Council discusses 2040 Transportation plan and rezoning in DTES
The regular Vancouver City Council meeting of October 30, 2012 came to order at 9:34 a.m. Councillor Elizabeth Ball gave the welcome and asked that everyone give a thought to the people affected by Hurricane Sandy and Saturday’s earthquake. She then read a quote from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Mayor Robertson proclaimed today Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival Day. He introduced Terry Hunter, the director of the Heart of the City Festival, who thanked the festivals supporters. Hunter then introduced local aboriginal slam poet Zaccheus Jackson. Jackson performed two slam poems, the second about Remembrance Day. Jackson’s performance was so powerful that when he had finished, Mayor Robertson jokingly suggested adjourning for the day.
The council then passed a motion to meet on October 31 for an “In Camera” meeting—a meeting closed to the public, where information of a sensitive nature is discussed.
Next on the agenda were the matters adopted on consent. The council is able to adopt administrative reports in a single motion, unless any councillor asks that a report be held for debate. The report “Selection of Operator, Lease of City-owned Property, and Approval of Grants for the Child Development Facility at Woodward’s (111 West Hastings)” was approved. The report recommends that the YMCA be allowed to lease and operate the child development facility on the seventh floor of the Woodward’s building. Councillor George Affleck requested that the other administrative report, “Engineering Services Superintendent Vehicle: Lease Conversions,” be held for discussion.
Vancouver’s director of transportation, Jerry Dobrovolny, presented a Report Reference regarding the 2040 Transportation draft plan.
The goals of the 2040 plan is to increase trips by bike, foot and transit to two-thirds of all trips taken in 2040 and to achieve zero transportation-related fatalities. As of 2008, trips by bike, foot and transit account for 40 per cent of all trips around Vancouver. Dobrovolny emphasized that the plan is not a war on cars. It is, he said, a strategy for the city to keep everyone moving as Vancouver’s population grows.
Council passed a motion to refer the Report Reference to the City Finance and Services meeting at 1:30pm, so that they could hear speakers.
Before moving on with other business, council needed to finish discussing the controversial CD-1 Rezoning of 955 East Hastings Street. The rezoning would allow Wall Financial Corporation to build a 12-story, mixed-use building with 352 residential units, 70 of which would be social housing units, but only 23 of which would be rented at shelter rates.
Councillor Adriane Carr was concerned with the development application because it does not meet with the requirements of the “Interim Rezoning Policy during the Preparation of the Downtown Eastside Local Area Planning Program,” which requires that rezoning applications ensure at least 60 per cent of total residential units are provided for social housing.
Grant Miller, the city’s rezoning planner, explained that this application is excluded from the policy, because it was made before March 2012, when the interim policy came into effect.
Councillor Raymond Louie made a motion to pass the application, with additional conditions. He called for council to pass the motion, quoting a speaker the council heard from on the issue: “We cannot afford to wait!”
Councillor Carr motioned to refer the matter to city staff and the Downtown Eastside local area planning committee. She urged the other councilors to support grassroots democracy and received cheers from the local people filling the public seating area in the council chamber.
Affleck supported Carr’s referral and suggested that Councillor Louie’s additional conditions be passed onto the staff and local area planning committee.
“We can wait,” he said, prompting cheers from the audience.
Councillor Kerry Jang responded to Carr and Affleck by arguing that the building would provide housing where there currently is none, and was met with boos.
Councillor Andrea Reimer set out the conditions under which the application had to be considered, emphasizing the fact that the interim policy did not apply. She made her points clearly and convincingly, despite being visibly upset about the issue.
Carr’s referral was opposed by all Vision Vancouver councilors and failed to pass. She then spoke to the main motion, saying that she was grateful for Louie’s amendments, but that she could not support the motion.
Jang then spoke in support of the motion, saying that he would not vote against housing. He was interrupted by a man from the audience, who shouted that other people would lose their homes because of the development.
Mayor Robertson asked the man in the audience not to interrupt the speaker. Jang continued with his reasons for supporting the bill, but the end of his speech was met with more criticism from the man in the audience.
Affleck said that he would not support the motion and was followed by Councillor Tim Stevenson, who didn’t understand why councilors Carr and Affleck were voting against housing. The end of his speech also elicited a response from the very vocal spectator. At this point Mayor Robertson threatened to kick the man out. The man continued to shout and was removed from the chamber.
Councillor Elizabeth Ball said she was happy to vote for housing, but that the application for 955 East Hastings didn’t include enough social housing, considering the money the city would be spending.
Mayor Robertson spoke in favour of the motion. He blamed low social housing on lack of funding from the provincial and federal governments. He also claimed the area in question was a “dead zone,” to prompted sarcastic responses from a female member of the public.
The motion passed with councilors Affleck, Ball and Carr opposed.
The administrative report Councillor Affleck had pulled was then discussed. The report calls for the replacement of four internal combustion engine vehicles in the Vancouver city with four electric vehicles. Affleck, Ball and Tang had questions about the report, but in the end it carried unanimously.
Thirty-three bylaws were passed without opposition, as was the one administrative motion, “Approval of Form Development: 7299 Granville Street (Shannon Mews).”
There were five motions on notice before council. Two were requests for leaves of absence, one for Robertson and one for Jang. Both passed unanimously. Carr also had a motion on notice called “Long Term Security for Community Gardens.” Councillor Heather Deal motioned that it be referred to city staff for details on the ongoing work on community gardens, before going to the meeting for Planning, Transportation and Environment on November 28, where the council will hear from speakers. Carr was fine with the referral and it passed unanimously.
Councillor Deal also had a motion on notice, “Update City Awards Program.” The motion was a request to staff for recommendations on improving the city’s awards program. It was carried unanimously.
The final motion on notice came from Councillor Reimer. The motion, “Establishing a Children, Youth and Family Advisory Committee,” includes a report from The Family Court/Youth Justice Committee.
Reimer motioned for a referral to the Planning, Transportation and Environment meeting on October 31, so that council could hear from speakers. The motion passed unopposed and with no new business introduced, the meeting adjourned at a quarter to one.