'An urban village of the next century'
Developments proposed in Vancouver typically trigger concerns in some quarters about height, density and affordability, particularly in residential areas such as West Point Grey, but Kelley, the city's chief planner, insists there is no pre-plan for what might be built on the Jericho Lands. He hopes "an urban village of the next century" will be created given the site's history and importance.
"There are no preconceptions about height and density and levels of affordability. That's part of what is to be developed through the community process here over the next two years," he told the Courier after the welcoming ceremony.
"Obviously, it's a large tract of land and we'll have some enhanced transit service of some kind -- the subway potentially, which could come to the site or be several blocks away, [but] it's kind of a wide-open planning exercise."
When asked about the possibility of towers, Kelley said there could be room for towers or there may be a preference for more of an Olympic Village-scale development, but it's too soon to say what the outcome will be.
"Who knows?" he said. "It could be multiple scales, multiple tenures -- meaning owner [and] renter. I imagine there is a high level of interest in affordability of living," he said.
Because of the site's significant size, Kelley said it would be possible to create a mix of housing to produce subsidies within the development, and there is also a "great opportunity" to take advantage of views and public places on the property, as well as retain green spaces.
"There is just a huge number of opportunities here. I wouldn't want to make the conversation about height and density too early. Let's look at what the innate opportunities here are," he said.
'I don't want to see Metrotown here'
Longtime resident Lies Botman told the Courier she was "very cheered" by comments from First Nation representatives about extensive consultation. She's also relieved the two portions of the property will be developed as one parcel.
"It was wonderful to hear they want full consultation and consider us their partners and neighbours. That should be very reassuring to my neighbours," said Botman, who's lived in the neighbourhood for 35 years. "I liked the values that were espoused by the Nations in terms of healthy communities. I think there will be a lot of values that will speak to people, and my neighbours."
Botman is, however, clear about what she doesn't want to see happen on the land.
"I don't want to see Metrotown here. That's my personal extreme. I realize that there will be more density and, of course, there will be neighbours that will have comments and will want to give input on the amount of density. Personally, I'm not against an increase in density... it will be wonderful for our merchants on West 10th to have development and some liveliness here."
Participants were invited to fill in comment cards at the open house, and take part in an "asset mapping" exercise where they pointed out what they love about the Jericho Lands, what their new ideas were, and what they thought needs work.
- Do not override our community plan
- No land value capture tax. It hurts communities
- Figure out how to keep West 10th business viable. It's not healthy
- Build a lot of apartments. West Point Grey for everyone!
- Daylight a stream
- Murray Hendren, a member of the West Point Grey Residents Association, lives across the street from the site. He also doesn't want to see a lot of towers, but he would like to see an upgraded community centre. He said it seems like the planning process will be good, although the "devil is in the details."
One of his main concerns is the prospect of improved transportation infrastructure will drive what's allowed in terms of height and density. However, he's not convinced the infrastructure will be realized.
"You could have a situation where you have a large development depending on transit that never comes. That could be a very difficult and bad outcome for this particular project," he said.
But based on discussions the association has previously had with CLC, Hendren said he's "fairly optimistic" about the planning process.
"I'm not one sitting around saying, 'Let's fight this.' We have to co-operate and I'm sure that there could be a reasonable development that goes in here."
Brent Ash, a member of West Kitsilano Residents Association, was also encouraged by what was said at the open house although he shares some of Hendren's concerns.
"I'm hoping for a lot of affordable housing," he said. "But I hope it doesn't turn into a bunch of towers."
Like others, Khelsilem told the Courier the developing partners aren't coming into the process with a predetermined outcome.
"We have ideas for what would make sense for us as a community, and opportunities that we see around culture and community and things like that, [but] we're wanting to have a conversation."
As for anxiety some might have over what could be developed, he points to the Heather Lands policy statement as an example of what MST and CLC has produced, particularly with respect to affordability, in consultation with the City of Vancouver.
"We included 40 per cent affordable housing within our development. This is a much larger development area than the Heather Street Lands. But that makes sense to us -- to try and achieve that affordability level that makes sense for the city, and also makes sense for our communities, because we have a housing crisis within our communities as much as the rest of the city," he said.
"We see the opportunity of the development of these lands as a way to help solve our housing crisis as well. We're hopeful, and given our other projects, we come at it with a higher degree of affordability than most other developers will include."
Attendees at an open house about the Jericho Lands were invited to jot down their thoughts about the site. | Naoibh
A speaker series with themed discussions about the property will start April 17, there will be site walks co-hosted by the City of Vancouver, and an artist design session in May or June.
Site plan concepts are expected to be unveiled in late 2019 or early 2020, while a preferred site plan and guiding principles will be revealed in mid to late 2020. It's anticipated the draft policy statement will be released and council will vote on it in 2021.