(This is an updated version of an article we originally published Aug. 14, now that contending parties have published their campaign platforms.)
Vancouver’s current Mayor and all ten City Councillors are running for re-election on October 15, 2022, under various parties. How they voted on the Broadway Plan and Vancouver Plan (adopted by majority votes on June 22 and July 22, respectively) shows clearly what direction each of them and their respective parties want to take the city if re-elected. Below is an analysis of the voting records (of incumbents seeking reelection), plus the election platforms all parties contending in this election.
ABOVE: Current Council is Mayor Kennedy Stewart (Forward Vancouver, mayor candidate) in center, with Councillors (from left) Rebecca Bligh (ABC), Christine Boyle (OneCity), Colleen Hardwick (TEAM, mayor candidate), Pete Fry (Green), Adriane Carr (Green), [Stewart, in centre], Melissa De Genova (NPA), Jean Swanson (COPE), Michael Wiebe (Green). Lisa Dominato (ABC), Sarah Kirby-Yung (ABC). All are seeking re-election this October, with their current party affiliations as indicated.
The Broadway Plan and Vancouver Plan are both a major departure from Vancouver’s historic, award-winning, neighbourhood-based planning reputation and respect for community participation. Both of the newly adopted plans create just a handful of housing typologies, mostly in tower forms of up to 40 storeys in station areas, and up to 12 – 20 storeys in areas surrounding stations. The plans randomly distribute these typologies across the city, without any meaningful relationship to local neighbourhood context. They override decades of neighbourhood plans and community visions while promoting land speculation and demoviction.
If implemented, the Broadway Plan will be incorporated into the Vancouver Plan, which will be adopted as the Vancouver’s Official Community Plan (OCP). This OCP would then become part of the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) to 2050 under Metro Vancouver.
If the Province follows through with its threatened legislation, any rezoning that aligns with the OCP will not require a public hearing, which would mean a development application could go directly to a Development Permit, a process that barely allows for public input, if any at all.
The new City Council elected on October 15 will decide if these plans are to be implemented or not. That means this election will define the future of Vancouver. Will it be a city of towers? Or a city of distinct, liveable, sustainable neighbourhoods?
The Broadway Plan and Vancouver Plan will affect major site developments citywide. For example, the Broadway Plan scale of development will be extended to UBC to justify the current 40 storey plans at Jericho Lands now that a subway station is planned for the site. Current neighbourhood plans such as the Grandview Community Plan are ignored to increase the Safeway site at Commercial and Broadway to 40 storeys now that the Broadway plan has been approved. And all of these plans will go forward without public hearings if the province follows through with their threats.
Only TEAM for a Livable Vancouver, with Colleen Hardwick for mayor, have policies to withdraw both the Broadway Plan and Vancouver Plan, and to accommodate growth in the local context through neighbourhood-based planning with meaningful community involvement in the process.
Below, we first go into the Council voting records of the incumbents and the positions of their related civic parties on the Broadway and Vancouver Plans. Then we will go into more detail about what these plans mean if they are implemented.
1. Voting Records of the Current Council
Both of the Broadway and Vancouver Plans brought out hundreds of letters and speakers over multiple days, primarily in opposition. By majority votes, Council approved both plans, albeit with many amendments. While the votes on various amendments were mixed, the focus here is on the approval of the overall plans as amended by the majority of each party represented on Council.
- Colleen Hardwick (TEAM – Mayor candidate) – Hard no to the entire plan based on a lack to community involvement and no meaningful neighbourhood-based planning; loss of affordable rentals due to demoviction; increased land, housing and rent inflation from speculation; the lack of parks, schools and amenities; and the unjustified scale of development violates the Greenest City policies. She voted against most of the plan. Here is her final statement prior to the vote: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPxpiuKvixs In 2018, she initially seconded the motion to have a city-wide plan, but has not supported what this plan has become.
- Jean Swanson (COPE) – Concerned about the impacts of displacement and the lack of affordability, but not so concerned about the scale of development or lack of community involvement or neighbourhood planning..
- Melissa De Genova (NPA) – Voted against the plan because it didn’t allow enough development, in particular for families. She proposed amendments (which failed to pass) to remove any limits on the maximum number of towers per block, and to extend the Broadway Plan area to include the Safeway site at 4th Avenue and Vine Street.
