Two 30-storey towers proposed for 130 West Broadway (former MEC site). Virtual Open House ends April 2. A look at how it violates Broadway Plan guidelines.

Rezoning information sign

The City of Vancouver is holding a virtual open house regarding a rezoning that contains two 30-storey towers at 130 West Broadway, the site of the former Mountain Equipment Co-op flagship store. City staff are forgoing an in-person Open House for what is probably the largest development proposed in Mount Pleasant. The proposal would have a FSR of 8.46, building heights of 100.1m (328 ft.) and 99.1m (325 ft.), 524 rental units, a 37 space child care and 372 total parking spaces. Reliance Properties and Quadreal Property Group are the developers behind the project while the IBI group are the architects.

The virtual open house ends on April 2, 2023; however, it will be possible to contact the rezoning planner directly even after this date. The City received the rezoning application last year on December 5, 2022 and then waited months before making this information publicly available.

According to the description on the application sign, the rezoning purports to come in under the City’s Broadway Plan (which went into effect 1-Sept-2022). This is in fact an inaccurate claim by City staff, as the project is in violation of the Broadway Plan on a number of counts.

  • Section 11.1.12 of the Broadway Plan mentions a maximum of 10 ft floor-to-floor height for residential. The rezoning includes 11 ft. floor-to-floor heights and thus would not be supported under the Broadway Plan
  • The Broadway Plan recommends a maximum floorplate size of 6,500 sq ft. in section 11.7.11. In contrast, both of the proposed tower floorplates are 7,200 sq ft. and thus exceed the recommended maximum.
  • Even the weakened view protections in the Broadway Plan would not be followed, as proposed heights intrude into protected views, yet the plan claims that “achievable density will depend on view cone height restrictions and urban design performance” (10.4.7).

There would also be significant shadow impacts on Jonathan Rogers Park during the shoulder season (stay tuned for a future post about the shadow diagrams that are included with this application). While there has been talk about making Broadway into a ‘great street’, this out-of-scale development would turn Broadway into a dark, gloomy and unappealing street. The glass and concrete form can contribute to a cold, “mean city”. Was there a missed opportunity by planners to treat much of Broadway under the urban village designation?

During the Open Houses held in the course of the Broadway Plan consultation, City staff said to multiple participants that the Mount Pleasant Community Plan (passed in 2010) and the Mount Pleasant Implementation Plan (passed in Oct 2013) would co-exist with the Broadway Plan. However, just before the Broadway Plan went to Council last summer, staff added an item for repealing the Mount Pleasant Community Plan and the Implementation Plan to the agenda. Bait and switch. City Planners tore up a document that promised to guide Mount Pleasant over 30 years of development, demonstrating a lack of professionalism and ethical standards.

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Has City Hall created a monster with the Broadway Plan?

As a standing committee of City Council is set to decide on the fate of thousands of renters the ‘pace of change’ rules for the Broadway Plan, which went into force September 1, 2022, let’s look at some basic information.

This Vancouver Sun article (Is Broadway corridor development too fast, too slow or just right?) states that “Developers seem keen to build in the Broadway plan area. A December 2022 memo from the city manager said that in the first 14 weeks after the plan’s adoption, the city received 91 rezoning inquiries under the Broadway plan. That’s a “very high volume,” the memo notes, higher than the 78 rezoning inquiries received, on average, annually over the previous six years across the entire city. The reporter does not provide details of his source, a staff memo, or how he obtained it.

See Broadway Plan Implementation report here

If you’d like to write or speak to Council here is the link. You need to sign up before 8:30 a.m. on March 29 for the meeting starting that day at 9:30 am:

How could you measure the “enthusiasm” of developers and speculators for the Broadway Plan area?

The city’s planners received 91 rezoning inquiries for the Broadway Plan area in the first 14 weeks, which is 6.5 inquiries per week. The equivalent measure for the entire city is 78 for one year of 52 weeks, or 1.5 per week. So what does this look like in a graph?

The Broadway Plan area accounts for 7% of Vancouver’s total land area (source). What does this look like in terms of rezoning inquiries per week per unit of area?

This suggests a similar trend to what happened after the West End Community Plan was adopted. There is huge appetite among the industry to exploit new development opportunities when urban plans are adopted.

