Grandview-Woodland group wants spot rezoning halted

The Grandview-Woodland Area Council is calling for a 10-year moratorium on spot rezoning in the neighbourhood.

The group sent a letter outlining its position to the City of Vancouver-funded Citizens’ Assembly, which is working on developing recommendations for Grandview-Woodland’s community plan.

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GWAC asks the Citizens’ Assembly to include a “strong direction” for a moratorium in its final report.

GWAC members argue the city has used spot rezoning in neighbourhoods such as Mount Pleasant to “circumvent local area plans and introduce development projects very different than those envisaged by community plans” and that spot rezoning has been used to allow large condominium towers.

“The Citizens’ Assembly’s final report and recommendations have not been issued yet, so obviously GWAC has no position on whether it supports or not the report and any or all of the recommendations it may contain,” the letter states. “However, it is GWAC’s view, that once a community plan has been adopted by the City, after the extensive Assembly process and the numerous public consultation meetings within the community, the City should not then invalidate the adopted Community Plan in an ad-hoc manner by the use of spot-zoning.”

Rachel Magnusson, the assembly’s chair, told the Courier the 48-member assembly will consider the letter. “It’s something the Citizens’ Assembly is already thinking about, I think, and so they’ll take that letter under advisement,” she said. “And I’m sure there will be discussion about it at their next meeting. In their current neighbourhood-wide recommendations there is some language about spot rezoning but they haven’t finalized that yet.”

The assembly meets Saturday to continue working on updating the latest draft of the neighbourhood-wide recommendations. (An older draft is posted online.) Magnusson expects the new document will be posted online in time for discussion and debate at the third public round table set for May 5.

Jim Fraser, a GWAC spokesman and a Grandview Woodland resident for 40 years, said its members likely have varying opinions on the Citizens’ Assembly. Some sit on the Citizens’ Assembly, some have been participating in the city-led workshops being held in conjunction with the assembly, others have decided not to participate. Some are also members of the group Our Community Our Plan, which has been critical of the assembly.

GWAC doesn’t have an official position and Fraser suspects it will likely wait until the final draft recommendations are out to comment. Fraser said there was debate about whether to send the letter now or not.

“Because the CA is coming up with recommendations, is in the process of drafting the recommendations now, the sense was we wanted to make our view on spot rezoning known,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it’s the big issue, but I think it’s a big issue and the rationale is in the letter. To clarify, there’s two levels of issues. One is what the plan or what the recommendations for the neighbourhood are when they finally draft them — and there may be issues about those recommendations that are big issues, or not. But then there’s another one. Once the plan is in place, one doesn’t want the city then invalidating or abrogating the plan and saying well, yeah, this is what the CA did and people accept it or not. But we’re just going to rezone something else — that’s the issue around spot rezoning. So it’s almost, in my mind, a higher level issue than what the recommendations of the CA are.”

The Citizens’ Assembly’s final report and recommendations will be presented to city council in June.

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