Dunbar Re-Vision

Planning by developer or planning by neighbourhoods?

December 4, 2012
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cknw_am980_vancouverA discussion of seniors housing in Dunbar did not go unnoticed by one of our residents. Again, the usual commentary suggested, “Why would anyone be against seniors housing in Dunbar?” A factual reply earned interesting insights as to how a developer’s perspective would change this city for increased density through enhanced spacial relationships with properties behind arterial streets. Here is the transcript:

CKNW – The Bill Good Show

Transcript of discussion

December 4, 2012, 9 – 9:30 am time slot.

Guests: Michael Geller, President Michael Geller Group; Lesli Boldt, President, Boldt Communications; Frances Bula, Civic Affairs columnist, Vancouver Magazine, The Globe and Mail

Caller Number 2:

Linda: “Hi, I’m calling about the six story proposed seniors residence in Dunbar.”

Bill Good: “Yah.”

Linda: “The problem is not the fact that it is a seniors residence, in fact, I think most of us would welcome a seniors residence in Dunbar. The fact is, the problem is, that it is six stories to seven stories tall, which means that the people behind that are separated only by a lane between their property and that property. The property, the seniors residence would be on the west side. That means they would get no sun anywhere in their property from about noon on, everyday of the year. So what we would have is a developer benefits from putting up this residence and makes profit at it, and the residents that are around there pay for it. Their property values are going to go down, and their quality of life will go down substantially. Uh, furthermore, we find that the a City, again is over riding our Vision plan that residents worked for the City with, talked about what we wanted, we said we were fine with four stories.”
Bill Good: “ But the developer says that four stories will not, eh, does not make business sense.”

Linda: “I realize that, but would you be happy with a wall 65-75 feet about 25 feet away from your property along the whole length of your property from front to back?”

Michael Geller: “So Bill, I agree with this concern. And, ah although I did say at a previous show that I thought the residents of Dunbar should not consider the Vision statement that they developed a few years ago as the bible, I do agree with the concern that there is something wrong with the juxtaposition of a five story or six story buildings with single family houses immediately behind, which is why the City Task Force did look at this idea of creating transition zones behind the arterials as literally a transition between the higher density buildings and the higher buildings and the single family areas. By taking the next row, if you like, the next block immediately behind, and saying, “You know what?” Why don’t we allow townhouses, stacked townhouses, and maybe three story apartments on those properties. Yet it will result in a bit of an increase in value for those properties, but then you begin to get a gradual transition in height.”

Bill Good: “But, does that force people to have to move?”

Michael Geller: “Over time, it might, but they have an option. They don’t have to move. But what it does do, is it begins to create to my mind, a better relationship between the higher buildings along arterials, and it’s not just Dunbar, it’s Broadway, it’s many other arterial streets, and the single family neighbourhood that I think most of us could accept continuing for decades to come.”

So there it is, presently zoned single family land is to be up zoned in the areas next to arterials? Can this be what they are possibly suggesting for the 4600 block of Dunbar? The Dunbar Vision plan contemplated this type of development in the village, not in single family zoned land. So which way will it go? Will the developers reshape our city as they plan when and where they will put in the developments, or will saner, sensible neighbourhood plans win out?

It is interesting to note that Harwood Developments, who own the Stongs land, do have a transition development planned. But, they would do so on appropriately zoned land in the village.

Thank you to our neighbour Linda for your vigilance and for a most revealing discussion.