Agenda Index City of Vancouver



Date: February 17, 1998

Author/Local: RWhitlock/7814

CC File No. 8017


Standing Committee on Planning and Environment


Director of Community Planning on behalf of

Land Use and Development


(a)Oakridge Langara Policy Statement: Reserve Sub-Area Policy; and

(b)Proposed Rezoning of 915-55 West 57th Avenue &

7225-35 Laurel Street


Ai.THAT Council confirm the policy for reserve sub-areas in Oakridge/Langara requiring "demonstrated unanimous desire by property owners within a block to apply for rezoning";

Aii.THAT "demonstrated unanimous desire" be interpreted to mean that all property owners support a rezoning initiative, but that all properties need not be included in the rezoning; and

Aiii.THAT the reserve sub-area on the north side of the West 57th Avenue between Oak and Laurel Streets could be divided into two sub-areas, with the dividing line established between Salvation Army and the subject rezoning site; and

B.THAT the applicant for 915-55 West 57th Avenue and 7225-35 Laurel Street be advised to withdraw the application, until such time as all owners in the easterly reserve sub-area are supportive of a rezoning proposal.


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


Oakridge Langara Policy Statement, adopted by City Council on July 25, 1995, specifically the policy pertaining to "reserve sub-areas":

"Properties within the reserve sub-areas are not encouraged to apply for rezoning until either: a transit decision results in the property being within 500 m of a transit station; or, there is demonstrated unanimous desire by property owners within a block to apply for rezoning. If applications from reserve sub-areas are received under these conditions, they will be considered based on their individual merits and the general policies in this document..."


This report reviews the reserve sub-area policy within the Oakridge Langara Policy Statement, and recommends that the applicant for 915-55 West 57th Avenue and 7225-35 Laurel Street be advised to withdraw the rezoning application.


The Oakridge Policy Statement (OLPS) identifies two areas for consideration of rezoning applications:

1)High-priority sub-areas: properties suitable for rezoning; and

2)Reserve sub-areas: properties where rezoning is not to be encouraged until a transit decision is reached, or property owners within a block demonstrate a unanimous desire to apply for rezoning.

Four reserve sub-areas are identified in the OLPS (see Appendix A for a plan showing these areas). Two are situated on Cambie Street, a third along West 41st Avenue, and the fourth, the subject of this report, on the north side of West 57th Avenue, between Oak and Laurel Streets (see Appendix B for a detailed block plan). At the time that Council adopted the Policy Statement in July 1995, property owners in these areas could not collectively agree on whether to be included or excluded from high-priority consideration and given that there are numerous high priority sites which do not include single-family and duplex development, the reserve sub-area status was created.


Intent and Current Interpretation of the Policy: The reserve sub-area policy is intended to ensure agreement amongst affected property owners before rezoning proceeds. In this respect, the policy provides protection to property owners who want to remain in their existing residences, who do not want to participate in rezoning and redevelopment, and who want a sense of security against development occurring on adjoining sites. From a planning perspective, the policy also ensures a more orderly, timely and comprehensive development of areas seen as peripheral to the primary focus of redevelopment in the area. A strict interpretation of the policy would be that all properties within a reserve sub-area must be included in the actual rezoning.

Planning staff believe that interpretation of the policy should be extended, such that "demonstrated unanimous desire" includes owners who support a rezoning initiative, but their properties need not be included in the rezoning itself. This will provide moderate flexibility in the three other reserve sub-areas where a considerable number of small properties are involved. Staff recommend that Council provide direction that this interpretation is acceptable.

Current Rezoning Application: On the advice of staff, a rezoning application for townhouse development at 915-55 West 57th Avenue and 7225-35 Laurel Street was submitted as a means of seeking clarification in a situation where the owners of one property would declare neither support nor opposition to the proposal. In general, the form of development proposed is consistent with the Oakridge/Langara Plan. The applicant spent considerable amount of time over the summer and fall of 1997 endeavouring to clarify the viewpoint of the property owners at 7255 Laurel Street without success. The owners were offered inclusion in the scheme including retention of their heritage home. Staff spoke with the owners and were similarly unsuccessful in discerning a positive or negative viewpoint on the proposed rezoning.

