Dunbar Re-Vision

Wanted – People who Care to Be Part of the Solution

December 3, 2012
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Back on the October 30th Bill Good show, Frances Bula said in response to Bill Good explaining that Dunbar Re-Vision was having a protest,  “And a quite vigorous one, like they are planning a march, or a rally, or something, at City Hall next/on November 16th and they had a meeting that drew 250 people the other night.” 

I started wondering about that comment, which led me to her blog post that garnered 103 comments. See: Post Frances was aware her blog was resonating with the community when she made that comment. Appreciating what it takes to have people respond to a post, I dug further into the story.

 I started reading the comments, and I encourage you to do the same. It is evident from the comments, that Vancouver Vision policy and the key word “Dunbar” were colliding, and at the same time touching a nerve in the community. It also made me aware of the gross  misunderstanding of the issues that existed among individuals. Some people tend to stereo type, and generalize,  and their reality is  what their memories tell them.

The internet grants the entire spectrum of society an opportunity to voice their opinion. That’s the nice thing about the internet, it’s very democratic (I wish Dunbar Re-Vision had that same opportunity with city council see this site).

And here are samples of comments:

 “ … god bless the people power of the People’s Republic of Dunbar.”

“ … this is Dunbar, a fantasy place that has never accepted its fair share of growth/development/social service facilities.”

“ … remember that it was group of Dunbarites and Shaughnessy dwellers that held the reins for decades …”

“ Vision Vancouver is in line with the ICLEI agenda with that of their major sponsor Joel Solomon that of Hollyhock and last that of Agenda 21.”

“ I once met a planner … When I asked him what the greatest obstacle to sustainability in Vancouver is, his immediate reply was the Dunbar Residents Association.”

“True to form, Dunbarites oppose any densification, wanting to pull up the drawbridge.”

As a Dunbar resident,  all I can think to say is, “Ouch!” 

Does our past define us forever? Has the community not sufficiently changed to warrant a new characterization? I went searching for some answers.

 Here are some facts to consider:

In the two polling stations, in the 2011 civic election,  that comprise the bulk of Dunbar, Mayor Robertson of Vancouver Vision received 48% of votes offered for mayor, and he did win polling station 113, one half of Dunbar. The 1030 votes cast, represent approximately 5% of the population (we do not have the registered voters number).

Polling Station 112 113 Total Votes
Gregor Robertson 390 564 954
Suzanne Anton 552 478 1030

Next, I went looking for information on immigration in the Metro Vancouver area. At this site , I happened to isolate data for the two polling areas identifed above. Here is where some of the almost 40,000 immigrants who arrive each year in Metro Vancouver are laying down their roots.

Enthinicity/Polling Station Area 112(% of ethnic pop)/(Metro avg.) 113(% of ethnic pop)/(Metro avg.)
English 31.8 (23.1) 33.8 (23.1)
Scottish 23.01 (16.1) 25.5 (16.1)
Chinese 22.3 (18.2) 17.9 (18.2)
Irish 17.2 (12) 20.4 (12)
French 10.6 (6.5) 5.8 (6.5)
German 8.8 (9.7) 12.1 (9.7)

So what I see from my brief gander into the make up of Dunbar, of those of us who did vote (a scant too few), almost half of us voted for the Mayor. And we continue to have a broad based community of ethnicities.

In my view, we:

  1. have to increase voter engagement,
  2. have to stop falling prey to the “divide and conquer” tactic used by too many in our community. It is easy to be negative, rather than taking the harder journey to provide solutions.
  3. have to receive transparency from our civic leaders, see this site,
  4. have to keep asking for public consultation, and
  5. have to start supporting our fellow resident associations, showing increasing numbers at future civic gatherings (see this site ).

Are you ready to be part of the solution?

Respectfully submitted,

Mike Andruff

See What Your Neighbours are Saying

October 28, 2012
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The news of the proposed development at the 4600 block of Dunbar is getting out into the community, and most people are very opposed to the project. Here are some of the comments that we have received from concerned residents of the Dunbar community.

See What Your Neighbours are Saying

Big Turnout at our Town Hall Meeting – UPDATED

October 26, 2012
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UPDATE – A new article in the Vancouver Courier

Our Town Hall meeting was a roaring success. We filled the hall to standing room only. Notable among the participants were current Vancouver City Councillors George Affleck, Elizabeth Ball, and Adriane Carr.

It was evident from those attending that there is STRONG opposition to the Pacific Arbour development proposal. We need to work hard to continue to apply pressure to City Hall and Pacific Arbour to stop this development from happening.

Passionate arguments followed a presentation of the methods required to make our position known with the City Hall. Additionally, speakers encouraged citizens to rally together with other resident associations to send City Hall the message that we demand to put the Community back in the Community planning process.

