Agenda Index City of Vancouver



Date: December 2, 1997

Author/Local: TPhipps/7727

CC File No.: 5304-1

TO: Standing Committee on Planning & Environment

FROM: Director of Central Area Planning on behalf of

Director of Land Use and Development

SUBJECT:CD-1 Rezoning: 976 West 54th Avenue


A.THAT the application by Besharat Friars, Architects, to rezone 976 West 54th Avenue (Lot E, Block 16A, D.L. 526, LMP22638) from RS-1 to CD-1 to permit 31 dwelling units in two multiple dwellings at a density of 1.15 FSR, be referred to a Public Hearing, together with:

(i)plans received July 31, 1997;

(ii)draft CD-1 By-law provisions, generally as contained in Appendix A; and

(iii)the recommendation of the Director of Central Area Planning on behalf of Land Use and Development to approve at a reduced density of 1.09 FSR with 6 fully accessible grade level units, subject to conditions contained in Appendix B.

FURTHER THAT the Director of Legal Services be instructed to prepare the necessary CD-1 By-law for consideration at Public Hearing.

B.THAT, subject to approval of the rezoning at a Public Hearing, the Subdivision By-law be amended as set out in Appendix C; and

FURTHER THAT the Director of Legal Services be instructed to bring forward the amendment to the Subdivision By-law at the time of enactmentof the zoning by-law.


C.THAT A. above be amended to permit a density of 1.15 FSR with a Public Benefit to include requirements of 6 fully accessible grade level units and a bonus density payment of $155,150;


D.THAT A. above be amended to permit a density of 1.15 FSR with a Public Benefit including requirement of 6 fully accessible grade level units and no cash payment, as proposed by the applicant.


The General Manager of Community Services RECOMMENDS approval of A and B.


On May 8, 1989, Council approved community development objectives as the basis of the City's Social Housing Policy, including:

"Encourage the distribution of acceptable housing forms and affordable shelter costs equally among all residential neighbourhoods of Vancouver."

On July 25, 1995, Council approved the Oakridge/Langara Policy Statement (OLPS), which supports rezoning of a number of sites in the area, including the Orion site (976 West 54th Avenue), for multiple dwelling development including ground-oriented units where feasible.

On June 13, 1996 Council adopted the Oakridge/Langara Public Benefit Strategy, which uses Development Cost Levies (DCLs), Community Amenity Contributions (CACs) and the OLPS density bonus provision for strategic provision of neighbourhood amenities.



This report assesses an application to rezone 976 West 54th Avenue at Oak Street from RS-1 to CD-1 to permit a mixed apartment and townhouse development at a density of 1.18 FSR and height of 13.7 m (45 ft.). Additional FSR exclusions would reduce this figure to 1.15 FSR. The Oakridge Langara Policy Statement density target for this site, without a public benefit incorporated in return for a density bonus, is 1.0 FSR. The Policy Plan provides flexibility to marginally increase this density to 1.05 FSR, which is recommended in response to tree retention. A reduced height of 13.2 m (43 ft.) is also recommended.

In response to this recommendation, the applicant proposes 6 fully accessible units as an in-kind benefit, with no cash contribution. This accounts for a bonus density of 0.04 FSR (4%). Therefore a total of 1.09 FSR is recommended. To increase the density from 1.09 FSR, as recommended, to 1.15 FSR as requested, requires a further FSR bonus valued at $155,150 as a cash payment. Options to permit the full bonus requested, with or without cash payment are presented for consideration.


Background: The Oakridge/Langara Policy Statement recommends ground-oriented multiple dwellings for this site. In an RS-1 context, with the adjacent CD-1 site built at a density of 1.0 FSR, the Policy Statement recommends a density of 0.8 FSR, rising to 1.0 FSR with exemplary design, and a potential 20% bonus (1.20 FSR) for providing amenities specified in the approved Public Benefits Strategy. The Policies also established an objective to protect perimeter trees at sites like Orion Hospital (976 West 54th Avenue) and notes this site on Figure 15.

Use: This application proposes a mix of 25 apartment and 6 townhouse units. To achieve a balance of plan objectives, staff recommend the proposal be amended so that 5 grade-level apartments would have ground access with direct exterior entries.

