The rooftop revolution is on

Vancouver City Hall

Spent yesterday trading emails with Dino Celotti, the project manager behind the Opus Hotel rooftop patio. As you probably know, city council voted to reject the patio proposal after residents in adjacent condos worried it would bring about the apocalypse.

Tellingly, these fears don’t seem to have much life outside of public hearings. Read the comments over on CBC and you’ll find plenty of opinion in support of the patio and making Vancouver a more fun city. Ask your friends and they’ll probably tell you the same.

This support isn’t lost on Dino Celotti. Here are highlights of what he shared with me about the decision and where things go from here:

I think the truth is that the majority of Vancouver, even Yaletown residents, wanted this proposal to go through, but a few opposition residents banded together and created a very powerful campaign that mobilized those willing to voice a negative opinion.

Although disappointed about the outcome, we value the process and will return to meet with the city planning staff and the new city council to ascertain whether or not to proceed on some revised basis with the support of this new council. We will continue to be ‘good neighbours’ to the surrounding residents as we value our presence in Yaletown.

If the public wants to help and be part of the policy creation they should by all means contact the city planning department and ask them how to do it. I will be calling them tomorrow to ask the same question.

As far as things stand now, the Opus proposal is dead until the city comes around to developing rooftop patio guidelines. No word on how many pages this document will involve, but I’d wager a loonie it’s more than four but less than seven. Probably Times New Roman font.

Anyway, I’ll be contacting the city about how people can get involved in shaping the policy. If it becomes a question of majority rule at public hearings, the NIMBYs will always win. This culture must change.

14 Responses to “The rooftop revolution is on”

  1. condohype Says:

    I am I.A.M. gets photo credit for the shot of Vancouver City Hall.

  2. jesse Says:

    I would hope that, if there is indeed a real benefit to put in a rooftop patio, that those who would see benefit, directly or indirectly, can pack City Hall equally as well as NIMBYs. It’s just that !NIMBYs don’t care enough about it to organise themselves.

    Like halfway houses and rehab clinics, the benefit is great but results in lots of “low-grade heat”. The perceived geographically localised costs produce a lower absolute amount of heat but is “high grade” and mobilises action.

    Do you really care? We all know Vision likes a good party and loves protests, or that is the impression they like to portray. Pack City Hall next time the issue comes up and see how the process works. I agree that a more comprehensive rooftop zoning policy is in order, especially if Vancouver is to properly densify on the world stage.

  3. rob bennie Says:

    They should have submitted their proposal as a ” 2010 Olympic Legacy Official Hospitality Platform”

  4. Proponent Says:

    @Rob Bennie,

    The Rooftop was intended to be a seasonal amenity, meaning open in the summer months. It would be somewhat contradictory to propose that the first order of business for a “summer-only restaurant” is to be open for a Winter Olympics.

  5. Proponent Says:

    @jesse

    The difficulty is that, as you mentioned, people that are in support of an issue are just that. meaning they dont realize the need to come out to voice that support.

    If you go to many other Public Hearings, you will see that at times there are no speakers at all. this is not because there are no supporters, it is because there are no opponents.

    The only reason that supporters came to this public hearing is because the Opus realized that opponents were banding together and misinforming their neighbors to get them to oppose. The Opus was forced to ask its supporters to come to the hearings. I even know people that live in some of the “opposition buildings” that were in support, but were literally scared to voice their support publicly for fear of their neighbors.

    This process does absolutely highlight how important it is for people to express their opinion, no matter what that opinion is. your voice matters.

  6. Skye Says:

    That picture reminded me: Do we have the ugliest city hall in the history of the universe or what? Not that I want them to spend money on a new one, but ughhhh

  7. rob bennie Says:

    @ Proponent,

    it was actually my attempt @ satirical humor

  8. ted Says:

    Would you want 200 people having fun outside your bedroom window? Have some respect. I can party like anyone and love good food. Further into the commercial area of YT, fine. I heard a funny one. Not NIMBY but NOWAY: Nix to Opus’s Wacky Application for Yaletown.

  9. Chelsea Says:

    I can’t believe people are so wound up about a rooftop patio proposal that truly isn’t interesting. It is within 50 feet of condos and with absolutely no view, for Christ’s sake. There is nothing interesting about it whatsoever. A bunch of wannabes who think think the Opus is all that…. pathetic. Have you ever stayed there? I lived there for a month when I first moved here. Really folks, it’s not that amazing. And its rooftop is less interesting. We need more patios, that’s for sure, but in areas that show off the beauty of Vancouver….. not the families that live in the nearby condos. I can’t believe how people have got their s— in a knot over something as sad as this development.

