This afternoon and evening, Vancouver City Council will hear the last of three days of public comments on the Broadway Plan and Council will likely debate Councillors’ amendments and proceed to a final vote.
The Upper Kitsilano Residents’ Association (UKRA) has circulated a mailing to its members discussing the public hearings to date which, with their permission, I am sharing here as I believe it represents a fair summary of comments to date and the issues facing the Plan:
“For three days 160 Vancouver residents spoke to Council about the Broadway Plan, and the results show a city divided. With about another 30 speakers still to be heard, the schism is clear: on one side are those who believe the Plan calls for excessive change and ignores the voices of neighbourhoods; and the other side — young people who have the backing of organized groups like Abundant Housing, biking groups, and the development industry — who say the Plan doesn’t go far enough.
Council has a tough decision ahead of them to either accept, amend or reject the major planning blueprint for the future of the Broadway Corridor, a scheme that has taken staff over three years to complete. The Broadway Plan, already a densely populated area that includes 500 blocks surrounding the coming Millennium Line subway, envisions adding about 50,000 new residents in the next 30 years. Staff have proposed towers anywhere from three (low-rise) to 40 (at subway stations) storeys in most areas along Broadway, from Clark Drive to Yew Street, and from 1st Avenue to 16th.
Theresa O’Donnell, head planner for the City, called the Broadway Plan a “generational plan” that will likely bring discomfort to some. O’Donnell said there has been broad support for the Plan and that the public has had several chances to be involved in the planning process. But that’s not what Council heard over three days of meetings.
Opponents talked about the lack of engagement between the planners and neighbourhoods (residents were not asked their views about the height or built form of towers, which were only made public in the final draft plan). Dunbar resident Carol Volkart reflected on her community’s past planning involvement with the City, when she and her neighbours collaborated on their own community plan involving input from 1,600 neighbours. “Residents could be trusted” then, Volkart said, “their opinions mattered” to the City.
Vancouver resident Mark Battersby, Professor Emeritus at Capilano University and author of Is That a Fact? said the City surveys use “bogus methodology” that has nothing to do science. He told of his experience attending a Broadway Plan presentation, where staff were trying to convince residents of one particular point of view while offering no alternatives.
Critics of the Plan predict widespread displacement of tenants living along Broadway, home to some of the most affordable rents in the city. A recurring theme over the past three days of meetings is a growing lack of trust that the City would meet its own commitments to residents. Even with Mayor Kennedy Stewart’s beefed-up tenant protection plan, many renters say they can’t trust government to provide the help they need. The Mayor’s plan has been widely rebuked, even by the Vancouver Tenants Union.
David Webb, a renter in Fairview, said if housing affordability is the goal of the plan, why not keep what [older, affordable units] we have now? He said he and his neighbours don’t want to leave their community and move into new smaller apartments. “Renters stand only to lose. It’s a terrible plan, awful,” said Webb, arguing that the Plan will negatively affect renters for decades to come. Another speaker echoed Webb’s comments: “This isn’t a plan for renters. When I look at it, I don’t see development, I see displacement.” Regarding the huge increase in density planned for the area, one speaker complained he didn’t want to “live in Manhattan.” Vancouver,” he said, “needs to be treated with kid gloves. The Broadway Plan is a sledgehammer.”
Noting that the city’s population has grown by about one percent a year since 1986, retired architect Brian Palmquist called the envisioned density “a growth ponzi scheme.” Others criticized the lack of amenities planned for the area, such as schools, community centres, seniors’ services, and parks. Although one in five Vancouver seniors live in the Broadway area, the Plan makes no mention of adding seniors housing or amenities.
Supporters said Vancouver needs thousands of new homes now, preferably starting in the city’s low-density neighbourhoods, and that more commercial businesses should be built off-arterials. Some complained that the work should have started yesterday. “I was born after ’86 and I don’t have time for all the dithering, one speaker told Council. He pointed out that 3,600 citizens completed the Broadway Plan survey and over 50 percent of people said the Broadway Plan could make their lives better. Most developers who called in expressed basic support for the plan, with some minor adjustments.
Outspoken critic Patrick Condon, who teaches Urban Design at UBC, said the Broadway Plan deserves more than one consultant. He encouraged the City to meet with outside planners who can share ideas on how the Plan can be improved, particularly when it comes to housing affordability.
Whether or not the Plan can deliver housing affordability and livability has always been the burning issue at City meetings. The Broadway Plan envisions market rental apartments will make up 80 percent of the new housing, with 20 percent assigned to below-market rates. Many Councillors struggled with that number at the meeting, and asked speakers for ideas on how more affordable housing could be delivered.
Developer Michael Geller has used his blog to criticize the Plan and is well worth reading. One of his professional correspondents opposes what he calls “the sterile and generic vision the Broadway Plan puts forward for Vancouver’s future.”
The speakers list has closed but you can still send your comments to Council and I urge you to do so this morning. Let them know what you think of this massive redevelopment of our city and the displacement of affordable rentals it will bring in its wake.
The tension seemed to fuse
his spine to his neck
and he found he couldn’t move,
bracing himself for the words he knew
from the smudge-faced fireman.
His brain felt hollow,
as if all the matter had been extracted
to make space
for the cascade of new information,
fragmentary and wounding as it would be
that he anticipated momentarily.
“Your wife, sir.”
Even as he answered, he recoiled with imminent horror;
and even as he recoiled
he hoped – inanely – that his reaction
would not form part of his
“Your wife, sir,
said to tell you,
she’s at her mothers.”
He wondered if he’d ever move
his neck again.
Today is the 69th anniversary of the first successful climbing of Mount Everest by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary. News of the success arrived in England the day of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation and I remember my father, who was very excited by the news, telling me all about it. For years thereafter Edmund Hillary was the greatest hero of my young imagination.
I have one or two memories about my brother and me that pre-date May 1953, but Hillary on Everest is the earliest I can recall anything outside the family. I know from photographs that there were massive street parties I attended to celebrate the new Queen: I remember none of that. But Hillary on Everest has stuck with me all these years.
The picture is of Tensing Norgay taken by Hillary. There are no pictures of Hillary on the summit because Tensing didn’t know how to work the camera and, as Hillary said, the summit of Everest was no place to start teaching him!
Toots Hibbert was the first to bring us reggae. I was privileged to see him play many times. A legend, he is missed.
Had some apples that were getting old, so I made a simple baked cake.
I have today published a new research essay called: Lawn Bowling to Rock ‘n’ Roll: Leisure on the Drive, 1930 to 1965.
It can be found at https://grandviewheritagegroup.ca/blog/
I hope you find it of interest.
they circled the building on foot
as the rain pelted down
hard like hail
on the street
they mugged as tough guys
in the streaming glass
of shop windows
images bouncing from the curved edges
in the back lane they each had time
to be shy with themselves
wish themselves luck
to be quiet and to suck up
the third time round
soaked to the skin
they had had enough
headed for the door
she had on a false nose and a hat
gap-teeth and a grin
he had a honey-blonde wig and a gun
the bank was silent