High-Level Planning Initiatives

Photo by Jacob Waskow

1.   About High-Level Planning Initiatives

  High-level planning initiatives are a community issue of interest to GWAC.   Such initiatives in Vancouver apply either to the entire city such as EcoDensity/EcoCity and particular EcoDensity actions such as laneway housing, or a subset of neighbourhoods (such as those along a transportation corridor, or neighbourhoods sharing a neighbourhood centre such as Kensington–Cedar Cottage and Renfrew–Collingwood in the case of Norquay Village), or just an individual neighbourhood.   At the City of Vancouver Urban planning, sustainable zoning, and development (aka the planning department) is involved in all these initiatives, but sometimes works with other partner agencies, and is sometimes not the lead partner.   For example, TransLink is the lead partner on transportation studies, not the City of Vancouver.

  Three kinds of planning initiative relevant to Grandview-Woodland are described below:

•                Community Plans

•                Eastern Core Strategy (centred on False Creek Flats)

•                Neighbourhood Centres

•                Transportation Corridor Studies

2.   Community Plans Program (City of Vancouver)

  The Community Plans Program is the successor to the City’s Community Visions Program.   Between 1997 and 2010, nine neighbourhoods went through the Visions Program and had Community Visions approved by Council.   The neighbourhoods were:   Dunbar, Kensington–Cedar Cottage (KCC), Victoria–Fraserview/Killarney (VFK), Sunset, Hastings-Sunrise, Renfrew–Collingwood, Arbutus Ridge/Kerrisdale/Shaughnessy (ARKS), Riley Park/South Cambie (RPSC), and West Point Grey (WPG).

2.1.   Mar 2007–Oct 2010:   First Community Plan:   Mount Pleasant

  The first neighbourhood to go through the Community Plans Program is Mount Pleasant.   The first focus group meeting in the community consultation process was in March 2007.   The last meeting in the community consultation process was a Community Liaison Group (CLG) meeting in October 2010.   The Mount Pleasant Community Plan was passed at the Thursday 18 November 2010 meeting of the Standing Committee of Council on Planning and Environment, City Hall.   See a video clip of the passing of the plan (2 hours, 16 minutes).   See also the Cityhallwatch web page about the Mount Pleasant Plan.

  One subject under discussion in Mount Pleasant is continued citizen involvement in major land-use decisions in the neighbourhood.   For instance, it has been proposed that a design panel be created that allows significant citizen input into designs for large sites such as the southwest corner of Broadway and Kingsway, Kingsgate Mall, and the current IGA site at Main and 14th.   What makes this discussion especially salient is the proposed 26-storey tower by Rize Alliance Properties at the southwest corner of Broadway and Kingsway (now revised to 19 storeys and approved).

2.2.   Dec 2011–Approx. Oct 2013 to Jan 2014:   Grandview-Woodland Community Plan

  The Grandview-Woodland (G-W) Community Plan is one of three that are being run concurrently.   The other two are in Marpole and the West End.   The lead planner for Grandview-Woodland is Andrew Pask.

  After its formal launch, the G-W Community Plan will run for somewhere between 18 and 21 months, ater approval by Council of the Grandview-Woodland specific Terms of Reference on 28 March 2012.

2.2.1.   Approx. Jul 2013:–Approx. Oct 2013 to Jan 2014   G-W Community Plan (Phase III:   Draft and Approval)

  During this phase, all elements of the community plan will be brought together for broad community review.

2.2.2.   Sep 2012–Approx. Jul 2013:   G-W Community Plan (Phase II:   Policy Development)

  Step 2.1:   Community-wide Policies   This part of the program will look at key themes and topic areas.

  Step 2.2:   Sub-area Plans   The process will involve open meetings and dialogue with stakeholders to collaboratively produce sub-area plans.

  This phase effectively began with a call for people to involve themselves in the Grandview-Woodland Neighbourhood Network and apply for membership in the Process Advisory and Civic Engagement (PACE) Group.   The deadline for applications to PACE is Fri 7 Sep 2012.