Trees: Tree retention is a key issue for this site. The initial proposal retained no trees along West 54th Avenue and encroached too closely upon some trees near Oak Street. The revised form of development proposes to retain 8 significant trees along the Oak Street frontage, relocate one 12 inch caliper Douglas Fir to that frontage and retain 4 mature conifers along the West 54th Avenue frontage. This would be a significant conservation achievement.

Density: The proposed density would be 1.18 FSR, based on standard RM-4 floor area calculation methods. Staff support an additional FSR exclusion for one enclosed balcony per unit facing Oak Street, where noise is a concern. A further exclusion is possible if structural specifications are provided to ensure that attic space with a clearance of 1.2 m ormore is not habitable. The resulting density is 1.15 FSR.

A density of 1.15 FSR significantly exceeds the density of 1.0 FSR recommended in the Policy Statement for a rezoning which does not provide a specific public benefit. Given that the applicant initially proposed no public benefit in-kind (or in cash), there would be no rationale to support any density beyond 1.0 FSR. To do so would undermine the intent of the Oakridge-Langara Public Benefit Strategy.

However, the Policy Statement notes on page 9 the intent to provide some measure of flexibility in density targets. In this instance, staff believe it is appropriate to permit the non-bonused density target to increase to 1.05 FSR in recognition of tree retention efforts. If approved by Council, a bonus density of 0.10 FSR (10%) would be needed to achieve 1.15 FSR as proposed.

Density Bonus: The Public Benefit Strategy seeks public benefits through density bonuses for sites like this one (to a maximum bonus of 20%). The Strategy also provides a guide to the public benefits sought through in-kind (or cash) contributions. At a density target of 1.0 FSR, a .15 FSR (15%) density bonus would be calculated to be worth $353,600 based on increased land value corresponding to the density bonus. In this case, the bonus of 0.10 FSR (10%) is calculated to be worth $235,750 based on a density target of 1.05 FSR.

In response to a completed staff report on this application dated October 31, 1997 recommending a density of 1.0 FSR, the applicant has now proposed, as an in-kind public benefit, to convert 6 grade level units to fully accessible units. No cash contribution is proposed. Real Estate Services staff estimate the extra cost of providing such units to be $13 per square foot. Based on a unit area totalling 6,200 sq. ft. (576 m²), this feature would be worth $80,600. This represents the value of a bonus density of .034 FSR; upward rounding to 0.04 FSR results in an overall project density of 1.09 FSR. A cash payment of $155,150 would also be required if Council wishes to support the full proposed density of 1.15 FSR based on the increased density target of 1.05 FSR and the contribution of 6 accessible units. The applicant does not support the cash contribution.

Form: The proposed form of development exceeds the recommended height of 9.2 m (30 ft.) contained in the Policy Statement as a result of adding a penthouse, using extra floor to ceiling height and adding architectural features. Staff believe the proposed 13.7 m (45 ft.) height could be moderated to 13.2 m (43 ft.) by more conventional floor to ceiling height on the second and third floors. However, the overall design, including the penthouse, is viewed very favourably by staff as reallocation of floor space from lower floors to a penthouse permits retention of significant trees on West 54th Avenue, which, in turn, combine with setbacks to reduce the visibility of the penthouse. The proposed 5.8 m (19 ft.) setback of this upper floor from the south edge of the building, plus 2.1 m (7 ft.) from the property line atgrade, would minimize visual or privacy impacts on adjacent apartments.

To achieve 6 townhouses in a configuration with a usable courtyard protecting key trees, the applicant proposes a minimal townhouse setback of 1.1 m (3.5 ft.) adjacent to West 54th Avenue. This setback is reluctantly supported, noting that only a small area of the building extends to this point and that the apartment building would be setback from West 54th Avenue by 6.7 m (22 ft.) to 9.4 m (31 ft.). [See Plans: Appendix E - on file in City Clerk's Office].


The proposed mix of apartment and townhouse units, with significant tree retention, successfully addresses Oakridge/Langara Policy Statement objectives, with the exception of density and height over a limited part of the development. Staff support an increase in height and a minimal setback in the northeast corner of the site to ease site planning constraints in favour of tree retention. However, there was initially no rationale to support a density of 1.15 FSR, as proposed. Based on the Policy Statement density targets, without a specific public benefit rationale for a density bonus, staff would recommend approval at a density target of 1.0 FSR, increased to 1.05 in this case, in response to tree retention. This would provide opportunities to improve the setback from West 54th Avenue and reduce the area of the 4th storey exceeding the recommended height.

