Frances Bula header image 2

Guest post from Frank Ducote: A stunning transformation is planned for Grandview-Woodlands. Is the community really ready for this?

June 12th, 2013 · 193 Comments

For those who haven’t guessed already, I am away from the city right now and will be away until the first week of July, as part of my annual ritual of city observation elsewhere. (Known to others as “a vacation.”) I’ll be posting some stuff of my own — been riding a lot of bike-share bikes in Paris and have some tales to tell — but I am also opening up the blog to some guest posts.

The first is from Frank Ducote on what’s been happening with city planning over on Commercial Drive. I am happy to publish other guest posts on any vaguely city-related topics that have not been beaten to death already on this blog or where you have a take on a familiar issue that really hasn’t been addressed anywhere. Those with a burning desire to propose ideas should email me (firstnamelastname AT and I’ll put up anything that fits the criteria. You don’t need to use your real name.

In the meantime, here is Frank’s post, where your comments are invited. For those who don’t know, Frank is a former city planner, planning consultant for other cities, and, I believe, much-praised artist.
Looking at this map, it is very difficult to fully grasp the implications of such a far-reaching proposal for transformation of an existing community. As a former City of Vancouver planner who worked in the Broadway/Commercial community prior to and during the Millennium Line implementation, this vision truly boggles my mind. Circa 2000 or so some then-councillors considered this area, with its abundance of transportation investment, to be ripe for densification, up to and including towers. However, It would have suicidal to try and impose those kinds of pro -development ideas then, completely against community values.
What has happened since to so embolden staff and, presumably, the public consultation process, to bring forward such a fundamentally transformative set of ideas and policy directions now? So many questions that one has a difficult time knowing where and how to begin a rational critique and conversation.
Please look closely at this map, especially at the area immediately around Commercial Drive and Broadway. This is Transportation Oriented Development (TOD) writ very large indeed. Is this a community-based vision or one being imposed from above? A TransLink wet dream?
Your comments, please. It would be particularly interesting to hear from residents and other participants directly involved in this planning process.




Categories: Uncategorized

193 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Dan Cooper // Jun 12, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    Wowsers. Actually, to me it’s worth looking far beyond Broadway and Commercial on the linked map, comparing with Google maps to really get the sense of what a large swath is being potentially ripped down and rebuilt differently.

    If no one else, I’m sure the developers will be doing this! For example, large sums of money might be made if you were holding property on Nanaimo between Hastings and Broadway, or along 1st Ave., in the way houses have apparently been selling for $4 million or so on Cambie in the King Ed-49th area and for the same reason…. Interesting, on the other hand, to see how the Commercial immediate storefront area from Adanac to 7th is being treated as hands-off, I assume because they figured trying to change it would bring too much pushback. (Hmmm…perhaps it will be designated a National Park and Historic Site a la Fort Langley or the Cannery in Steveston.)

    That aside, I can’t see how that many towers and near towers could be built in the core area around Broadway and Commercial without at least first solving (meaning, something built and in place) the huge bottleneck between the Skytrain and B-Line.

  • 2 jenables // Jun 12, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    I talked to the head planner for gw for an hour and twenty minutes on the phone. the most important question anyone should be asking themselves is not about transportation, it’s about something much more basic than that. in a neighborhood where two thirds of the population rents, and many live in existing, actual affordable housing, what happens to the people who are displaced when their buildings are rezoned and purchased for development? where do they live? how many are scraping by only by virtue of their length of tenancy and cheap rent? how many will become homeless? look at fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, west of commercial. those are all apartments. many are inhabited by low income people who won’t be able to afford the rent of a new building. they will either leave town, enter the system or be on the street. Bob Rennie said the only way to go is east, this is the city’s response. also, thirty six storey tower at Broadway and commercial? flanked by twenty two and twenty six storey? no thank you, I don’t think you should put a big phallus at the top of the hill so we can live in its shadow. not to mention what they plan on doing to Nanaimo st..if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, cov! we aren’t stupid and can see this shameless plan for what it is. remember, if the cov turns it’s greedy eyes on your neighborhood, it’s not about anything other than Density (the preferred currency for the people who stand to profit from your neighborhood) it certainly isn’t about the people who currently live there!