  Details about the calls, including the Terms of Reference for PACE, can be found at http://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/get-involved-in-the-grandview-woodland-plan.aspx.

2.2.3.   Apr 2012–Jul 2012:   G-W Community Plan (Phase I:   Launch)

  On 9 March 2012, Andrew Pask announced that “Our intent is to kick-start the initiative with a series of launch events in April and May.”

2.2.4. Dec 2011–Mar 2012:   G-W Community Plan (Preparatory Phase)

  As part of the preparatory phase for the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan, there were focus groups during December 2011 and January 2012.   The Grandview-Woodland Terms of Reference document was developed from December 2011 through to March 2012.

  After its formal launch, the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan will run for approximately 21 months, ater approval by Council of the Grandview-Woodland specific Terms of Reference on 28 March 2012.   Dec 2011–Jan 2012:   Grandview-Woodland Focus Groups

  Focus groups began in December 2011 and ran through January 2012.   There were twelve of these, in which approximately 120 individuals participated.   One such focus groups was part of the 9 January 2012 GWAC meeting when Andrew Pask held discussion and gathered some preliminary input on four themes:

•                Issue and asset identification (what are the strengths of the neighbourhood? Where are there opportunities for improvement?).

•                Sub-Area geographies (identifying areas in the neighbourhood that require more focused attention).

•                Advisory and working group options (structuring on-going involvement around planning process and policy development).

•                Specialized outreach and engagement considerations (how can we best involve the G-W community in the planning process?).

  The discussion made use of questions from page 1 of the “Grandview-Woodland Terms of Reference Workbook.”

  On 31 January 2012, Andrew Pask presented a write-up of the focus groups at an Open House in a handout called “A new Community Plan for Grandview-Woodland!”

    On 9 March 2012, lead planner Andrew Pask announced the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan webpages at www.vancouver.ca/gw and a synopsis of some preliminary neighbourhood assets and opportunities as identified by neighbourhood organizations in Grandview-Woodland.   The synopsis is an update of the Open House handout.   Comments on the synopsis can be sent to planning staff by various means including email (grandviewplan@vancouver.ca) and phone (604-673-8171).   Dec 2011–Mar 2012:   Development of Grandview-Woodland Terms of Reference Document

  The “Grandview-Woodland Terms of Reference Workbook,” (available as a download), currently in development, is based on a prior General Terms of Reference document (see below).

  9:30am Wednesday 28 March, Council approved a 100-page staff report called “Next Community Plans: Terms of Reference.”   Appendix A of the report contains the Terms of Reference for the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan (27 pages).

  Before the meeting, GWAC sent Mayor and Council a letter saying that GWAC’s Directors endorsed the 25 March letter to Mayor and Council from the Grandview Heritage Group (GHG) about the “Next Community Plans” staff report.   The letter contained four requests by the GHG, that:

•                1. … the report be deferred.

•                2. … the Grandview Terms of Reference be revised regarding heritage and neighbourhood context.

•                3. … the context statement in the Terms of Reference be revised to include information and maps on the existing Zoning Bylaws, Design Guidelines, and the existing zoned capacity as directed by Council on 14 February this year.

•                4. … there be clarification in the Terms of Reference that the Grandview Heritage Group be recognized as a working group with standing in the Community Plan process.

2.3.   Oct–Dec 2011:   General Terms of Reference Document

  The Community Plans “General Terms of Reference” document (available as a download) was developed at a 15 October 2011 invitation-only workshop with some online follow-up.   The workshop was comprised of citizens from Grandview-Woodland, Marpole, and the West End, plus representatives from city-wide and provincial organizations.

