The proposed Broadway Plan sets the scale of Mt. Pleasant, Fairview, South Granville, and part of Kitsilano at station area development at 40 storeys with up to 20 storeys in low-density areas that are currently 2 – 4 storeys.
The Plan also proposes to repeal the current community plans throughout the area, plus all of Kitsilano and Mt. Pleasant.
These precedents would affect development expectations at all stations, including in Grandview at Commercial Dr., Rupert Station planning, and an extension to UBC, the rest of Kitsilano, WPG & Jericho Lands.
Broadway Plan model looking east from Vine St., by Stephen Buhus, BLA
Please email and/or speak to Council to oppose this proposal for the Broadway Plan.
The Council meeting is Wednesday, May 18 at 9:30 am!
What you can do:
1. Send an email to Council NOW and through the online form so it will be counted by staff. See contacts below. If you are OPPOSED say so upfront so it is counted as such.
The Plan covers 16th Ave. to 1st Ave., Mt. Pleasant, Fairview, South Granville, and part of Kitsilano to Vine St. Plus it affects Grandview to Commercial Dr. which is following similar typologies. Also the station area is currently in planning at Renfrew Station.
Base Housing Typologies:
Centers – Station Areas 30-40 stories
Centers – Shoulder Areas 20-30 stories
Villages – 4-6 stories
Residential – Existing Apartment Areas (currently 3-4 stories) up to 20 stories
Residential – Existing Low Density (Existing RT zones character house retention with multiple suites/infill) 6-18 stories
If the subway extension to UBC is approved, these kinds of typologies are likely to be extended throughout Kitsilano and West Point Grey, with Jericho Lands as a station area development typology.
Points to Consider:
Will create a concrete jungle with a canyon down Broadway. Think of downtown Georgia St.
Towers are the least affordable, sustainable and livable form of development, and not required to meet population growth.
Speculatively inflate land values and rents throughout the areas decades ahead of redevelopment that displaces renters and homeowners alike.
Proposed renter protections will not work because most renters will be displaced or priced out well in advance of any redevelopment applications being submitted when the rental protections would apply.
The city and province using fees from tower development as a cash cow that adds to the costs of housing.
New units to own or rent more expensive and smaller than the older units being demolished, not suitable for families.
Lack of servicing and community amenities for the increased development and population, that development fee will not cover so require more property taxes and capital funding.
Towers will shadow parks all the way to the waterfront.
Not justified by census data – the City of Vancouver on average population increase is 1% per year
The Broadway Plan alone could amount to about 81% of the City’s population growth over the next 30 years in 7% of the City’s landmass.
Major growth corridors are an American model for large sprawling cities, not pre-war transit-oriented cities like Vancouver that were designed for the streetcar system with all areas walkable to an arterial. We just need more electric bus service throughout the arterial grid.
All of the transit investment for many generations is being put into only a few expensive development-oriented corridors instead of providing more affordable transit across the city and region.
Patrick Condon is the James Taylor chair in Landscape and Livable Environments at the University of British Columbia’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture.
The Broadway Plan will reshape Commercial to Vine, forcing council to consider whether the results are affordable and what it feels like to be there. Visualization from city documents by Stephen Bohus.
The Broadway Plan is a political bomb about to explode on the floor of the Vancouver council. It probably couldn’t happen at a worse time for sitting councilors. The plan calls for unprecedented new density spawned by the long-imagined expansion of this metro region’s designated downtown core. This regional metropolitan center now is to include all of Broadway between Main Street and Vine.
The plan is being viewed with alarm by many Vancouver citizens for many reasons. A shortlist would include:
A more than doubling of existing density;
the destruction of the city’s largest existing inventory of affordable rentals;
the presumption that new units will be sold and rented at the current unaffordable prices demanded by the market;
the violation of the existing scale of area development in favor of tower construction;
the environmental consequences of high greenhouse gas concrete construction;
the disruption of neighborhood character which many find precious;
the absence of any indication of where new parks, schools, and other civic infrastructure may be located;
and the lack of specificity around affordable housing numbers.
Visualization of the Broadway Plan, shown at full 30-year buildout. Image and modeling are based on the published plan, though city documents do not show comprehensive images as above. 3D visualization by Stephen Bohus from descriptions and proposed regulations given in Broadway Plan documents.
