Month: July 2015

Signs Are Popping Up All Over!

The response to our introduction of lawn signs and window signs has been fantastic.  They can already be seen all over the neighbourhood.

No Tower signs

Image by Teresa McCarthy @onewetfoot

Many thanks to you all for showing so publicly your disapproval of the tower!

If you haven’t got yours yet, email us at novenablestower@shaw.ca and we’ll set you up.

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Genuine Community Participation

For the last two weeks, in blazing sun and, yesterday, in pouring rain, volunteers of the No Tower Coalition have been manning an information table at Grandview Park for three hours each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon.

NVT in the Park

At the table, we have collected hundreds of signatures for our Petition. But more importantly, we have talked to those hundreds of Grandview residents and many others. We have listened to their concerns about unwanted development in the neighbourhood, collected their ideas for alternatives to towers, and given them information about this high-rise project that so many had not heard of before.

As citizens keen on developing and enhancing this beautiful community we all call home, we believe strongly in openness and accountability – from us, from our elected representatives, and from developers and organizations that seek to radically alter our neighbourhood. Getting people information, encouraging them to talk one on one and in groups, with us and amongst themselves, as happens at our Grandview Park table, is key to genuine community participation in the future of Grandview and the Drive.

We’ll be back in the Park next week. Please stop by and chat

The People Speak Once Again

In today’s Vancouver Courier there is an op-ed by a strong supporter of the tower.  You wouldn’t think that would be an article we would point to.  However, the comments (below the article and the glossy ads) by Grandview residents are inspiring, explaining in many different ways why the op-ed is flawed in its arguments and assumptions.

When the people get to speak (as in the hundreds of comments on our on-line petition) they speak well, articulately, and eloquently about their community and their fears about how the tower will damage it.  Even if you don’t want to sign the petition, read what your neighbours are actually saying.

The Lawn Signs Have Arrived!

One of the most noticeable aspect of our campaign over the next few weeks will be the proliferation of lawn signs across the community.

Lawn sign

If you have already signed up for one, we will be in touch with you very soon.

If you would like to publicly express your horror at the huge high-rise proposed for our neighbourhood with a lawn sign or an apartment window sign, send us an email to novenablestower@shaw.ca and we will make the arrangements.

You can also register for a lawn sign at our information table at Grandview Park on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons (3:00pm to 6:00pm).

Petition Comments: A Sample

The number of signatures on the No Tower Coalition’s online petition is growing rapidly. If you haven’t signed on yet, we urge you to do so today.

Just as important as the signatures, and far more eloquent, are the comments left by signers outlining the reasons they are signing the petition.  Here are a sample:

 “A low rise option would suit the Drive much better…having a clear view of the mountains is the beauty of Vancouver as a city where tall buildings are concentrated in one area. The Drive as a community is a quirky place to live and a high rise doesn’t suit the neighbourhood.” — M-PB

“This is not what the neighbourhood needs. Besides being incredibly ugly, this type of development would alter/ruin the heritage low rise feel of The Drive. This is poorly thought through and a very bad idea.”  — KM

“While I support the Kettle and the good work it does, I do not believe that necessary public services such as this should be paid for by developers in return for lucrative up-zoning of their properties.” — LL

“I love my neighbourhood and while some change is inevitable, a 15-storey is ill-considered and would destroy the character of the community.” — SO

There are literally hundreds of others. Please spend a moment to read what the community is saying.

Boffo’s BS

Here is a letter in today’s Courier, which we quote without further comment:

Sorry folks, the claim that the project doesn’t work out financially with lower height” is the usual BS from developers. What it really means is that the lower height won’t give Boffo the full profit it wants to make from this project.

This is not some benevolent offer on their part.  We need a fair taxation system with corporations paying their fare share. The needed services that the Kettle provides are part of our health care system. So why isn’t the government providing it?

It’s absolutely wrong that the only way to provide these services to the most vulnerable amongst us is by allowing a private corporation to make a bundle of money.

And, to make matter worse, every cent that Boffo puts into the Kettle expansion will be tax deductible for them further denying the public purse.”

Statement From No Tower Coalition

Neighbourhood concern is gaining momentum in Grandview-Woodland against a proposed condo tower at the corner of Commercial Drive and Venables Street.

Door-to-door canvassing, leafleting, and an information table at Grandview Park, in the heart of the Drive, are having a big impact on the campaign. Today, our No Tower petitions (online and on paper) have passed the thousand mark. No Tower signs are appearing on homes and businesses in the neighbourhood.

Recent media coverage of our concerns appeared in The Vancouver Province, 24 Hours and Metro News last week, and in the Vancouver Courier today. Meanwhile, the No Tower Coalition has responded to misleading comments in those reports made by Daniel Boffo of Boffo Properties, suggesting the development will provide “affordable” housing.

The No Tower Coalition strongly disagrees, noting that the development proposal as it stands, would provide primarily market housing — 150 market-priced condominiums.