- Correction/addition – Michael Wiebe (Green) – Stated that he supported the forms of housing but was concerned about the lack of design in the public realm and the lack of amenities. (Note: this was confused in a previous post with the vote on the Vancouver Plan on which he voted in support. There were many amendments to each plan so the voting was confusing.)
- Colleen Hardwick (TEAM – Mayor) – Similar to the Broadway Plan, a hard no to the entire plan.
Melissa De Genova (NPA) – Voted against a few of the motions, but voted in support of all of the balance of the motions in the final vote.
We apologize for any confusion. There were many numerous votes on last-minute amendments leading up to the final vote. We have deleted reference to Michael Wiebe here under Vancouver Plan. ]
2. Party Policies on Broadway Plan and Vancouver Plan: (This section has been updated now that platforms have been declared.)
Below is a summary of civic party policies on the Broadway Plan and Vancouver Plan, with links provided.
- ABC – Mayoralty candidate Ken Sim has stated in interviews that ABC supports the Broadway Plan and Vancouver Plan and that his three current councillors have voted for both plans.
- COPE – Nothing on their website regarding the Broadway Plan or Vancouver Plan.
- Green Party of Vancouver – A majority of Greens approved both plans. While their platform mentions neighbourhoods, it speaks about implementing the Vancouver Plan with a “simple menu of repeatable building forms”, which is what is currently proposed. They will also “streamline rezoning and development permits by making them happen at the same time…” therefore undermining the public hearing process. https://assets.nationbuilder.com/vangreens/pages/3442/attachments/original/1663891471/Green_Party_of_Vancouver_Housing_Platform_2022.pdf
- Forward Vancouver & Kennedy Stewart – https://www.forwardvancouver.ca/
- No policy platform with specific policies on Broadway & Vancouver Plan, just press release statements in complete support of each.
- Broadway Plan: https://www.forwardvancouver.ca/broadway_plan_passes June 23, 2022 statement in support of the passage of the Broadway Plan.
- Vancouver Plan: https://www.forwardvancouver.ca/draft_vancouver_plan June 28, 2022 statement: “I believe the Vancouver Plan is the future of our city…”
- NPAVancouver – https://npavancouver.ca/about/
- The NPA used to have no positions or policies – In recognition of the broad range of political views reflected in the membership of the NPA, candidates and Caucus members are not bound by any particular political policy or agenda. Now they have removed that and instead released their housing plan that is all about supply-side increases without mentioning about the Broadway Plan or Vancouver Plan. https://npavancouver.ca/npa-housing-plan/
- OneCity – https://www.onecityvancouver.ca/the_homes_we_need
- OneCity has released their housing plan. No specific reference to the Broadway or Vancouver Plans, but OneCity had a letter generator in support of the Broadway Plan and Christine Boyle voted for both the Broadway and Vancouver Plans. They support rezoning citywide for apartments and a Land Value Capture Tax. They support using school sites for housing. https://www.onecityvancouver.ca/whole_communities
- Progress Vancouver –https://assets.nationbuilder.com/markformayor/pages/99/attachments/original/1662478226/Housing_For_All_PDF.pdf?1662478226
- They have no policy specifically on the Broadway or Vancouver Plans. But they do describe implementing development in a similar way. They include a new 1% surtax on some properties on top of property taxes and the BC school surtax. Also, this party was previously Yes Vancouver with Hector Bremner who voted on Council for this approach to development.
- TEAM for a Livable Vancouver – https://www.voteteam.ca/planning-development
- TEAM will support livable, inclusive, and affordable communities with amenities and services to meet the needs of residents. This will be accomplished by:
- Withdrawing the Broadway Plan and the Vancouver Plan to prevent arbitrary city-wide application of out-of-scale cookie-cutter buildings lacking local context, and reconsidering these plans under a new neighbourhood-based process, with meaningful involvement of local residents and businesses, resulting in plans with a high level of their support.
