Northeast False Creek plan critics lament loss of Vancouver's mountain views

Critics are decrying the potential partial loss of the city's mountain views as part of Vancouver's plan for Northeast False Creek, which council will be voting on Tuesday.

Project director says it would be difficult to achieve urban design goals while preserving the views

An artist's rendering provided by critics of the plan outlining how the views in Vancouver could be affected, if the northeast False Creek plan goes forward as proposed. (Melody Ma)

Critics are decrying the potential partial loss of the city's mountain views as part of Vancouver's plan for Northeast False Creek, which council will be voting on Tuesday. 

Last month, city staff revealed the final plans for the area at council. They include a new park, ice rink and community centre and new streets to replace the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts.

It also includes new condo towers that will house up to 12,000 new residents over the next 20 years — including three towers that will partially block the view of the North Shore Mountains. 

The city has had policies in place since the 1980s that protect 27 view corridors

"Once one tower protrudes through one of these view cones, that will set the precedent for other developers to also want the same treatment," said community activist Melody Ma. "So we won't have our iconic mountain backdrop."

Ma, a web developer by day, created the website Save Our Skyline YVR to share her views.

Ma said she's not opposed to condos being developed in the area — just their height. She said Vancouver is one of the few cities in the world with such spectacular views. 

"This is a free public asset and free public amenity that everyone can enjoy," she said.

"In terms of what is being built to cover those public views, these are going to be multimillion dollar condos that none of us can afford."

'The greatest thing since sliced bread'

Former city planner Ray Spaxman worked at city hall when the view corridor policy was put in place. Spaxman agrees the Northeast False Creek plan could set a precedent for other developers. 

"Developers want more development, more density, more height. And in doing so they will inevitably obliterate some of the things that we currently love," he said. 

Spaxman says it's up to the public to decide what it wants to do about the corridors. But he said it's also up to the city to provide all sides of issues at council.

The city has revealed the final design for northeast False Creek, which will come to fruition over the next 20 years. (City of Vancouver)

No one from the city was available for comment.

In a presentation to council on January 31, project director Kevin McNaney told councillors there's already "substantial amount of view protection" in Northeast False Creek. 

McNaney said urban design experts informed city staff that it would be difficult for Vancouver to achieve its urban design goals while preserving the view corridors.

He also said the three new towers will provide more variation to the skyline, as well as "a celebratory moment in the skyline where we can celebrate one of our biggest entertainment districts in the province of British Columbia."

About the Author

Maryse Zeidler

@MaryseZeidler

Maryse Zeidler is a reporter for CBC News in Vancouver, covering news from across British Columbia. You can reach her at maryse.zeidler@cbc.ca.

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