Dunbar neighbours concerned as city approves rezoning for rentals

The Collingwood Place project was approved based on Vancouver’s updated rental policy, which in 2021 expanded to allow developers to rezone side streets

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Residents within a small enclave of Dunbar-area homes have lost their challenge of a proposed rezoning that would see a single home in their cul-de-sac turned into five storeys of rental housing.

Harish Seerah, a homeowner on Collingwood Place, was in tears while voicing his opposition to the proposal before Vancouver’s mayor and council during a public hearing this week.

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“It’s not the new forms of density we are concerned about, it is the material safety concerns that we face given the tightness of space on the cul-de-sac,” Seerah said.

The 6081-83 Collingwood Place project, which was approved on Thursday night, has been applied for based on Vancouver’s updated rental policy, which in 2021 expanded to allow developers to rezone side streets beside arterial roads for five- or six-storey rental buildings.

While pedestrians and emergency personnel are expected to access the apartments through a Dunbar Street entrance, up until Thursday vehicle access to the building’s parkade would be located on Collingwood Place.

This has changed, with council now directing staff to “fully explore” whether parking access can be off Dunbar Street.

“We’re anticipating about 30 dwelling units for the development incoming at the later stage … we’re looking at 15 to 20 parking spaces including visitor parking,” said city engineer Rosemarie Draskovic.

As part of the public consultation process, the city received seven letters in support of the development and 19 in opposition.

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Vancouver residents in support of the project lauded its potential to add new rental housing, particularly for students attending the University of B.C.

Neighbours such as Diane Fulton are worried increased traffic could affect safety.

“We have no sidewalks on either side of the street. So, as of right now, our street is reasonably safe to walk on because there is not a lot of traffic,” Fulton said at the public meeting.

Neighbourhood resident Alan Kenney​ told council that his son Ethan, who has cerebral palsy, commutes in his motorized wheelchair from Collingwood Place to university.

“The proposed development will introduce a significant increase in traffic, with the arrival of delivery vehicles, moving vans and the continuous flow of residents and their guests. Our streets will become substantially busier — this poses a real safety hazard to pedestrians, particularly those with mobility issues.”

Another neighbour, Eugene Lee, who spoke at the public hearing, agreed.

“As parents of two teenagers who walk to school every day, we’re concerned about their safety during months with limited daylight when they have to walk on the road between parked cars and ongoing traffic.”

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Lee, who commutes to and from work on his bike, said: “Even with the current levels of traffic, I’ve had several close calls in the neighbourhood, needing to swerve to avoid being door-ed.”

After witnessing a fire at her neighbour’s home in May, Lana Pulver fears increased traffic from the project could make it more difficult for first responders to access their Collingwood Place homes.

“After the fire was extinguished, a fire truck had difficulty getting out of our cul-de-sac due to cars parked on both sides of the block of our very narrow street … it made us fearful that this very problem could arise not just on the way out, but on the way in,” Pulver wrote in a letter her son read aloud to council.

In July, the city approved the first apartment building for a side street on Vancouver’s affluent West Side with a site on West 30th Avenue, just east of Dunbar, to that will be a four-storey building with 35 rental homes.

with file from David Carrigg

[email protected]

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