2.4.   Jul 2011:   “Vancouver’s Next Community Plans” Staff Report

  On 28 July 2011, Council discussed a report called “Vancouver’s Next Community Plans.”   The agenda for the meeting can be found here.   The report listed Grandview-Woodland as number one in line to receive a Community Plan and recommended that three plans were done concurrently:   Grandview-Woodland, Marpole, and the West End.   GWAC sent a statement to Council before the report was discussed.   The statement read:

•                We believe there is considerable value in formulating a new Community Plan, one that reflects the current and future needs and wishes of its residents.   And while we appreciate the considerable efforts of City staff in compiling a framework for this planning process, we feel that the process is flawed because it relegates input from residents of the community to the bottom of the decision making hierarchy.   It seems that neighbourhood planning issues can be overridden at any time by Provincial or City policies.   We believe that community input should be given a much higher priority.

  Council voted to approve all three neighbourhoods receiving plans.

  Next steps, as was said in Council and staff’s draft “Ideas for Action / Synthesis” document, are:

•                A “General” Terms of Reference (to be developed at a workshop on Saturday 15 October 2011).

•                Neighbourhood-specific Terms of Reference for each of the three neighbourhoods, derived from the “General” Terms of Reference (each to come to Council for approval).

  The actual plans for Grandview-Woodland and Marpole were expected to start at the end of the third quarter of 2011.   The West End plan will likely begin at the end of 2011.   Each planning process is expected to take about 21 months.

2.5.   Oct 2010–May 2011:   Background to Staff Report

  On Sunday 3 October 2010, the City of Vancouver convened a workshop to review selection criteria for the next neighbourhood to receive a community plan.   Based on selection criteria circulated before the workshop, the ranking of neighbourhoods was:   Grandview-Woodland (64%), West End (62%), Marpole (61%), Fairview (59%), and Kitsilano (56%).   More information can be found at the City’s Next Community Plans web page.

  On Wednesday 27 October, the City of Vancouver distributed a revised set of rankings using selection criteria developed at the workshop.   The ranking of neighbourhoods was:   Grandview-Woodland (63%), Marpole (59%), West End (57%), Fairview (55%), and Kitsilano (52%).   The rankings were confirmed at a one-hour meeting at City Hall on Wednesday 3 November.   Grandview-Woodland was next in line for a Community Plan.

  On Thursday 4 November 2010, the Standing Committee of Council on City Services and Budgets passed a motion, “Neighbourhood Planning Priorities — Options for Increasing Additional Planning Areas,” requested staff to look at the implications of doing up to three Community Plans at the same time, and present their findings in a report on the ranking of neighbourhoods to receive Commmunity Plans.   (Likely neighbourhoods:   Grandview-Woodland, Marpole, West End.)   Councillor Reimer, who proposed the motion, agreed to bring the following amendment to the meeting where the staff report will be heard.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT before Council selects the next neighbourhood(s) to undergo a neighbourhood planning process, the community groups in these proposed next neighbourhoods (specifically but not limited to Grandview-Woodlands, Marpole, West End, Fairview and Kitsilano) be given adequate time to assess the outcomes of the current planning processes in Mount Pleasant and Norquay Village, and that these assessments be used in the city’s consideration and design of future neighbourhood planning processes;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT rezonings not consistent with existing Community or Local Area Plans or Area Policy Plan development guidelines not be brought forward for consideration by Council while these neighbourhoods are under consideration for a planning process.

  See also the Cityhallwatch web page on Cllr Reimer’s motion.

  On 7 May 2011, a “Next Community Plans – Stakeholder Workshop” was held, attended by stakeholders from the five neighbourhoods under consideration for a Community Plan, plus city-wide organizations, non-profit agencies and service providers, regional authorities (TransLink and Vancouver Coastal Health), and representatives of the City’s Advisory Committee.   The materials from the workshop were transcribed and can be found on the Next Community Plans web page.   The same web page reports that

“City staff will be reviewing the material gathered at the workshop alongside additional best practices research on community planning.   A report to Council outlin[ing] the implications of undertaking three community plans will be drafted….   It is anticipated that it will be presented to Council in the summer of 2011”

  On 7 July 2011, a “Next Community Plans – Open House” was held in Multipurpose Room 2, Mount Pleasant Community Centre, 1 Kingsway (at East 8th).   The Open House displayed a series of boards derived from three sources:

•                A 26 January 2011 focus study with members of the Community Liaison Group (CLG) from the Mount Pleasant Community Plan process.