The gargantuan ambitions driving this plan forward are long-standing, beginning in the 1990s with the creation of the Livable Region Strategic Plan. That plan anticipated a “rapid transit’ connection between Commercial Drive and UBC. Thirty years later we are witnessing the construction of the infrastructure intended to support that plan, the Broadway subway — a $3 billion piece of transit infrastructure designed for transit loads of 20,000 people per hour on a corridor that now only generates 2,000 transit riders at rush hour.
This expenditure, to many, makes no sense unless the land uses served by the infrastructure feed this expensive conveyance with thousands of additional trips.
The transit concept map that started the ball rolling, is from the 1996 Livable Region Strategic Plan. Image via Vancouver Metropolitan Council.
The sustainability pitfalls of this strategy could consume thousands of words. In fact, it already has by me, here, here, and here. In short, various serious drawbacks to the SkyTrain technology include that it is:
wildly expensive for the services it delivers;
assumes a future capacity need that is ten times the current level to justify its expense;
creates an incentive to build unnecessary and unaffordable high rises to support it;
requires a system-wide alteration of transit routes, funneling rides to the subway that presently are via more direct routes.
starves the rest of the transit system of budget for crucial service upgrades;
and eliminates the possibility of planning for a more distributed and sustainable city form.
A concept map from 1996 Livable Region Strategic plan shows transportation and major land uses of the plan. Note that the Vancouver ‘Metropolitan Core’ in this plan includes West Broadway between Main and Vine streets, the zone today’s Broadway Plan intends to transform. Image via Vancouver Metropolitan Council.
But it’s far too late to turn back the clock on this one. The plan is before council and council finds itself at the difficult end of a decision chain that others started long ago.
So, what might this council do to make this plan better and respond to the heartfelt concerns of Vancouver citizens? Here are a few suggested amendments that council might add at their upcoming public meeting on this topic.
1. Set more reasonable population and jobs targets.
Currently the plan calls for accommodating about 85 per cent of the city’s 30-year projected growth on just seven per cent of the city’s land area. This is unreasonable and unnecessary. Vancouver’s rate of population growth has slowed and in 2021 actually declined by 60,000. This is a trend for centre cities that includes our sister centre cities to the south, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Los Angeles, for example, lost 500,000 people in the last ten years. So it’s reasonable to reassess these targets.
Additionally, concerns about not having the ridership to justify the subway are now mitigated by the prospect of the Jericho Lands development, the UBC golf course development, and the housing developments anticipated at UBC proper. This new density was never anticipated during past decades when this plan was first imagined.
This seven per cent of the city’s land, an area which already provides the bulk of our affordable rental housing, does not need this much new density. Nor does the subway need this density to justify its expense.
Council should therefore make an amendment to cut the projected targets such that under 40 per cent of the city’s projected growth is planned for the corridor.
2. Require that at least 50 per cent of new housing will be permanently affordable non-market housing.
Given the strength of the land market on this corridor it is possible to up our target from the present one of 20 per cent affordable at 10 per cent below market rates (which is still unaffordable to most). A much better target would be 50 per cent affordable, pegged to 30 per cent of average city household income.
By insisting on this target now, the council will signal to the land markets that their value estimates will need to adjust to this demand, and the ridiculous land price inflation now raging on this corridor will be quelled. If land prices can be managed in this way, reasonable rental returns can make projects pencil out (as this CCPA study illustrates). This affordable housing can be in the form of co-ops, rental buildings owned by non-profit corporations, or equity strata on leased land as at False Creek South. This housing can be mixed in with market products to ensure that we reach the one-third low income, one third middle income, and one third high income mix that has, since the construction of False Creek South, the city’s social equity ambition.
Council should therefore make an amendment to set and meet a target of a minimum 50 percent affordable non-market housing on the corridor.
3. Make Broadway our chance to depart from tower typology.
Vancouver has become world-famous for “density done right” with the “tower on podium” form of Yaletown as its emblem. But this form is overused. It is very demanding of energy resources, has very high greenhouse gas consequences, and has obviously disruptive impacts when inserted into low density existing environments.
For all these reasons it’s time to find other forms that deliver similar density.
Paris, Amsterdam, and Barcelona have buildings that deliver tower densities in low-rise “courtyard building” form.
Similar highly successful models of high density exist in Vancouver at the Arbutus Walk project and at Olympic Village.
The council should make an amendment stipulating the use of building forms that are a maximum floor surface ratio of 3.5 (Yaletown gross density) but maintain a low profile.
