Dunbar Re-Vision

Dunbar Vision Plan Endures as City Listens to Neighbourhood Voice.

March 6, 2013
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Today we have received word in the form of an email (below) that city staff have denied Pacific Arbour Retirement Communities proposal for six stories in the 4600 block of Dunbar Street. Here is the email:


I am writing to update you on a proposed rezoning in the 4600 block of Dunbar. You wrote to me with concerns about the proposed height and cost of the units for a six-storey seniors residence. City Hall received the application in December under the Affordable Housing Interim Rezoning bylaw, as part of our efforts to create new affordable housing in Vancouver.

With affordable housing, my goal as Mayor is to see new units created that fit with our neighbourhoods. It is crucial that these new projects deliver a significant level of affordability. Simply creating new housing is not enough to address the very high cost of housing that impacts our seniors, young people, and working families.

City staff carefully reviewed the proposal to see if it demonstrated an enhanced level of affordability. Based on the review of rents, as well as the community response to date, staff do not support the six-storey building proposed for the site. City staff have informed the applicant that they are welcome to submit a revised proposal that better incorporates staff feedback on affordability and input from the community.

On a final note, many people wrote to me claiming that this project was being “forced” on the community, without consultation. The process that has taken place over the past four months demonstrates that every project is reviewed carefully, on its merit, and that the City is strongly committed to ensuring new projects under the interim rezoning policy are affordable and fit with local neighbourhoods.

I hope that you will continue to provide feedback on how we can ensure new affordable housing, particularly for seniors, is built in Dunbar and neighbourhoods across Vancouver. Thank you for your input.


Mayor Gregor Robertson”

We are grateful that the neighbourhood’s voice was heard, and that the Dunbar Vision Plan has again shown it’s value to the community.

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