The city’s planners and City Council completely lost control of the development frenzy. In the first ten years, the City had developments approved, built or in the pipeline far exceeding the goals for thirty years.

Table 1 of the staff report shows “Options for annual project limits under a Pace of Change Policy” with the potential number of units demovicted under each of four options. We added a line to show what this means in human lives if its the general average of 2.2 persons per unit. The red box we created, showing potentially the number of demovictions PER YEAR. Where would they go?

Vancouver Tenants Union says developers’ hysteria over ‘Pace of Change’ rules in Broadway Plan area is a distraction. Real question is ‘Should we displace thousands of families in the next few years for profit?’ (a.k.a. demoviction)

In racing to put the Broadway Plan into force as of September 1, 2022, the previous City Council unleashed a monster, resulting in an unprecedented flood of rezoning inquiries. In a 52-page report “Broadway Plan Implementation” going to City Council on March 29, planning staff are now realizing this and are trying to mitigate massive disruptions in the area, with one option being a Pace of Change policy limiting applications to five per year. The Broadway plan area consists of nearly 500 city blocks, many of which have existing purpose-built rental buildings. Thousands of renters are in the bullseye.

The agenda, documents, and instructions on how to write or speak to Council on Wednesday, March 29 (online or in person) are at this link (

In an interview by Michelle Eliot on CBC Radio (link), ABC Councillor Mike Klassen already signals that the majority-holding ABC party under mayor Ken Sim is likely to support the elimination of the “pace of change” controls, claiming that renter protections are the best in North America. OneCity’s Christine Boyle basically sees no problem with eased restrictions. Vancouver Greens’ Pete Fry says that the ‘pace of change’ is a misnomer. This policy should be referred to as the “pace of demoviction” policy, as that’s what it really is.

As a side note, in another item of the same March 29 meeting (Item 3. West End Rezoning Policy: Secured Rental Housing Option in the Burrard Corridor) planning staff are recommending Council make permanent an interim rezoning policy that, if adopted, would put another couple thousand renters immediately and directly into the demoviction bullseye.

What do renters have to say about the Broadway Plan pace of change policy? Here, with permission, is a thread from the Vancouver Tenants Union (@YVRTenantsUnion) that lays it out concisely in four tweets, in response to an article by Kenneth Chan in Daily Hive.

Link –


Developers’ hysteria over the pace of change for the #BroadwayPlan is a distraction. The real question is “Should we displace thousands of families in the next few years for profit?” Our position is no. Curb your enthusiasm for destroying our homes and build elsewhere first. 1/4

We believe tenants should have the right to stay in their neighbourhoods and be financially protected during construction, and return to units of same size at the same rent. None of this can happen if there aren’t enough vacant units available. 2/4

Applications that directly displace our neighbours and destroy our homes should be sent to the bottom of the development pile. You can grow a neighbourhood without pushing out the people who make it what it is. 3/4

A map of Broadway Plan area with purple-coloured areas higlighted that represent areas where the “pace of change” policy would apply, mainly because these areas contain most existing rental apartment stock.

BC Gov’t and @KahlonRav should butt out of #BroadwayPlan convo unless they are coming in with #VacancyControl or buying land to build lots of low rent public housing. The province has only ever tossed us band aids as our affordable stock bleeds dry. 4/4

Originally tweeted by Vancouver Tenants Union (@YVRTenantsUnion) on March 27, 2023.

Homes for Whom? Not for Renters! (CC#107: Another data dive suggests rental housing supply issues come from City Hall) by Brian Palmquist. About Broadway Plan, rentals, and pace of change (in Council March 29)

(City Conversation #107 was first published on Substack on 23-Mar-2023)
(For a list of City Conversations by Brian Palmquist on CityHallWatchplease visit this page.)