4. Limit lot assembly.
If underground parking is not required high density buildings can be built on small lots and built for relatively low costs compared to towers. Parisian-style courtyard buildings are often composed of separately owned buildings that join at “party walls” providing high density and very appealing urban environments. Limiting lot assembly, therefore, does not mean low density.
The council should make an amendment to limit lot assembly to no more than four standard 33-feet wide Vancouver lots.
Boulevard Saint-Michel offers a typical Paris streetscape of high density ‘party wall’ six-storey courtyard buildings. Photo via Google Images.
5. Build in wood not concrete.
Conventionally built buildings built with dimensional lumber (called stick frame) can be up to six storeys high. Many examples are now being built in the city. Stick frame construction is also much cheaper than concrete construction. Stick frame construction is sustainable because instead of off-gassing greenhouse gases like concrete towers, wood sequesters carbon for as long as the building stands.
If the council decides taller buildings are appropriate at station areas, wood can still be used in a form called “mass timber.” A prototype of this type of construction exists now at UBC.
Bonus: British Columbia’s timber industry would benefit from the added market for value-added wood products.
The council should make an amendment to approve only higher density buildings in wood frame construction.
6. Include vacancy control and tenant protections.
Current plans provide limited protection for existing tenants. Happily, they are now promised to be returned to new units if displaced. These assurances can go much further.
Rents linked to incomes and reasonably sized replacement units suitable for families are needed. The above call for 50 percent affordable units relates to this issue. Existing tenants should get the first call on these new units and an immediate transfer to avoid the years-long wait times often required.
Finally, and importantly, none of this will hold up without vacancy control to prevent the incentive for landlords to move tenants out through renovations or to end up losing a large inventory of affordable units as people move on.
The council should make an amendment that strengthens replacement guarantees with priority access to non-market housing and vacancy control.
7. Restart the community engagement process.
Citizens were consulted in earlier phases but have not been on the built implications of this plan. Citizen engagement on the realities of this plan is a step missed and the council should not approve this plan without it.
The council should send this plan back to staff insisting that built form options are presented, including the kinds of possible variations I have discussed here.
Community engagement successfully led to the internationally admired Arbutus Walk project. We know how to do this, it’s part of the important planning tradition of this city. Do not avoid this step.
The council should return this plan with approved amendments to staff for hands-on round table consultations with community stakeholders, with the plan to be reconsidered in six months’ time.
A year ago, Theresa O’Donnell became the City of Vancouver’s Director of Planning and General Manager of Planning, Urban Design, and Sustainability.
Ms. O’Donnell holds a bachelor of landscape architecture from Texas Tech University and a master of public administration degree from the University of Texas. Her 30 years of planning experience included time in Las Vegas, Arlington – Texas, and most recently in Dallas.
Join us for a discussion about the future of Vancouver as GWAC gets acquainted with our new Director of Planning.
Sample of Issues for 1477 W. Broadway @ Granville rezoning:
City staff state that the application’s proposed height of 40 stories & density of 12.3 FSR aligns with the Broadway Plan, even though the Council hasn’t approved the plan yet and it sets a huge precedent for the whole Broadway Corridor.
The developer is attempting to sidestep $3.3M in fees and will not make any financial Community Amenity Contributions, the money used for childcare facilities, social housing, and parks.
Staff says that no public parks or plazas are shaded by the building, but they didn’t assess shadowing at the winter solstice, the darkest time of the year.
There’s a Public Hearing starting at 6pm on April 12th to consider changing the zoning designation on two lots at 1325 and 1333 East Georgia Street to allow for Temporary Modular Housing units. This rezoning application is the third item on the Public Hearing agenda. The Temporary Modular Housing proposal appears under the following name:
3. Amendment to the Regional Context Statement Official Development Plan By-law for 1325 -1333 East Georgia Street
The policy report estimates that one Temporary Modular Housing building on the property could yield an approximate total of 30 self-contained studio units. Lu’ma, a non-profit housing society, would be the owner and operator of the temporary supportive social housing. Lu’ma has a portfolio of approximately 500 units.
There’s a house constructed in 1908 at the north end of the lot that would be preserved and used to provide tenant services and a kitchen. There’s no design or approximate site layout in this application. This would be part of a later development permit process if City Council were to approve the rezoning.
