Saturday, April 1, 2017

Geller proposes 14,000 duplexes and gondolas for West Vancouver Upper Lands

It's April 1st. Over the years I have undertaken a number of pranks. My most recent was in 2013 when I was still marketing Hollyburn Mews. I inserted the above as part of a marketing advertisement with the cooperation of the North Shore News: The copy read as follows;

    Vancouver developer Michael Geller has been in secret discussions with members of the West Vancouver Council appointed Upper Lands Working Group regarding a proposal to blanket much of the property above the 1200 foot level with duplexes and coach houses linked by a network of gondolas. The housing would be similar to his development that is just now being completed on Esquimalt Avenue, across from West Vancouver United Church.

     While Geller was reluctant to comment on the record, he admitted to attending recent meetings of the Upper Lands Working Group. He observed that given West Vancouver’s changing demographics, cottage-style duplexes and coach houses are a very desirable form of housing. He added that he thinks West Vancouver has thousands of acres covered in trees, especially in the Upper Lands, which should be converted to housing.  If Geller’s proposal is approved by Council, West Vancouver’s population could double over the next two decades.

     Geller is no stranger to controversial developments. In 1989 he managed the failed Spetifore Lands proposal that was rejected by Delta Council following 27 nights of Public Hearings. Since then he has been involved with two other mountainside developments at Furry Creek and SFU’s UniverCity on Burnaby Mountain.

   Metro Vancouver`s Director of Planning Brent Bartholomew applauded the proposal. He said building on mountainsides is preferable to building on farmlands. He also liked Geller’s proposal to link the new housing to Dundarave and Ambleside villages with a network of gondolas similar to those proposed at SFU.

    He noted that for far too long West Vancouver has been an enclave for the rich and very rich. By adding 14,000 new homes in the Upper Lands it should be possible to accommodate more lower and middle income households, including the children and parents of the rich and very rich.

     Councillor Craig Cameron, one of two council members on the Upper Lands Working Group, said it was premature to comment on Geller’s massive proposal. “The Working Group has only just started its deliberations” he said, although he acknowledged more projects like Hollyburn Mews might be preferable to  the sprawling monster homes being built around the District.

     Geller will be presenting his proposal to Council at its meeting tomorrow on April 1st. aka April Fools’ Day!  

What I didn't anticipate is that many didn't read the story to the end. Both Business in Vancouver and the Vancouver Sun contacted me for more details about the gondola proposals. Many local residents phoned up  the newspaper and some District Councillors to complain about this outrageous proposal. To keep goodwill, I had to insert a subtle 'apology' the following week. It read as follows:

 I would like to thank all of you who took the time to read my tongue-in-cheek pre-April Fool’s Day advertisement in the Sunday March 31st edition of the North Shore News. To those of you who may have spilled your morning coffee at the initial  thought of 14,000 new duplexes and coach houses in the Upper Lands, rest assured no such development is being planned. I am also sorry to disappoint any of you who believed for a moment that there might be a network of gondolas to help address West Van’s increasing traffic congestion. And if any of you were insulted by the insensitive comments of Brent Bartholomew, the Metro Vancouver Director of Planning, please rest assured no such person exists!

Two other favourites were tied to the marketing of Elm Park Place, a condominium project I developed in the 90's at Larch and West 41st in Kerrisdale.
In 1998, Prince Charles came to Vancouver, so I paid for an 'advertorial' in the Courier that the Prince was rumoured to have purchased a Kerrisdale condominium near a park. A number of excited purchasers contacted me to ask whether he had bought at Elm Park place. However, my favourite call was from a purchaser who was furious that I would sell to a member of the royal family without consulting with other purchasers. "How are we going to manage with all the extra security?" she wanted to know.
The following year I wrote an 'advertorial' that the provincial government had secretly approved a SkyTrain extension along West 41st with a station at Larch and West 41st. A surprising number of people were fooled, including one of my daughter's Crofton House classmates who brought in a copy of the Courier as her 'show and tell' story.

"There's going to be a SkyTrain to Crofton House" she exclaimed. My daughter had to explain that it was just one of her dad's April Fools' Day jokes. Unfortunately, the girl had never heard of April Fools' Day.While some people get quite upset about April Fools' Day pranks, I think they can be wonderful. 

However, I must confess I was fooled in 2010 by an April Fools' Day joke that was no joke! It was a story on the Vancouver Sun website (dateline April 1) and I was about to post it as a very clever April Fools Day prank. But I subsequently realized it was a story in the April 2 edition.

City considers building a shelter for homeless chickens                Now that some homeowners are allowed to keep the birds, officials expect some to be abandoned when reality sets in.

By TIFFANY CRAWFORD, Vancouver SunApril 1, 2010Comments (43)
VANCOUVER - Anticipating a wave of buyers’ remorse, city staff are recommending the city build a special shelter for hens they expect will be abandoned by owners having second thoughts.
The 36-page report to city council details every change the city will have to make before backyard egg farmers will be allowed to set up shop. In March 2009, council lifted a 30-year prohibition on keeping urban hens and directed staff to develop the guidelines.
The report deals with everything from the decibel levels of crowing roosters, which will not be allowed, to pest control techniques to ward off marauding rats hunting for chicken feed.
Apartment dwellers will not be allowed to keep chickens on their patios, as the guidelines say only single- and multi-family homes will be allowed to house hens.
The report recommends the city spend $20,000 of the community services budget to build a facility at the Vancouver Animal Control shelter to house seized or abandoned hens.
“Even now we get the odd hen or rooster in the shelter,” said Tom Hammel, the city’s chief licence inspector. “So there will be more.”
To keep the numbers down, as well as reduce the risk of avian flu, the report says residents may keep no more than four hens, which must be older than four months.
“We don’t want people buying cute fuzzy chicks on impulse and then finding out they don’t want them,” said Hammel.
Jordan Maynard, manager of Southlands Farm in Vancouver, says some urban chicken farmers may get fed up with their hens if they buy the wrong breed.
“If they get birds that are bred for meat they won’t be suitable for the backyard. Those birds are pathetic. They don’t walk properly and they grow too fast and they will just lay on their side and not lay eggs,” he said.
Also, hens usually stop laying eggs after about six years and residents may not want to kill them, but they may not want to keep them either, he said. “It depends on whether people come to think of them as pets.”
People who tire of their chickens won’t have a problem finding them new homes, Maynard said. “I’ve heard that someone on Saltspring Island is starting a retirement home for chickens.”
Hammel said the city does not recommend people give away their hens to large chicken farms because of the risk of spreading avian flu to commercial stocks.
The report includes guidelines to minimize odour, stating that coops must only be kept in a back or side yard, and that owners must remove the manure and keep the food and water inside the coop.
Those who want to kill their hens must take them to a veterinarian or farm for slaughter.
The guidelines will go before the planning and environment committee next Thursday. Should the committee approve, the report will go to public hearing May 18.
Health concerns and noise complaints were the main reasons urban chickens were not allowed in the past. But now the city says chickens have important environmental benefits.
The about-face comes as the city strives to be the greenest in the world. According to the report, by providing eggs for urban residents and fertilizer for urban gardens, backyard hens contribute to local food production, which “reduces the city’s carbon footprint.”
Hammel said there will be an online registry that owners must sign so the city can locate the chickens in case of an outbreak of disease. There will be no licence fee to keep the birds.
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

After reading this story I had to contact Patricia Graham at the Vancouver Sun to see if it was a delayed prank or a real story. After checking, she wrote back to say it was for real! 


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