On Wednesday, March 29, 2023, City council is set to receive a staff report on “Broadway Plan Implementation,” then discuss and vote on seven staff recommendations. Persons with comments can write or sign up to speak to Council. See agenda, documents and instructions at this link (

One topic is a staff “pace of change” recommendation to limit rezoning applications to five per year in the nearly 500-blocks of the Broadway Plan, which was adopted by the previous council in June 2022. Since September 1, 2022 when the Plan was rushed into force prior to the previous council term expiring, the planning department has been flooded with major development inquiries. See CityHallWatch “Vancouver’s city planners have received over 100 rezoning inquiries for developments in the Broadway Plan area (in just the first few months).” Even more inquiries have come in during the first months of 2023. Land assembly signs are popping up. Real estate speculators are circling like sharks.

The thousand of renters in the area have valid concerns about being displaced as their homes get torn down for tower developments facilitated by the Broadway Plan. Meanwhile, pro-industry columnists are expressing emotional bursts (see Daily Hive) of outrage that Council might consider keeping pace of change rules. Development industry dealmakers/lobbyists (see Goodman Report) are writing passive-aggressive statements targeting Council.

Below, CityHallWatch took the liberty to graph the numbers in Brian Palmquist’s CC#107. Brian’s numbers suggest the real attention needed by policymakers is not eliminating “pace of change” controls, but clearing the logjam at City Hall that slows projects from getting approved and built AFTER the public hearing process.

Read on!


Homes for Whom? Not for Renters! (CC#107: Another data dive suggests rental housing supply issues come from City Hall) by Brian Palmquist

A rental housing snapshot from my Homes for Whom database

Sometimes when I read misinformation about Vancouver’s housing issues, I get steamed. Today’s missive: city staff are getting ready to advise City Council about what an appropriate pace of change is in the 500 blocks of the Broadway Plan area, home to much of the city’s remaining affordable rental stock. 

I have no idea what staff will recommend or Council will land on. But, cutting to the chase, many articles argue that pace of change (a.k.a., how many older rental buildings in your block should be demolished in any given year?) should be determined entirely by the marketplace, which has apparently been restrained for several years by staff waiting on the Broadway Plan. Pardon me if I didn’t notice, what with the record number and scale of spot rezonings in the past several years.

Data I Trust Because I Found it

Whenever I get steamed, I turn to my Homes for Whom (HfW) database for answers. For those who’ve missed my HfW writings, a couple years ago I grew tired of staff hiding useful, time-based housing data, especially around spot rezonings—that’s where they demo the old three-storey walkup across the street and replace it with a high-rise that completely ignores existing zoning. Randal Helten at CityHallWatch showed me how and where to drill down to get real data about housing happenings in the city—it’s actually gotten more difficult to find since the last city election. I gradually worked backwards to when the last Council started in 2018, now have 4-1/2 years of planning and building activity imperfectly captured.

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2,023 City of Vancouver employees earned over $100,000 last year. Sunshine list reveals that 3,639 City employees made over $75,000. Staff salaries totalled $628 million

According to the City’s released financial records for 2022, there were a total of 2,023 employees who earned over $100,000. This is up from the 1,798 employees who made over $100,000 in 2021.
Paul Mochrie, the City Manager, led the way earning $343,549. The sunshine list revealed that 3,639 city staff made over $75,000 last year.

The City of Vancouver spends a total of $628,401,551 on staff salaries in 2022. Of this total, $400,251,774 went to employees earning over $75,000. The total amount made by employees earning less than $75,000 was $228,149,777. The City’s records do not include the wages of the VPD, which is a $387,922,000 line item for “Police Protection” (in the Statement of Financial Information or ‘SOFI’ report).

A total of 183 people in the planning department earned over $75,000 (see the list further below).

Here’s a table of the top wage earners at the City of Vancouver who had official salaries over $200,000 (note: this does not include any other sources of income):

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Act by March 30th to oppose Planned Deltaport Berth 4, major impacts on the Fraser River Estuary

If you have any trouble with the links, please click here for the original article on MetroVanWatch.


And here to scroll down to the “Submit a comment” link on the official government page.



Below, we share a message from the Boundary Bay Conservation Committee.




Please submit comments and circulate this information


GCT Deltaport Expansion – Berth Four Project (DP4)

Impact Assessment Agency of Canada

To submit a comment, visit:

The Canadian Impact Assessment Registry number 81010).Participants who wish to provide their input in a different format can contact the Agency by writing

Currently, the federal Cabinet is deciding whether or not to approve the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project which involves dredging and filling 460 acres of the estuary for a man-made island for containers.

