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Vancouver City Council approves Broadway Plan after long debate

Written by Javed Iqbal

A comprehensive plan for the future of Vancouver’s Broadway corridor has been approved, but its long-term direction remains uncertain and will only be decided by a future city council.

After three years of consultation and five weeks of debate, the council adopted the Broadway plan by 7-4 votes on Wednesday night, almost 10 hours after the discussion began.

Councilors Melissa De Genova, Colleen Hardwick, Michael Wiebe and Jean Swanson cast the opposite votes.

Mayor Kennedy Stewart described the plan as “innovative” when he announced that he intended to vote for the plan, arguing that it would create “what I believe will be one of the most exciting neighborhoods in the country. “

The 30-year plan seeks to set out strategies and building guidelines for a large area north and south of where the Millennium Line expansion is being built.

It would allow up to 50,000 more people to live in the corridor, from Clark to Arbutus Street and between 1st and 16th Avenues.

Mixed-use buildings of up to 40 storeys could be permitted near SkyTrain stations, while older rental units, often small 10-unit buildings, could be replaced by residential buildings between 15 and 20 storeys.

Some city council members who voted for the plan described it as imperfect but necessary because of the new transit line.

“Not having a plan is not an option for us,” Coun said. said Pete Fry.

Opponents of the plan have generally argued that it will create a corridor of towers that will displace current residents without making the city more affordable, while those who support it have argued that there is a need for a new supply of housing , and that new transit stations are the best place to center. developments.

The Broadway plan will provide a general framework for the types of buildings permitted in these zones, with towers between 20 and 40 storeys permitted in the light blue ‘centers’. (Vancouver by)

As she prepared to cast her vote against the plan, Hardwick condemned it as a “dream scenario” for land speculators and house flippers, which she predicted would benefit greatly from rising property values.

Swanson predicted that working-class people with jobs in the area would still be forced to commute from Surrey or Langley every day because they would not be able to afford housing close to work.

“The investor class is not going to build the housing we need for the working class,” she said.

Long list of changes added to the plan

While the council approved the plan, they also approved more than two dozen amendments, a number of which ask staff to look at additions or changes that will be debated by a new council after the October election.

These include a bike path down Broadway, freezing development on side streets for five years, thinner buildings that allow for side lawns and tree canopies similar to the West End, and vacancy checks so new tenants to a unit can not have rent significantly higher than the previous one. farmers.

Some of the opposition to the Broadway plan has focused on concerns that smaller, more affordable rental buildings on the streets north and south of Broadway will quickly be developed and displace tenants. (Ben Nelms / CBC)

“It’s really a lot cheaper to have job control than it is to have homelessness,” said Swanson, who tabled the amendment to get staff to work with higher levels of government and developers to look at change.

“If Vancouver can be a leader in climate change, it can also be a leader in protecting residents.”

The amendment was narrowly enacted, with some city council members arguing that it could lead to little change, except for more rules for a jurisdiction overseen by the province through the Housing Tenancy Act.

“We have seen it again and again as we take on the work of the provincial government … which is funded to carry out this work,” Coun said. Rebecca Bligh.

While count. Christine Boyle supported the amendment looking at job control, she acknowledged that the number of amendments and future votes for the council was “concerning”.

“This next election will be significant, not only in terms of the actual implementation of the Broadway plan, but all of these important ideas,” she said.

“But city councilors putting forward amendments to address city-wide issues, stuck in a change of this specific zoning plan, I do not think it is good governance.”

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Javed Iqbal

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