The site is currently zoned as Industrial Land and it is protected under Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy. This rezoning application seeks to change the land designation to General Urban to allow for residential uses such as Temporary Modular Housing. A similar process was undertaken at 1580 Vernon Drive, the current site of two Temporary Modular Housing buildings that provide a combined total of 98 units of housing on a site with an area of 60,810 sq. ft. The property at 1325-1333 East Georgia is considerably smaller at 12,486 sq. ft. A Community Advisory Committee for this housing site is not planned. Community Advisory Committees are fairly common and one was formed for 1580 Vernon Drive.
The City of Vancouver website has a compiled list of Temporary Modular Housing Buildings. All of the Temporary Modular Housing has been built east of Oak Street. Current City regulations allow the approval of Temporary Modular Housing through the development permit process; however, in this case the extra rezoning stage is needed as 1325-1333 East Georgia Street is Industrial Land. The site is expected to be used for Temporary Modular Housing for a period of 10 years.
Join us this month for our AGM – your chance to elect a new Board and help shape the future of Grandview Woodland
We’re so very excited to welcome this year’s AGM Keynote Speaker – Andy Yan
In an uncertain era of rapidly rising land values and a dramatic loss of affordability, where is Vancouver headed?
How do we house our people and keep our vibrant neighborhoods intact?
And what is in store for Grandview Woodland?
For his insights into our present and future, join our special AGM keynote speaker Andy Yan.
Born and raised in Vancouver, Andy is the director of the City Program at Simon Fraser University and has a long and noted history as an analyst and commentator on urban regeneration, neighborhood development, public outreach, and more.
Community Updates: A MESSAGE FROM THE COALITION OF VANCOUVER NEIGHBOURHOODS:
Broadway Plan – Towers Everywhere!
Last Chance for Input – Do the Survey Now
The City’s Broadway Plan proposes towers throughout without any meaningful neighborhood planning.
The plan covers 16th Ave. to 1st Ave., Arbutus St. (Vine) to Clark Dr., covering parts of Kitsilano, South Granville, Fairview, and Mt. Pleasant.
If the subway is extended to UBC, expect this kind of plan to also be extended to cover the rest of Kitsilano and all of West Point Grey.
The survey is only open until March 22, so, please DO THE SURVEY NOW!
“Four of five leading mayoral candidates support the Broadway plan’s direction: independent Mayor Kennedy Stewart, who is running for re-election, Non-Partisan Association candidate John Coupar, Progress Vancouver’s expected nominee Mark Marissen, and A Better City’s Ken Sim. But Coun. Colleen Hardwick, who is seeking the nomination of TEAM for a Livable Vancouver, is critical of the plan and the subway project in general.”
“Grandview Woodlands and every other neighbourhood in Vancouver is under attack by all levels of government, but none more aggressive than Vancouver City Hall. In this presentation, long time Vancouver architect and urban designer Brian Palmquist, author of the “City Conversations” blog, outlines the defining issues: federally-encouraged projected Vancouver population growth that is somehow expected to be 2-1/2 times what it has been historically for all the time since Expo 86, and what that means for real versus “aspirational” housing supply; provincial threats to take away any local control over housing rezoning unless there is a massive increase in supply; and a lack of affordable Vancouver housing caused by lack of supply, the slowness of supply, the wrong kinds of supply or excessive supply from excessive spot rezoning (pick one!).
Assisted by local civic oversight blog, “CityHallWatch,” Brian has spent the last few months collecting by stealth and sweat the housing data that City Hall won’t make available, discovering that the current City Council has so far rezoned a 20-year supply of mostly unaffordable housing and has another 20-year supply, including for Grandview Woodlands more than 800 housing units already rezoned and more than 1,200 homes “in the pipeline,” with more than half of those at the Broadway and Commercial site. And that’s not including development within existing zoning, what planners call “existing zoned capacity” and which city management and staff have resisted disclosing for the past year, even to City Councillors.
Brian’s presentation concludes with positive suggestions about how to align affordable housing provision with neighbourhood aspirations, and a call to the action every neighbourhood needs to take in order to welcome new neighbours to the places we call home.”
Community Updates: NO MEGATOWERS AT SAFEWAY wants to remind you all to encourage your friends and neighbours to submit their comments about the proposed development at the Safeway site. The developer has linked a new 3D Virtual Model of the development through their Shape Your City page. It seems to be hard to load, but they’re reportedly working on that issue.
On February 1st, through freedom of information requests by Roger Emsley, it was revealed that in March of 2020 Environment Canada Scientists attempted to express major concerns about the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project into a key stage of the environmental assessment. Their final submission outlining the department’s position including that “Project-induced changes to Roberts Bank constitute an unmitigable species-level risk to western sandpipers, and shorebirds” was not submitted because of the direction of the then Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Johnathan Wilkinson. This seems to be a clear abrogation of his responsibilities and mandate as Canada’s Environment Minister.
