Wednesday 15 April 2015

The Nelson Commons Cash-Dash

The name Nelson Commons is pretentious twaddle. A condo-box with a supermarket, insufficient parking and nowhere for children living there to play safely in any direction hardly fits the image of an old-world Common (no s!).
Park this!

That said one must agree with Councillor Morrison on her resistance to the City expected to continue giving way more to Nelson Commons (NC) than it receives in return. And Councillor Dailly's support - as member of the Housing Committee yet!

For detailed info on NC - again! and now what! and they can't be serious! - go to:
Reg. Council Meeting - 7 Apr, 2015
Development Variance Permit Application - 708 Vernon St.
Nelson Commons

The first time the 3 now-called (un)affordable residential units were mentioned was:Van City Credit Union long ago stipulating that its financial participation in NC was partly contingent on making 3 units available as then-called social housing. They are not a manifestation of the Coop's social consciousness! Predictably - and over time - NC has turned these 3 must-or-else units into an emblem of its own tree-hugging wonderfulness - while in reality, now blatantly - attempting to use them as an additional money-maker. 
From social housing to market-value real-estate - in addition expecting this to be subsidized by the local tax-payer. Plus having the City totally administer these units on tax-dollars as well! In perpetuity! Laughing all the way to the bank!
Be still, poor heart!

It's high time to differentiate between the Coop and NC - the latter a separate entity except for whatever their financial cross-pollination may be - few know - and the new Coop-store to be rented from NC.
This originated and run not by but for the Coop as a basic for-profit real-estate development by Russell Precious - its very well-paid and very development-savvy project-managing brain.
And when Councillor Dailly says - in his own words - that surely we can rely on the Coop's credit being solid because - after all - it is THE Coop: we need to take a deep breath and consider what role its existing store plays already as lynchpin in financing NC. I mean: what else is there as collateral for the complex financial multiparty backing?

The City must begin to - at long last - deal with NC as a single entity, strictly just another development-project - which unfortunately it had not done until the above Council Meeting. Particularly now that Nelson Landing is on the table as well!

Councillor Cherbo has a point when he wonders whatever happened to the varianced green bike-racks all over NC. Which now attempts to claw back parking-spaces one-here one-there - after receiving the previous Council's approval to scale back the then appropriate 190 spaces to an astonishingly low 100. This variance worked-out for NC by Dave Wahn - Nelson's previous Manager of Planning and Approval - long before even officially applied for by NC wink-wink. The (public) rationale behind this drastic cut comes from Precious - after the variance is approved: The full 190 spaces would have required a second underground parking-level at an additional 1 mill - making the whole project unfeasible.
Not very bloody likely - seeing that this whole NC-thing is the only plan they've ever had for paying-off significant debt, incurred by the Coop buying the Extra property and then what!

The variance - if/when implemented - meaning far-reaching impact on local driving- and parking-patterns. What with Wahn - to make up for the loss - deciding to simply make those spaces we do have smaller to gain more! Rationalizing this Alice-in Wonderland move with: people will just have to buy smaller cars! All this for NC!
Oddly-or-not - since this retooling of parking on City Hall paper - nobody has talked about implementing it. No matter and inescapable fact: there will not be enough parking at NC thus in its vicinity. The pebble in the pond!

Bottom-line: NC's posture of entitlement in this way unbalanced relationship - based off-point on the Coop's local sacred-cow status - was locked-in enthusiastically by City Hall's previous incarnation. There are more examples!

While one may empathize with this Council's unenviable position of being up against NC's shrewd money-grabs: many locals - including so-called Coop-owners/members - feel manipulated into - directly/indirectly - facilitating schemes for paying-off a property way too large and way too expensive for a basic larger store.

Ultimately - what could have been the Community Master Plan's heart of Nelson - will be an unremarkable Villa Kelowna with a new! improved! supermarket downstairs.
For years and years to come!

Pierre et Gilles


  1. You really need to read about how projects like this are built in larger cities. Stuff like this happens all the time. Nothing is ever clear-cut and simple. Whole buildings are going up in Toronto that have ZERO parking. That's because modern planners know that the trend in car ownership is going down.

    And it's not crazy for NC to ask not to have to install chargers for electric cars when there is basically just one in the entire city of Nelson at this time. It's just common sense. Why spend a lot of money on something that won't see much use, and might change significantly as the technology changes? (And it's changing rapidly.)

    1. Last time I checked Nelson is not a larger city nor Toronto. Doubtful the locals want to see it go in that direction. What has happened to Kootenay Co Op's organic wholesome image? $$$ perhaps ;)

    2. Whatever the excuse behind offering something and then taking it away is, I don't condone that kind of behaviour. Initially, this project made it look like we would have a lot more for everyone, more parking, and some green space and an electrical car charging station (which they knew full well when they offered it would be an incentive for people to convert to electric cars, and they knew full well that nobody has them yet). It's turned into another off-the-shelf, generic song and dance development, the same kind of flash and sizzle we saw with Kootenay Landing years ago. Oh, yeah, there will be green space and public access. That turned into a tiny lawn and a couple trees in a courtyard only for residents within the gates.