  • 3 jenables // Jun 12, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    by the way, when I download that pdf on my phone it doesn’t seem to load properly, though I have a copy of the map with the proposed changes on paper, I can’t see the color/letters on the pdf. maybe it’s just a mobile issue

  • 4 Joe Just Joe // Jun 12, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    As someone that is pretty pro-development, I’ll add my voice to those that are disappointed in the way this plan is shaping up.
    While some will look at the area now and state it’s not dense enough considering the amount of transit that serves it, they fail to open their eyes and see the true density in the area. Although it doesn’t look like much it’s one of the densest areas in the city. This plan is just going to make it look like other parts of the city.
    The towers that work downtown do not need to be replicated everywhere in order to densify. There are so many other and better ways to do density outside our core.
    I have no doubt that our planning dept is capable of the work needed to do things better, I’m curious as to why they aren’t doing it though? Do they really think this is the best solution or have they been instructed to work within certain parameters?

  • 5 Bill Lee // Jun 12, 2013 at 7:22 pm


    –Four Storey buildings surrounding Garden Park, Templeton
    –Four Storey buildings one block deep along Nanaimo
    –Six to Eight Storey buildings along Hastings, First Ave and Broadway
    –36 Storey buildings at Broadway and Commercial

    If it is difficult to afford rents now, it will be worse with the ticky-tacky replacements.

  • 6 Bill Lee // Jun 12, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    The Victoria bus along Hastings, Commercial Victoria to 53rd is busy route, most frequent of the trolleys now.
    If you ride it, you can see the waves of people getting on and off, Hastings, Grandview Park (William street), First Avenue, 7th because of dropping for Skytrams, Broadway, Kingsway, 41st, 53rd.
    It could have had a play written about it like “The Number 14″

  • 7 Everyman // Jun 12, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    @jenables 2
    Amen. Cllr. Jang was on the radio today claiming that laneway homes would help solve the city’s affordability problem. Call me crazy, but I don’t consider the $1,500+ monthly rates I’ve seen for 1 bdrm laneway houses remotely “affordable”. The truly affordable units are the basement suites in older homes and older walk-up apartments. This plan will just help bulldozer both.

    I’m getting very tired of elected civic politicians telling us what is good for us, rather than doing what we, their employers, want.

  • 8 Jane Whittington // Jun 12, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    I live just meters from the centre of the crosshairs, in agreeable, decent-quality, decently maintained “affordable” rental housing. That’s in quotes because for all that, neither is it cheap. Simply put, where are we expected to live, and what precisely is the benefit of forcing us out?

    Something else that seems to be entirely lost in this debate — behind the probable unaffordability of this new, affordable utopia — are questions about quality of life. “Affordable” or no, I for one don’t want to live, alone, in a mass-produced concrete box. Again, what is the benefit here?

  • 9 jenables // Jun 12, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    turns out the pdf displays just fine, it’s my patience level that was the problem. so, they want to redevelop Safeway, super valu and the food stop? I am pretty sure a population of the current density needs some kind of grocery store, I mean, I love Santa Barbara and Donalds, etc but they close up early and have limited selection and parking. Considering how they intend to pack people in.. oh that’s right, just because they build a tower, doesn’t mean people will actually live in it. and I guess at Broadway the giant phallus will have a new Safeway at the bottom, sans parking? curious as to what those green squares are in that general region there. LOVE the bullseye, by the way. makes me feel like we have truly been “targeted”.

