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‘The Vancouver Plan’ passes, prioritizes and makes history

Warren Frey
‘The Vancouver Plan’ passes, prioritizes and makes history

A long-gestating plan is moving forward in Vancouver with an aim towards affordability, densification and community.

On July 22, the City of Vancouver approved The Vancouver Plan, the first city-wide land-use strategy in its history.

“A lot of the planning work in terms of how the city would grow and change has traditionally been community by community, so we would have a Cambie plan and the West End plan and other neighbourhoods throughout the city,” explained Vancouver Plan engineering manager Donny Wong.

“The Vancouver Plan sort of fills that gap in terms of where we want to go and providing that North Star and long-term vision to guide growth and change over the next 30 years,” he added.

One of the primary goals of the Vancouver Plan, Wong said, is to increase both capacity and choice in the city’s housing supply, adding there have actually been population declines over the last 10 to 15 years in areas such as the west and southwest of Vancouver.

“Those are areas where if we wanted to add housing or jobs, the infrastructure’s already there, so those are really kind of prime opportunity areas,” he said.

“We look at population as one of the criteria for phasing change that could happen but there’s a lot of other criteria. There’s very limited housing choice for newcomers and different parts of the income spectrum or people with different backgrounds, who have very limited choice in terms of the neighbourhoods, they could live in the types of housing that are there.

“Equitable housing is about creating more housing choice which could be more housing for families – missing middle forms like affordable rental, more social housing and more neighborhoods across the city so that people have more choice in terms of where they can live in Vancouver,” Wong said.

The Vancouver Plan considers a variety of factors, “everything from concentration of renter households, proximity to amenities and services like transit, looking at existing service levels in parks and community centres, libraries, child care, elementary schools that identify some kind of opportunity, areas in the city where some change could be more easily accommodated or actually needed to help support how we need to grow as a city,” he said.

Transportation infrastructure will also be key to the plan.

“Part of making a sustainable city is making sure people can get where they want to efficiently or having services within an easy walk or roll of where people live,” Wong said. “The land use strategy has identified rapid transit areas and there’s actually a lot of parts of the city that have really good transit access.”

The aim, Wong said, is to intensify neighbourhoods around rapid transit hubs, a process that is already being implemented in the Broadway Plan which builds upon the Broadway Skytrain extension currently under construction. The city is also working with TransLink and its Transport 2050 plan to identify high level transit corridors and ensure these areas receive significant upgrades including several busy east-west corridors.

“The rapid transit corridors on Hastings were identified as seeing large transit investments over the next 30 years, and there’s the east-west route along 41st Street and 49th Street. We still haven’t identified exactly what the alignment is, but there’s a kind of east-west corridor there, so we’ve reflected that in the plan as well. Growing in the right way is also tied to regional investments in transportation as well as in utilities,” Wong said.

Next steps include a multiplex study already underway with recommendations scheduled to go to council in 2023, he said.

“That will look at all lower density neighbourhoods to accommodate different kinds of more dense housing forms and you’ll also see Vancouver Plan directions and policies embedded into station area planning that’s underway right now, including incorporating some changes in the Renfrew and Rupert station areas and the east side of Vancouver,” Wong said.

Follow the author on Twitter @JOCFrey.

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