Planning & Development
The City’s growth targets are well beyond what can be justified by population growth projections compiled using census data from Statistics Canada. The resulting upzoning raises overall land prices and housing costs. The more affordable older housing stock is demolished, replaced by more expensive units, residents are displaced with some being forced into homelessness. The City’s planning processes are notoriously complex and slow; the consultation process is opaque and misleading. The City bases development on non-transparent data that promotes widespread growth in order to raise cash called Community Amenity Contributions (CACs) to fund burgeoning city staff and programs outside Vancouver’s governmental mandate. This approach ignores the concerns of residents and the impacts of growth on livability, climate change and unaffordability.
TEAM Perspective and Action Plan
TEAM will ensure that the local residents and businesses play an active meaningful role and participation in planning and development processes. Planning decisions will be based on transparent data and overlaid on neighbourhood plans clearly showing the type and amount of housing, schools, parks, police and fire services that are needed. Making the City’s planning processes more transparent and open with clarified intentions, will restore public trust and implement walkable complete communities with affordable housing at appropriate scales in every neighbourhood’s context.
Ensure planning and development is managed in three main ways: planning is done through openness and transparency; there is real public engagement at the neighbourhood level; and the basic business of managing growth, planning, development and permit approvals are done efficiently that reduces time and costs.
- Ensure all City planning decisions, including the City’s plans submitted to the region, are based on real census-based population growth projections and zoned capacity data rather than promoting unlimited growth based on arbitrarily inflated targets that have impacts on livability, affordability and sustainability;
- Work with residents in all neighbourhoods to restore the essential bond of trust between citizens and City Hall by making public consultation meaningful and incorporated into planning outcomes;
- Establish storefront planning offices throughout the city, plus easy access for associated services for those needing housing support;
- Work together with local residents and businesses in each neighbourhood to create a plan specific for their neighbourhood that ensures there is enough zoned capacity - the amount of development allowed to be built under existing zoning - to meet future growth based on accurate transparent census data and with the related amenities, schools, parks and services for walkable diverse livable communities with affordable housing;
- Prioritise human-scale ground oriented building forms in most of the city’s neighbourhoods, with high-rise development focused primarily downtown, or as may be community supported through participation in neighbourhood-based planning;
- Apply planning principles for successful city building that protects and creates diversity through new growth and that allows for a range of ages of buildings. Since the greenest building is the one that already exists, include adaptive reuse of a large amount of more affordable older buildings;
- In all planning and development efforts, ensure that social benefits, infrastructure, schools, parks, amenities, transit and services are provided at the same time as new development;
- Plan for a diversity of affordable housing options, within the built form and scale of the local area neighbourhood context, including social, supportive and coop housing, for families, youth, seniors, frontline service workers, and for people with disabilities, among others;
- Make it easier to retain heritage and character buildings through (a) a more flexible development and permit process that removes the bias towards new construction, (b) zoning with incentives for retention and disincentives for demolition, recognizing that the greenest building is the one that already exists, (c) retention incentives to allow multiple secondary suites through the Secondary Suite Program and/or infill;
- Reinstate the requirement and enforce deconstruction rather than demolish homes being replaced, and associated tree retention/ replacement, that is not being properly enforced;
- Restrict spot rezoning to exceptional cases such as special large major project sites or emergencies, that considers the local context and is community supported. Since spot rezonings inflate land values all around them that increases housing costs, it should generally be avoided with a higher level of support of a ¾ super majority of council;
- Withdraw and reconsider the Vancouver Plan and Broadway Plan under new neighbourhood-based processes with meaningful involvement of local residents. Avoid the same building typologies applied arbitrarily city-wide without local context. The Vancouver Plan is intended to become an Official Community Plan and should be based on neighbourhood plans that have high levels of support by the local residents and businesses;
- Withdraw current rental spot rezoning programs that do not create enough meaningful affordability, arbitrarily create too large scale buildings that inflate land values, undermine sustainability, livability and put too much strain on inadequate infrastructure, such as the Moderate Income Rental Pilot Program (MIRPP) and the Secured Rental Policy (SRP);
- Reconsider the Jericho Lands, and other major site planning initiatives, where the process was flawed through lack of transparent data or meaningful neighbourhood-based planning. Through a new planning process, consider how the Jericho Lands could provide more ground oriented family housing within the local context in the low to mid-rise scale of Arbutus Walk, at 12th Ave. & Arbutus, as requested by the community;
- Reconsider the City's support for the UBC SkyTrain extension (UBCx), and related development planning, with meaningful and informed input from the public. Through the City's influence on the Mayors' Council of TransLink, ensure that the business case for UBCx viability and alternatives includes all the facts. Commuting demand could be reduced by providing more onsite affordable student and staff housing at UBC, and the planned expanded satellite campus in Surrey. Post-COVID transit demand has not fully recovered, and it is unclear what the long term impacts might be on transit for the shift to part-time work or study from home;
- Work with local small businesses and Business Improvement Associations to support viable local shopping areas to serve their communities;
- Plan for the arts and culture sector to ensure that there are affordable spaces for artists to work and perform by protecting the more affordable industrial lands, theatres, community centres and publicly owned buildings;
- Support and enhance Heritage Planning departments to focus on built heritage through the retention of heritage and character buildings.