In response to the applicant’s proposal to achieve a total density of 1.15 FSR with a bonus density of 0.10 FSR, provision of 6 fully accessible units and no cash contribution, staff recommend approval of a 0.04 FSR bonus resulting in a density of 1.09 FSR. Staff present for Council’s CONSIDERATION an option to base a 0.10 FSR density bonus on the combined benefit value of 6 fully accessible units and a $155,150 bonus density payment. The applicant’s proposal is also presented for CONSIDERATION.

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Multiple dwellings containing a maximum of 31 dwelling units, of which a minimum of 5 would have direct grade level access from the exterior.

(Should Council choose to consider a density of 1.15 FSR at Public Hearing, a requirement for 6 fully accessible grade-level units will be included.)


Maximum floor space ratio of 1.09, based on calculation provisions of the RM-4 District Schedule, except that one enclosed balcony per unit facing Oak Street and attic floor space shown to be uninhabitable due to the use of engineered truss construction may be excluded.

(Should Council choose to consider a density of 1.15 FSR at Public Hearing, the draft by-law would reflect that figure.)


A maximum of 13.2 m (43.3 ft.).


A minimum setback of 7.6 m (24.9 ft.) from the west property line; and

A minimum setback of 2.1 m (7 ft.) from the south property line.


Per Parking By-law, except that a minimum of 52 off-street underground parking spaces are to be provided.


Per RM-4N District Schedule.


(a)THAT the proposed form of development be approved by Council in principle, generally as prepared by Besharat Friars, Architects, and stamped "Received City Planning Department, July 31, 1997", provided that the Director of Planning may allow minor alterations to this form of development when approving the detailed scheme of development as outlined in (b) below.

(b)THAT, prior to approval by Council of the form of development, the applicant shall obtain approval of a development application by the Director of Planning, who shall have particular regard to the following:

(i)a Certified Arborist be retained throughout construction to supervise the protection, pruning (both root and branch) and relocation of the trees on the site;

(ii)design development considering CPTED principles with particular regard to:

-reducing opportunities for theft in the underground parking, by:

-screening the parking exit facing the school field, and

-screening underground exit doors facing Oak Street,

-reducing graffiti by stepping or landscaping in front of the exposed retaining wall (east property line);

-painting walls, ceiling and utility pipes in the underground parking garage (double-gating is considered positive);

(iii)provision of a structural detail, as part of any development application, showing that attic space with a height of 1.2 m (4 ft.) or more could not be occupied as floor space;

(iv)design development to permit direct exterior entries to five grade-level apartments;

(v)design development providing direct exterior access to 3 grade-level units fronting 54th Avenue with individual pathways to swing door entries;

(vi)submission of a reflected elevation of the adjacent development to the south to determine potential privacy issues between overlapping windows and doors; and

(vii)provision of 6 fully accessible grade-level units containing a minimum area of 576 m² (6,200 sq. ft.) to the satisfaction of the Director of Planning on the advice of the Special Advisory Committee on Disability Issues.

(c)THAT, prior to enactment of the CD-1 By-law, the registered owner shall:

(i)provide security to the City in an amount determined by the Director of Planning to be sufficient to cover the value of the retained and relocated trees prior to the issuance of the development permit, or prior to any site work, whichever is sooner. The security will be held until following occupancy, when a certified Arborist confirms with the City, in a Site Inspection Report, that the retained and relocated trees are in healthy condition and that the longer term management guidelines have been confirmed. The security will be 150% of an estimated dollar value for

the replacement cost of the retained and relocated trees completed by a certified Arborist. This security obligation will be a separate written agreement between the applicant and the City. Such security to be satisfactory to the Director of Legal Services in her sole discretion and may include, without limitation, a letter of credit;

(ii)make arrangements to the satisfaction of the City Engineer and Director of Legal Services for provision of:

-sewer main upgrading (estimate cost $215,000) to serve the site;

-all electrical and telephone services to be undergrounded within and adjacent the site from the closest existing suitable service point; and

(iii)execute a legal agreement satisfactory to the Director of Legal Services providing that owners will not discriminate against families with children in the sale of their property.


