dear Mayor and Council, 
We are a group of Vancouver urban planners and academics including former City of Vancouver planners who are concerned about the future planning direction in the city. Our concerns relate to both the need for an overall planning framework for the city but also many individual project approvals which ignore long held planning values about the need for new developments to fit in with their surroundings. In this regard we are very concerned that the proposed development at 508 Helmcken Street is out of scale with its surroundings.
This was confirmed by the initial Urban Design Panel (UDP) review which rejected it 7-0. It is our understanding that the UDP panel reluctantly approved the project 5-3 when it was considered a second time, following very minor modifications, and only after an extraordinary intervention by the General Manager of Development Services who urged approval. 
While we acknowledge this project is in a unique situation we believe the current application warrants another review by the UDP prior to consideration at Public Hearing. This will provide the panel an opportunity to assess whether earlier concerns have been addressed. It will also allow new panel members to comment. 
This review will also hopefully provide guidance to Council and staff on how far the city should deviate from accepted zoning and planning guidelines in order to achieve much desired affordable housing and other amenities. 
We therefore respectfully urge city staff and Council to refer this application back to the UDP prior to another formal Public Hearing. 

Thank-you for your consideration of this request. 

Yours sincerely,.
Lance Berelowitz, Principal, Urban Forum Associates 
Ken Cameron, Former Manager of Policy and Planning, Greater Vancouver Regional District; Adjunct Professor of Urban Studies, Simon Fraser University
Patrick Condon, Chair, Master of Urban Design Program, UBC
Frank Ducote, former Senior Urban Designer, City of Vancouver Planning Department
Michael Geller, President, The Geller Group; Adjunct Professor, SFU Centre for Sustainable Community Development 
Dr. Penny Gurstein, Director, School of Community and Regional Planning, UBC.
Colleen Hardwick, CEO, PlaceSpeak 
Scot Hein, Urban Designer, Campus and Community Planning; Adjunct Professor of Urban Design, SALA, UBC 
Ray Spaxman, Former Director, City of Vancouver Planning Department; Principal, Spaxman Consulting Group .
Erick Villagomez, Principal, Metis Design Build 

Read more: A Dilemma for Our Times: The Brenhill/Jubilee House Rezoning

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