The District of West Vancouver in 2018 launched a ‘Neighbourhood Character Working Group” of selected citizens who, since then, have conducted research, consulted with residents and experts and developed a report with recommendations to council. ADRA board members welcomed the report and commented in the letter below.
Dear Neighbourhood Character Working Group:
ADRA directors recently met to review and discuss the NEIGHBOURHOOD CHARACTER WORKING GROUP RECOMMENDATIONS of June 23, 2020. We thank Mr. Tom Dodd and his committee for their thoughtful work on this important project. Councillor Peter Lambur was invited to participate in our meeting and answer questions and provide background information related to proposed objectives and recommendations. ADRA has encouraged its members to review this report and provide their comments to the Working Group. We appreciate that this document has yet to be presented to Council and from there to be translated, where applicable, into policy and bylaws.
It is important to recognize that the report only addresses single family neighbourhoods. It does not address areas zoned for duplex, townhomes, lowrise or high rise apartments. ADRA encourages importance of neighbourhood character in these areas as well and the criticality of completion of Local Area Plans for these areas. ADRA does not support the significant amount of spot zoning outside of Local Area Plans as it often goes against neighbourhood character and can be divisive to those affected.
The following are comments and suggestions we would like you to consider when making your recommendations to Council:
We support, the reduction of housing size, the appearance of bulk and recognize the value of landscaping (more garden and natural vegetation, less concrete). The provision for more diverse housing to provide for a broader demographic should be done in a manner that does not adversely affect neighbours and neighbourhoods. Maintenance of privacy, views and sunlight are important and new developments need to respect this.
Parking needs must be part of the planning process. We already have a great deal of on street parking in certain neighbourhoods of West Vancouver.
West Vancouver needs to address the needs of an Age-Friendly Community.
ADRA agrees with the six main objectives that the Committee determined as priorities in trying to preserve neighbourhood character.
1. Reduce Actual Building Size:
Agree with reduction of FAR to 0.30. Residents have voiced concerns for many years on the impact of very large new homes that are out of proportion of most homes in the neighborhood. There is too much site coverage, reduction of natural vegetation, loss of privacy, views and sunlight by affected neighbours.
2. Encourage Suites and Coach Houses :
-Parking is a major concern when looking to increase density. Parking should be provided for additional accommodation on the property as opposed to the street. The assumption that those occupying suites and coach houses will not have cars, in our view, is naive.
-We propose that under a certain lot size, there be no coach houses, ie lots below 5000 SQUARE FEET. At a point there would be too much building site coverage, which we would not see as a positive benefit to a neighbourhood.
-Encourage built-in suites over secondary detached suites (coach houses) as less impact on a neighbourhood and greenspace.
-Coach Houses do not necessarily enhance neighbourhood character, ie potential loss to neighbours of privacy, views and sunlight, increased site coverage.
-Agree that stratification/subdivision of coach houses may have unintended concequences of permitting sudivision of lots that would otherwise be too small.
3. Limit Visual Impact of Buildings As Seen From The Street:
Agree with the two stated objectives. There are a few bad examples of the visual impact of buildings in the 1100 block Keith Road , 3000 block Mathers and 2200 block Lawson.
4. Encourage Landscaping:
– Disagree with lowering the cost of the Bond that builders must provide but encourage a prompt reimbursement of the Bond once the builder has complied by completing the agreed landscaping.
– Our group has mixed feelings on f) – Limiting the maximum height of a fence.
5. Simplify Process:
Recommend further study of removal of CAC’s for single-lot subdivisions in established single-family-detached zones as it could produce unanticipated speculation by developers which could drive up the value of single family lots making housing more expensive.
6. Neighbour Consideration:
Ensure that neighbours affected by rezoning be notified early in the process by creating a MANDATORY “pre-consultation system” for all permit and development applications. This will prevent neighbours from being “blind-sided”.
Neighbours have a right to know. We also believe notification of neighbours should exceed the existing 100 metres. Renderings of appearance of proposed developments should be required to be posted on site and be included in notification to neighbours.
ADRA Board of Directors