Site, Surrounding Zoning and Development: This .34 ha (.83 ac.) site is comprised of one parcel on the south side of West 54th Avenue on the east side of Oak Street. The site has a depth of 85 m (279 ft.) along West 54th Avenue, a width of 39.7 m (130 ft.) along Oak Street and slopes southward from West 54th Avenue by approximately 2.4 m (8 ft.).

The adjoining site to the south is zoned CD-1 and developed with a mix of 2.5-storey townhouse and 4-storey apartment structures at a density of 1.0 FSR. All surrounding lands are zoned RS-1. To the south of the CD-1 site is a synagogue. To the east is Churchill School. A church and single-storey one-family dwelling are to the north across West 54th Avenue. To the west of Oak Street are well landscaped one-family dwellings.

There are 26 trees on the site located on both the interior and perimeter of the site. The site is well screened from Oak Street by the trees.

Proposed Development: The applicant proposes a 3-storey plus penthouse apartment structure on the westerly part of the site, containing 25 dwelling units. A cluster of six 2.5-storey townhouses would be located along the eastern edge of the site. Access to 54 underground parking spaces would be from West 54th Avenue in the location of an existing driveway. Retention of significant trees along Oak Street and West 54th Avenue and on-site relocation of one tree are proposed. Staff support this revised scheme because it achieves a desirable balance of housing, landscape and urban design objectives.

Application drawings show a total calculable density of 1.18 FSR in accordance with RM-4 calculation provisions. Staff support a further exclusion of one enclosed balcony per unit facing Oak Street for acoustic reasons, reducing this figure to 1.17 FSR. The applicant requested exclusion of covered landings at unit and apartment building entries. However, such covered areas are required for this type of development in other districts and are calculated as floor space. A further 77 m² (825 sq. ft.) of enclosed attic space must normally be included in FSR. If structural specifications preclude future occupancy of this attic space, it could be excluded, reducing the density calculation to 1.15 FSR.

Public Input: A notification letter was sent to nearby property owners on May 28, 1997 and rezoning information signs were posted on May 16, 1997. Three phone calls were received from residents and three people came to City Hall to view plans. One letter expressing opposition was received from nearby residents. Concerns focus on the loss of the care facility, increased density and anticipated cumulative traffic increases.

Comments of the City Engineer: The City Engineer has no objection to the proposed rezoning, provided that the applicant complies with conditions as shown in Appendix B.

Urban Design Panel Comment: The Urban Design Panel reviewed this proposal on April 23, 1997 and supports the proposed use, density and form of development.

Public Benefit: A rezoning to permit apartment and townhouse units at 1.0 FSR would provide an increase in both ground-oriented and apartment accommodation while retaining 13 significant trees. To increase the density to 1.15 FSR could increase the public benefit, as required for a density bonus under the Oakridge/Langara Policy Statement, if a combination of in-kind and cash benefits is provided.


The proposed rezoning neither contributes to nor detracts from the objective of reducing atmospheric pollution.


There are no major positive or negative social implications to this proposal. There are no implications with respect to the Vancouver Children's Policy or Statement of Children's Entitlements. If 6 fully accessible units are introduced, a potential benefit may result for occupants of those units.


If the proposed rezoning is approved, an amendment to the Subdivision By-law will be needed at the time of enactment to delete the Category D standards which currently apply to this RS-1 zoned parcel.


The applicant has been provided with a copy of this report and has provided the comments attached as Appendix D (on file in the City Clerk's Office).




Street Address

976 West 54th Avenue

Legal Description

Lot E, Block 16A, D.L. 526, LMP22638


H. Besharat, Besharat Friars Architects


as above

Property Owner

Molnar Developments (Oak Park) Inc.


A. Molnar, Molnar Developments Inc.






.34 ha (.83 ac)


.34 ha







different than proposed)





One-Family Dwelling

Multiple Dwelling










9.2 m (30 ft.)

13.7 m (45.3 ft.)

13.2 m (43.3 ft.)


2.5 storeys

3.5 storeys





20% (17 m/56 ft.)

7.6 m (24.9 ft.)


10% (3.9 m/13 ft.)

2.1 m (7 ft.)


3.7 m (12 ft.)

1.1 m (3.5 ft.)


45% (38 m/125 ft.)

Form of Development

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