Agenda Index City of Vancouver




Date: July 31, 1997

Dept. File No.: DT

TO:City Council

FROM:Director of Central Area on Behalf of Land Use and Development and the Manager of Real Estate in Consultation with the General Manager of Engineering Services

SUBJECT:Knight Street at East 41st Avenue - Alternative Forms of Land Use


The General Manager submits this report for INFORMATION.


Relevant Policies include:

•Funding of $850,000 in the Streets Capital Budget for left-turn bay improvements along the Knight Street/Clark Drive Corridor, approved on March 25, 1997. (This brings approved funds to $2.4 Million and, based on a total project cost of $3.2 Million, a further $800,000 will be required from the 1997/1999 Capital Plan);

•Policy on how rezoning applications should be dealt with during the period of CityPlan Community Visions Program, approved January 18, 1996;

•The Community Visions Program, approved July 30, 1996, and Kensington-Cedar Cottage as a pilot area, approved October 8, 1996; and

•The Transportation Plan, approved May 27, 1997.


This report reviews land use and zoning options for sites along Knight Street, north and south of East 41st Avenue, as an alternative to funding or providing noise mitigation measures for existing houses to offset the impacts of road widening to accommodate approved left-turn bays.


Staff reviewed seven noise-sensitive land use and zoning options for 38 RS-1S-zoned properties along Knight Street, north and south of East 41st Avenue:

•C-1 Commercial zoning;

•C-2 Commercial zoning;

•RT-4N Two-Family Dwelling zoning;

•RT-5N Two-Family Dwelling zoning;

•RM-4N Multiple Dwelling zoning;

•CD-1 zoning for market Multiple Dwellings; and

•A new zoning schedule for Multiple Dwellings along arterial streets.

Specific comments are provided on use, building form and property values for each option. General comments are provided on how the options would relate to broader policies and programs, including the draft Transportation Plan, the CityPlan Community Visions Program, and the associated rezoning policy.

Staff conclude that zoning and land use changes along this portion of Knight Street would not necessarily be effective, and would be premature in light of the Community Visions Program that is now underway in Kensington-Cedar Cottage.


On April 18, 1996, the Vancouver Traffic Commission approved the design for north- and south-bound left-turn bays on Knight Street at East 41st Avenue. In turn, the Commission authorized the Manager of Real Estate to negotiate property acquisition for the Knight Street road widening, as well as noise impact mitigation measures. The Commission further resolved:

"THAT the Director of Planning and the Manager of Real Estate gather additional information on alternate forms of land use that would provide alternatives to noise and traffic mitigation measures and report back to the neighbours and Council."

This resolution followed delegations from three property owners who opposed the left-turn bays. One speaker suggested the area should be rezoned from single family to commercial in order to increase their property values. Engineering staff advised that typically, only portions of properties needed for road widening are purchased, and purchasing negotiations take into account specific impacts on those properties.


Objectives: The Commission’s request for information resulted from the above-noted concerns raised by the affected property owners. Staff therefore presume the objectives of the Commission, in requesting the information were:

•to understand available tools to provide for alternate land uses and building forms that would protect occupants from traffic noise;

•to understand the implications of these alternatives on land values; and

•to share the information with the affected property owners.

Affected Area: The approved left-turn bay design involves portions of 42 properties fronting Knight Street, approximately two-thirds of a block both to the north and to the south of East 41st Avenue. The widening strips range in depth from a few centimetres to 2.9 metres (9.5 ft.), with the deepest strips being closest to East 41st Avenue. The four largest properties are located at the intersection and are zoned C-1 Commercial District. The remaining 38 properties are zoned RS-1S One-Family Dwelling District. Five strips have so far been acquired. Appendices A and B illustrate the road widening design, the affected properties and the surrounding zoning.

Present Land Use and Development: Existing development at and near the intersection of 41st and Knight is low in scale and suburban in character. The small shopping district is developed with gasoline stations at the northeast and southwest corners. The northwest corner has been vacant for several years, previously containing a third gasoline station. The remaining C-1 lands are developed with two-storey buildings with commercial at grade and residential above. The RS-1S lands to the north, south, east and west are developed mostly with one-storey plus basement bungalows and "Vancouver Specials". The suburbancharacter of this area is similar to other C-1 districts with surrounding one-family dwelling districts in the southeast sector of the City.

Transportation Plan; Community Visions Program; and Interim Rezoning Policy: The idea of introducing a different land use and/or built form through rezoning at this intersection raises the issue of what overall policies exist or are under discussion, and what planning programs are underway. There are three major considerations in this case - the Community Visions Program, the associated Rezoning Policy and the Transportation Plan.