- Creating neighbourhood-specific plans with local residents that allow for population growth, including a healthy mix of affordable housing options, with rental and ownership tenures, within the local scale and context, that includes the required local services, transit, schools, parks and amenities
- Considering the impact of growth when planning, including speculative inflation on land values, the capacity limits of existing infrastructure, the costs of adding new infrastructure, and the climate impacts of the embodied greenhouse gases across the full life cycle of the supply chain
- TEAM will support livable, inclusive, and affordable communities with amenities and services to meet the needs of residents. This will be accomplished by:
- Vision Vancouver – https://www.votevision.ca/ https://www.votevision.ca/vision_vancouver_vote_on_city_wide_zoning_reform_within_90_days_of_taking_office Vision has no policies on their website, just a news release on rezoning across the city for apartments. Vision has no one on Council right now as their previous majority for the prior decade had been completely wiped out in the last election. However, it is predominantly the Vision-hired staff who have been implementing the Vision agenda throughout this term.
Conclusion: Only TEAM for a Livable Vancouver, with Colleen Hardwick as Mayor candidate, have policies that would withdraw both the Broadway and Vancouver Plans. All of the other parties would continue to implement the plans.
3. Growth and Data: The growth promotion in the Broadway and Vancouver Plans is not necessary since the 2021 Census shows that Vancouver is building more new units than population growth would justify. The built housing supply is 20 percent higher than the rate of population growth.
See Elizabeth Murphy on census data and zoning here:
4. Summary of the Broadway Plan and What It Means:
The Broadway Plan covers 1st Avenue to 16th Avenue and Clark Drive to Vine Street. This includes Mount Pleasant, Fairview, South Granville and part of Kitsilano.
Massive amounts of towers up to 40 storeys
The proposed Broadway Plan sets the scale of station area development at 40 storeys with up to 20 storeys in low density areas that are currently 2 – 4 storeys.
The Plan also repealed the current community plans throughout the area, plus all of Kitsilano and Mount Pleasant.
These precedents affect development expectations at all stations, including in Grandview at Commercial Drive, Rupert Station planning, a proposed Broadway Subway extension to UBC, the rest of Kitsilano, West Point Grey, and Jericho Lands.
Base Housing Typologies:
- Centres – Station Areas: 30-40 storeys
- Centres – Shoulder Areas: 20-30 storeys
- Villages: 4-6 storeys
- Residential – Existing Apartment Areas (currently 3-4 storeys): Up to 20 storeys
- Residential – Existing Low Density (existing RT zones character house retention with multiple suites/infill): 6-18 storeys
- Industrial Employment: Towers are allowed, but details not specified
If the proposed subway extension to UBC is approved, these kinds of typologies are likely to be extended throughout Kitsilano and West Point Grey. Jericho Lands would have a station area development typology.
ABOVE: Broadway Plan rendering looking east from Vine Street based on a careful review of the Plan’s text, by Stephen Bohus, BLA. (Note that this rendering was done prior to last-minute amendments approved by the outgoing City Council. They relax the minimum frontage for lot assembly and number of towers per block. Thus the actual amount of change/demolition/construction, and towers enabled by the Broadway Plan will be significantly higher than what is depicted.)
Concerns raised about the Broadway Plan:
- It will create a concrete jungle with a canyon down Broadway, similar to the experience of going along West Georgia Street downtown.
- Towers are the least affordable, least sustainable and least livable form of development.
- This many towers are not needed for Vancouver to meet population growth needs.
- The Plan will speculatively inflate land values and rents throughout the areas affected, decades before redevelopment actually happens. Massive amounts of demolition and construction that displaces renters and homeowners alike.
- Proposed renter protections will not work because most renters will be displaced or priced out well in advance of any redevelopment applications being submitted, which is when the rental protections would apply.
- The City and Province are trying to use fees from tower development as a cash cow, but the process actually adds to the costs of housing.
- New units to own or rent will be significantly more expensive and smaller than the older units being demolished, not suitable for families.
- Towers are the least sustainable form of development, adding to the embodied GHGs in both the towers and related infrastructure as well as the highest amount of operating energy consumption, according to BC Hydro.
- The Broadway Plan lacks consideration of servicing and community amenities for the increased development and population. Revenues from development fees will not cover those costs, which means the City would require more property taxes and capital funding.
- Some of the towers will shadow parks all the way to the waterfront.
- The Broadway Plan is not justified by census data. For many decades, Vancouver’s average population increase has been very consistent at 1% per year
- The potential development embodied in the Broadway Plan alone could absorb about 81% of the city’s population growth over the next 30 years, despite having just 7% of the city’s land mass.