  • 10 Joseph Jones // Jun 12, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    East Van Gentrification: Norquay at the Eye of the Hurricane

    I posted my summation of seven-plus years of bitter experience to Eye on Norquay about a week ahead of the April 2013 public hearing that overlaid new zoning on most of the area. I offered those same thoughts, reformatted and retitled and emailed in timely fashion, as my submission to City Council. Shortly after the hearing I discovered that my document had mysteriously gone “astray” and therefore was never seen by councillors before the vote was taken. I did manage to get the document inserted after the fact into the record of correspondence. A shoddy conclusion to a shoddy process. Hark to the harbinger and weep.

  • 11 tf // Jun 12, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    Everyman #7 – this is the crux.
    The City, including Cllr. Jang, says they support “affordable housing” but the question is “affordable to who?”
    $1500 plus utilities for a 1 bedroom is not affordable housing. If you pay 30% of your income for your housing, you need to make at least $31 an hour to pay that rent.
    Numbers don’t lie; politicians do.

  • 12 Cheezwiz // Jun 12, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    Informative comments by all. I didn’t realize that Grandview was also coming up in the City’s redevelopment sights. A lot of reasonably priced rental housing is going to get mowed down.

    This council has got to go – it’s obvious who they’re working for, and it isn’t the communities they’re supposed to be serving. We are losing older walk-ups, homes with basement suites, not to mention entire neighborhoods that once had character. The amount of waste generated by non-stop demolition is staggering. Greenest city my ass.

    More than 50% of people in Vancouver proper are renters. Are we all supposed to move to far-flung reaches of the lower mainland in order to afford shelter?

  • 13 mike0123 // Jun 12, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    One of the objectives of this community plan should be to maintain the stock of garden apartments and basements suites. There should also be more variety in unit types available. There should be a housing option between the extremes of the basement suite or old garden apartment and the single-family house that appeals to the average middle-class family. There should also be significant density added near the station alongside much-needed improvements to the public realm.

    The areas that are most affected by the proposed community plan are triangles just south of the Grandview cut: one bounded by Clark and Broadway and one bounded by Commercial and 12th. There are a few garden apartments, but also plenty of single-family houses (e.g. monster houses, specials) within a block or two of the station. The built density is surprisingly low. The long blocks on Broadway and 12th and the limited number of crossings over the cut make them seem like separate enclaves. There isn’t a neighbourhood of single-family houses that feels like its right next door, so there’s little reason to expect broad, vocal opposition to significant change inside these triangles.

    Elsewhere, the increase in density from four to six storeys is probably not enough to make redevelopment of garden apartments worthwhile to the owners or developers. Single-family houses on streets with garden apartments will see more development pressure under this plan, but there aren’t *that* many of them, and there should be more rental units in any new building than in any house or houses it replaces.

    Nanaimo lacks the retail and transit connections that make Commercial convenient for transit-dependent, and therefore location-sensitive, basement dwellers. Single-family houses on single-family blocks are not rezoned near Commercial under the plan, so I don’t see how the bulk of basement suites are affected.

    The changes near Nanaimo and the station allow for mid-market housing options in the form of townhouses and condos that don’t exist in any great quantity in Grandview-Woodlands now.

  • 14 CityHallWatch Randy // Jun 13, 2013 at 12:11 am

    “Get Big Money out of Civic Politics!”
    Petition for Municipal Election Campaign Finance Reform

  • 15 gasp // Jun 13, 2013 at 12:26 am

    Frank, you ask if this is “A TransLink wet dream?”

    I think it’s this Vision Mayor and his Council’s
    wet dream, not TransLink’s.

    This City’s entire plan for transportation and development (in order to become the “greenest City by 2020″) is based on a Broadway subway line with high density along that line. And to try to push that plan forward, despite the exorbitant cost and taxpaying public’s opposition, they’ll destroy entire communities to impose their idea of “the greater good”.

    Just look at what they’ve done to Cambie Street and Marpole, two areas that previously provided affordable housing to Vancouver families and low income residents. The RAV line was put underground to save the Cambie heritage boulevard, which is now being bulldozed and cast in shadows to provide high density housing for “investors”.

