Professional Planner writes a detailed letter in opposition to the Broadway Plan to City Council

Below is a letter sent by Professional Planner Stephen Mikicich to Vancouver City Council regarding the Broadway Plan. We’ve reproduced the letter in its entirety:

June 5, 2022

Mayor and Council
City of Vancouver
453 West 12th Avenue
Vancouver BC V5Y 1V4


For full transparency, I am a lifelong Kitsilano resident, and registered professional planner of over 30 years. I love the city I was born in and am intimately familiar with almost every Vancouver neighbourhood. I am not looking to preserve the Vancouver of a bygone era and believe it must continue to evolve. However, I do not want to see this city destroyed through arrogance, negligence, and poor decisions that we will all need to live with for many years ahead.

Now that Vancouver City Council has heard from the last of the registered speakers on the draft Broadway Plan, I thought I would share my observations on what has unfolded over the past weeks. As I have not seen any descriptive renderings from the City of Vancouver as to what the draft plan provides for, I include this image for reference…

Rendering from Stephen Bohus and Brian Palmquist, showing their prediction of development that could occur if Vancouver council approves the Broadway plan. Photo by Stephen Bohus


City staff have described the Broadway Plan as a bold vision for Vancouver’s future and suggest that there has been extensive engagement in developing this plan.

  • However, Council has heard from so many Vancouverites that they knew little if anything about the Broadway Plan, and what it envisions for nearly 500 city blocks. They’ve had to scramble to get up to speed over a short period of time but have stepped up to share with Council their serious concerns about this plan. By contrast, Council has heard from members of the development industry that have apparently been actively engaged in the process over the past three years.
  • Community engagement on goals and objectives, future aspirations, and emerging directions is a normal part of the planning process. Even more important is the ability for the public to fully review a draft plan and provide meaningful and comprehensive input.
  • Vancouverites have been told that the draft plan will be considered for adoption in May (now early June) only a few weeks since it was released to the public. This sets an extremely dangerous precedent and may seriously damage public trust in the City of Vancouver.
  • Council is trying to advance progress on its key priorities, none the least of which is housing affordability.
  • The Broadway Plan appears to be a plan built on rhetoric and advocacy by the development industry, certain academics, and politicians all promoting an increase in density and housing ‘supply’ to support trickle-down affordability.
  • A forest of towers along the Broadway ridge will create a tremendous amount of ‘view’ real estate. However, will it deliver affordability? And who will need to get out of the way to accommodate redevelopment?
  • I concur with those Vancouverites that believe the draft Broadway Plan puts forward a sterile and generic vision for Vancouver’s future.
  • I am disappointed by a complete disregard for established neighbourhoods, and the legacy of past planning achievements that established Vancouver as a global leader in livable cities.
  • You might think of “Vancouverism” as an urban design concept with residential towers rising above street-friendly ‘podiums’. True Vancouverism is about active citizen engagement in the planning process, and thoughtful land use change and densification that builds upon rather than destroys the existing urban fabric of the city.
  • I do not believe that Council can adopt the Broadway Plan in good conscience, given everything that it has heard from the citizens of Vancouver. We need a better plan that truly works for all of us, not just something claimed in a political slogan.
  • City staff indicate that the Broadway Plan would be implemented over 30 years, and that development would occur slowly over decades. However, if Council rescinds existing policy plans and adopts the Broadway Plan as the path forward – there is really nothing preventing land assembly and real estate speculation from occurring.
  • ‘Planning by land assembly’ has been rampant in Vancouver for several years, most notably since the Cambie corridor plan. Outside of the Broadway Plan boundaries, we are starting to see land assemblies west of Vine Street, as investors respond to the planned subway extension to UBC.
  • I am concerned that the massive increase in density this Plan proposes will put upward pressure on land values, and displace a lot of Vancouverites including:
    • displacement of existing tenants through eviction and demolition of affordable rental buildings;
    • displacement of homeowners through escalating property assessments and property tax increases they won’t be able to afford; and
    • displacement of small businesses through redevelopment and unaffordable commercial rents.
  • I guess this is part of the plan, but Council can expect Vancouverites to fight for their city. Council has already heard numerous speakers share their personal stories, so I don’t need to cite any examples here.
  • In a closing presentation to Council on May 31st, staff described the draft Broadway Plan as a “clear and robust, but flexible framework – not a blueprint”. On the contrary, it is a clear blueprint for the future of the city but who’s vision is it?
  • The draft plan would designate a huge swath of the city as ripe for redevelopment. As only one example, the draft plan designates Kitsilano’s Arbutus Walk neighbourhood for redevelopment with 20-30 storey towers. Arbutus Walk is a master-planned multi-family community (rental, ownership, family co-op, seniors’ housing, and mixed-use) that is lauded as one of the city’s best examples of density done right. This neighbourhood is barely 20 years old and isn’t fully built out yet. How could this Council consider this neighbourhood timely for redevelopment?
  • Staff also note that a “comprehensive implementation strategy will refine and add detail” to the draft plan. How can Council be asked to approve a plan so transformative yet so lacking in detail? Would Council really adopt such a plan on good faith alone, and have the policies developed as we go along?
  • Council’s fiduciary responsibility is to serve all Vancouver residents. By adopting this draft plan, can Council really say it is doing that?


