Yaletowners want development quashed

A Yaletown citizens group has gone to court to challenge a controversial development that stems from a land swap near Emery Barnes Park.

Community Association of New Yaletown, a  2014-established society, filed a B.C. Supreme Court petition May 6 seeking a court order to quash the rezoning of 508 Helmcken St. and development permit for 1099 Richards St.

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The petition, which names City of Vancouver and the Development Permit Board, claims the city failed to disclose documents prior to the July 16, 2013 public hearing and council received additional correspondence after the public hearing.

CANY alleges the public hearing violated the Vancouver Charter and principles of procedural fairness, because it received letters and email related to the rezoning until July 22, 2013. A day later, the Vision Vancouver majority voted to approve the application; NPA councillors George Affleck and Elizabeth Ball and Green Adriane Carr were opposed.

“The public must be afforded the opportunity to comment on all information and submissions made to council,” the petition said. “By receiving additional submissions after the close of the public hearing, the public was denied the opportunity to do so.”

A June 4, 2013 staff report said Brenhill Developments Ltd. proposed in 2011 to swap 1077-1099 Richards St. for the city-owned 508 Helmcken St. across the street. The latter is the 1985-built, 87-unit Jubilee House social housing project leased to 127 Society for Housing.

Brenhill agreed to build a new 162-unit, non-market housing building for 127 to operate on the Richards site, subject to the city rezoning 508 Helmcken for Brenhill to build a 36-storey tower with 338 residential market units and 110 secured market rental units. City council rubber-stamped the rezoning of 508 Helmcken on March 11.

Brenhill proposed spending $24 million on the $30.6 million New Jubilee House. The city would contribute the remaining $6.6 million from the sale of the Helmcken land.

The petition said a March 13, 2013 open house about 508 Helmcken was attended by 135 people, including CANY members, who were mostly opposed to the proposal. They were unhappy with  the height and scale of the proposed 36-storey building, the density, its impact on views and livability, and the lack of information about the social housing proposal.

The CANY petition said rezoning for 508 Helmcken was “dependent and inextricably linked to the proposed social housing development at 1099 Richards,” but the city “treated the two developments as separate and unrelated applications.” That meant the public was prevented from understanding the impact of the proposals on the neighbourhood, CANY claims.

“There was no presentation or discussion by staff and/or council regarding the proposed density or form of development at 1099 Richards at the July 16 public hearing, even though its redevelopment was a precondition of the rezoning of 508 Helmcken,” said the petition, filed by CANY lawyer Nathalie Baker.

“In addition, when members of the public who were opposed to the application tried to speak to or ask questions about the proposed development of 1099 Richards, staff and/or council advised that 1099 Richards was not before council at the public hearing,” said the court filing.

CANY lawyer, Nathalie Baker represented WEN Residents Society in its petition against City of Vancouver that aimed to overturn Vision Vancouver-enacted programs to stimulate development of rental apartment projects. The verdict from the April 9 and 10 hearings was reserved by Justice Susan Griffin.

Note: This story has been corrected since it was first posted.



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