British Columbia

West End community plan approved in Vancouver

Vancouver city council has approved a controversial West End neighbourhood plan that outlines development in the area for the next 30 years.

Plan proposes infill development in the centre of the neighbourhood, taller buildings around edges

City aims to add 10,000 people without destroying its character 2:26

Vancouver city council has approved a controversial West End neighbourhood plan that outlines development in the area for the next 30 years.

The plan aims to strike a balance between development pressures and preserving the West End's quiet, tree-lined streets, where 45,000 people live in only 112 blocks.

It gives developers and planners a road map for the foreseeable future that permits infill development in the centre of the neighbourhood and taller towers on busy corridors around the edges.

Coun. Tim Stevenson says the city expects $600-million will be invested in the neighbourhood over the next 30 years.

"We'll certainly see more density because we're expecting seven- to 10-thousand more people in the next 20 years, and we obviously have to accommodate that," said Stevenson.

"We'll be developing on Burrard Street, and some on lower Davie, and over on Alberni, but not in the centre, that will be maintained, rentals will be maintained"              

Stevenson says the plan will also strengthen Davie Village as a hub for the LGBTQ community.

The plan has pleased many West End residents, including Dean Malone, who supported the proposed 1,600 new social housing units, rental units and affordable housing for families.

"I think it's really interesting that we are going to add density in the West End with infill housing," said Malone.

"That speaks to a walkable neighbourhood … some of that housing will be typically appropriate for families."

The plan is also supported by business owners in the West End's three commercial villages — Davie, Denman and Robson.

They like the fact the plan calls for more commercial space, wider sidewalks and fewer residents in those areas, enabling bars and restaurants to stay open without disturbing neighbours.

'Lack of detail'

But Randy Helten with the West End Neighbours group says there are still some major holes in the 200-page document. 

The plan included this conceptual drawing of the intersection of Thurlow and Alberni streets. (City of Vancouver)

"There are a lot of nice pictures in the plan. There are a lot of general motherhood statements and things," he says.

"But when you get into the details of the jargon, there's still a huge amount of vagueness in the plan and it leaves the door wide open for the city to make deals with developers."

Helten says the plan lacks specifics regarding the height, size and location of buildings. He also says the community's residents were not properly consulted.

"There were a few open houses where you put yellow sticky notes on boards and then planners went back to city hall to write their reports up. Meanwhile, they were talking to developers developing specific plans for major towers."

Previous to the plan's approval, Helten's group was calling on council to give the community more consultation and send the plan back to city staff for more work.

"It's like staff was given a homework assignment and they're turning in their report without finishing their work."

With files from Annie Ellison


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