- Planning needs to consider the capacity limits of city infrastructure, the costs of expanding infrastructure, and ensure that growth is not too concentrated beyond what the city infrastructure can support. This includes not only utility infrastructure (storm/sanitary sewers, water, electrical, data, gas), but also social benefits, schools, parks, amenities, transit and services;
- Development fees (such as CACs, DCLs and other utility fees) only cover a small amount of the costs of growth. Most of the financing of growth comes from property taxes and capital financing. These costs of growth need to be transparently considered with every proposed rezoning;
- Community Amenity Contributions (CACs) should be applied to new up-zoned density as a part of the neighbourhood planning process that is based on publicly available set amounts, not negotiated behind closed doors;
- Stop promoting more density and growth beyond what is needed for population increases in order to generate CAC revenue that the City is becoming increasingly dependent on;
- Reconsider the infrastructure costs of transit corridor planning. The Cambie Corridor and Oakridge Town Centre are examples of where too much rezoning is beyond the capacity of infrastructure. Same with the proposed Broadway Corridor;
- Support a more distributed affordable electric frequent transit bus system throughout the arterial grid to serve more neighbourhoods that requires less concentrated infrastructure upgrading;
- Lobby vigorously and relentlessly for adequate resources from the federal and provincial governments for social services resources and to build affordable housing including co-ops, co-housing, social and supportive housing at scales that fit into every neighbourhood`s context;
- Request federal funding to support the increased population due to their immigration policies.
- Simplify and make the zoning and building permitting processes more publicly transparent to reduce costs and approval times for all new development and renovations;
- Streamline processes for smaller projects with more flexible on-site review for renovation building permits.
- Make it really easy to do laneway housing, secondary suites, duplexes and small scale ground oriented infill development that doesn't require assembly, through re-establishing the One Stop Renovation Centre and a similar process for approval of small new construction projects;
- Make it a priority to identify bottlenecks in the permitting process and ensure staff are properly trained to handle permits appropriately;
- Reinstate third-party appeals to the Board of Variance that used to be in place for 50 years as a check and balance to the discretionary powers of the Director of Planning;
- Establish members of the Urban Design Panel that are more representative of residents by including at least two members from local Residents Associations. (See Community Representation);
- Develop a professional standard for all development photos and renderings: Proposal photos and 3D renderings must accurately portray impact on the entire neighbourhood and skyline (including all surrounding buildings) and be created using a 50mm lens and appropriate focal length (or equivalent perspective in the case of a digital renderings) in order to accurately replicate human vision (see CityHallWatch articles June 2, 2020 and December 15, 2020);
- Ensure that all development initiatives provide shadow studies at the winter solstice, spring equinox, summer solstice and autumnal equinox, and do so using 3D renderings accurately portraying impacts on surrounding neighbourhood and skyline.
Implement Planning Policies to Address Climate Change
- Consider all environmental aspects affecting climate change in planning, development and transit, including the embodied greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the full life cycle of the supply chain, from resource extraction, transportation, manufacturing, materials, heat island effects, demolition waste and building life expectancy; plan for buildings to last hundreds of years, not a few decades;
- Focus on the 3 Rs: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle for a sustainable and green city;
- Have incentive-based policies to encourage transition to lower or zero emission targets, such as free parking for electric vehicles;
- Undertake cost / benefit evaluations of climate change requirements to ensure that renovations, additions and infill construction are not prohibitively expensive or difficult to implement;
- Plan for long term resiliency and stability;
- Support transitions to electric vehicles by ensuring minimum onsite parking requirements in new construction are applied to allow for expansion of charging infrastructure;
- Make it easier to add electric vehicle charging in residential homes by reviewing and simplifying the Building Code and regulatory requirements;
- Ensure that onsite parking minimums are retained in the Parking Bylaw for new construction to allow for future electric vehicle charging in the transition to zero emissions;
- Avoid using the climate emergency to promote other agendas such as promoting growth;
- Avoid policies that unfairly impact low-income residents that affect affordability;
- Do not promote new housing development in areas in which local school capacity is full and commuting of students would be required;
- Encourage solar panels, heat pumps, and other options for GHG reduction in new construction to support the shift to electric zero emissions. Also give incentives for conversions of existing housing to add solar panels such as working with BC Hydro for financial incentives to feed back into the electricity grid;
- Plan for adaptation and mitigation to rising sea levels, floods, drought/water shortages etc.;
- Consider the improved livability by better noise reduction by-laws and also programs to reduce outside lights from 1:00am until dawn.