British Columbia

Vancouver passes rezoning for False Creek Flats plan

Vancouver's city council has passed rezoning paving the way for the gradual transformation of the False Creek Flats area

Transformation of the land, geared towards industrial uses, will include St. Paul's Hospital

The zone comprising Vancouver's False Creek Flats is centred by the rail lines extending from Pacific Central Station. (Christer Waara/CBC)

Vancouver's city council has passed rezoning paving the way for the gradual transformation of the False Creek Flats area.

The 5-4 vote — with all Vision Vancouver councillors in favour — allows the city to begin implementing its plans for False Creek Flats, a 450-hectare site bounded by Main Street, Prior Street, Knight Street and Great Northern Way.

"What we have is a great step with a clear direction, a lot more room for housing space and arts and culture space and green space to emerge," said Mayor Gregor Robertson. 

"This is a hugely important jobs initiative, given the job space we need in the city."

The area is home to more than 600 businesses ranging from manufacturing, transportation, textiles, food and beverage production to art galleries.

The goal is to increase the number of jobs in the area from 8,000 to 30,000 over the next 30 years. Many of them will be at the future St. Paul's hospital and the new Emily Carr University campus.

The city voted in favour of the overall plan in May.

A diagram from the city's rezoning proposal for False Creek Flats showing long-term plans for the area. (City of Vancouver)

Industrial use over housing

The plan preserves the area's focus on industrial land over residential space, creating only 1,400 new residential units in the area over the course of the 30-year plan. 

Anne McMullin, president of the Urban Development Institute, said the city could have done more to provide incentives for rental housing.

"While we were broadly supportive of the False Creek Flats plan, we did feel there was a missed opportunity ... particularly because of the kind of businesses and the kind of community the city is trying to build there," she said. 

Green Party Coun. Adrianne Carr voted against the rezoning, worried the new housing and amenities proposed in the region would have an adverse affect on existing businesses.

"I am worried that the housing, the retail, the restaurants that are included in parts of the area will increase land values and place pressure on industrial lands," she said.

"And artists spaces is something we heard a lot from the public. I think our goal is to ensure it is affordable, safe and available. I am not confident that we have enough measures to adequately protect that [current] space."

But ultimately, the city chose to approve the rezoning, with Vision councillors saying it struck a proper balance between growing the area while keeping its focus on jobs.

"I think staff have done a great job threading that needle. It's not simple, and it may not be perfect," said Robertson, "but I think this is a massive improvement and a necessary step to give certainty for the last big swath of job space here close to the downtown."