    The planning being done by this City under this Council is obviously done solely to benefit the real estate development industry, not to enhance or improve existing communities. Maybe Meggs doesn’t have a problem with a 45-story tower at Oakridge, but I’m sure many current residents of the area DO have a problem with living in the dreary shade of all these glass and concrete unlivable, energy consuming towers. Not to mention the loss of local and small businesses who will be unable to afford the taxes and premium rents that will be charged for the commercial spaces in these tower communities.

    It’s hard to see how this plan for the Commercial area is going to do anything but push more small businesses and people – especially families and renters – out of this City.

  • 16 spartikus // Jun 13, 2013 at 8:02 am

    Just look at what they’ve done to Cambie Street and Marpole, two areas that previously provided affordable housing to Vancouver families and low income residents.

    I don’t know about Marpole but Cambie Street was affordable for low-income families?

    In what decade? 1950?

  • 17 babalu2 // Jun 13, 2013 at 8:16 am

    He’s a well-known American planner. And admittedly this article is about the American experience. But it’s interesting in some ways. Vancouver is not the only municipality undergoing change.

  • 18 boohoo // Jun 13, 2013 at 9:09 am


    My parents in law bought a house on West 30th near Cambie in the 1970’s for 40k. They recently had a real estate agent knock on their door saying houses around them are going for ~2.7 million and they are in the ‘phase 3′ area of the Cambie plan which hasn’t even been started yet.

    As for this plan, who knows. There’s lots of blank space on it, presumably that’s just to remain as is. So aside from around the skytrain station, most of it is still single family. That makes sense to me. The fact that there’s a massive surface parking lot immediately outside a coming up 30 year old skytrain station makes no sense.

    I agree with the sentiment that what’s being built is generic, boring, etc. All the arterials are going to look the same soon enough which is a shame.

    But this whole conspiracy bit about the plan being a ploy to put cash in developers pockets, I don’t buy it. Developers have been making money in Vancouver regardless of the political party in power, let’s get over this notion that vision is any worse than the last guys.

    People are moving to Metro Vancouver. A lot of people, like it or not. Short of building a wall with a big ‘stay out’ sign, we need to accommodate people. I’m not saying a 60 storey tower is required, but there’s nowhere left to build out, so you build up.

    The alternative, or an alternative, which is happening is sprawl out in the burbs. I know most on this blog like to pretend the face of the Earth ends at Boundary, but it doesn’t. Do we want to just sprawl out to accommodate these people? At what cost?

    Screw the suburbs, I don’t want my single family house, 1 block from a skytrain station to change is a losing proposition for everyone.

  • 19 Ned // Jun 13, 2013 at 9:49 am

    Everyman, jenables, tf:
    Perfectly true.
    Affordable housing is a big lie “Affordable to who?”
    “Numbers don’t lie; politicians do.”
    Only in this case is Kerry Jang and his Vision Vancouver spinners. Apparently for Jang, housing in Vancouver is OK when you have your hands in two jars, making more than $200 K per year.
    Speaking of money. Have you heard that Christmas came early for Christy Clark’s staff this year? Exactly.

  • 20 Ned // Jun 13, 2013 at 9:53 am

    boohoo #17
    “Screw the suburbs, I don’t want my single family house, 1 block from a skytrain station to change is a losing proposition for everyone.”
    That’s exactly why things are the way they are (which is from bad to worst) in Vancouver. Because of the attitude people like yourself have. Period.

  • 21 boohoo // Jun 13, 2013 at 9:56 am


    I think you misunderstood my post…?

  • 22 ned // Jun 13, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Boo #20
    Ha! Read it again. Guess what… I think I did misunderstood your post. Mea colpa. :-)

  • 23 Bill McCreery // Jun 13, 2013 at 10:34 am

    Thank you for posting this important topic Frank, and to you and all for inciteful comments.

    Further to Joseph’s comments above, this is an imposed from above Norquay template. In addition, Grandview-Woodlands and Norquay are not alone.

