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.
Under the Mount Pleasant Community Plan, this section of Broadway would have been guided by the current C3A zoning. But if these two 30-storey towers go forward on this site, they could potentially be precedent-setting, and start the transformation of Broadway into a dark urban canyon. The Broadway Plan was passed in the final months of the previous Council. The projected growth figures are fiction and the rationale for this plan has been debunked (as documented in several previous City Conversations).
As soon as the Broadway Plan was passed, it was considered to be a starting point for the city’s largest developers to ask for more. More area for floorplates, greater floor-to-floor height, more intrusion into view cones, more park shadows. But less liveability.
Above: Back in 2018, recently elected Councillor Peter Meiszner wrote a piece for Urban YVR regarding an earlier plan to have two 23-storey towers on this site:
Contact information on the ShapeYourCity website:
City of Vancouver
What happened to the 2 or 3 towers per city block called for in the Bdwy Plan? I count 5.
On Wed, Mar 29, 2023, 1:58 p.m. CityHallWatch: Tools to engage in Vancouver
These neighborhood plans were really genius.. The loss of the false creek flats area plan is truly a loss of transforming an area that would have made the area into that interactive part of false creek that’s been missing for so long. These towers are just a sample of what were getting instead. They are the freeway projects of the 21st Century, claimed to be built for the greater good but only isolating us instead.. I am continually amazed how council writes up the rules already weighed heavily in their favor already and they still can’t resist putting their thumb on the scale anyways.
Let’s begin by pointing out the obvious: you really couldn’t ask for two uglier buildings.
So, to be clear: we are not talking about ‘quality architecture’. What we have instead is the global markets insidious march to achieving ever higher profits by pilling rents on ever taller, uglier towers.
The professions, those entrusted to look out for the public good, and not just put money into their own pockets, have failed us. The architects, the engineers, the planners, even the interior designers, you name it, all working on tower projects have ‘soiled hands’.
The professionals working at City Hall? Forget it. They sold off to the development industry long ago. ‘Virtual’ open houses—take a moment to consider the root of the name—are about everything but ‘virtue’… What we are seeing here is the withering down of the public process to a point where the public really doesn’t matter. Which is what we have seen as the neighborhood tower plans have been drawn one by one: Norquay, Mount Pleasant, Grandview Woodland, Arbutus. Last year five neighborhoods have been lumped together into a Broadway Corridor, and shown their deliverance.
‘Virtue’ is one of three principles set out by Vitruvius: firmitas, utilitas, and venustas. The first century BCE Roman architect also held forth, in line with the Greeks and the Egyptians before him, that the timeless notions of beauty’ or ‘virtue’ (venustas) could be learned from nature. The Romans were pioneering sustainability in all their urban works. They held that ‘truth’ was modelled by the natural proportions of the human body, for example.
From this tradition we obtain the principles for human-scale urbanism. Something that will not be built at 130 W Broadway. Not even close. The damn towers, located on the south side of the street, will forever shadow that sidewalks and the public right of way (RoW). Thus, eliciting the wrong concept of ‘timelessness’.
City Hall is being run for profit. The motive is to benefit off-shore capital, rather than the good of the people. That capital finds ever more creative ways to reach the candidates during elections. Then, its is up to them to deliver while they are in office.
CityhallWatch: “The Broadway Plan was passed in the final months of the previous Council.”
There was much hoopla in some sectors of the Vancouver community over the election of a ‘new’ council last year. This project will finally show us the ‘stripes’ of the newly elected politicians.
Will they hold to the notions of a city made for walking? Paris, Vienna, Barcelona, Roma, all have subways (and modern trams), yet they all hold to the dictum of building ‘human scale urbanism’. In the case of Paris, La Defence was built west of the city as a dedicated ’tower zone’. We already have one in Vancouver: the downtown peninsula. The best piece of land has been set aside for tower developers. Now, the tower invasion on Broadway is on. The Broadway Plan, uses as an excuse a Skytrain subway that barely supports 7,000 passengers per hour travelling in one direction (subways achieve 120,000 and modern tram 80,000).
Goodbye mountain views for everyone south of Broadway.
Hello, Wall City. Council? What are the stripes you are wearing? Vertical or horizontal? Mega-scale or human scale? How will this new council vote?
We shall soon find out.
Or is it already a foregone conclusion, given the scuttlebutt one heard during the election (architects no less, soliciting votes for the winning party on the basis that they will ‘vote for towers’).
The result will not be just less livability, but more crowding.
When I spoke to people in Vancouver over the last election, or when I’m out and about, one answer keeps popping up: the city feels crowded now. If I am speaking with store clerks—who typically are not residents and commute to their job in the city, mostly in cars—what I hear most often is this: Vancouver feels crowded now.
Yet vacant at the same time. What towers do not achieve is making people places that fill with residents, families with strollers, and sun worshipers. Don’t believe me? Go to Metrotown, Brentwood or the SoLo District (South of Lougheed in Burnaby). These are tower areas not blessed with the natural beauty of the downtown peninsula. How do they feel like? Empty, barren, barracks-like.
Planning parlance notwithstanding, towers residents drive in and drive out. There is not correlation between tower densities and higher ridership at Skytrain stations. And there are now people places in tower zones.
The Broadway Canyon is being built. And unless I am much mistaken, in violation of the spirit of the law, this council has already made up its mind how they are voting at the upcoming Public Hearing.
Reblogged this on lewisnvillegas and commented:
City Hall Watch upholds its longstanding tradition of exposing the abuses of the law taking place right before our eyes at City Hall.
Let’s not overlook the wonderful collection of heritage homes Pat Davis preserved on the 100 block W 10th,
both across the street and book-ending the two towers identified in the above plan as “Potential Future Tower Location”, otherwise know as “Phase II”; you know, they ones they need in order to make the original proposal “profitable”.
Guaranteed to destroy a great little neighbourhood.
Interestingly, despite being on a bike route, this development prioritizes parking for cars close to the laneway exit. Meanwhile bikes are stored two, three and four floors down under the parkade, accessible only by a single elevator that the daycare also uses. How many of those 500+ bikes will ever make it out of the bowels of that building to go to work, school, errands or leisure?
This is a ludicrous shot across the bow that lets the neighbourhood know the developer is only interested in maximizing his 30-storey limit. Staff will push that down some, but unless there is a detailed response in the report to council, there’ll be no reason for ABC to vote against it