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City planners take new look at urban vistas Frances Bula, Special to the Globe and Mail, March 30th, 2009 --------------------- Vancouver’s famous view corridors have prompted more anguished howls from architects than almost anything else I can think of over the years. Now, the city is looking at re-examining them. (And, as the sharp-eyed people at skyscraper.com have noted, the posting for people to run the public consultation went up on city website Friday. You can see their comments on the whole debate here.) You can get a flavour of the arguments from my story in the Globe today, which I’ve reproduced below. --------------------- Vancouver is legendary as a city that has fought to prevent buildings from intruding on its spectacular mountain backdrop and ocean setting. Unlike Calgary, which lost its chance to preserve views of the Rockies 25 years ago, or Toronto, which has allowed a highway plus a wall of condo towers to go up between the city and its lake, Vancouver set an aggressive policy almost two decades ago to protect more than two dozen designated view corridors. But now the city is entertaining re-examining that controversial policy, one that has its fierce defenders and its equally fierce critics, especially the architects who have had to slice off or squish parts of buildings to make them fit around the corridors. And the city’s head planner is signalling that he’s definitely open to change. “I’ve got a serious appetite for shifting those view corridors,” says Brent Toderian, a former Calgary planner hired two years ago, who has been working hard to set new directions in a city famous for its urban planning. “The view corridors have been one of the most monumental city-shaping tools in Vancouver’s history but they need to be looked at again. We have a mountain line and we have a building line where that line is inherently subjective.” The issue isn’t just about preserving views versus giving architects free rein. Vancouver has used height and density bonuses to developers with increasing frequency in return for all kinds of community benefits, including daycares, parks, theatres and social housing. A height limit means less to trade for those amenities. Mr. Toderian, who thinks the city also needs to establish some new view corridors along with adjusting or eliminating others, says a public hearing on the issue won’t happen until the fall, but he is already kicking off the discussion quietly in the hope that it will turn into a wide-ranging debate. “The input for the last few years has been one-sided, from the people who think the view corridors should be abolished,” he said. “But we’re looking forward to hearing what everyone thinks. Most people who would support them don’t even think about them. They think the views we have are by accident.” The view-corridor policy, formally adopted in 1989, was the result of public complaints over some tall buildings going up, including Harbour Centre, which is now, with its tower and revolving restaurant, seen as a defining part of the Vancouver skyline. But then, it helped spur a public consultation process and policy development that many say confused the goal of preserving views with a mathematical set of rules that often didn’t make sense. One of those critics is prominent architect Richard Henriquez, who said the corridors don’t protect the views that people have consistently said they value most from the city’s many beaches and along streets that terminate at the water. Instead, he says many of the view corridors are arbitrarily chosen points that preserve a shard of view for commuters coming into town. That has resulted in the city losing billions of dollars of potential development “for someone driving along so they can get a glimpse of something for a second.” And, Mr. Henriquez argues, city residents have a wealth of exposure to the city’s mountains throughout the region. “Downtown Vancouver is a speck of urbanity in a sea of views,” said Mr. Henriquez, who is feeling the problem acutely these days while he works on a development project downtown where the owners are trying to preserve a historic residential hotel, the Murray, while building an economically feasible tower on the smaller piece of land next to it. The view corridor means the building has to be shorter and broader and is potentially undoable. His project is one in a long list of projects that have been abandoned or altered because of view corridor rules in Vancouver. The Shangri-La Hotel, currently the tallest building in the city at 650 feet, is sliced diagonally along one side to prevent it from straying into the view corridor. At the Woodward’s project, which redeveloped the city’s historic department store, one tower had to be shortened and the other raised to fit the corridor. And architect Bing Thom’s plan for a crystal spire on top of a development next to the Hotel Georgia was eventually dropped because city officials refused to budge on allowing the needle-like top to protrude. But one person wary about the city tinkering with the policy is former city councillor Gordon Price. “When people talk about revisiting, it just means one thing: eroding,” said Mr. Price, still a vocal advocate on urban issues. “People may only get this fragment of a view but it’s very precious. And those fragments will become scarcer as the city grows. The longer they remain intact, the more valuable they become.” It’s a debate that’s unique to Vancouver. Mr. Toderian said that when he was in Calgary, there was no discussion about trying to preserve views from the downtown to the Rockies in the distance. --------------------- cet article n'est pas tres recent, mais je sais pas s'il avait deja ete poste sur ce forum. meme s'il y a des differences, a mon avis beaucoup de ces arguments pourraient s'appliquer aussi pour Montreal. est-ce qu'on devra attendre une autre vague de demande bousillee pour relancer le debat ?