    70 storey towers and other additional heights and densities are part of the West End Plan. The West End was down zoned when I was involved because we realized that a balance between towers and mid-rise (3 to 6 storeys) was required if the West End was to become a livable urban neighbourhood. Ratcheting up densities there will destroy that balance and the resulting quality of life for West Enders.

    I was informed at a Marpole-Oakridge Community Centre Association Board meeting last night that the Marpole Plan is, you guessed it, another Norquay template. Apparently only 3 or 4 blocks of single family (now 3 family) zoning will remain in Marpole. And, we don’t yet know what’s in store for the very large Pearson Hospital property there.

    Given these cookie cutter plans that are marching across our City, one can only wonder what awaits in a neighbourhood near you?

    Another aspect of the G-W Plan is the deceptive graphic presentation. What are the white areas on the plan? One would not presume that the City intends to demolish the structures and street in these areas, would one? Large portions of those white zones, particularly between Clark and Commercial, are existing multi-family building, many affordable rentals (I designed some), and social housing and industrial. Am I mistaken or does the Plan not also propose higher densities and heights for part of that existing multi-family area as well?

    Wouldn’t it be more forthright for the planners (read Penny Ballem on instruction from Vision Vancouver’s black rooms) to show the proposed density increases, and include present zoning? The present map is a ‘now you see it, now you don’t’ presentation technique. In other words, it’s used to deliberately manipulate the viewer. It appears that this planning process not only is “one being imposed from above”, but it packs in density at every possible opportunity irrespective of “community values”, appropriate context or the idea of being a “good neighbour”.

  • 24 jolson // Jun 13, 2013 at 11:30 am

    Why do we have to continuously redevelop to higher densities? It’s not as if we are on a bicycle and we will fall over if we stop pedaling. Why do we have to suffer from clogged arterials? Why can’t population growth be accommodated in other municipalities? Why don’t we have a regional approach to densification? Why has perpetual construction become a lifestyle? Why? Why? Why?

  • 25 Richard // Jun 13, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    No idea why just the link to the map was posted. Here is more info on the plan that discusses (and likely addresses) some of the concerns:

  • 26 Richard // Jun 13, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    And yet more info on the city’s website:

  • 27 tf // Jun 13, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    Headline on CBC today –
    “Bank of Canada warns on Toronto condo market: High level of unsold units in the pre-construction phase pose ‘elevated’ risk to economy”
    We’re building more, more, more towers of condos – Chinatown, DTES, West End, Grandview-Woodlands, Marpole, Oakridge, Norquay, etc.
    Do you think we’re in danger of the same situation as Toronto?

  • 28 boohoo // Jun 13, 2013 at 12:59 pm


    “Why can’t population growth be accommodated in other municipalities?”

    Are you implying that there is none taking place in other municipalities? Are you implying Vancouver should stop accommodating people? Or…?

    “Why don’t we have a regional approach to densification?”

    We do. We have for decades. The 1996 plan ( that builds off earlier plans talk directly to regional growth. For one reason or another it hasn’t been followed and we’re at where we’re at now.

  • 29 Jak King // Jun 13, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    The Grandview Woodland Area Council has received scores of emails and messages from residents concerned about the draft Community Plan.

    We have, therefore, arranged a public meeting to allow the community to have their say and to ask questions of the planners. The meeting will be at 7pm on July 8th at the Eastside Family Place, William Street & Commercial, next to Grandview Park.

    We encourage everyone to join us, make sure the planners hear our concerns.

    Keep in touch through the GWAC website (

  • 30 rph // Jun 13, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    Jolson #23, population growth is being accommodated in other cities. The City of Richmond is full tilt densification along it’s share of the Canada Line, and in the central city area, limited only by what is allowed under the YVR flight path. Townhome designation exists for all major roads.

    Unlike Vancouver we are not restricted ideologically to social/affordable housing percentages, so this has been a boon to developers.

    And I am sure we are exceeding Vancouver on a percentage basis, of sf detached homes being torn down, and replaced with lot line to lot line three story multi-million dollar sf detached houses that few with a locally earned income can afford.

