Hypocrisy reigns supreme at Vancouver City Hall.
Here we have an application by Cressey Developments, a big supporter of Vision Vancouver. Now, just let that sink in for a moment.
Vision Vancouver is a civic party. The primary function of civic government is the regulation of land use. Cressey is a developer.
Do you see a conflict of interest? How about a betrayal of the public trust?
Fact: Cressey gets what Cressey wants. In every development they have done in the Cedar Cottage area, they have asked for exceptions, allowing them to build higher with more and smaller units, some with no parking space available at all.
Five years ago, I could look from the bus stop at the corner of Commercial and Findlay in early morning and see fewer than half a dozen cars parked between Findlay and Hull Streets. Now, one would be hard pressed to find half a dozen empty parking spaces. Not only that, but nearly every available space on East 18th, Commercial Street, Porter, Victoria and Hull are also taken.
THIS is Vision’s idea of good planning.
“Oh, but you have the #20 bus,” Vision defenders will say.
Yes. That. The second-highest ridership route and the most dysfunctional transit service in the Lower Mainland. Ridership is only slightly less than the #99B, but nobody is talking about transit improvements here. It’s all about Vision’s darling, the Broadway SewerTrain.
Why do I mention that? For the simple reason that there is a common denominator. It’s all about real estate development. In the case of Cedar Cottage, Vision’s spin doctors try to paint it “green,” and talk about increasing density. Curiously, the only way Vision accepts to increase density is to knock down existing houses and replace them with building that make huge revenue dollars for developers like Cressey. The reality is that there is nothing remotely “green” about that.
Similarly, the Broadway subway notion isn’t about transit. It is primarily about the density needed to justify transit. From the outset, we know that density is going to have to be at least four times what it is now, and Vision is happy to let people know that, because, after all, that’s easy to do. The reality is that density on the Broadway Corridor (and feeding it) would have to increase by 15 times what it is now, just to PAY for it. Never mind the ongoing costs of subway upkeep.
But back to Cressey and the Commercial & E. 18th project.
“Look, we want to preserve an old house!” bray the Cressey promoters. “Bad, bad CCAN people–they don’t care about old houses!” Hee haw, hee haw.
Here’s the thing. The trees at the corner of Commercial & E. 18th are a landmark, and have been since the Second World War–and beyond. I have photos to prove that.
The house at 3365 Commercial has very little historic standing all by itself. Though the house is of an anachronistic design for the period, it is the SITE that has significance. Located several feet below the current surface of Commercial Drive, complete with an open waterway in the front yard, this property represents the ONLY remaining example of the original “lay of the land.”
Cressey wants to move it, gut it, fill the property up to the current level, and build beyond the limits and rules set by Vancouver City Council. Cressey makes no attempt whatsoever to design a building that support the architectural style of the Commercial Street streetscape. They treat the restored Gow Block as a cute anomaly, rather than the bench-mark of vernacular style.
Cressey doesn’t even pretend to be playing by the rules, but the Vision-dominated council, voting as a bloc, apparently in a pre-determined decision–is ready to rubber-stamp the whole deal.
If that doesn’t bother you at all, how about the extinction of native species?
It is my belief that the neighbourhood in question may be host to an endangered species. Bombus affinus, a native bumble bee, is extinct in over 94% of its former range. There are confirmed sightings on Vancouver Island, and in Everett Washington. Since they cannot travel very far, they are most likely to be found in places that have remained undisturbed for many years. I have sent some photos to the Xerces Society, but have yet to take a photo clear enough to confirm a sighting.
There are two possible sites in the area that may be supporting these rare ground-dwelling bees, and the property at Commercial & E. 18th might be one.
If Vancouver poses as the “Greenest City,” where is the ecological study that gives Cressey Developments carte blanche to do as they please?
Democracy? Environmentalism? Community? These words seem to ring hollow with Vision Vancouver. It’s time for a change at City Hall.