The so-called affordable housing referenced by Boffo would in fact be supportive housing for special needs individuals with mental health issues and would not alleviate the housing affordability crisis in Grandview-Woodland.

The coalition reiterates that services for people with mental illness are part of Canada’s social safety net and should be publicly funded, in ways that do not have such a negative community impact.

Giving private developers inappropriate density and height bonuses in exchange for providing necessary mental health services would set a dangerous precedent and should not be allowed. We are encouraged by the support of the eminent Vancouver architect and developer Michael Geller for this position.

The coalition is also critical of Boffo Properties for failing to put their plans clearly on the table. Daniel Boffo has referenced a tower with a possible fifteen storeys, twelve storeys, or even twenty storeys, at various times in the recent past. The coalition calls on Boffo officials to come forward and publicly disclose their exact plans to the community.

Concerns Over Development Warranted, Says Geller

a-portion-of-the-site-is-currently-occupied-by-this-two-storey-buildingRespected Vancouver architect and developer Michael Geller has come out in support of the No Tower Coalition’s position on the development of the corner at Commercial & Venables.  In an op-ed piece in the Courier, he writes:

“In this instance, I think we should listen to the opponents since the fact is a development of this size would never be approved if it contained just market condominiums … Once again … we have an example of ‘form following finance’ rather than appropriate community planning and design guidelines.”

In the same article, discussing the pro-tower force’s description of the opposition as NIMBYism, Geller quotes former City Councillor and UBC professor emeritus Dr. Setty Pendakur:

“If we classify any disagreement with development and densification as NIMBY, then we might as well forget about civilized conversation and serious and positive citizen participation.  I remember similar outcries in the mid-sixties and early seventies when we marched against city centre freeways.”

Well worth the read in full.

The Courier Reports On Our Battle

The following is extracted from the online Courier of today:

barbara-cameron“This week, a Grandview-Woodland petition opposing the construction of a tower at Venables and Commercial Drive surpassed 1,000 names. Barbara Cameron, one of the organizers behind the No Tower Coalition, said the names are being collected online and door-to-door. The petition aims to stop a proposal by developer Boffo Properties and the Kettle Society to redevelop land at that location. The proposal includes a 12- to 15-storey building …

The proposal is only in its preliminary stages — it hasn’t been formally filed with the city because the Grandview-Woodland community plan isn’t finalized, so it’s unclear what will ultimately be permitted on the site. Even the Grandview-Woodland Citizens’ Assembly wasn’t able to reach consensus on what height should be allowed, although 16 members signed a “minority report” backing the project.

Cameron said the coalition supports the Kettle Society, but it can’t support a tower. “This is not about the Kettle or its services. This is about changing the streetscape of the Drive,” she said … “[The site] is an inappropriate place for the massive building that they’re proposing. I know the Kettle has explored many options but I think the exploration is not complete yet. There are other ways to create supportive housing than to rely on private developers. It sets a very dangerous precedent to rely on private developers for public health and mental health programs,”

Cameron said. “I just think at this point we have to speak up as a neighbourhood about the actual structure [proposed] and that’s our key focus here — the structure, the imposition of that on to a four-storey streetscape that is very precious to us.”

– See more at: http://www.vancourier.com/news/grandview-woodland-coalition-battles-tower-proposal-1.2000549

The Campaign Begins In Earnest

Since we issued the press release yesterday, many media outlets have been in touch with the campaign and we anticipate good coverage of our concerns.

See, for example, this piece from the “Province” newspaper today; this from 24 Hours; and this from Metro.

The No Venables Tower Coalition is already planning a number of local events to raise public awareness about the disruption a huge tower on that intersection will bring to our wonderful neighbourhood.  Please contact novenablestower@shaw.ca to be placed on the email list for notifications.

Opposition Growing to Massive Tower on Commercial Drive

July 8, 2015
For immediate release.

OPPOSITION GROWING TO MASSIVE TOWER ON COMMERCIAL DRIVE

Vancouver. Concerned citizens of Grandview-Woodland are moving to block a project being proposed by the developer Boffo Properties at the corner of Commercial Drive and Venables Street.

Boffo is proposing a massive development for this site, including a 15-storey tower with 150 market condo units and an eight-storey tower with expanded facilities for the Kettle Friendship Society, including 30 units of supportive housing for Kettle clients.

“We want to emphasize that we are not opposed to the Kettle or its valuable services for people with mental health concerns,” said spokesperson Barbara Cameron. “We strongly support the Kettle and its work”.

“Yet the key point here is that a massive and dense, high-rise tower would be completely out of context with our low rise, people-friendly and much-loved Commercial Drive community and extremely destructive to the neighbourhood. The Kettle should get expanded facilities, but not at such a cost to its neighbours.”

The No Tower coalition is active and now has over 800 signatures on its two ongoing petitions against the tower proposal. The group will continue to lobby vigorously for practical alternatives to the project, without a tower. (more…)