  • Council has heard complaints from the development industry about how long this plan has taken and that it must be approved now if we are to address the “housing crisis”. The same voices are also objecting to proposed amendments that would limit the number of towers on a given block, increase required property frontage for tower development, and proposed renter protection measures.
  • Listening to the discussion at a recent Council meeting, I was taken aback to hear a developer complaining about the difficulty in assembling property for redevelopment. Isn’t that the risk-reward scenario inherent in real estate speculation and development? He even expressed shock that a property owner wasn’t motivated by money to sell out and leave his or her community. Is it just me, or is something really wrong with this picture?
  • Council has also heard from residents from all Vancouver neighbourhoods concerned about the future of their city, their disengagement from the planning process, and their fear of displacement.
  • Tenants in existing purpose-built rental buildings are telling Council they will be displaced and will never return to their home neighbourhoods – particularly given developer opposition to proposed renter protections.
  • While some plan supporters may label any dissenting public voice as NIMBY, which is part of the ongoing rhetoric, how would they try to discredit the concerns of other civic bodies?
  • The City of Vancouver Parks Board does not support the draft plan because it fails to provide sufficient park space and amenities to support the proposed increase in population.
  • I understand that a majority of members of the City’s Urban Design Panel expressed serious concerns about the draft plan on March 16th, as uncovered by Brian Palmquist through an F.O.I. request. Specific concerns included:
    • adding significant density in the existing lower density residential areas away from the transit nodes
    • the need for dedicated park space commensurate with the significant population increase, ideally where the greatest densities occur
    • park space needs to be in the public realm rather than space left over at the edges of private development
    • additional public amenities are needed, including childcare, community centres and publicly accessible washrooms
    • each transit node also needs cultural facilities—there needs to be a cultural facilities plan, rather than just a budget
  • In its closing remarks to Council on May 31st, City planning staff referred to a vague “creative strategy” to address the lack of planned park space and amenities in the Broadway Plan area, but it really came across as an excuse for not doing proper community planning in the first place.
  • How do you plan for an additional population of 50,000 without planning for parks and amenities? Shouldn’t the City be setting requirements for such things in a major policy document like the Broadway Plan, and securing their provision through the negotiated rezoning process?
  • Does Council still value livability, or is that now relegated to a bygone era in Vancouver’s history?
  • Frances Bula on Twitter speculates that 30 or more proposed plan amendments may be put forward by City Councillors. That tells me there is much more wrong with this draft plan.
  • Under normal circumstances, Council input on a draft plan would be considered and further refined by staff for a possible second or third draft – not for ‘adoption as amended’. That would also include meaningful opportunities for Vancouverites to comment on those plans.
  • Getting a community plan RIGHT should take precedence over any political timelines for adopting a plan, especially one with so many unresolved issues.

Stephen Mikicich (Vancouver resident)

6 thoughts on “Professional Planner writes a detailed letter in opposition to the Broadway Plan to City Council

  1. What a comprehensive, eloquent and accurate set of observations. I hope Council reads and heeds his and so many others’ concerns before they do profound and permanent damage to our City.

  2. I agree with all these comments. However, it is worth pointing out that the issuance of the Broadway Plan docs so soon before Council decision is by no means “a precedent”. In fact, it has been standard operating practice by CoV Planning and the City Manager for more than a decade to give the public (and Councillors) no serious time in which to study major development proposals. They are well aware that the more time they give us to look at their plans, the more problems will be discovered. It is a major part of their faux-consultation processes.

  3. Metro Vancouver’s equivalent of “What about the children? Think of the children.” … “Metro Vancouver planners anticipate the region will grow by more than one million people by “. You can’t “deny the children”, especially in a ‘housing crisis’! No amount of reasoned analysis and debate will trump the logical fallacy.

    Notwithstanding the above, CoV had a chance to do something truly different on Broadway; why more podium towers? Imagine a Avenue des Champs-Élysées style corridor, tree-lined, with 5-6 storey buildings along each side, with lively commercial opportunities on the ground floor. The roadway is the right width and the decreased vehicle traffic (such optimism, I know) that would make for a fitting implementation. Absolutely no vision in the existing plan.

  4. There are many things to be worried should Council approve the Broadway Plan. One serious problem is the over-densification and unrestricted wave of corporate investors and capital in the housing market. We’ve all seen what happened to Cambie Street, but has anyone seen what’s going on on Oak Street south of 25th? The whole street is gutted, with land assemblies and for sale signs everywhere. Next it will be Arbutus. Do we really want this overpriced “anesthetized aesthetic envision by corporate monoculture” as one writer put it? Vancouver is a city of distinct neighbourhoods with heritage houses, a variety of architecture, street culture, and ownerships. The soul of Vancouver is worth fighting for.

  5. I love this city and I love so many neighbourhoods in East Van. I wish we could follow the example of neighbourhoods in Montreal, whose apartment building are mid-rise (6-8 stories) and walkable. Work, amenities, parks, childcare, everything should be within walking distance from one’s home. Seeing highrises clustered around a skytrain station is hideous. Just look at Broadway in Burnaby (or the Metrotown area). People live in glass towers, there is no green space and you can barely see the sky. It’s some sort of dystopian, sterile environment. Not enough people benefit from this vision. With mid-rise developments, you get density AND real neighbourhoods. Greedy developers still make money (just not the obscene amounts they make with highrises. Get out of bed with the developers and do your job, which is listening to citizens of this city!!!

  6. A brilliant analaysis and synopsis, but I greatly doubt that Planning, Councillors or even the Public will carefully read what you have to say. I support every word of it. We live in the little Broadway Triangle area, and two years ago were snowballed by a meeting of Council, Planners, and a developer (Bucci), (neighbourhood reps were not allowed to speak) where a *Councillor* actually got up and lied that our neighbourhood had been properly consulted. There was a neighbourhood information meeting where we were strongly directed to ask no questions of the Planners which is no consutation. Our close park, Trout lake is already overburdenened, schools full and on it goes. Thankyou again.

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