We encourage everyone who cares about their neighbourhood to prepare their letters to the Mayor, Council, AND Pacific Arbour.

Many volunteers stepped forward and participants donated generously .

Thank you to everyone who attended and made the evening such a success.

Check out  some media coverage

The Facts about the Pacific Arbour Proposal

October 14, 2012
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The meeting on October 4, 2012 at St. Phillips Gymnasium hosted by Pacific Arbour Retirment Communities introduced the Dunbar community to a proposal to build a minimum six story seniors home in the 4600 block of Dunbar Street.

Here are the facts:

Dear Neighbour,

We wanted to make you aware of the proposed redevelopment of the 4600 block of Dunbar Street (just south of Stong’s) that if approved would set the standard for all new developments in and around Dunbar Village and would dramatically change the look and feel of our community.

What is being proposed:

  1. The 6 single-family homes in the 4600 block of Dunbar Street will be redeveloped into a 6 to 7 storey rental apartment complex.

2.  The building will exceed the height guidelines set out in the Vancouver City Council-endorsed Dunbar Vision by two to three storeys and will fill the entire block.

3.   The building will house a private, for profit, rental residence for seniors which will be rented at market rates.

The following is a Q & A about the proposed redevelopment of the 4600 block of Dunbar Street:

1)    The proposal is for a 6 to 7 storey building where six houses are currently located.  I thought Dunbar has a limit of 4 stories for new developments?

Dunbar residents came together a few years ago to decide what their shared vision was for future redevelopment of Dunbar.  That work resulted in the ‘Dunbar Vision ’ which was endorsed by Vancouver City Council and put height restrictions for redevelopment in DunbarVillage at 4 storeys.

However, on October 3rd, 2012, Vancouver City Council rezoned single-family home neighbourhoods in Vancouver so that they can be transformed into high-density condos and rental apartments.

Under something called an ‘Interim ReZoning Policy,’ developers are allowed to apply to redevelop single family home neighbourhoods into mid-rise condos and rental apartments of up to six storeys in height (and in special circumstances even higher) on transit arteries within 500 metres of neighbourhood centres (i.e. 4600 block of Dunbar Street).  Developers are also allowed to apply to redevelop single family home neighbourhoods into duplexes and row-housing of up to 3.5 storeys in height on streets within 1.5 blocks of transit arteries.

Furthermore, the City of Vancouver is giving the go-ahead to 2 redevelopment projects per major transit artery (up to 20 citywide) before it plans to review the new ‘Interim ReZoning Policy.’  There are strong indications that the proposed redevelopment of the 4600 block of Dunbar Street is one of the projects expected to be approved by City Hall.

2)    This sounds like a pretty big change for Dunbar. How come I’ve heard so little about it?

The developer, Pacific Arbour Retirement Communities, held an introductory meeting on Thursday, October 4th at St. Phillip’s Anglican Church.  Pacific Arbour had mailed invitations to Dunbar residents who live near the proposed redevelopment.

3)    You’ve mentioned the development will house a private, for-profit rental residence for seniors.  Can you provide more information about services and cost?

The estimated cost to rent an entry level one bedroom suite in a Pacific Arbour Retirement Community property is approximately $5,000 per month for single occupancy and $5800 for double occupancy.  Rent includes three meals a day, utilities, some recreation and 24 hour a day security. Pacific Arbour would not provide estimated rental costs of two or three bedroom suites.

4)    How does Pacific Arbour Retirement Communities pricing compare with other private retirement homes in BC?

According to SunLife Financial’s October 2011 report on Long Term Care Costs in British Columbia, the average cost of a private room in comparable senior’s residences in BC is between $995.00 to $3,500.00 per month. The average cost of a private one bedroom suite in comparable senior’s residences in BC is between $1,595.00 to $5,400.00 per month.

5)    What is the difference between what Pacific Arbour Communities is offering and what is offered in a nursing home?

Nursing homes provide 24-hour professional nursing care and supervision for people who can no longer be cared for where they currently live (i.e. an independent living residence).

Pacific Arbour Retirement Communities own and operate ‘independent living residences’ that do not have nurses on staff.

Pacific Arbour says residents are allowed to arrange for some private care in their suites (at additional cost to the resident) but if residents become seriously ill or develop serious medical conditions like dementia, they will have to move out of the residence.

6)    Why does the developer want to build in the 4600 block of Dunbar?

As mentioned above, Vancouver City Council has rezoned single-family home neighborhoods like Dunbar so that they can be redeveloped into high-density condo, rental apartments and row housing.  As Pacific Arbour Retirement Communities is proposing a 100% rental apartment building, the company is confident that City Hall will approve the development.

