Park land is an irreplaceable and enduring legacy that must be protected from runaway development and embraced with this golden opportunity of a neighbourhood driven movement.
Related video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beaO7CUkxyM
In 1983, the former owners of Oakridge Centre were given approval to subdivide the site and create a parcel of land for residential development (subsequently developed as three 6-storey buildings). The subdivision triggered a requirement for dedication of parkland, in accordance with the Subdivision By-Law, of 10% of the site, which would have yielded a future park land dedication of 3.085 acres. The City and owners agreed to a deferral of the obligation to a future subdivision in a legal agreement that was registered on title.
In 1991, Council approved in principle a rezoning of the site, which would permit additional density. A condition of the rezoning was the provision by the owner of land on the Oakridge site to build 96 units of senior’s housing at one third of market value. The housing itself was to be built and financed by a different developer. This rezoning was not immediately enacted and in 1992, Council approved modifications to the conditions of the 1991 rezoning to allow the following:
The owner would transfer a 1.1 acre site to the City for seniors housing for $660,000 (10% of market value) once construction on the expansion of the mall commenced.
The outstanding park obligation would be reduced from 3.085 acres to 2.83 acres to recognize the land contribution for seniors housing (originally to be transferred at one third of market value).
A new covenant to be registered which would require delivery of the park or payment in lieu.
Council enacted the rezoning by-law in September 1993 and a covenant was registered on title to secure the delivery of the housing site and the park obligation. The 1.1 acre housing site was to be transferred to the City upon the first use of the additional density received from the rezoning. The covenant to secure the delivery of the park or payment in lieu (upon the earlier of the next subdivision or 15 years from the date of such covenant) was to be registered concurrently with subdivision plan to create the housing site for the City. The owner never undertook the development that was to trigger these outstanding obligations, and, as a result, these outstanding obligations remain unfulfilled to this day.
The shopping mall has existing obligations including both the gift to the city of a new 2.83 acre park on site as well as 1.1 acres of land turned over to the city for the sole purpose of building seniors housing.
The planning department has publicly stated in writing and verbally that they believe there are enough parks in South Vancouver. The Mayor and Council voted to proceed to the next stage of rezoning after members of the public OVERWHELMINGLY rejected the plan.
When they are allowed to take cash in lieu, the true benefit is lost to the community. True park land benefits all generations to come. The amounts received will disappear into Parks Board or City spending.
The planning department has gone a step further and stated that they would consider accepting payment of the new community amenity obligation requirements of the massive high-rise rezoning, with PARKS BOARD funds rather than having the developer pay for it. This was recorded on video during a session of council.
The Mayor and Council must not allow the developer’s two debts/obligations to be paid for by the price of one obligation, as was indicated to in council as a possible satisfactory option.
The Mayor and Council have an important and precedent setting choice to make about the protection or eradication of parkland with the pending Oakridge mall redevelopment plan. The Mayor and Council have an equally impactful choice in the Oakridge plan with regards to seniors housing.
You are being asked to stand together and demand that the Mayor and Council choose dedicated on-site park land and seniors housing rather than a cash in lieu option.
Let your voice be heard.
(source data from City of Vancouver, Policy Report - Development and Building: Oakridge Centre Rezoning - Issues and Directions, May 21, 2013 - link: http://former.vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20130529/documents/ptec3.pdf)