First, the Transportation Plan, released in September 1996, and approved by Council on May 27, 1997, confirms that Knight Street will remain a major truck route, and cites issues of impacts on adjacent residents and safety. Council has already approved the left turn bay at East 41st Avenue and Knight Street. Staff note that the Plan calls for a "whole route" study of Knight Street, that would no doubt include consideration of future left turn bays elsewhere on the route - their design, location, and mitigation measures. The Plan presents some ideas for mitigation including retiming signals for trucks, limiting turning hours and accommodating left-turn bays in existing pavement widths. These or other measure need to be considered together with land use and built form directions.

Second, the Community Visions Program is now ongoing in Kensington-Cedar Cottage, with a completed Vision slated for the fall of 1997. The boundaries of the area include the proposed Knight Street and East 41st Avenue intersection, as well as other key intersections along Knight Street. Residents will be developing Vision directions about Knight Street. In workshops, they have been considering a variety of both common and creative measures such as: land uses changes; innovative forms of development; replotting land adjacent to the route; traffic impact mitigation measures along the street; and design ideas for the route and for turn bays.

Third, in order to avoid rezoning approvals which would preempt a community's Visions, Council adopted a Rezoning Policy on January 18, 1997. The Rezoning Policy essentially directs that unless existing Council-adopted policies support rezoning, significant rezonings should not be entertained prior to Visioning. This would be the case here, particularly given that any rezoning approvals would be seen as a precedent for other intersections.

All three of these broader policy contexts indicate that a zoning change at this intersection should not be considered at this time, and that land use, built form, street design and mitigation measures need to be considered together, and along the route as a whole.

Land Use and Zoning Alternatives

Staff have considered seven zoning choices, all of which provide for noise mitigation. Figure 1 summarizes the options and findings (staff note that possible increases or decreases in land values does not provide a sufficient rationale for a zoning choice - but is included for information)








3 storey all commercial or res./commer.

1.2 Max.

yes (use/scale)


equal or lower


4 storey all commercial or res./commer.

3.0 Max.

yes (use/scale)


higher +/- 25%


2 1/2 storey 1 FD or 2 FD



no more than RS-1S



2 1/2 storey 1 FD or 2 FD


marginal (scale)

no more than RS-1S



4 storey multiple dwelling


yes (scale)


higher +/- 15%


e.g., 3 storey multiple dwelling

e.g., 1.25

some (scale)


marginally higher

New Zone

3 storey multiple dwelling

e.g., 1.25




marginally higher

(1)C-1 Zoning: The existing C-1 District could be extended to the north and south along Knight Street.

C-1 zoning permits a maximum floor space ratio (FSR) of 1.20 for entirely-commercial (retail, service and office) buildings. However, commercial buildings using the full FSR potential are unusual in most C-1 Districts because there is little demand for upper-floor commercial use. Stand-alone multiple dwellings are not permitted. Mixed-use buildings containing dwelling units above are permitted with a maximum FSR of 0.75 for the residential portion. Dwelling units require compliance with noise mitigation measures and Council-approved guidelines to ensure liveability.

C-1 shopping districts are located about a half mile apart at major intersections across the southeast part of the city, and they tend to serve the day-to day shopping needs of local neighbourhoods. There is no identified community need, with the existing low-density area around the East 41st Avenue and Knight Street intersection, for more commercial potential needing to be created in this location.

With the exception of gasoline stations, Knight Street is also a poor location for retail or office uses because of the heavy truck traffic and lack of on-street parking during rush periods. Commercial development may also impact neighbouring properties with noise, litter, restaurant odour and late opening hours.

The Manager of Real Estate advises that the land value for C-1 zoned sites in this part of the City is equal to or lower than for RS-1S-zoned sites of a similar size.

(2)C-2 Zoning: Extending the commercial district with C-2 zoning to the north and south (either leaving the existing C-1 District as-is, or rezoning it C-2 as well) raises even more significant issues.

C-2 zoning permits a maximum FSR of 3.00 for entirely-commercial (retail, service and office) buildings. However, the chances of this occurring is minimal given the low demand for office and service uses on upper stories in suburban locations. A maximum FSR of 2.50 is permitted for dwelling uses, and stand-alone multiple dwellings are permitted if the Development Permit Board is of the opinion that the site is suitable for multiple dwelling use (possibly not). Dwelling units require compliance with noise mitigation measures and Council-approved guidelines to ensure liveability.

Shopping districts in Vancouver were originally planned on a hierarchy, with C-2 Districts serving the main shopping needs of communities, and C-1 districts serving day-to-day shopping needs of local neighbourhoods. Given the existing major C-2 shopping districts located nearby on Fraser Street and Victoria Drive, there is no zoning rationale for introducing a competing C-2 District here. Knight Street is also a poor location for retail and office use because of the heavy truck traffic and lack of on-street parking.

