Residents RAMP up suit against City of Vancouver

Mount Pleasant group seeks to defeat Rize development in court

The Mount Pleasant Residents’ Association has filed a court petition against the City of Vancouver in a bid to quash the development and building permit granted to Rize Alliance properties July 14 for its Rize tower project, which it’s christened The Independent.

The development project comprises five building blocks, including a 21-storey tower and features 257 residential units, commercial space, outdoor space, parking and bicycle stalls.

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RAMP’s petition was filed at B.C. Supreme Court Aug. 13. The city has 21 days to respond.

RAMP argues plans for the project significantly differ from what was approved by council more than two years ago following a lengthy public hearing.

RAMP points out the tower is 21 storeys, as opposed to 19 storeys, the number of condominiums and parking spaces have increased, and a food co-op is no longer part of the project.

Matt Pesklewis, the project’s director of marketing and sales, told the Courier in a recent story that while the number of storeys has changed, the height of the building has not and he noted the proposed food co-op couldn’t get financing.

RAMP spokesman Stephen Bohus said members of the organization feel “confident” the suit will be successful.

“We’re pretty confident. There was a decision made with direction from council and a different proposal scheme was presented to the development permit board and we believe that the development permit board overstepped their authority,” he said.

Bohus said RAMP would be more inclined to accept a project that respected existing zoning and “that respects the height and character of the neighbourhood.”

“We’re not against development. We just want a development done at a human scale. At current zoning, you could build housing for 180 or 170 people,” he said.

Earlier this month, concerns were also raised about advertising signs for the development project, which violated the city’s sign bylaw and have since been removed.

In an email to the Courier, the city’s communication department said the city can’t comment on the legal proceedings, but did address a question about the signs.

“The City received a complaint about signs located at 246 E Broadway and 221 E 10th Ave. advertising the development ‘The Independent.’ Property Use Inspectors inspected the site and found that non-compliant signs had been installed or constructed without permits,” the email stated. “An order was sent to the owner on June 26/14 to remove the free standing sign and the huge wrap around sign on the building by July 28/14. They asked for an extension, which the city denied. The applicant was informed that if the signage is was not removed by Monday, July 28th it would be referred for charges. An inspector was sent out on July 29th and the signs had not been removed so it has been referred for charges. The penalty is determined by the court, but the range is found under [the sign] bylaw.”

Chris Vollan, Rize Alliance Properties vice president of development, told the Courier: “Unfortunately all the signs were removed just after the city deadline.”

As for the petition against the city, Vollan wrote in an email, “The petition is a claim against the city of Vancouver and as such Rize cannot comment.  However, we trust the city will resolve this in due course.”

noconnor@vancourier.com

twitter.com/naoibh

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