Council decides on the Vancouver Plan
Residential areas, neighbourhood centres, and rapid transit.
[Update: approved 9-2 on July 22, with Colleen Hardwick and Melissa De Genova voting No.]
My written comments to council:
We need more housing. The recent housing needs report from the city noted that 85,000 households are struggling with inadequate or unaffordable housing. That's about one third of all households in Vancouver. I think of someone I talked to recently, who lives in the West End. He's renting space in somebody else's living room.
There's a limit to how much housing council can add with site-by-site approvals. There was a three-day battle over 1477 West Broadway, which added 220 rental apartments. Even the Streamlining Rental Plan which council passed in 2021 is expected to result in 2700 additional rental apartments over 10 years. To make up a housing deficit that's affecting 85,000 households, the city needs a larger plan.
The Vancouver Plan notes that the city is projected to get a disproportionate share of office space and jobs over the next 30 years. Employers want to be in a location that workers can easily get to, and that means they want to be in a more central location. If we don't figure out how to add enough housing to keep up with jobs over the next 30 years, our mismatch between housing and jobs is only going to get worse.
The Vancouver Plan is a high-level plan which doesn't do any actual rezoning. It doesn't remove the need for rezoning every time a future project is proposed. However, it does provide greater predictability for future projects, since it provides overall guidance on what projects are considered to be acceptable. This is along the lines of what the MacPhail Report recommended.
With respect to the content of the plan, it basically says that the "next level up" should be allowed. In residential neighbourhoods, "gentle density" like townhouse complexes should be allowed, while building heights would still be limited to three storeys. In areas close to local shopping areas, or "neighbourhood centres," mid-rise buildings up to 12 storeys should be allowed. And in areas close to rapid transit, where lots of people will want to live, trading space for time, high-rises should be allowed.
Again, this isn't saying that all of these areas will be immediately rezoned to make it legal to build these buildings. Rezoning will still be required whenever a new building is proposed. However, it’s a good step forward.
The public consultation summary includes polling data from Ipsos. Overall, a majority of public opinion (55%) supports the overall plan, while a minority (10%) are strongly opposed.
I know you'll hear from a fair number of opponents, who question why the city has to go through this kind of change, even over a 30-year timeframe. We have to choose between two kinds of change. Either we keep the buildings the same, so that as people move here for jobs, housing becomes more and more scarce and expensive, and more and more people are pushed out. Or we allow the buildings to change, so that more people can stay in Vancouver.
Opponents talk about a fight for the "soul of Vancouver." I'd suggest that the soul of Vancouver is the people who live here, not the buildings.
More Housing - summary of the draft Vancouver Plan
Staff report. The Ipsos polling data is in Appendix D.
Vancouver Plan heads to council — but concrete change won't come until after the election. Justin McElroy, CBC News.
New housing plan to be debated soon in Vancouver. Frances Bula in the Globe and Mail.
How much housing does Vancouver need? What kind? And where? Dan Fumano in the Vancouver Sun.
Vancouver is crying, afraid she is dying. Brian Palmquist, an opponent.
Generation density: Past planners speak out on urban development. Kerry Gold in the Globe and Mail.
Canada needs millions of new homes, urgently. Vancouver and Toronto say: ‘What’s the rush?’ Globe and Mail editorial.
Direct links to speakers on Wednesday July 6. Live tweets by Peter Waldkirch.
7:30 Staff presentation
59:17 Questions from council
2:06:04 Scott de Lange Boom (support)
2:09:54 Owen Brady (support)
2:14:15 Nathan Davidowicz (oppose)
2:19:08 Mary Belanger (oppose)
3:38:23 Marc White, Seniors Advisory Committee (support)
3:45:42 Peter McCartney, Wilderness Committee (support)
4:05:26 David Johansson (oppose)
4:12:29 Christine Wong (oppose)
4:15:39 Judy Osborne (oppose)
4:21:42 Brian Palmquist (oppose)
4:33:17 Barbara May, Upper Kitsilano Residents’ Association (oppose)
4:37:27 Ian Migicovsky (oppose)
4:43:32 Linsea Ann O’Shea (oppose)
4:48:51 Jan Pierce (oppose)
4:59:10 Ian MacPhail-Bartley (support)
5:03:12 Wolfgang Strigel (oppose)
5:06:27 Ward Stirrat (oppose)
5:14:35 Peter Waldkirch (support)
5:20:27 Rex McLennan (oppose)
5:29:22 Mark Battersby (oppose)
5:45:41 Nikki Renshaw (oppose)
5:53:56 E Weiss (oppose)
6:02:33 Stephanie Allen
6:07:54 Paisley Woodward (oppose)
6:13:47 Nova Stevens, Black Culture Celebration
6:17:57 Michael Sizme (oppose)
6:20:30 Patrick Condon (oppose)
6:36:11 Parker Johnson
6:40:46 Nathan Hawkins (support)
6:45:42 Gale Melton (oppose)
6:50:39 Rohana Rezel (oppose)
7:00:24 Stephen Mikicich (oppose)
7:11:53 Maureen Sharon (oppose)
7:16:04 Laura Saimoto, Vancouver Heritage Foundation
8:32:07 Evelyn Jacob (oppose)
8:35:46 Frank Heinzelman (oppose)
8:40:26 Marianne Thompson (oppose)
8:45:03 Albert Huang (support)
8:51:02 Helen Lui (support)
8:56:15 Sandra Lonsdale (oppose)
9:00:08 Michael O’Shaughnessy (support)
9:03:43 Rhiannon Fox (support)
9:07:46 Ian Cromwell, OneCity (support)
9:13:28 Wesley Wagner (support)
9:21:47 Randy Helton (oppose)
9:30:02 Richard Campbell (support)
9:36:44 Nessa Finning (oppose)
9:44:31 Grace McKenzie (oppose)
9:48:52 Sandra Ho (oppose)
9:55:45 Mark Bowen (oppose)
10:04:05 Stephen Bohus (oppose)
10:12:33 Kaela Schramm, M’akola Development Services (support)
10:16:39 Marlene Wickham (oppose)
10:25:05 Larry Benge (oppose)
10:37:15 Loris Bertoncello (oppose)
10:46:17 Linda Diano (oppose)
10:54:16 Jane McDougall (oppose)
11:06:12 Vic Khanna, Vancouver DPAC (oppose)
11:16:02 Roberta Olenick (oppose)
11:21:43 Celia Wong (oppose)
11:24:43 Carol Volkart (oppose)
11:33:08 Elizabeth Murphy (oppose)
11:42:26 Gail Langton (oppose)