Public consultations on Vancouver's Broadway Plan start 2 years after the city passed it

Public consultations to review the long-term plan for Vancouver's Broadway corridor got underway on Saturday.

The Broadway Plan for the 860-hectare area of the city known as the "second downtown" was passed two years ago under the previous city council, and is meant to add more dense housing to coincide with the expansion of the Millennium Line SkyTrain line.

It is now under review by the city, which says it is looking to incorporate recently-passed provincial legislation mandating more dense housing and policy improvements into the plan.

Critics of the Broadway Plan said the proposed dense housing will not do much to solve Vancouver's housing affordability problem, however city planners said the project is important because it will create housing alongside transit.

This diagram provided by the city shows the areas under review for the Broadway Plan, as they seek public input and incorporate new policy changes to the long-term planning project.
This diagram provided by the city shows the areas under review for the Broadway Plan, as they seek public input and incorporate new policy changes to the long-term planning project. (City of Vancouver)

"We will be very interested in people's feedback on all aspects of the of the proposals here," Matt Shillito, interim planning director at the City of Vancouver, told CBC News at the open house event Saturday. "We'll take that into consideration and make further amendments, I imagine, to the plan."

Shillito said the plan already largely adhered to the province's recent transit-oriented development legislation that encourages more dense housing around transit hubs, but that the city is seeking to supplement the province's plan by allowing even taller buildings to be built near future SkyTrain stations along Broadway.

"Most of the Broadway plan area, in fact about 80 per cent of the plan area already exceeded the minimum heights and densities required by the province," the city planner said.

"But there are some areas where it didn't. And so, we're making changes to ... make sure that it is in line with the minimum requirements that the province has set out for us."

Shillito said the plan fits with broader regional goals around introducing new job spaces, rental and affordable housing around transit stations.

Matt Shillito, the interim city planning director, said that Vancouver would look to protect any tenants displaced by redevelopment along the Broadway corridor.
Matt Shillito, the interim city planning director, said that Vancouver would look to protect any tenants displaced by redevelopment along the Broadway corridor. (Shawn Foss/CBC)

Critics say plan won't help

Some critics at Saturday's meeting said the city was being too aggressive in its approach and adding tall apartment buildings to areas that previously had very few.

Others said the long-term plan, which dictates planning along Broadway for the next three decades, will increase congestion and not actually help bring housing prices down in Vancouver.

Theodore Abbott says that the Broadway Plan will do nothing to discourage real estate speculation in Vancouver.
Theodore Abbott says that the Broadway Plan will do nothing to discourage real estate speculation in Vancouver. (Shawn Foss/CBC)

Theodore Abbott, from the TEAM for a Livable Vancouver political party, said the plan to densify housing will increase real estate speculation and make homes less affordable.

"It's not going to provide what Vancouver needs, which is below-market social housing, co-op housing, housing for seniors," he said. "It's going to rezone areas, make already unaffordable areas even more unaffordable."

Kennedy Stewart, the mayor of Vancouver when the Broadway Plan passed council, said around 20 per cent of the rental units to be built under the plan would be below-market affordable housing.

Shillito also said any renters in the area who are displaced by new buildings will be able to return to their homes at the same rent they were paying previously, and will be financially supported for the duration of the construction projects.

In addition to seeking public comments around the proposed plans to densify Broadway, the city also said it's seeking input on how to use the lands around City Hall and the public spaces and parks along the Broadway corridor.

Public consultations, through open house events and surveys being held online or by phone, will run until July 14. A report on the plan is set to go before council in November.