In addition to noise, litter, restaurant odour and late opening hours, neighbouring properties would be further impacted in terms of privacy, shadowing and lane traffic by four-storey buildings that could be built under C-2.

A change of this magnitude would best be discussed during the Community Visions Program.

The Manager of Real Estate advises that the land value for C-2 zoned sites in this part of the City is about 25% more per square foot of site than for RS-1S-zoned lands on arterial streets in southeast Vancouver. However, a C-2 site on a busy arterial street with little demand for commercial use may result in a lower land value compared to C-2 sites in the established shopping districts.

(3)RT-4N Zoning: The RT-4N schedule was designed for two-family dwelling districts in noisy locations. One-family, two-family and multiple conversion dwellings (without additions) are permitted outright, while infill and multiple conversion dwellings (with additions) are permitted conditionally. Maximum permitted FSR is 0.60. Guidelines for conditional-approval uses refer to building forms and detailing typical of the turn-of-the-century neighbourhoods where this zoning has been introduced.

All development applications require a report and recommendations from an acoustical expert on appropriate mitigation measures to ensure noise levels will not exceed levels set out in the district schedule. These measures may include masonry construction, triple-glazed windows, glazed balconies, alternate ventilation systems, location of noise-sensitive rooms to the rear and landscaped berms or masonry walls next to the street.

Given that RS-1S zoning already permits two-family dwellings at 0.6 FSR, albeit they can’t be strata titled in accordance with Council policy, the only significant change to development with RT-4N zoning would be to require sound proofing as opposed to this being at the builder’s discretion under RS-1S zoning.

The Manager of Real Estate advises that the land value for RT-4N-zoned sites at this location would be similar or slightly lower than the current RS-1S zoning. Furthermore, the demand for the RT zonings at this location is uncertain.

(4)RT-5N Zoning: This is much like RT-4N, except that FSR can be relaxed to 0.75 for one-and two-family dwellings, following Council-approved guidelines.

The Manager of Real Estate advises that the land value for RT-5N sites would be about the same as for RT-4N sites.

(5)RM-4N Zoning: This schedule was designed for multiple dwelling districts in noisy locations. Maximum FSR is 0.75, but this may be relaxed to 1.45 if conditions pertaining to underground parking, usable open space and provision of family-oriented units are met and the design is compatible with neighbourhood development. Maximum height is 10.7 m (35.1 ft.), allowing a four-level building with the first level slightly below grade. Neighbourhood-based guidelines refer to existing character that generally includes a mix of existing apartment buildings and turn-of-the-century houses with steep-pitched roofs. The latter design element is encouraged in new construction, and height can be relaxed to permit it. Noise mitigation measures are required, the same as under RT-4N.

Adjacent RS-1S properties would be impacted in terms of shadowing and loss of privacy. Consideration of zoning to permit four-level apartment buildings would be best discussed through the current Visioning program.

The Manager of Real Estate advises that the demand for RM-4N zoned sites at this location is uncertain, and there is no multiple dwelling zoning that permits a similar density within the general area. Unimproved RM-4N zoned land values in Mount Pleasant and Grandview Woodlands have been about 15% more per square foot of site than RS-1S zoned lands on arterial streets in southeast Vancouver. However, the land value increase for this location may be smaller, due to the cost of assembling improved sites. Furthermore, an RM-4N site on a busy arterial street may result in a lower land value compared to RM sites in a quiet location.

(6)CD-1 Zoning for Multiple Dwellings With Noise Mitigation Measures: FSR, yards and height appropriate to the area could be determined through site analysis and neighbourhood consultation. These would be privately-submitted rezoning applications on individual sites.

An example of a CD-1 zone that permits a multiple dwelling with noise mitigation measures is CD-1 #296 for 5837-5897 Oak Street at West 42nd Avenue. Height is limited to three-storeys, and maximum FSR is 1.25. Mitigation measures are required, similar to those under RM-4N. The form of development includes glazed balconies along the Oak Street facade. The development originated as a privately-submitted rezoning application. Its processing involved considerable public discussion, negotiation and reduction in height from four storeys to three.

Council could establish a policy for privately-submitted CD-1 rezonings, similar to the Oakridge-Langara policy adopted in July, 1995 for sites along Oak Street that are backed by one-family dwellings across the lane. That policy states: "stacked townhouse" developments should be allowed on these sites with densities ranging from 0.80 to 1.0 FSR, with potential for a 20% increase if City-desired public benefits (e.g., social housing, SNRF) are included. The policy also identifies sites where the acceptable density may be from 1.0 to 1.2 FSR, plus the 20%, but these sites all back onto institutional uses. The policy was adopted following an extensive neighbourhood planning exercise that would parallel to some extent the current Community Visions process.