- Major growth corridors as embodied in the Broadway Plan are an American model for large sprawling cities, not transit-oriented cities like Vancouver that were designed for the streetcar system, before the common use of the automobile at the turn of the twentieth century, with all areas walkable to an arterial road. We just need more electric bus service throughout the arterial grid.
- Under the Broadway Plan approach, an overwhelming majority of the transit investment for many generations ahead would be committed to only a few expensive development-oriented corridors instead of providing more affordable transit across the city and Metro Vancouver region.
The Broadway Plan was approved with 27 amendments at a final 8 to 3 vote on June 22, 2022, after multiple days of meetings, with over 200 speakers, and over 700 emails in opposition. Based on a motion by Mayor Kennedy Stewart, the plan already went into effect for new applications on September 1, 2022, and applications are coming in.
Stewart also proposed amendments for tenant protections (that many claim will not work) and also to write to the Province for “…regulatory adjustments in order to expedite the approval and permitting of rental and social housing that substantially comply with the policies contained within the Broadway Plan.” This is affectively the city’s Mayor asking the Province to override civic land use authority. In fact, that is something the Province is already threatening to do.
Other significant amendments for the Broadway Plan included:
- Sarah Kirby-Yung (ABC) reducing the minimum lot size for towers from 150 ft frontage to 99 ft, to allow more towers without as much land assembly being required. The net effect is that developers will target more existing apartment buildings for demolition and redevelopment.
- Christine Boyle (OneCity) added separated bike lanes to Broadway, against staff advice.
* Council Agenda: https://council.vancouver.ca/20220622/pspc20220622ag.htm
Brian Palmquist City Conversations:
David Eby, Bob Rennie, Vancouver Sun video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZvwslO7eKo
Vancouver Sun: B.C. housing minister doubles down on threat to seize zoning powers from municipalities
5. Summary of the Vancouver Plan and What It Means:
There are many problems with this growth-promoting plan that was pushed through without meaningful public consultation.
The Vancouver Plan includes new development building typologies applied throughout the city, in ways that effectively reject neighbourhood-based planning principles and responding to local context.
The 230 page report for the Vancouver Plan, which effectively changes housing and development across the whole city, went to Council for approval with only one week’s notice, at the end of July, as one of the rushed final acts of this City Council prior to the 2022 civic election.
The City’s promotional materials try to convey the image that input from many Vancouverites went into the plan, but actually, consultation for about the first three years was on high level, focusing on aspirational, vague concepts and principles. Significant details on the proposed Vancouver Plan only started reaching the public a few months before the final Council decision, and the final text of the Plan only a week before it went to Council.
Due to the way it is written, even urban planning experts find the Vancouver Plan difficult to grasp, but here is a summary of critical points. The Vancouver Plan…
- Significantly accelerates higher-density development across the city
- Introduces new regional designations for “Major Transit Growth Corridors” along existing bus routes
- Promotes expanded “transit development corridors” and areas
- Targets development growth near “neighbourhood centres,” allowing up to 12 storeys on side streets
- Allows 12 -18 storeys close to stations, with towers of 25+ storeys at stations and major projects
- Allows multiplexes (of up to six units) on each lot throughout RS and RT zones (these zones currently cover much of the city, typically with 2 to 4 units per lot as a combination of detached homes, duplexes, suites and laneway homes, and often as incentives for character house retention, particularly in RT zones)
- Makes little to no reference to neighbourhood character or heritage buildings
- Incorporates major plans such as Broadway Plan, Jericho Lands, etc.
- Overrides existing community plans and visions
- Appears driven by unrealistic growth scenarios that promote “aspirational” housing targets that are not based on transparent data or evidence
The Broadway Plan is being incorporated into the Vancouver Plan under the Metro Core/Broadway designation.
Conclusion: As stated above, only TEAM for a Livable Vancouver, with Colleen Hardwick as Mayor candidate, have policies that would withdraw both the Broadway and Vancouver Plans. All of the other parties would continue to implement the plans.
Council Agenda: https://council.vancouver.ca/20220706/cfsc20220706ag.htm
Council Report: https://council.vancouver.ca/20220706/documents/cfsc1.pdf
Former Director of Planning, Larry Beasley with Colleen Hardwick https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvcB6KES2Rg
Urban Designer Scot Hein https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2022/07/05/vancouver-plan-comments-scot-hein/