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City of Vancouver seeks feedback on Broadway Plan guiding principles

Open houses run July 13, 15 and 17

After consulting with thousands of people, City of Vancouver staff have drawn up “community values and draft guiding principles” for the Broadway Plan.

Those details will be presented at open houses July 13, 15 and 17.

Kevin McNaney, the city’s assistant director of planning and project director for the Broadway Plan, said staff collected what they heard on a neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood basis during consultation and distilled it down into key themes or values. To create guiding principles for the rest of the plan, they looked at city-wide objectives that need to be met in the area.

“Marrying the values of the neighbourhood plus city-wide objectives gave us some guiding principles. We want to check in with the community at the upcoming open houses to ensure we got those right,” he said.

The planning process for the corridor, which stretches from Clark Drive to Vine Street between West First and 16th Avenues, launched in March.

The study area for the 30-year plan involves four neighbourhoods: False Creek Flats, Fairview, Mount Pleasant and a corner of Kitsilano. The plan will address land use, neighbourhood character, housing, jobs, local business, parks and public space, arts and culture, transportation, utilities, and public benefits around the future subway route — an extension of the Millennium Line from VCC-Clark Station to Arbutus Street.  The overall planning process is expected to take two years.

Staff have so far talked with more than 3,000 people, more than 1,990 people have submitted surveys, and 850 comments were posted on maps where participants marked what they cared about or thought was special in their neighbourhoods, and what they wanted to see changed.

More than 250 people also attended 12 “walkshops,” which generated 400 online comments. City staff took part in walking tours for 100 elementary students, they’ve attended two street festivals — most recently the Khatsahlano Festival — and conducted four workshops with interest groups.

One of the things McNaney found surprising so far is that people don’t really like Broadway itself.

“Everyone sees an opportunity to create an amazing, great street here that's not quite there yet. That's one of the most exciting components of this: to have the stretch of the city that's not just a street — it's actually a bunch of retailers and small businesses and housing — that can really start to have a character… It's not quite like some of our other areas like Yaletown or Gastown. It just doesn't quite have that character yet that people are looking for.”

McNaney attributed the “huge amount of interest” in the plan to the size of the area.

“It's quite a large area. It goes from Clark Drive to Vine and 16th to First — that's roughly 485 city blocks, which is roughly three times the size of the West End. So, I think it’s the scale, but I also think that people are super interested in the subway construction itself and what that means. That draws them into the broader conversation about the various neighbourhoods and what they value in their neighbourhood, and what they hope to see more of,” he said.

Top issues during the first phase of consultation included housing, concern around displacement of existing renters and small businesses, and a demand for more diverse housing, including below-market and market rental.

“There’s a lot of love of the shopping streets and local retail like Main Street and West Fourth,” McNaney added. “People really love their neighbourhood shopping areas.”

Others highlighted concerns about walkability, especially on Broadway. They’ve said Broadway lacks character and proposed fixes such as increasing the number of street trees and adding public gathering spaces.

Jobs are also top of mind — the Broadway corridor from Clark to Arbutus has the second-largest concentration of jobs in the province after downtown Vancouver.

“Everyone appreciates how many jobs are here and they’d like to see more jobs concentrated in the area along the transit,” McNaney said, adding “neighbourhood character” has also come up.

Some critics have already complained that the rezoning proposal for a 28-storey tower at Birch and Broadway, which is being considered under the Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program, is being dealt with before the Broadway Plan has been approved.

There has been a lot of interest in the proposal during consultation, according to McNaney, but he noted it preceded the launch of the Broadway Plan and is being allowed to proceed under council’s interim policy.

As for how the plan will fit into the upcoming city-wide plan process, McNaney said they will inform and feed off each other.

Following feedback from the upcoming Broadway Plan open houses, McNaney said staff will modify the community values and guiding principles where necessary, and then bring that information to council to affirm because it’s “so critical” to guide the next stage of planning.

The next stage will lead to emerging directions outlined in a draft plan, which will be produced next year. It will lead to further consultation.

A final plan is expected to go before council at the end of 2020.

The three upcoming open houses run from 12 to 4 p.m. at CityLab at 511 West Broadway on July 13; from 3 to 7 p.m. at Kitsilano Neighbourhood House on July 15; and from 3 to 7 p.m. at Kingsgate Mall July 17.

The information presented at open houses and the survey on the guiding principles and community values will also be available online beginning July 13.

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