Once the application was submitted, staff wrote to seek clarification of the property owners’ position. The property owners subsequently replied, indicating their opposition to the proposed rezoning on the basis that the property had been purchased as a family home and change was not welcome (see letter attached as Appendix C). This position is consistent with the one at the time of Council’s refusal of a similar rezoning application in 1987.

In view of the wording and intent of the reserve sub-area policy of the OLPS, and the response from the owners of 7255 Laurel Street now indicating strong opposition to the proposed rezoning, Planning staff believe that the application should be withdrawn with a refund of the rezoning fee minus nominal costs for the preparation of this report.

Options for this Reserve Sub-area: The reserve sub-area on West 57th Avenue differs significantly from the others because half the reserve sub-area is made up of one very large parcel (10 083 m or 108,531 sq. ft.) occupied by the Salvation Army, and the other half consists of one large vacant lot (Lot A Amd. at 3 614 m or 38,900 sq. ft.) and five medium size parcels, all occupied by one-family dwellings. The property at 7255 Laurel Street is an original farm house and is a category "C" heritage building.

Staff believe there are two ways of managing redevelopment of this reserve sub-area while maintaining the integrity of the policy. The third option of allowing the current application to proceed is described but not supported at this time due to objections described above.

Option 1Allow this reserve sub-area to be divided into two equal areas, with a dividing line established between Salvation Army and the rezoning site (note: this does not help the present application):

Each sub-area is reasonable in size; this option allows for the mitigation of potential impacts through setbacks, proper vehicular access, building placement and landscaping within each sub-sub-area. It presents no direct impact on the Laurel Street properties and the owner of 7255 Laurel has indicated in conversation with staff moderate support for this approach. The option allows for a heritage bonus consideration at the time the owner of 7255 Laurel is prepared to participate in a rezoning. The Salvation Army has implicitly indicated support for this approach, having already indicated support for the current rezoning application.

Staff support this approach but have one concern about this option. There is an unknown risk associated with leaving Lot A Amended (955 West 57th Avenue) as an undeveloped lot as it could be developed with either a very large one-family dwelling or a conditional use, such as a church. This would eliminate the opportunity for ground-oriented family multiple dwellings on this large property along with the others in a land assembly.

Option 2Divide the sub-area into two unequal areas, allowing Salvation Army and adjoining large lot (Lot A Amd.) to be combined, and leave five lots at the easterly end of the sub-area (including 7255 Laurel Street) as a future development site or for one-family dwellings:

Redevelopment under this approach has direct impacts on the remaining RS-1 properties, including 7255 Laurel Street. The large site created through this approach would allow for management of adjacencies through setbacks, proper orientation of access points, open space and building placement; however, it does reduce options for the remaining single-family properties, although limited redevelopment opportunities still remain. Flexibility to deal with existing heritage building would be greatly reduced in dealing with a bonus for preservation. Further, it is likely that the owner of 7255 Laurel Street would have a basis for objection, as this approach is not consistent with the intent of the reserve sub-area policy. Staff do not support this approach.

Option 3Allow the existing rezoning to proceed:

Given the owners’ objections, the scheme would proceed without the heritage property and is contrary to the intent of the policy requiring the support of all property owners. It would have a substantial impact on the remaining property at 7255 Laurel Street, and significantly reduces opportunities for saving the heritage building in future years by eliminating opportunities for a bonus to save the house. Therefore, staff cannot recommend this option.


The application fails to meet the essential criteria of the reserve sub-area policy in that all owners are not unanimously supportive of the rezoning initiative, under the interpretation outlined by staff. However, on the basis that the objecting owners conveyed no position for so long, staff recommend that the applicant be able to withdraw the application, with a refund of the rezoning fee minus nominal costs for the preparation of this report.

Staff recommend that the sub-area on West 57th Avenue be broken into two equal sub-areas. This would allow Salvation Army to proceed, while protecting the balance of the sub-area until such time as all owners are in agreement. The approach of an unequal division of the sub-area is not supported as it is considered to be contrary to the spirit and intent of the reserve sub-area policy.

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Map Appendices A, B & C. No soft copy available.

Appendices on File in City Clerk’s Office
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