The Manager of Real Estate advises that CD-1 zoning of sites along Knight Street may result in land values moderately higher than for RS-1S zoned sites for densities around 1.45 FSR, bearing in mind that the RS-1S land cost would be higher due to site assembly. For a density of 1.25 such as was approved at Oak Street and West42nd Avenue, the resulting land value increase would be nil or marginal, and for a density less than this, the resulting land values would be lower than the current RS-1S value.

(7)A New Multiple Dwelling Zoning Schedule for Sites Along Arterial Streets: A new zoning schedule for multiple dwellings with required noise mitigation measures could be designed for sites on a busy arterial street where the development to the rear of the site is one-family dwellings. This zoning could, say, limit the height to three storeys and FSR to 1.0, with increases permitted to 1.25 based on compatible design in accordance with Council-approved design guidelines.

The desire for such a new schedule has been identified for some time. There are currently no staff resources to develop it, but if a demand exists, it could be added as a future work program item.

The Manager of Real Estate advises that land values may, or may not increase for properties with such a new zoning as compared with RS-1S zoning. Much would depend upon the obtainable density and the desire of the marketplace to build three-storey multiple dwellings in locations such as along Knight Street. However, if market development is limited to an FSR of 1.25, the resulting land value increase would be nil or marginal.


"This report reviews zoning options to help mitigate some of the traffic impacts resulting from the installation of left-turn bays at Knight and 41st Avenue to improve safety.

Originally the safety improvements were approved last Summer, after which the Transportation Plan has been adopted by Council. The Plan recommends that projects on Knight Street be the subject of a full cost accounting and a whole route analysis.

In responding to Council’s resolution, this report has expanded the analysis of safety improvements by considering zoning options and the potential benefits occurring to abutting properties. In this case, the report does not recommend zoning changes, so it is intended to continue with property acquisitions for improvements at Knight and 41st. Also, a whole route analysis on Knight Street will be initiated this year, to access future improvements.

The public process on this report included both a letter to the residents and owners that are directly affected and their neighbours, followed by an information meeting. The feedback from the public process raised suggestions about rezoning that would best be explored in the current CityPlan Visioning Pilot Project."


The affected property owners were mailed a summary of the findings in this report, attached as appendix C, and invited to a meeting if they wished more information. Copies of the full report were made available, upon request.

Twenty-nine residents attended an evening meeting held on July 23rd, 1997, at the Kensington Community Centre. Planning, Engineering and Real Estate staff were present for a presentation and questions. The following comments were raised and questions were asked (answers in brackets):

Zoning Options:

•We live on the south side of 41st Avenue and face a neighbourhood pub. Can we have commercial zoning? (there is no identified need for more commercial space here, but the idea can be raised with the Community Visioning Program);

•My property is next to the Shell gas station and my taxes keep going up. Can I have commercial zoning? (same as above); and

•What is the relationship between zoning and sound control? (zoning can require sound proofing of new development - it won’t require or pay for retrofitting of existing houses).

Traffic Issues:

•Noise and pollution problems are getting worse;

•Vibration is also a problem partly due to poor soil conditions;

•Speeding trucks are never given a ticket;

•Neighbours were not originally consulted on the location of the Knight Street Bridge;

•Knight Street has to be repaved because of the ruts from the trucks;

•Can we have no right turns into the lane south of 41st from Knight Street? (would cause a problem for the commercial property also served by this lane, but speed humps could be explored);

•Why not tunnel Knight Street under 41st Avenue? (cost is prohibitive, and would cause other problems);

•We weren’t informed about the CityPlan workshops; and

•Can you look at a hump in my back lane caused by sewer construction? (yes, Engineering will check into).

Property Acquisition/Compensation:

•Noise should be a factor in the negotiations for acquisition;

•The City should buy the whole house to allow me to move elsewhere;

•What will the City do to bring existing houses up to current noise standards? (no City policy to provide for this);

•My stucco is falling off. Is there any compensation for damage to houses? (same as above);

•I can’t sell my property because of noise and vibration;

•Will Real Estate meet with all the owners individually? (yes)

•When will work start on the turn bays? (if we can acquire the properties work will start next summer); and

•How much land is needed? (widening strips range from about one to nine feet in depth).


Possible land use and zoning changes were examined individually, and the overall question was reviewed in light of the Draft Transportation Plan, the Community Visions Program and the associated interim Community Visions Rezoning Policy.

Generally, the lower density residential options that would be in scale with adjacent RS-1S development are no more likely to be developed than if the lands were left zoned RS-1S. A new RS-1S one- or two-family dwelling in this location would likely incorporate noise mitigation in order to be saleable, even though not required by regulation. The mixed use residential/commercial and multi-family residential options have significant impacts on theiradjacent RS-1S neighbours. The basic question of whether it is wise to expose even more residents to Knight Street impacts - even with noise mitigation measures - also needs to be addressed. Any of these more significant options are best considered through the Community Visions program.

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