City planners are scrambling to get two controversial Yaletown towers back on the agenda, after a B.C. Supreme Court judge's ruling effectively halted construction on the first of them last week.
Vancouver's general manager of planning, Brian Jackson, said council will be asked first to rehold public hearings on new rules for the city's practice of giving developers extra density in exchange for social housing.
Then, the city will bring forward a new development-permit request and a new rezoning hearing for the two towers, promising in all three processes to provide the public with more information and more notice.
"It's important that we follow the correct procedures and heed the judge's concerns and direction and do it with proper notice," Mr. Jackson said. (The city is also still considering whether to appeal the decision.)
A report recommending a new public hearing on the general policy changes is coming to council Wednesday, barely a week after the court decision.
And, even though the judge didn't require it, the city is also redoing a similar set of policy changes that were included in the recently approved plan for the Downtown Eastside.
Mr. Jackson said public hearings would be held in late February.
His department is considering whether to send a letter to every one of the approximately 100,000 households in every downtown neighbourhood, from the West End to Yaletown to Strathcona, or to use some other notification method to ensure the public is broadly informed.
That's to comply with the ruling from Supreme Court Justice Mark McEwan, who last week quashed a city permit and rezoning decision, saying the public needed clearer information from the city about its deal to swap density for social housing between the two sites.
But the group that sued the city and got approvals for the two towers overturned is saying this new process is just as bad, with just as much confusing information for the public to digest too fast.
"This is a rushed end run," said Kerry Corbett, who is with the Community Association of New Yaletown. It's a small group, with 76 likes for its Facebook site, but a dogged one that sued the city last May over its deal with a private developer to trade sites and swap density for social housing.
The deal consisted of the city trading its land, the site of the current social-housing complex Jubilee House, at the corner of Richards and Helmcken, for a site across the street owned by Brenhill Developments Ltd.
The city's original, larger and more valuable site was approved for a 36-storey tower with almost 450 units for Brenhill, with the city requiring 110 of them to be guaranteed rental apartments.
In return, Brenhill was supposed to build a new Jubilee House on its lot, with 87 units rented at around $400 a month to the current residents in Jubilee and another 75 units to be rented at around $1,100 a month, which the city called "low end of market."
That project, which had been under construction since the middle of 2014, has now been halted.
The Yaletown residents' group has called the whole deal a bad one, saying the value Brenhill was getting from its tower far exceeded the $30-million in cash and benefits it gave to the city.
Justice McEwan stayed away from saying whether the deal was good or bad. Instead, he said the city should have allowed residents to speak about both projects together and debate whether it was a good deal. He also said the policy changes, which were included in a remake of the West End's new plan, should have been clearly advertised as something affecting the whole downtown.
The public hearings the city ran last year only allowed residents to comment on the height, density and use of each building, but not to talk about them as a package.