•                The 7 May 2011 stakeholder workshop.

•                A 30 May 2011 study by consultant HB Lanarc of best practices in community planning, available here.

  Much of the material from the boards is also in a draft staff “Ideas for Action / Synthesis” document, available in print-form at the Open House and also available online.   All the materials from the Open House can be found on the Next Community Plans web page.

2.6.   1977–1987:   Past Grandview-Woodland Planning Documents

  For those interested in Grandview-Woodland receiving a Community Plan, it is useful to know the past planning documents for the neighbourhood.   Those documents are as follows:

•                City of Vancouver Planning Department (1979). “Grandview-Woodland Area Policy Plan. Part l, Grandview-Victoria.” Vancouver, BC: City of Vancouver Planning Department. 27 pages (including appendices) plus front matter. Available as a PDF (1.86 MB).

•                City of Vancouver Planning Department (1982). “Grandview-Woodland Area Policy Plan. Part 2, Commercial Drive.” Vancouver, BC: City of Vancouver Planning Department. April 1982. 32 pages (including appendices) plus front matter. Available as a PDF (1.73 MB).

•                City of Vancouver Planning Department (1983). “Grandview-Woodland Area Policy Plan. Part 3, Britannia Area Plan.” Approved by City Council April 12, 1983. Vancouver, BC: City of Vancouver Planning Department. August 1983. 64 pages (including appendices) plus front matter. Available as a PDF (3.10 MB).

•                Broadway Station Area Planning Advisory Committee (1987). “Broadway Station Area Plan. Approved as Amended, by City Council, June 23, 1987.” Vancouver, BC: Broadway Station Area Planning Advisory Committee, City of Vancouver Planning Department. July 1987. 196 pages (including appendices) plus front matter. Available at Central Branch Library (5 copies) and Britannia Branch Library (1).

•                Broadway Station Area Planning Advisory Committee (1987). “Broadway Station Area Plan Summary.” Vancouver, BC: City of Vancouver Planning Department. July 1987. 28 pages plus front matter. (From the Preface: “This is a summary of the Broadway Station Area Plan…. This summary contains only the Policies and related Actions to be taken, as contained in the approved Plan.”)   Available as a PDF (1.28 MB).

3.   Sep 2011 on:   Eastern Core Strategy (centred on False Creek Flats)

  On 26 July 2011, Council approved the report Viaducts and False Creek Flats Planning: Eastern Core Strategy.   The report’s recommendations included developing “a Terms of Reference for the next phase of more detailed land use and transportation planning for [the Eastern Core].”   Council voted to approve the report’s recommendations.

  The report is the result of a Council decision on 24 June 2010 to do a first-phase study of the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts.

  GWAC had two featured speakers on the future of the viaducts during 2010:

•                Michael Heeney, partner at Bing Thom Architects, in May 2010.

•                Councillor Geoff Meggs in November 2010.

  The City of Vancouver has a web page about the Eastern Core Strategy, including the False Creek Flats, where interested parties can sign up to a mailing list on the Viaducts and Eastern Core Strategy.   The initial study is expected to take about 9 months with stakeholder meetings starting in August 2011.  

  The Eastern Core is a new planning area, mostly in Strathcona, that includes all of the False Creek Flats plus 1-2 blocks north of Union Street, east of Clark Drive (in Grandview-Woodland), and south of Great Northern Way (in Mount Pleasant), as seen in the map below.

Eastern Core study area.   From City web page “Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts & the Eastern Core Strategy (including False Creek Flats)” (former.www.vancouver.ca/viaducts), 2 August 2011

4.   Neighbourhood Centres Program (City of Vancouver)

  The Neighbourhood Centres Program came out of the City’s Community Visions Program.

  Each “neighbourhood centre” is a neighbourhood shopping area.   The idea behind the Neighbourhood Centres Program is to densify each neighbourhood centre because of the local access to shopping and other services.   Nineteen neighbourhood centres have been identified, such as Oakridge Centre at Cambie and 41st, and the three shopping areas along Dunbar Street, which can be seen in a map produced by the City.