      Calling this the "Commons" is an insult to those who fought so hard to keep the commons in Britain, and what the commons truly means. It is pretentious.

      And, I don't just mean that superficially; it is pretentious because it calls itself something which pretends to be for everyone. It isn't. It is for well-to-do folks who can afford $249K and upwards for a condo, plus strata fees and property taxes. This is not for lower income folks, at all. They could've built some basic units on the ground floor, just very simple, forget the granite, stainless steel, the glass balcony railings (all that after telling us all how expensive it is to build). They could've put in some units for $175K if they really, really wanted to, and then have more upmarket stuff for those who can afford it. What this project does, by extension, is contribute to gentrification and class conciousness. Nothing could be further from it's slippery namesake, The Commons. Give me a break!

      Pretty sad that the coop let itself get piggybacked on, without being able to be owners after all this hoopla. Still renters after 30 years in business. Sad.

    3. They could also have used the existing store, and built on top of it, in time, after building up more equity through proving that what they bought had some viable rental spaces in it, like for Kootenay Bakery, for example. Ask any contractor worth his salt. They could be operating right now, and kept that large parking lot. There is hardly any more open spaces in Nelson anymore, and it's getting claustrophobic. That large parking lot served well for eons for parking for the movie theatre, and could be used for open air markets in the summer time. Using Toronto as a model to compare to? Really? Toronto is sprawl... ever try to just get out of it easily. It goes on and on and on... I think some folks are going to be sadly sorry that they bought into any of these condos, especially if they live right above a loading dock for a grocery store. Beep beep beep beep....

    4. Kootenay Co Op "still renters after all these years"? Boy did the Membership get HOODwinked!

  2. Nelson is not Toronto. But we would be smart to pay attention to what they, and other large cities are doing. They are very wisely realizing that one of the most valuable commodities we have is space. The tighter we pack things together, the better. Smaller, tighter cities are more walkable, greener, and require that we pave over less forest and farmland. Recognizing that the more parking spaces you provide, means more cars is something that was realized nearly 40 years ago, and is just now becoming planning practice.

    No tenants of the Commons will be without a parking space... unless they have more than one car. And if they do... that's their problem to figure out. Either they'll have to find parking elsewhere, pay huge rates for on-street, or ditch that car.

    Likewise, all shoppers at the co-op will now have a real parking lot, vs just street parking that they have now. As for the other businesses moaning about that... tough. It's not like any of them are providing parking for their customers, where do they get off telling the co-op that they should provide even more?

    And as for this not being the perfect project, what is? When has that ever happened in the history of forever? Multi-family build design is not exactly all that great right now. Go ahead and search to see what is winning awards these days. The Commons design is pretty much standard fare. And, I know, "but this is Nelson! we should do something different!" The question is... who is going to pay for that? Tack on an extra few million in design and construction costs, and you jack up the individual unit rates by $20-$40K, making them even more unaffordable.

    Nelsonites have to stop whining about this development and move on. Once it's done, we'll have more people living downtown, which is a good thing. It will mean more eyes on the street at night, which means more safety. It will mean more support for local businesses, which means a more vibrant downtown core, and better economy.

    You'd think they're putting in an oil rig the way you people are complaining. It's a co-operative food store for crying out loud. They've done an outstanding job of demonstrating how a not-for-profit organization can take on projects normally reserved for large for-profit developers. This is a very cool thing. If any of you people think you could do a better job of running it as a business and not failing, please step up and display your credentials. I find that those with the loudest opinions on how things should be run are often those who probably couldn't put together a potluck.

    It's ok to be critical of this project, but this hippie bs is getting out of hand. Please go and read over why they did this project this way. Put simply, they needed a bigger space, but land in Nelson is now so expensive that you can't just plop down a grocery store. You need to get as much value out of the land as you can. These condos were the way to go. And no... they are not for rich people. Rich people do not buy $350,000 condos, they buy $1.5 million homes or bigger. The people who will be living in the Commons are middle class. Not the hated 1%. They are helping to make this project viable.

    Yes it would be nice if it could be social housing, but I don't think people realize how expensive and challenging that sort of thing is. And yet, you just sit back and expect other people to solve these problems for you. Have any of you ever volunteered for Nelson Cares? Or Habitat for Humanity? Or do you just moan about stuff on the internet?

  3. Hopefully COW/City Council says enough is enough and makes no more allowances for NC. Ethics.

  4. Did City Council support Housing Committee or Staff at last night's meeting?