Pacific Arbour also believes there is a strong market in Dunbar for its product.  Pacific Arbour President Peter Gaskill said that Dunbar seniors who have become ‘land wealthy’ and are ready to downsize, can spend their retirement in Dunbar by selling their homes and moving into the Pacific Arbour Retirement Community.  However, he also admitted that about 50% of residents of the retirement community would end up needing nursing care and therefore would be forced to move to another facility outside of Dunbar.

7)    Do Dunbar residents have an opportunity to provide feedback about the proposed project?

Under the City of Vancouver’s new ‘Interim ReZoning Policy,’ developers only have to demonstrate three main things in order to get their development approved. They are:

(1) maximized level of affordability in the project.

(2) urban design performance (i.e. consideration of shadow analysis, view impacts,          frontage length, building massing, setbacks).

(3) demonstrate a degree of community support.

Therefore, Pacific Arbour is only looking for community feedback on the design of the condo complex.

Anyone interested in providing input on how the 6 to 7 storey building will look is invited to attend one of two workshops.

  • Saturday, November 3, 2012 from 9:30 a.m.  to 12:30 p.m. and
  • Thursday, November 8, 2012 from 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Registration is by phone at 604.742.3211 or via email at jmarzolf@marzolf.ca. Space is limited to 45 people per session.


8)    Do Dunbar residents have an opportunity to provide feedback about whether a 6 to 7 storey, block-long building is the right fit for the community?

Pacific Arbour says it is in the early stages of the development process and has not yet made a formal application with the City of Vancouver.  Once a formal application is made, a public hearing will be held at City Hall (date to be determined). Anyone who considers themselves affected by the proposed by-law amendments may speak to the Public Hearing provided they register individually prior to the hearing via email, phone or in person.  More information is available by calling 604.873.7038 or Vancouver.ca/rezapps.

9)    Should Dunbar residents wait for a public hearing to voice their opinions about the project?

No.  You need to act now. Here’s why:

(1)  The City of Vancouver is implementing a plan to fast-track development applications for rental housing.

(2)  The Mayor of Vancouver has already endorsed the redevelopment of the 4600 block of Dunbar Street even though the developer, Pacific Arbour, says it has not yet made a formal development application with the City of Vancouver.

(3)  The Mayor of Vancouver thinks Dunbar residents who are concerned about the proposed development are afraid of change and are being selfish.

Here is a transcript of an interview Mayor Gregor Robertson did on the Bill Good Show on CKNW radio on October 4, 2012:

            Bill Good: “I’m trying to get my head around why a six storey seniors’ home would          be problematic in a place like Dunbar?”

            Mayor Robertson: “Well, any change can be problematic for some people. That’s           the reality. When we are dealing with changes in neighbourhoods, when we are         trying   to get something as beneficial as affordable housing into a neighbourhood centre,       on a transit route, it’s going to affect somebody and some people will be upset about it    … and they’re / we have to adapt to that change. When we have an affordability             crisis    of this magnitude, we have to do something about it.  It’s not OK to just sit back. There      are a hell of a lot more people that are impacted by the lack of affordability than would             be by some of these places adjusting, adapting and embracing some new housing.”  


    10)  Pacific Arbour is a private, for profit seniors’ residence, how is it related to affordability?


Pacific Arbour says that in order to offer rooms that start at on average $5,000 per month in rent, and for the company to be profitable, the residence needs to have a total floor area of approximately 125,000 square feet (e.g. the building must be 6 to 7 storeys high).

     11)  I’m not against seniors housing in Dunbar. But what I am against is having a section of Dunbar Street which is now single family homes, transformed into a six to seven story high, city-block long, commercial, mega apartment complex.  What can I do?


Make your voice heard:

Write, email, Tweet, Facebook and call the Mayor of Vancouver to voice your concerns (contact information is below).

All you have to do is include your name, contact information, your opposition to the proposal, and signature on the letter and then mail it.

Mail/In person        Mayor Gregor Robertson             Phone: 604-873-7621

3rd Floor, City Hall     Email: gregor.robertson@vancouver.ca

453 West 12th Ave                      Twitter: @mayorgregor

Vancouver, BC V5Y 1V4       Facebook: VancouverMayorsOffice

     12)  What else can I do?

Get Involved:

Attend a Dunbar Town Hall Meeting.  Thursday, October 25, 2012, starting at 7:00 pm at St Phillips’s Anglican Church, Gymnasium, 3737 West 27th Ave.

Connect with Dunbar Community Members (voicemail) 604.264.7444.

Learn more about the Dunbar Vision Implementation (Peter Sven) 604.263.7529.

Add your name to a petition calling for the City of Vancouver to comply with the Dunbar Vision plan.

Talk to your neighbours.  Get their opinions and encourage them to get involved too.

Thank you for your time,

Dunbar Re-Vision