  10. Lindern Says:

    I am strongly in favor of more outdoor bars and restaurants in Vancouver. It is what I miss the most from Europe. When I heard about Opus’ plans I was excited. I live in Yaletown, and I love the vibrancy of its neighborhood.

    However, when I looked into the details of the proposal, I slowly changed my mind about the proposal. Yes, I want more patio space in Vancouver, but Opus’ rooftop turned out to be a spectacularly poor choice for it.

    I think it is very unfortunate for the discussion that some people say “Why do people move to Yaletown and then complain about the noise there?”. This is at best a misunderstanding. It is an argument that is misleading and distracts from the issue at hand. The opponents of the proposal are not old farts who have lost their will to party. Many opponents are young party-goers loving life and nightlife.

    What we should do now is to start a new debate, a debate about how we can create many more licensed patios in Vancouver and keep it a great city to live in.

  11. other ted Says:

    Lindern you stated that you are in favour of more patios but not this patio in particular. Could you please explain. What is it about this proposal that you do not like. I am just curious.

  12. Chelsea Says:

    I think the reason why people are against this is twofold:

    1. The proximity. There is less than 50 feet between the Opus and its nearest neighbor. By legal standards, buildings are not supposed to be build any closer than 80 feet for “breathing space”. I have been in one of the neighboring condos – the residents will invite you, especially if you tell them you are writing an article about it as I am. It is ridiculously close. Trust me.

    2. The Opus is surrounded by very tall buildings that were there long before the Opus was even thought of. Sound echoes between the buildings. It is a tight pocket.

    3. There is a big difference between a ground level patio and one eight stories up.

  13. Proponent Says:

    Chelsea,

    You have your facts slightly mixed up. The nearest point of the two buildings is in fact 50 feet, however the roof steps in near the top about another 10 feet (dont quote me on that) then the wall was to be stepped in further. patrons sitting up against the wall would have little noise impact, so the patrons that would impact would be the ones far enough away that their “sound” would go over the wall. You have to be logical – not how close is the building, but how close is the nearest noise producing source. Also keep in mind that not all 250 people will be standing in a line shouting at the building adjacent.

    The “Legal standards” you mention are for adjacent towers, shorter buildings such as the Opus do not fall under this category because there is enough “breathing room” and space for air to move our above the building.

    The opus is not surrounded by large towers. there is one large tower across Mainland Lane. if you look across Davie the building (The Hamilton) is shorter than the Opus. Across Hamilton street (the Murchies Building) would be approximately the same height and therefore actually unaffected once the raised floor and wall are in place.

    There is not actually a big difference between ground floor and 8th floor. anyone who lives on higher levels in a building will be able to tell you that sound travels pretty well up the building. However, if you look at ground floor patios, they are usually backed by a building (the interior of the restaurant) which causes all noise from patrons to be deflected in one direction (toward the adjacent building). In the case of the Opus the noise dissipates in all directions – meaning less impact on one specific location.

    The other thing to note is that ground floor patios are right next to traffic and pedestrian noise. this means that patrons have to speak louder to be heard. on the rooftop of Opus (away from and protect by walls and trees) the patrons do not need to speak loudly to be heard by their dinner companions.

    Please think carefully about how sound travels and what actually causes sound levels to go up before making sweeping comments about its impacts.

  14. New to Yaletown Says:

    Doesn’t anyone know that the people of Vancouver that oppose anything remotely fun (i.e. potentially noisy) can predict the future? And that future is always doom and gloom!

    I just moved to Yaletown from Kits and for the most part it’s pretty quiet at night except for sometimes on the weekend. You know what I do to keep out the noise? I shut my window. I have also realized that I decided to live in a fairly dense, entertainment section of the city so I have to put up with it, otherwise I would not live here. Common sense dictates that if you don’t like too much noise…THEN DON’T LIVE THERE! These people that complain about what MAY happen are all selfish. But the bigger shame is that the city actually listens to these morons. Have you ever been to Whiterock? It’s beautiful and quiet. Yaletown NIMBY’s please move there.

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