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Controversial Broadway Plan Ups The Stakes For Vancouver’s Future

June 27, 2022

Following the passage of the controversial “Broadway Plan” the choice for voters this October is coming into clear focus. TEAM For A Livable Vancouver Mayoral Candidate and City Councillor Colleen Hardwick was the strongest of four votes against the passage of the controversial proposal that in Kennedy Stewart’s own words will “radically change” the neighbourhoods in Vancouver.

According to Hardwick’s remarks in Council, the Broadway Plan will make Vancouver less livable, will boost land speculation, rent and housing prices, and it will lead to the demoviction of thousands of renters. If elected Mayor with a TEAM majority on council, Hardwick has committed to revisit this decision.

“The consultation process has not engaged neighbourhoods in a way that is consistent with Vancouver’s legacy – a legacy that has given us the livable city we all enjoy today,” says Hardwick. “As a result, the Plan fails to address the range of amenities and green space that makes a community truly a great place to live.”

According to Hardwick, ramming through this decision in the final days of the current Council doesn’t provide an adequate mandate for such a radical change. It should be up to a new council, with a fresh mandate from voters.

Come October 15, says Hardwick, “voters will have a clear choice: vote for the two Kens’ [Ken Sim and Kennedy Stewart] vision of a concrete jungle of towers for Vancouver, or cast their ballots for a livable Vancouver by voting TEAM.”

Before the City Council vote was taken on the Broadway Plan, Councillor Hardwick explained her opposition to it:

When it comes to the Broadway Plan, the amazing author Jane Jacobs actually predicted its problems back in 1961, in her epic book The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Jacobs said, and I quote: "Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody."

The Broadway Plan was decidedly not “created by everybody”.

A Broadway Plan where hundreds of public speakers raise their concerns night after night was clearly not “created by everybody”.

A Broadway Plan where thousands of renters fear losing their affordable rent-controlled homes throughout the Broadway Corridor to demovictions is not “providing something for everybody.”

A Broadway Plan where real estate companies are already buying up low-rise housing buildings to replace them with giant 20 to 40 storey towers is definitely not “created by everybody” – nor will it benefit everybody – certainly not displaced renters.

In short, the Broadway Plan is not ready for approval because it was not “created by everybody”.

The Broadway Plan is already escalating property prices, apartments listed for sale and advertisements from commercial agents who specialize in monetizing the Broadway Plan for property owners.

Land inflation will be the inevitable outcome – with higher rents and higher home prices.

For example – Colliers is already advertising for sale 1770 West 12th Avenue – with a 3-storey 41-unit building – to be replaced with a 20-storey tower.

To be clear, the Broadway Subway will create more density and growth.

But as the saying goes: “Change is inevitable; progress is optional.”

Progress is what a well thought out plan should bring, as Jacobs wrote.

But this plan is not progress – definitely not.

The most dramatic changes ever proposed for Vancouver should only come from an incoming Mayor & Council with a democratic mandate in the October election – not an “outgoing” Mayor & Council with a handful of Council meetings left.

Trust and legitimacy are at issue.

The Broadway Plan sidelines extensive Mount Pleasant, Fairview, Fairview Slopes, and Kitsilano community plans developed over decades by staff, with countless volunteer resident hours.

Those 4 neighbourhoods together provide 19,600 rental units - 25% of the entire city’s inventory, much of it affordable and rent controlled.

It also has 4,000 non-market units - social, supportive & co-op units - comprising 15% of city’s whole inventory.

Even if relocation and return policies are upheld – questionable - people’s lives will still be uprooted, new homes smaller, and most rents the same or higher.

And it’s very likely that most people won’t return due to the expense and upheaval.

The Broadway Plan embraces the false narrative that the unaffordable housing crisis will be solved by huge density and building height increases over 500 blocks, but stubbornly ignores a critical cause of our housing unaffordability crisis: that land speculators, investors and property “flippers” are skewing real estate property values.

In reality, the Broadway Plan is their dream scenario, because they would profit from ever-increasing land values triggered by major densification north and south of Broadway.

The Broadway Plan also encourages development completely contrary to our Greenest City and sustainability thinking – because cement towers and greenhouse gases are contrary to Vancouver’s branding.

Yes, the Broadway Subway will increase density, especially around station areas.

But there are real alternatives – to add gentle density and to address the many important issues for planning livable, affordable and sustainable communities.

The Broadway Plan promotes a false narrative of lack of supply – without reflecting what is currently in the pipeline and what the public needs, especially around affordability.

Population, job growth and economic development are ‘aspirational targets’ as opposed to evidence-based projections.

Furthermore, there is a lack of planning for even the basics of:

  • Community Amenities - schools, community centres, senior’s centres, libraries

  • Green space and parks

  • Arts and culture

  • Ground-oriented density for families

  • Obstruction of public views

To conclude: the Broadway Plan would see thousands of renters in affordable, rent-controlled housing demovicted; would dramatically increase both rents and housing prices; would be a huge gift to land speculators; would badly hurt Vancouver’s livability in cherished neighbourhoods; would violate Greenest City principles; and most importantly – the Broadway Plan does not have a mandate from its citizens – who should have the ultimate say in the October election.

And that’s why I am voting a hard NO to the Broadway Plan.


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