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Someone just suggested that an amendment be added that stipulates buildings in neighborhood connector areas can only be two stories larger than neighboring properties, in theory allowing building height to increase as the streets get developed without creating out of place tall buildings. Seems like an interesting idea, any thoughts?
I can understand the want for this and it isn't flawed in and of itself, but it comes from the same flawed reasoning that has made Contextual land use districts a mess to begin with. R-C2, R-CG and M-CG all have terrible front setback requirements to be responsive to existing homes and it ends up producing developments that have incredibly large front setbacks and postage stamp backyards with typical front setbacks of >7m. The suburban land use districts that are there counterparts (R-1S, R-2, R-G) have 2m front setbacks for laned parcels, 3m setbacks for laneless and 1m setbacks for R-G.

By not looking for the ultimate condition for the public realm and constantly trying to appease neighbours with horizontally opposed 1950s bungalows, we have ensured that it is impossible to build as 'urban' of a building in terms of the public realm experience and front setback in the inner city than it is in the suburbs. Having such large contextual front setbacks is what make R-CG so challenging to build mid-block (as well as not enabling wall-to-wall buildings or no side setbacks). They have to consider what the future public realm condition they are trying to make is instead of constantly thinking about how to limit impact on 1950s bungalows that are set 50/50 between the front and rear PL's, that isn't the urban form we are trying to recreate nor should we appease them as it leads to a substandard urban realm that is far harder to build to than there suburban counterparts. The suburban setbacks would enable much more flexibility and a much better public realm if we just used those districts and scrapped the contextual ones.

So I am not neccessarily opposed to contextualizing building heights for neighbours but that will just lead to the same problem we have with our contextual setback land use districts that only apply to established areas. I am a form-based code person and one of the things i think the Guidebook was trying to do was move towards a form-based code, but only took half measures to do so. One of the most important things that they leave out of the guidebook is build-to lines and actual direction on how buildings need to frame streets to create a high quality public realm, which i am sure they will leave up to Land Use Bylaw. I think they could have pushed farther for a form-based code and it would've made it hard for shitty land use districts to be created like the ones previously described. We have to stop constantly trying to appease existing homeowners and coming up with these substandard building practices in our inner city when it is so much easier to build better urban form with the suburban land use districts (particularly for low density forms). I think if we went this direction we would have more predictable built results and a higher quality public realm.
 
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Someone just suggested that an amendment be added that stipulates buildings in neighborhood connector areas can only be two stories larger than neighboring properties, in theory allowing building height to increase as the streets get developed without creating out of place tall buildings. Seems like an interesting idea, any thoughts?
It would work if those projects never ever came to council or were subject to appeal. If they did, every single project would literally by the 'thin edge of the wedge'.

And I don't really think people are fearing out of place 6 story buildings. A lot of the opposition is fearing 'out of place' 2 story side-by sides because they don't want side by sides, no matter the lot size. They don't want lot subdivisions, no matter the lot size. They want to lock their neighbourhood in time, and since our political financing system changed yet again, our elected officials are stuck where they have to raise money from people with money who are interested in local politics, and that means catering to the needs of people who can write $5000 cheques.
 
I really want to see the City take a more proactive approach to promoting the development it wants to see on the Main Streets. Want to promote transition from mid block 1950’s single family house or attached infill to condo/apartment? Then proactively rezone the mid block to allow for an extra story or two over what is allowed on the corners/ends of the blocks. This would improve the value of these mid-block lots (to the benefit home owners and the developers), and then maybe the need for the developments on the corner/ends of blocks to contemplate the existing context (i.e., adjacent 1/2 story homes) will be less important.
 
Does anyone know what the current levy is for new homes development? I remember it as being something around $10K per home.
It isn’t so simple - my understanding is it varies based on where the development is, and how dense the property is. Given those caveats, for greenfield for 28 units per hectare, around $14-16k per unit by my super rough calculations.

the development master agreement comes up sometime this year — anyone know the particular timing?
 
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Yeah, what a weird ending. So if the guidebook had passed as initially intended, as a statutory document, while at the same time it was meant to be a 'living document',. would that have meant that the incremental changes and improvements that a living document would entail would have constantly been required to be approved by council to keep it statutory?
If so then not having it statutory would seem to be a better path. But then that leads to the question of why it was intended to be statutory in the first place.
 
Yeah, what a weird ending. So if the guidebook had passed as initially intended, as a statutory document, while at the same time it was meant to be a 'living document',. would that have meant that the incremental changes and improvements that a living document would entail would have constantly been required to be approved by council to keep it statutory?
If so then not having it statutory would seem to be a better path. But then that leads to the question of why it was intended to be statutory in the first place.
All very good questions, and your assessment in the first paragraph is accurate.
 
I still don't really understand what happened and what it actually means for development or communities. So it's approved as a now non-statutory planning guidance document to help build local area plans? Isn't that what it's intended purpose was from the start?

Perhaps I am forgetting the rationale for why the guidebook was a needed thing in the first place. The revised local area plans totally makes sense to me (larger, more efficient, easier to update and keep current) but I don't really understand the level of drama around the guidebook and how it connects to the land use bylaw that actually does things (I think?).
 
Nenshi's quote from the article posted above makes a lot of sense to me:
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