4.1.   First Neighbourhood Centre:   Knight Street and Kingsway

  The first neighbourhood centre process to be completed was Knight Street and Kingsway.

4.2.   Second Neighbourhood Centre:   Norquay Village

  The second neighbourhood centre process to be completed was Norquay Village.   The process took four years.   It took a long time in large part because of repeatedly-raised citizen concerns that planning staff have not been responsive to citizen feedback received during the planning process (see the website run by the Norquay Neighbours citizens group, last updated May 2009, and later the Eye on Norquay blog).

  The Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan was passed at the 4 November 2010 Standing Committee of Council on Planning and Environment.     Council approved the plan — both the recommendations and three consideration items (Cllrs Woodsworth and Cadman opposed).   The three consideration items were introduced right at the very end of the planning process.   Among the consideration items was increase in height and floor space ratio to 8-10 storeys and 3.8 FSR along Kingsway (from 6-8 storeys and 3.2 FSR).   Video clips of the passing of the plan:   Part 1 (4 hours, 12 minutes) and Part 2 (1 hour, 27 minutes).   See also the Cityhallwatch web page about the Norquay Plan.

4.3.   Next Neighbourhood Centre(s)

  The next projected neighbourhood centre to undergo planning is either “Mid-Main” or “Hasting Sunrise/North.”   Hasting Sunrise/North is centred at Hastings Street and Nanaimo, and would include northeast Grandview-Woodland.   In previous Neighbourhood Centre studies, the size of the study area has been somewhat arbitrary, but one measure has been five or ten minutes walk from the Neighbour Centre shopping area.   The following map estimates the extent of the study area for a Hasting Sunrise/North Neighbourhood Centre, assuming a five or ten-minute walk from the shopping area defined in the Hastings-Sunrise Community Vision.  

Estimated study area for Hastings Sunrise/North Neighbourhood Centre, assuming extent is a five or ten-minute walk from the shopping area defined in the Hastings-Sunrise Community Vision.   (Map by Dan Fass, October 2010

5.   Transportation Corridor Studies (TransLink and partner agencies including the City of Vancouver)

  An aim of transportation corridor studies in Vancouver is to densify along the corridors, especially near stations, because of the local access provided to mass transit.   A transportation-corridor study of this kind is the Cambie Corridor Planning Program now that the Canada Line is built, with densification proposed for Marpole in particular.

  Of interest to Grandview-Woodland is the Broadway Corridor and UBC Line Rapid Transit Study from the Broadway SkyTrain station (at Commercial Drive) to the University of British Columbia (UBC).   The study is jointly sponsored and funded by TransLink and the Province of BC.   TransLink is the lead partner in the rapid transit study; partner agencies are the City of Vancouver, Metro Vancouver, UBC, and the University Endowment Lands.   There are websites about this study by both TransLink and the City of Vancouver, which is looking into rapid transit along the Broadway Corridor.

  The rapid transit study is also looking into land-use issues within a study area extending approximately 500 metres north and south of Broadway (though not east, 500 metres east of Broadway SkyTrain station, apparently).   The following map, from a 2010 City of Vancouver staff report, shows that the study area includes the southern end of Grandview-Woodland to about 2nd and Clark and to about 4th and Commercial.

“Figure 1. Study Area Map.   Source: Study area boundary provided by TransLink.”   (Dobrovolny & Toderian, 2010, p. 5

Reference:   Dobrovolny, Jerry W., and Brent Toderian (2010).   Rapid Transit Principles for the Broadway Corridor and the UBC Line Rapid Transit Study.   Report date: 12 January 2010.   RTS No. 08164.   Report in PDF format.   The report was heard at the Standing Committee on Transportation and Traffic on 19 January 2010.   Meeting agenda:  http://former.vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20100119/ttra20100119ag.htm.   (Jerry Dobrovolny was the Director of Transportation, Brent Toderian was the Director of Planning at the time of this publication)