Records obtained from BC Assessment show that the City of Vancouver owns 84% of area of the lots that make up the mega-project rezoning beside the north end of the Granville Bridge. Private land holdings account for less than 16% of the lot area affected by the rezoning application at 1412-1460 Howe, 1410-1429 Granville and 710 Pacific, as shown in the colour-coded renderings below:
The proposal includes a 493′ tower that is situated partially on City of Vancouver land as well as on privately held lots at 1460 and 1480 Howe Street. There is precedent for the city to sell off land in the course of a rezoning; however, it’s uncertain at this time what their plans are in the absence of a staff report. The ratio of city-owned land to privately held land could slightly change down to 78% – 22% (with further subdivision of city-owned lands). Regardless of the exact breakdown of city vs. private lands, the issue at stake here is one of transparency and process. A private developer stands to reap tremendous rewards by developing a project on land that is mostly in the public domain.
A 493′ tower at 1460 Howe Street would have enormous impacts on views of the North Shore Mountains from a many locations south of False Creek. Views are the brand of the Vancouver; should the city give away a key part of the skyline in the public realm for a tower for private gain? A very tall tower close to False Creek would also effectively break the Dome Shaped skyline policy. The City of Vancouver has considerable leverage on this project in approvals and the selling or lease or public land. A more appropriate location for a 493′ tall tower would be in the Central Business District. By potentially selling public land at this site, the city risks being in a situation where it effectively sells off views.On the topic of publicly owned lands, there are additional city-owned properties around the north end of the Granville Bridge. These include large parcels contained within the Granville loops and to the east side of Granville Bridge off-ramp. Additional development proposals are likely to come in on other city-owned lands in the area. All property records from BC Assessment are accurate as of Nov 30, 2011. The City’s VanMap application can also be used to see the outlines of individual properties.