Vancouver launches new city-wide planning process – a historic moment

Vancouver zoning map screengrab VanMap 15-Nov-2018

Screengrab from City of Vancouver’s VanMap, 18-Nov-2018

As part of their first meetings, Vancouver City Council voted unanimously to launch a new process for a city-wide plan. This is a historic moment. For the record, here is the City’s official media release dated today, 15-Nov-2018.

It will be important for all stakeholders to be involved, and to ensure that Council gets balanced input, and reflects that input in the final outcome. Some effort will be needed to ensure that developers don’t have excessive direct or indirect influence in the process.


Official media release – 15-Nov-2018

Vancouver to embark on new city plan process

Vancouver City Council has directed staff to expedite the development of a city-wide plan.

“Creating a long-term plan that takes into account the needs of all residents – current and future – is a positive and proactive way to collectively guide our future,” said Mayor Kennedy Stewart. “I would like to acknowledge Councillor Carr and Councillor Hardwick for bringing this forward to Council, and I have confidence in our capable Planning team as they take on this momentous effort.”

Throughout the City’s many conversations in developing recent plans such as the Housing Vancouver strategy, the initial phase of Making Room, and a number of local community area plans, residents and industry members have said they would like to see a clear, “big picture” city-wide framework for how we’re collectively moving forward as a city.

“A long-term, city-wide plan would establish a clear framework to address rising issues in Vancouver such as housing affordability, environmental and social health, the need for long-term clarity around land-use, leveraging long-term capital investments and programs with senior levels of government, and encouraging a culture of innovation,” said Gil Kelley, General Manager, Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability for the City of Vancouver.

Areas expected to be covered by a city plan would include:

  • the shape of neighbourhoods
  • resiliency in the face of climate change and earthquakes
  • the future of the economy and shared prosperity
  • harnessing technological transformations for enhanced livability and productivity
  • investments for improved transportation and mobility, housing options, equity and access to community amenities
  • social cohesion and inclusion
  • protection for renters
  • heritage and reconciliation
  • natural systems and assets
  • enjoyable, well-designed gathering places
  • ways to promote and express our unique arts and culture.

The development of a city plan will give Vancouver the opportunity to engage residents, youth, businesses, partner institutions, and civic organizations in a multi-year effort to create a clear and compelling vision of our desired future along with strategies that will position us to realize that vision.

This would be the first comprehensive, city-wide planning initiative since the 1990s when an earlier city plan effort was started but did not advance beyond high-level vision and directions. [See CityHallWatch note below.]

City staff have been asked to develop a work plan, timeline, and confirmation of the resources needed to conduct and complete a city-wide plan, including a robust and collaborative public engagement process. A report to Council is expected in early 2019.

[CityHallWatch note: This is a reference to CityPlan, an extensive city-wide consultation in the 1990s. It was abandoned by Mayor Sam Sullivan and then director of planning Brent Toderian in 2008, when they brought in the so-called “Ecodensity” policy, which later was morphed into Vision Vancouver’s “Greenest City” ideology. We have covered CityPlan, held meetings, and posted video online about it. Search “CityPlan” on CityHallWatch for related stories.]


CHW note – for official maps and information about zoning here is a useful link.

Zoning map, districts, and regulations



Vancouver council takes first step to a city-wide plan (Mike Howell, Vancouver Courier, 15-Nov-2018)

Excerpt: “Critics of the city’s current approach to development have argued so-called spot rezonings in neighbourhoods have ignored community voices who want more say, for example, in what type of housing, businesses and public amenities should be allowed in their areas. Harland Bartholomew wrote the last city-wide plan in the 1920s. In 1992, the city launched a neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood planning process called CityPlan, but it was stopped by the previous city council in 2010 before it was completed. The previous council focused on developing community plans in Marpole, the Downtown Eastside, Grandview-Woodland and the West End while continuing to allow spot rezonings for highrises and other buildings, which saw residents push back and complain about lack of consultation.”

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