Norquay Survey Results

History and Context


The Norquay Survey of June 2007

In late May and early June 2007, the City of Vancouver haphazardly distributed Draft Plan for Future Housing in Norquay Village Neighbourhood Center and an Improved Streetscape for Kingsway as an unaddressed junk mail flyer to many houses in and near Norquay. Individual houses and entire streets did not receive the information. A complex survey, attached as a fold-out on the last page, accompanied the flyer.

The survey was prepared by city planning staff, with input from a handful of selected Renfrew Collingwood residents. In the experience of almost all Norquay residents, this far-reaching Draft Plan arrived suddenly out of nowhere. In ordinary circumstances, the early June timing (end of school, beginning of vacations) would not facilitate a substantial response.

Thirty percent of Norquay’s residents have a first language other than Chinese or English. The City gave that group no notice whatsoever of the significance of the “survey” to their property interests. In particular, there was no eight-language notice (usual to such City communications) saying “IMPORTANT INFORMATION Please have this translated.”

The City of Vancouver’s initial timeline anticipated an extremely rapid pro forma process:


Four Key Issues

Twelve out of nineteen questions on the survey illegitimately pursued an RM-1 courtyard rowhouse housing option. City Council unanimously voted on March 23, 2004 to approve the Renfrew-Collingwood Community Vision. The associated Policy Report stated that this “direction” was “not to be adopted nor considered in future planning processes.” The City’s own survey violated stated City policy in this and other matters.

An undiscussed, unapproved EcoDensity agenda hijacked the Draft Plan for Norquay. Director of City Planning Brent Toderian has publicly and repeatedly stated that the mass rezoning proposal for Norquay has no connection with EcoDensity. A City of Vancouver report of June 6, 2007 on Future Neighbourhood Centres Planning demonstrates that a deliberate EcoDensity approach was pursued in the Draft Plan for Norquay: “EcoDensity is already influencing Centres planning, as exemplified by the review of new housing potential along Kingsway in the Norquay Village planning process” (p. 5). This report is simultaneous with distribution of the survey form in Norquay.

The complex Draft Plan (page 4, item 7) accompanying the Norquay survey stayed fuzzy about property tax impacts. At the June open houses, planning staff proved unable to provide any useful information on the topic. Later in the summer, City Council passed a rare “retroactive amendment” to return an estimated $840,000 in property taxes to residents of the already rezoned Kingsway and Knight area. This action mitigated a clear injustice. The City remains unwilling to address the fundamental problem of homeowners being forced to pay for being shifted to a mass rezoned status that they neither need nor want. Failure to deal with this concern can only make the City look like a cynical tax grabber.

The City appears to be seeking a way to impose what it wants on Norquay regardless of how residents feel about it. One news report has a city planner saying “the city is considering new ways to engage residents so an acceptable plan can be formulated“ but “after city council approves a plan, at least some rezoning would occur.” (Vancouver Courier, Dec. 28, 2007, p. 16e). In other words: “Whatever you say, Norquay, we intend to engage you and then rezone you.” The City likes to claim “EcoDensity looks different in different neighborhoods.” Norquay has been the City’s second rezoning target (seventeen more are planned). All Norquay can see is a Kingsway & Knight rezoning cookie cutter trying to grow bigger and move faster – a juggernaut going from rezoning 1600 single family properties to trying to rezone 2400 single family properties, and proposing that a far larger proportion of the area be enveloped by the densest RM-1 courtyard rowhouse category. It looks like “different” means the City is out to swallow more single-family housing with denser housing forms in each successive rezoning attempt.


Results of the Survey

Multiple verbal and written requests for the survey results were made to the City between November 2007 and January 2008. These efforts included an informal freedom of information request. Only after the suppression of results received media attention did the City reluctantly make the Norquay survey results available to the public in January 2008. The survey results do not support the City’s intentions for Norquay. The City has used an “independent advisor … to analyze and interpret the results” and now says “Norquay survey data should not be used or interpreted.” The advisor designated 1080 negative responses submitted through online forms and photocopied forms as “irregular.” (Questions 1 through 17 of the survey concerned areas and types of mass rezoning.) Even when 1080 negative responses are discounted, Norquay residents still have rejected proposed mass rezoning by wide margins.

By the time Norquay residents became aware that the survey contained in the unaddressed junk mail flyer might seriously impact their properties and their neighborhood, many no longer had the the flyer. Others never received it in the first place. With a looming deadline of June 20, and no ready access to a paper form, some concerned residents resorted to online and photocopy submission as an alternative. The results tabulation indicates nothing about the responses discarded because they were received after June 20.

To the advisor’s credit, these issues are recognized:

The advisor’s allegation that undesired responses to the survey were the result of “coaching” insults residents of Norquay by presuming that they were unable to make up their own minds on the issues, and were somehow controlled by outside information.

In other circumstances, much more “coached” results appear to have been used to advance the agenda of the City. A report from Point Grey describes community vision survey forms distributed to 200 students grades 8 to 10 for completion under their teachers’ direction. The City is said to have insisted that these results be included in the totals despite protest from neighborhood residents.



Any further interactions between the City and the residents of Norquay should


February 7, 2008

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