Édifice Robillard - Montréal Il y avait des échafauds de LM Sauvé d'installer cet après-midi quand je suis passé. Un bel édifice du Quartier Chinois qui mérite d'êter bien préservé. J'espère que c'est toute la façade qui sera restaurée. Source : L’edifice Robillard : premier cinema du Canada | Memoires des Montrealais
Voici un cas typique du débat entre développement et préservation... ou vous situez-vous dans ce spectrum? Not out of the woods yet Montreal wants to preserve a mature forest, but Ste. Anne de Bellevue argues tax revenue doesn't grow on trees MICHELLE LALONDEThe Gazette Sunday, May 25, 2008 CREDIT: ALLEN MCINNIS THE GAZETTE Participants in a nature walk point at flying birds during their travels through Woods No. 3, part of the Rivière à l'Orme Ecoforest Corridor. Environmental advocates fear the old-growth trees will soon be cut down, as developers plan to build houses on the site. CREDIT: ALLEN MCINNIS THE GAZETTE Hikers examine a tiny red salamander in the Rivière à l'Orme ecoterritory, which is home to rare animals and plants.If the city of Montreal wants to preserve an ecologically valuable forest in Ste. Anne de Bellevue, it will have to pay off not only the real estate developer that owns the forest but also the town that stands to lose tax revenue if it is not developed. At least, that's the view of Ste. Anne de Bellevue Mayor Bill Tierney. Developers plan to build about 60 homes on 13 hectares of mature forest in what is known as Woods No. 3, tucked between the Rivière à l'Orme and the town of Kirkland's western border. The site is within the borders of the Rivière à l'Orme Ecoforest Corridor, one of 10 ecoterritories the city of Montreal identified in 2004 as being ecologically significant. The Rivière à l'Orme ecoterritory is home to an unspoiled mature forest, rare and endangered flora and fauna, and cedar groves that provide habitat for a population of white-tailed deer. Montreal set aside $36 million to acquire private lands within the most sensitive parts of these 10 eco-territories in March 2004. The island council later expressed its support for Montreal's efforts by identifying these same ecoterritories as "heritage areas of collective interest." Ste. Anne de Bellevue is one of three municipalities through which the Rivière à l'Orme, the island's only inland river, flows. The Rivière à l'Orme Ecoforest Corridor includes land in Pierrefonds, Beaconsfield and Ste. Anne de Bellevue. While some island municipalities, like Beaconsfield, have welcomed Montreal's efforts to preserve ecologically valuable forests and wetlands in their communities, Tierney says Ste. Anne de Bellevue needs to grow and requires the tax dollars the new development would bring. Besides, Tierney says, Ste. Anne is already plenty green, thank you, what with McGill University's Macdonald Campus Farm, the Morgan Arboretum and the Ecomuseum. "This is not the middle of Montreal. This is not Verdun. It's already very, very green," Tierney said in an interview. The land in question has been zoned residential for at least 25 years, Tierney notes, and last year the town council adopted a development plan for the area confirming that zoning. In March, the developer was granted the right to subdivide the land and West Island conservation groups fear the felling of trees is imminent. "When Montreal decided to protect these green spaces, they did not have the force of law," Tierney said. "The only sure way Montreal can protect this land is to acquire it." The city of Montreal is trying to do just that. Helen Fotopulos, the city of Montreal executive committee member responsible for parks and green spaces, said negotiations are under way with the landowners, Groupe Immobilier Grilli Inc. and Jean Houde Construction. "I'm optimistic" Woods No. 3 can be saved, Fotopulos said. "For us this is a priority and always has been. ... The discussions are going on and we hope to be able to have our great-grandchildren enjoy the fruits of this forest." But Tierney said Ste. Anne de Bellevue should not be expected to stand by while Montreal butts in, buys the land and deprives his municipality of future tax revenues. He argues the cost of ecoterritories, including lost tax revenues, should be shared by taxpayers across the island. "Ste. Anne is not a rich city," Tierney said. "Maybe losing that money means not being able to meet our collective agreements or not bringing in programs like improved recycling and bicycle paths." The new housing development would be very eco-friendly, and include such features as geothermal heating and preservation of much of the tree canopy, he said. But a canopy does not a forest make, and conservation groups like the Green Coalition say Ste. Anne de Bellevue needs to get its eco-priorities straight. "This land is of the highest value in terms of ecology and how intact and undisturbed the forest is," said Daniel Oyama, of the Green Coalition, a non-profit advocacy group. He wants to see cities like Ste. Anne change their development plans to reflect the need to preserve what little is left of unspoiled green spaces on the island of Montreal. "They should get out of the woods and build in higher density on what's already been spoiled and leave the mature 100-year-old trees alone," Oyama said. Meanwhile, Beaconsfield Mayor Bob Benedetti said he, too, is confident Woods No. 3 will be preserved. Benedetti joined Fotopulos last year in Montreal's efforts to preserve part of Angell Woods, which also fall within the Rivière à l'Orme Ecoforest Corridor. But instead of demanding compensation money, Beaconsfield contributed $600,000 toward buying the land from the developer who owned it. "We were in a different situation," Benedetti said. "Our citizens had made a clear decision they wanted to preserve that forest." Benedetti sits on a committee set up by the island council to deal with issues related to the Rivière à l'Orme Ecoforest Corridor. He said it's significant Tierney has agreed to meet with the committee next month. Since Woods No. 3 is just across Highway 40 from Angell Woods, Benedetti is keenly interested in seeing it preserved, too. "I subscribe to the dream of a huge West Island regional park that would go from Cap St. Jacques down to Angell Woods on both sides of the Rivière à l'Orme, with a green corridor over or under Highway 40," he said. But realizing that dream may require significant financial help from the provincial government, Benedetti acknowledged. [email protected] thegazette.canwest.com © The Gazette (Montreal) 2008 http://www.canada.com/components/print.aspx?id=e9128069-0cb5-4af8-a982-f1768c6d9d56&sponsor=