Heritage advocate a rare voice of support for Rize development

One of the few members of the public who came forward in support of the Rize Alliance proposal for the corner of Kingsway and East Broadway was long-time heritage advocate Anthony Norfolk. Here are his remarks made to city council at an earlier public hearing.

This expression of support for the Rize proposal at Broadway and Kingsway was presented to City Council on 1 March 2012. It is based on my twenty-five years of involvement in Mount Pleasant, fifteen of those years as an active resident. I was Vice-Chair of the committee which developed the 1987 Community Development Plan, which has stood the test of time impressively, and I participated in the development of the 2010 Plan for Mount Pleasant which underpins this proposal.

The 1987 Plan does not directly address this site. However, even at that time and since there has been discussion of the advantages of one or more point towers, landmarks to provide focus and reinforcement at this pivotal location, a Neighbourhood Centre before that term became an established concept. When the draft 2010 Plan pointed in that direction, accompanied by developed drawings which included the current proposal in outline, this was reassuring, and fortunately Council accepted the Plan.

In the face of inaccurate denials, the Staff Report correctly asserts that the proposal responds to the 2010 Plan, as demonstrated in Report Appendix A pages 24/25 in particular. The reductions in the height of the tower are regrettable. The taller version was more elegant and assertive.

My own record, as evidenced by my involvement in the Historic Area Height Study, for example, shows that I am opposed to towers in inappropriate locations. However, this is not one of those; an opportunity has been missed.

I have been perturbed to hear the term "heritage" being used in opposition to the proposal. This is inappropriate and uninformed. I have spent decades advancing the concept that sound management of Heritage resources advances the livability of Vancouver generally and Mount Pleasant in particular.

The City recognized this by granting me an award for Heritage advocacy in 2011. I would never support any proposal which offended the Heritage of Mount Pleasant. The Rize podium responds well to the transitional context in its relationship to the Lee Building and the two Heritage buildings across Broadway.

The tower is to the south east where Kingsway is seen in the 2010 Plan as an opportunity for greater density. Indeed, Heritage Vancouver has filed a letter of support for Rize, noting that Kingsway is an opportunity to land density from the Density Bank, a recognized tool for Heritage conservation in the City.

Apprehension in the face of change is widespread in Vancouver. However, this should not be permitted to stand in the way of positive proposals presented by responsible responsive developers retaining talented architects, and responding to approved community plans.

– post by Anthony Norfolk. We'll have a further comment shortly on the controversial Rize development as it goes before city council again.

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