Now the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada is seeking public input on yet another proposal at the same location –…

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S101S – Understanding Density: Net vs. Gross Density (by Erick Villagomez in Spacing Vancouver)

Below is an article reprinted from original article in Spacing Vancouver, 6-Mar-2023 ( This is the second of the S101 Series in the online magazine “Spacing Vancouver” (see introductory article here), which is intended to give readers a strong baseline for understanding fundamental aspects of the built landscape in a clear, accessible manner. Very good reading to understand planning issues in our city.

It seems everyone talks about “density” these days, in the context of individual projects, area plans like the Broadway Plan, massive plans like the Vancouver Plan, zoning and development. But as this article states, “Frequently, public documents that include density measures do not explicitly cite whether net or gross densities are being communicated. This often leads to misinterpretations of density information.” Also, “Net density and gross density can provide equally valuable information on land use and the density of people within a given area. But it depends on a number of variables.” Read on for more!


2011 Population Density -City of Vancouver. What do these density figured include and exclude?

What is the difference between “net” and “gross” density, and how do these relate to urban planning?

In Understanding Residential Density: Why is it so Confusing? we covered why density is considered an important but baffling issue in urban planning. Although it broadly refers to the number of people living in a specific area and helps us understand how densely populated an area is, there is a lot of misunderstanding about it. One of the most common involves the definition of “net” and “gross” density, so let’s dig in a bit deeper and try to find a little clarity.

As discussed in Why is it so Confusing?, residential density is often expressed in dwelling or housing units per acre, in contemporary North American urban planning circles. Although one may find densities measured in dwelling or housing units per hectare in particular parts of Canada, acres remain the standard measure for reasons not worth delving into here.

Within this context, densities can be measured as “net” or “gross”, both of which can be important measures in helping urban planners and designers understand the density of population and land use within designated area towards making more informed decisions about how to create or transform the built environment.

Broadly speaking (with caveats coming later!), net density refers to the number of people living in an area, excluding parks, open spaces, and other non-residential land uses. This measure is calculated by dividing the total population by the total net residential land area. Simply put: it refers to the number of units per acre within a specific land area devoted to residential purposes. So, it may—but not always—include in driveways, private yards, and additional residential accessory structures, excluding public rights of way, parks, open spaces, and other non-residential land uses.

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Over 75% opposed Vancouver Plan: Three-quarters of citizens who wrote City Council opposed final draft plan (July 2022)

(Updated 24-Mar) The last major item of business by the previous City Council in 2022, prior to the summer break and fall civic elections, was the adoption of the Vancouver Plan. This is a major policy document, intended to guide change in this city for many decades to come.

The Plan was adopted after months of lead-up, resulting in a 230-page report entitled “Vancouver Plan: A Long Range Plan to Guide Growth and Change.” It was presented by the city’s planning staff to a daytime meeting of the Standing Committee on City Finance and Services on July 6, with deliberations continuing and final adoption on July 22.

A citizen, wondering how much public support there actually was for the Vancouver Plan, recently wrote to the City to inquire about the tally of comments submitted from the public to our elected officials for the July 6 and 22 meetings. The citizen was told the information was not publicly available, so they filed a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. They received a response from the Office of Vancouver City Council, and shared the numbers (items of correspondence) with CityHallWatch, as follows:

“Vancouver Plan: A Long Range Plan to Guide Growth and Change”
Tally of public comments submitted to July 6 and 22 Council meetings:

• Oppose: 223
• Support: 54
• Other: 19


In other words, over 75% of those who wrote to Council opposed the Vancouver Plan, while less than 20% supported it.

What is the significance of these numbers?

The Vancouver Plan was adopted despite considerable public concern and opposition. The present and future Mayor, Council and city planners should never forget that. They should carefully note and continue to address the concerns raised, especially as parts of the plan come up for implementation.

Why was an FOI inquiry even necessary simply to get these numbers?

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That 10.7% Tax Increase? Blame It On The Other Guys!

Photo: Bank of Canada

Contributed by Carol Volkart

When candidates for Vancouver City Council were whispering sweet nothings into voters’ ears during last fall’s civic election campaign, none of them were mentioning potential double-digit property-tax increases.