  • 31 Bill Lee // Jun 13, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    @rph //Jun 13, 2013 at 5:38 pm #29

    You could ask the city
    Obtaining permits for demolition

    Nothing obvious on city cite or Richmond Review.

    One note in BC Business in an article by Colleen Kimmet said: “In 2010, 881 demolition permits were issued by the city, the majority of which were for double- and single-family dwellings”

  • 32 Bill Lee // Jun 13, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    Oops. All the CAs are alike

    And @rph rph //Jun 13, 2013 at 5:38 pm #29
    And here is a set of reports for you to add up, analyze, google or bing maps on the street address and otherwise talk about SFH (Single Family Housing going ‘down’ in bucolic Richmond

  • 33 jenables // Jun 13, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    jak, my understanding was the deadline for public input was July 3rd, but if you already have planners attending…

    can anyone who thinks all this is a good idea tell me a) where the people who are displaced are supposed to live

    b) why it is necessary to do the whole community at once.
    boohoo, I’m not sure this area is familiar to you based on what you said. fifth to Broadway west of commercial is pretty much
    ALL low income apartments.. the single family residential is in a lot of the blank spaces on the map, actually. funny how if there is such demand, then why didn’t the London drugs development at Hastings/penticton happen? They didn’t sell enough units! if this wasn’t about development and profit, you’d see this type of densification all along sixteenth and king Edward on the Westside. this is about making condos out of the cheaper land that current low income housing is on, that’s it, that’s all. people will be displaced, some will enter the system, some will be on the street because there won’t be places they can live for 600-900 a month. Richard, I have the full draft right here. I can look past the feel good frills at the reality and just because you are not personally affected or they throw a bike lane in does not mean it doesn’t matter. shelter is a basic human necessity that should not be compromised. so, a and b, please post your solutions.

  • 34 jenables // Jun 13, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    also, everyman, I agree, I’d love to see one example of a laneway home that would be suitable to, say, a pensioner or someone making 12 dollars an hour or less. Joseph Jones, thanks for the link. love that you put the Rennie quote at the top, sums it up nicely for me as well. there is nothing wrong with the current occupants of a neighborhood wanting to stay in it, nor is there a problem with not wanting to live in the shadow of some wallet’s profit.. it’s not like they have to live with the consequences of their rabid over development.

  • 35 Lewis N. Villegas // Jun 13, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    This is NOT a new thing in our city, although it may be a NEW thing for this generation. Time and again the WRONG plan has been put forth (i.e. the Freeway fight of the 1960s) and the citizens have banded around to stop it.

    Let’s hope we can do it again. However, let’s learn from the past as well. Just ’cause the Freeway fight was won doesn’t mean the war was over.

    Engineering simply diverted the car traffic onto Hastings; the Powell-Cordova one-way coupling; Venables; First Avenue; Broadway; 12th Avenue and to a lesser extent 16th Avenue.

    What community activists in the 1960s did not win was a viable alternative to the automobile commute. Here are 5 principles to keep in mind when considering the redevelopment of our historic neighbourhoods:

    Following on the principles for ‘good’ urbanism, if community groups succeed in curbing the leeching of Downtown tower urbanism into their midst, they’d better stick around for rounds two, three, four, five, etc. of the slug fest to follow. The big developers are not going quietly into the night.

    For them, it is a fight for survival.

    What we really need to expose is that towers outside of the downtown DO NOT support social functioning at the neighbourhood level.

    The issue here is not density. Outside the downtown we can easily achieve tower densities by laying the tower on its side.

    No, the issue we are facing is social functioning measured at the neighbourhood level. Bring in the downtown tower-and-podium to the neighbourhoods and—as jenables has it—displace those who can ill afford to relocate.

    On the one hand all the arterials I mentioned earlier (beginning with Hastings) are choking with cars. Transit implementation should be a first step towards making these streets function at levels that support livability (and personal safety).

    The second step should be a formula where it is more desirable to build 3 units on 300 different lots than 900 units in just one project.

