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Community plan pushback Newsmaker contender

The backlash erupted in June. The source: emerging details about two of four community plans the City of Vancouver was updating to guide change and development in those neighbourhoods over the next 30 years.
marpole rezoning
A protest sign in Marpole. File photo Dan Toulgoet

The backlash erupted in June.

The source: emerging details about two of four community plans the City of Vancouver was updating to guide change and development in those neighbourhoods over the next 30 years.

Grandview-Woodland residents condemned draft proposals unveiled in June that envisioned a tower up to 36 storeys for the Safeway site at Broadway and Commercial Drive and news that other locations in the surrounding area were cited for future highrises between 22 to 28 storeys.

Marpole residents were irate to learn a so-called thin street was being considered for a stretch of Ash Street between 59th and 64th and proposals to upzone single-family areas.

Residents from both neighbourhoods, as well as groups like the Grandview-Woodland Area Council, criticized the city’s consultation efforts and called for timeline extensions.

The city backed off some controversial proposals but the uproar community plans generated guaranteed them as a candidate for the Vancouver Courier’s 2013 Newsmaker of the Year.

In early July, more than 200 residents packed a community-organized meeting in Grandview-Woodland. City planner Andrew Pask told the crowd the plan was in the early stages and noted one of the more contentious proposals, the 36-storey tower, had already been taken off the table.

The city then held more workshops focusing on particular areas of the plan.

In Marpole, meanwhile, city staff almost immediately abandoned the idea of a thin street, but the possibility of it drew attention to the overall community plan, which many residents claimed they didn’t even realize was being updated despite the fact the city had been holding workshops and open houses.

Objections centred on single-family areas being rezoned to allow for uses such as stacked townhouses, duplexes and low-rise apartment buildings.

The Marpole Residents’ Coalition formed to challenge the proposals and to demand an extension.

Community plans being updated in the West End and the Downtown Eastside didn’t garner as much protest, but they attracted opposition and those critics joined in criticizing city hall.

City staff report released a report about the progress of the community plans in mid-September and recommended delays for the Grandview-Woodland and Marpole plans, but a protest on the steps of city hall, timed for a day before council voted on the staff recommendations, went ahead anyway and attracted about 200 people.

Council ultimately extended Grandview-Woodland’s timeline by at least a year to create a “Citizens’ Assembly,” which will offer input on all areas of the plan.

Council granted Marpole’s plan a shorter extension for further consultation on revisions such as amending it to focus change on arterial streets and to limit change in single-family areas, as well as to remove a defined area west of Cambie Street from the plan for further planning work.

No delays were approved for the Downtown Eastside or the West End plan.

Council passed the West End Community Plan in late November, while the Downtown Eastside draft plan is expected to be released at the end of the year.

Grandview-Woodland residents remain frustrated by the time it’s taking for the Citizens’ Assembly to form and start meeting, while the city created some peace with Marpole residents by holding the additional consultation sessions. Most of the contentious parts of the plan (though not all) have been removed and the final draft will be released for public consumption at the end of January. Council will vote on it before the end of March.

The Vancouver Courier’s Newsmaker of the Year will be announced Dec. 11.

To participate in our Newsmaker of the Year Reader’s Choice vote, go to the web poll at, email us your vote at or drop a letter to 1574 West Sixth Ave., Vancouver, V6J 1R2. You can also make your vote or view known through Twitter at #VanNewsmaker or on Facebook at The Vancouver Courier Newspaper.

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