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Council bypassing regulations for EFry: Sapperton resident

The city is allowing the Elizabeth Fry Society of Greater Vancouver to bypass a couple of steps in its rezoning application, a resident of Lower Sapperton claims.

Earlier this year, council approved the society’s request to change the official community plan (OCP) as the first step toward adding another building to its current facility at East Columbia and Sherbrooke streets.

Now the society is applying for a rezoning, but will no longer include a day care and is reducing the building from four storeys to three.

Area resident Catherine Cartwright says those changes significantly alter EFry’s proposal and it should be sent back to the city’s advisory planning committee (APC) for approval. However, council has determined the APC already dealt with the issues involved in the proposal when it considered the OCP application.

Cartwright also charged city regulations require the society to make a presentation to the McBride-Sapperton Residents Association in addition to the open house it will hold on Wednesday (Oct. 17). A public hearing will be held at City Hall prior to the regular city council meeting on Monday (Oct. 22).

City planner Jim Hurst, social planner John Stark and Elizabeth Fry executive director Shawn Bayes attended the Oct. 4 residents association meeting but Bayes did not make a presentation, said Cartwright. She said there was little time to let the community know about their presence at the meeting.

“They totally dropped the ball on this one,” said Cartwright. “The neighbourhood is still hoping city council will come to its senses and realize the damage it is doing the neighbourhood.”

Residents’ association president Geoff Pinkerton said the 10 or so residents who did show up at the meeting were upset, and the city planners and Bayes felt that fury.

“There was a lot of anger about the process and the short time frame of the process,” said Pinkerton. “I’m really surprised, shocked the city would be shortcutting the process, their documented process, over an issue that has such vehement opposition. If the design was the same as what happened at the OCP amendment then I could understand it. But this is different … There’s quite a number of changes. It’s astounding to me the city is bending over backwards to accommodate the wishes of this developer.”

Pinkerton said two pillars of the original proposal—the daycare and the jobs it would create—are gone.

“The reasons that were there for the OCP amendment are not there anymore, not all of them,” said Pinkerton.

“There is a sense of resignation to the fact this is the done deal. It’s the next attack on the neighbourhood. It seems like Sapperton is under a constant attack of development and infrastructure changes.”

Cartwright also attacked the city for “blithely” accepting a parking study commissioned by Elizabeth Fry that said only 20 spaces would be required, when the 26-vehicle lot that’s there today is frequently full.

“They know the parking is inadequate,” she said. “They already need more than that.”

Coun. Bill Harper said the rezoning wasn’t sent to the APC was because the only changes were the size of the building and the parking. Day care can be included in the future because it would be allowed under the new zoning. He said all the issues raised by the residents are well understood by councillors.

“We know all about the issues, so it’s really difficult to say we haven’t heard them,” said Harper, who pointed out the city has gone to great lengths to notify area residents of the proceedings even expanding the radius of the usual notification. “I’d conclude the residents already know what’s going on. If they didn’t they’ve been asleep or gone away.”

He has been upset about some of the things being said by the residents.

“The kind of communications from some of the neighbours has been inappropriate,” said Harper. “They said staff was manipulative …. That’s wrong and inappropriate. No. 1 it’s not true, and No. 2 there’s no benefit. And if they really want to have council listen to what they say then they should be doing it in a respectful manner.”

The west side of the new, 15,000-square-foot building is expected to have a multi-purpose space on the ground floor and the society’s offices on the second and third floors while the east side would have 10 units of non-market housing for women and children.

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