CVN letter to Council (for 18-May): Broadway Plan – OPPOSED

May 15, 2022

City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

Re: Broadway Plan (Standing Committee on Policy and Strategic Priorities agenda, May 18)

Council Agenda:
Council Report:
Appendix A:

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) is opposed to this flawed proposal.

Please refer this report back to staff for local neighbourhood planning that considers the livability in a local character context, environmental impacts, measures to avoid displacement impacts on existing more affordable housing, and more affordable housing options, including ground-oriented housing for families, co-ops, and other models for both renters and owners. A plan of this magnitude should not be approved when specifics of the plan were only disclosed very recently, and the 670 pages on agenda only days ago.

We also request you do not repeal local community plans and policies (proposed in recommendation G). These plans have taken years to create through conscientious community input. To arbitrarily repeal them without public consultation is unacceptable. Note that most of the Kitsilano Community Plan covers areas that are not within the Broadway Plan area. The Mount Pleasant Plan was approved in 2010 and implemented in 2013. The “Broadway Planning Program and Associated Interim Policies” report (approved June 20, 2018) clearly indicated that the existing plans would undergo only “light touch” amendments, not outright repeal:

      Generally, the directions of the Mt Pleasant and Kitsilano Community Plans within a 400 metre radius (a five minute walk) of the new transit stations will be reviewed. The unique location, context and role of the new station areas within the City Core will be key considerations. The directions of the Fairview plan will be reviewed more substantially, with the exception of False Creek South (ODP By-Law) area which is already under planning review. Lands within the recently adopted Grandview Woodland Community Plan will not be a focus. (p.15)

The Broadway Plan as currently written would allow potentially 300 massive towers, up to 40 storeys in height — too dense outside of Vancouver’s downtown core — and create a “concrete jungle” and “concrete canyons” along Broadway. This allocation of density would concentrate 81percent of the City’s population growth over the next 30 years onto seven percent of the city’s landmass.

Towers are the least affordable, sustainable and livable form of development, and they are not required to meet population growth. If adopted, the proposed Plan will trigger enormous land value inflation and development pressure to an area that currently contains 20 percent of the city’s older, more affordable rental stock. The Mayor’s proposed amendments, purportedly to protect renters, are like trying to put a band-aid on a wound inflicted by the Plan itself. The best renter protection would be to reject this plan as proposed. In addition, the plan area also includes many older and more affordable condos, which would be jeopardized through gentrification and displacement.

Major growth corridors are an American model for large, sprawling cities, not transit-oriented cities designed pre-war like Vancouver, which was designed for the original streetcar system with all areas a walkable distance to an arterial road. Vancouver needs more electric bus service throughout the arterial grid to support ground-oriented family housing more affordable for local incomes, rather than expensive concrete towers.

There are many problems with the 177-page report and 493-page Appendix, many details of which were only made public a few days ago. A small selection of the many points regarding how this plan undermines affordability, sustainability and livability are as follows:

Affordability – The Broadway Plan will further promote speculation and inflate land values and rents throughout the affected areas, years ahead of the redevelopment that will displace renters and homeowners alike. It appears the City and Province are counting on developer fees from tower construction as a cash cow, but this actually adds to the costs of housing.

Sustainability – 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 energy consumption to operate, according to BC Hydro.

Livability – These towers are out of scale and will shadow buildings and parks all the way to the waterfront. The plan lacks servicing and community amenities such as schools, parks and community centres for the increased development and population. Development fees will not cover the shortfalls, which will require higher property taxes and capital funding.

Further, the population growth embedded in the proposed Broadway Plan is not justified by census data, which shows the City of Vancouver has been growing consistently at about one percent per year, even though the city has been building 20 percent more units than what is justified by population growth. Note that 23,000 units remained unoccupied as of 2021. The aspirational targets of 72,000 units / 10 years, rather than the actual need for growth at 30,000 units, are just promoting arbitrary levels of unjustified growth.  This plan would only add to this current pattern of overbuilding with small, expensive units, while failing to provide the affordable and livable housing that is so vitally needed for families.

Therefore, please do not approve this plan and refer it back to staff for meaningful local neighbourhood planning, with specific instructions to consider livability in the context of local character, plus environmental impacts, measures to avoid displacement from existing relatively affordable housing, and more affordable housing options, including ground-oriented housing for families, co-ops, and other models for both renters and owners.

Steering Committee,
Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods

Member Groups of the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods

Arbutus Ridge Community Association
Arbutus Ridge/ Kerrisdale/ Shaughnessy Visions
Cedar Cottage Area Neighbours
Dunbar Residents Association
Fairview/South Granville Action Committee
False Creek Residents Association
Grandview Woodland Area Council
Granville-Burrard Residents & Business Assoc.
Greater Yaletown Community Association
Kitsilano-Arbutus Residents Association
Kits Point Residents Association
Marpole Residents Coalition
NW Point Grey Home Owners Association
Oakridge Langara Area Residents
Residents Association Mount Pleasant
Riley Park/South Cambie Visions
Shaughnessy Heights Property Owners Assoc.
Strathcona Residents Association
Upper Kitsilano Residents Association
West End Neighbours Society
West Kitsilano Residents Association
West Point Grey Residents Association
West Southland Residents Association