    The third step must cut the heads off the Hydra that is pushing this crazy stuff: the CACs contributions. Rezoning for CACs is killing our neighbourhoods.

    Yet, that is what is being rammed down our throats with every new CD-1 redevelopment scheme.

    Until we discover how to have a community conversation that allows just-plain-folks to weigh in on these issues Vancouver urbanism will stay perched on a dangerous and slippery slope tilted to the advantage of mega-developers.

    We can’t build ‘good’ urbanism like that!

  • 36 Don D // Jun 14, 2013 at 2:35 am

    I lived in this area for years and still spend several hours a day in it. I know this is totally unscientific, anecdotal, etc., but based on the the number of people (and the energy level) on the the streets, in the parks, lining up at the Santa Barbara deli counter and so on, this has always struck me as being a pretty damned dense neighbourhood already – in its own quiet 9-people-sharing-a rental-house-ilegal-basement-suites-way.

    I suspect that a lot more people actually live here than officially live here.

    I think that the concern of many posters is not that the City wants to increase density, it’s that the City wants to replace affordable density with upscale density.

  • 37 jenables // Jun 14, 2013 at 3:18 am

    interesting thing I learned in regards to cars.. wasn’t the cov involved with the boheme/millennium condos on Hastings? did anyone see the promo -buy a condo, we’ll give you a fiat? hahaha

  • 38 Roger Kemble // Jun 14, 2013 at 5:13 am

    Why do we have to continuously redevelop to higher densities? It’s not as if we are on a bicycle and we will fall over if we stop pedaling.

    The reason Jolson @ #23 is because hard real estate, among other tangibles, precious metals etc., has taken the place of paper money. The US$ as reserve currency has lost credibility: the C$, essentially an appendage to the US$, follows.

    At a higher strata than community actual cash in the bank has eroded at such a rate it no longer has value. On the other hand tangible assets, i.e. empty condos, over the long term, do!

    Thousands of empty condos in towers are a tangible asset to those who have more money than is needed to fulfill the necessities of life.

    I acknowledge this to be a pretty abstract notion. Nevertheless Vancouver, essentially and over populated, over grown coaling jetty with a benign population, pacified in non-productive occupations, is an ideal place to park dormant capital that other wise would be eroded by inflation.

    The purpose of government in this situation, along with its compliant media, is to keep the lid on for as long as possible: 160 planners busily distracting us with imminently forgettable meetings after meetings after meetings . . .

    Council patiently listens with ear plugs firmly in place.

    Indeed remedial actions necessary for you and I are so horrifying to contemplate we occupy ourselves gossiping.

    As they say south of the border, ¡asi es la vida!

  • 39 Chris Keam // Jun 14, 2013 at 8:02 am

    I couldn’t speak to the ways in which one might impact housing prices, but if one of the chief problems with housing in Metro Vancouver is affordability, I do note that the most effective way to have some semblance of leverage over one’s income is through collective bargaining.

    I’m sure the very notion will offend many, but the reality is that for average wage earners, (and all the professions who utilize collective bargaining to set fees), it’s a good way to try to ensure income keeps pace with prices.

  • 40 Norman // Jun 14, 2013 at 8:06 am

    One of the positive things to come out of this block busting exercise by city hall is that our community is uniting to fight it. I think we can maintain this level of anger at least until the next civic election. At the very least, we will show our current council that we will be consulted whether they want it or not.

  • 41 boohoo // Jun 14, 2013 at 8:49 am


    “I think we can maintain this level of anger at least until the next civic election.”

    Being angry for a year, just to vote them out so you can vote someone else in….what’s that going to accomplish?

    Vision was voted in largely because they were not in the pocket of developers like the NPA was. Well surprise surprise, they are the same thing. And you except the next group to be any different?


    “The second step should be a formula where it is more desirable to build 3 units on 300 different lots than 900 units in just one project”

    Surely there is a middle ground? This all or nothing mentality of both sides is getting us nowhere fast.