When Johnathan Wilkinson was asked why he withheld the concerns of his own scientists, Wilkinson responded “Upon review, it was determined that the expert input already tabled with the review panel stood for itself, and that closing remarks would not alter or add value to the Department’s analyses, conclusions, and recommendations already on the record.” Imagine, the head of Environment Canada silencing its own scientists’ concerns for the environment at a key stage of an environmental review of a contentious project such as the RBT2! And to think that I thought that muzzling of Canada’s scientists ended with the former Conservative government.
Now after that eighteen-month delay in finding out the concerns of Environment Canada scientists, there are only 6 days left for Canadians, that is, YOU, to submit your thoughts and feelings to the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada on the RBT2 project. This will be your last chance to express your thoughts, concerns, and opposition to the project after which a final decision will be made.
Roger Emsley has noted a much easier way to make a submission to the Impact Assessment Agency. Instead of having to create an identity with the GC Key as is detailed on the front pages, a much easier way to submit comments is to “Simply copy the letter and paste it into your email, add your name and address, date it, copy the address email@example.com into the To box, and hit send.“
We have now only seven days to make our voices heard and register opposition to a project that most likely will highly degrade or destroy the Pacific Flyway. If we, that is each one of us taking personal responsibility to submit a comment, we will have no grounds for complaint about the end result.
So if you really care and are willing to act, possible next steps are:
1) Take some minutes to write your concerns and email them with your Name, Address, and Date to the Impact Assessment Agency
2) An alternative option for getting your submissions on file immediately is to use the GC Key to submit directly to the IAA. (Instructions to register a GC Key account are at the end of this email).
2) Make sure everyone else in your household registers their comments separately (the more separate submissions there are, the great the impact they will have)
3) Blind copy either this email or your own communication to everyone you think cares about the environment, today! (if you do, I would love to be included in your blind copy)
You might be wondering why one individual would bother making such an effort to stop approval of the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project? Several times in my life I have decided that an issue is too important to avoid and have chosen to go flat out. With respect to the environment and the Pacific flyways of both North, Central, and South America, restraint is not an option. I hope you will decide to share this with one or two-family or friends to amplify this effort.
Subject: Roberts Bank Terminal 2 – Invitation for Public Comment.
I am opposed to the proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (RBT2) project. The additional information provided by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA does not resolve the substantive issues raised by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) scientists. The environmental assessment conditions as drafted do not protect the Roberts Bank ecosystem nor the wildlife. ECCC and other independent scientists have provided compelling evidence that the project will affect both biofilm quality and quantity on Roberts Bank, threaten the entire Western Sandpiper species and negatively impact other wildlife.
Furthermore I have major concerns with the potential draft conditions:
Why are warnings from the government’s own scientists being ignored?
Why do the draft conditions assume biofilm quality and availability will not be damaged when ECCC science shows they will?
Why assume mitigation will be possible if damage is detected when it will be too late to prevent the damage?
Why, if mitigation measures fail, are there no provisions in the draft conditions, to either stop the project, or to prevent environmental damage to Roberts Bank wetlands and the wildlife that relies on them?
Why (in section 10.2) do the draft conditions propose biofilm can be created when scientists have said it is not possible on the scale required?
Why ignore Review Panel concerns about Project effects on polyunsaturated fatty acid production in biofilm, which is a critical nutritional component for Western Sandpipers?
Why risk environmental degradation when the Panel had “considerable uncertainty around the possibility that loss of productive biofilm habitat could be mitigated by the large-scale re-creation of biofilm habitat capable of supporting shorebirds”?
The Fraser Estuary cannot withstand any more industrial or port development, but this is exactly what the Port of Vancouver plans to do with the addition of RBT2. Roberts Bank is recognized as one of the top Important Bird Areas in Canada. It is recognized as providing critical wintering grounds for the highest number of waterfowl and shorebirds found anywhere in Canada. Southern Resident Killer Whales, whose prime habitat is the Fraser Estuary, will be further endangered by vessel noise and further degradation of their major food source – Chinook Salmon. Why put all of this at risk?
The federal government must finally recognize RBT2 is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects that cannot be mitigated and which are not justified in the circumstances.
The time has come – deny approval for Roberts Bank Terminal 2.