Instead, they spoke of fine-tooth combs, line-item budgets, and reallocating money. They knew residents were testy after four years of successive property-tax increases totalling well over 20 percent.

How is it, then, that within months of the new ABC Vancouver party sweeping to power, residents are facing an unprecedented 10.7-percent property-tax increase in 2023? That’s way up from the five-percent hold-the-line hike that staff presented to the new council last fall, and up again from the 9.7 percent in the draft budget council put out for public comment.

The answer, it turns out, is that it’s mainly the other guys’ fault.

As councillors speedily pushed through the 2023 operating budget at a day-long special council meeting Feb. 28, they also blamed soaring inflation, pandemic recovery, an infrastructure deficit and need to boost emergency services. But the overarching theme was that their predecessors had messed up.

Previous councils had done such a lousy job of taking care of the city’s business that the newcomers were being forced to pin on the sheriff’s badge and clean up.

“One of the things I didn’t predict before I sat down in this chair was just the size of the huge piles of crap that we would inherit,” said new ABC Coun. Brian Montague, a retired police officer who affects a blunt, down-to-earth tone. “So here we are, eating crap sandwiches. The work now just begins to try and deal with past council decisions and previous councils.”

Mayor Ken Sim’s version was that council is “dealing with a leaky roof. We have a choice; do we fix it, or do we kick the can down the road and let someone else deal with a way bigger problem?” But the can has been kicked down the road for too long, he said, and council will do the right thing: “We are going to fix that roof.” When ABC Coun. Mike Klassen got around to the mayor’s leaky-roof analogy, he repeated that line twice, for effect.

But here’s the thing: Instead of doing a deep dive into what’s behind years of above-inflation tax increases and whether the money is being well-spent, the new council simply added new spending to the old. It did not get into the thorny issues of downloaded costs from senior governments (about $300 million a year), the near-doubling of the city’s operating budget in the last decade, or the ever-expanding headcount at City Hall.

ABC’s budget-day narrative was not that previous councils had spent badly or too much: The problem was they hadn’t spent enough.

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A reality check for the Broadway Subway

Above: A section of the outbound tunnel leading away from the Great Northern Way-Emily Carr Station site (Dec 2022). Photo: TransLink

Here is a letter received from Malcolm Johnston of Rail for the Valley (, a great source of information, commentary, and analysis on transportation planning issues, with a special focus on the Metro Vancouver region).

This is in partial response to recent media coverage, including “Subway to UBC: A popular idea with costly downsides” by Douglas Todd in the Vancouver Sun (6-Mar-2023).
Info on the Broadway Subway from TransLink:


Reality check for the Broadway Subway

I am always astounded by those who support a subway to UBC, especially those who deem a subway to be a game changer. It’s not.

Mike Harcourt is not a transit expert. In fact, he knows little or nothing about public transport and his input is both uninformed and damaging for regional transit in Metro Vancouver and for the province.

Most politicians, once elected, think themselves transit experts, yet few ever take public transit except for photo-ops at election time.

Even the mighty TransLink is bereft of real transit experts and is now staffed by a large cadre of six-figure salaried bureaucrats and yes-men, having earlier fired those who dared to opine that Broadway did not have the ridership that would demand a subway, as TransLink did before with those who supported modern light rail!

Subways are not a transportation nirvana. Far from it, they are both expensive and user unfriendly and due to their high cost and in North America, are not considered (except for strictly political purposes) on routes with peak-hour traffic flows of around 15,000 persons per hour per direction. In Europe, which has a long history of subway construction, planners do not consider building a subway unless traffic flows on a transit route exceed 20,000 pphpd. This is partly due to the fact that trams (streetcars) can handle traffic flows in excess of 20,000 pphpd. By contrast, the maximum capacity allowed by Transport Canada’s Operating Certificate for the Expo and Millennium Lines is 15,000 pphpd!

Broadway’s current maximum traffic flow on the Broadway B-99 Express Bus, operating a peak-hour schedule of three minute headways (20 trips per hour), has a maximum peak-hour traffic flow of just over 2,000 pphpd!

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