    “The third step must cut the heads off the Hydra that is pushing this crazy stuff: the CACs contributions. Rezoning for CACs is killing our neighbourhoods.”

    For the love of me, I don’t know why Vancouver insists on doing this the hard way. I guess it’s cause they like to play chicken with developers? Other cities successfully implement fixed contributions at a $/unit that pay for libraries, playgrounds, etc…. So you know how much you’re going to owe rather than a ‘negotiated’ amount. Why does Vancouver avoid this?

  • 42 Bill // Jun 14, 2013 at 9:38 am

    @Chris Keam #38

    “I do note that the most effective way to have some semblance of leverage over one’s income is through collective bargaining.”

    This was perhaps a good strategy before a globalized economy and where labour was mostly unskilled or semi skilled and interchangeable.

    Unionization in the private sector has declined because it cannot secure jobs in a globalized economy and with more jobs requiring greater skill, workers want to be compensated for their skills and not reduced to the lowest common denominator.

    Unionization is greatest in the public sector because the jobs can’t leave the country and politicians lack the courage to explore contracting out.

  • 43 Brian // Jun 14, 2013 at 11:09 am

    @ jenables, Everyman,

    I know a couple who live in a laneway house just off the Drive. Its not much to look at from the outside, but the converted garage is a compact, livable, affordable space. They are both artists in their mid-twenties. I’ve known others that have lived in similar laneway houses that are comparable in price and superior in quality to basement suites. I think the problem is that when you hear ‘laneway house’ you think only of the ones that make the covers of magazines, when there are plenty of converted garages out there providing good, affordable living space.

  • 44 Bill McCreery // Jun 14, 2013 at 11:45 am

    boo @40.

    “Vision was voted in largely because they were not in the pocket of developers like the NPA was. Well surprise surprise, they are the same thing. And you except the next group to be any different?

    I agree. The NPA and TEAM are birds of a feather. Look at their Council voting record. The only true opposition on the present council is Cllr. Carr.

    However, TEAM in the 70’s and 80’s was different. We were not in the pocket of developers or any other special interest. The TEAM of today is not and will not be either. We will be fielding candidates in 2014. We are a grass roots organization that is committed to putting the community back into community planning.

  • 45 boohoo // Jun 14, 2013 at 12:59 pm


    Yeah ‘grassroots’ doesn’t really mean anything any more. I get quite suspicious of anyone who says they are ‘grassroots’. Maybe you should say you’re organic too :)

    In fact, where did I see recently someone was saying they are ‘grassroots’…

    “Gregor Robertson and Vision Vancouver are relying on the grassroots support of people like you.”

    Yeah. No offense, but same shit, different pile.

  • 46 Bill McCreery // Jun 14, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    Thanks boo. I appreciate your constructive comment.

  • 47 jolson // Jun 14, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    City Planners are illustrating a particular world view. This plan if built out would increase the Grandview-Woodlands population by many tens of thousands of people. This world view requires the constant demolition and re-construction of the City to ever higher densities and servicing complexity. It displaces thousands of people. It alienates the environment.

    We would do much better in reducing our environmental impact if we were to build new towns. The proposed population density of Grandview-Woodlands is that of a small town. Such places can be located on bare land within the transportation and infrastructure network of the region. They can be designed to be economically self supporting. They can be designed to have zero environmental impact. There really are other world views to consider.

  • 48 boohoo // Jun 14, 2013 at 3:34 pm


    Bare land within the transportation and infrastructure network of the region….where?

    City planners aren’t illustrating a particular world view. That’s the world view of our entire society. Our entire society is based on growth. Without a complete and utter upheaval of our entire social and economic structure, the notion that growth is essential will remain. I don’t know what fantasy land you think you can plop a small town into that will have zero negative impact?

  • 49 Bill Lee // Jun 14, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    I guess the last chance to see and enjoy Commercial Drive, the center of the Grandview Woodlands neighbourhood is this Sunday’s booze-up (Car-freeish Day) from noon, 16 June 2013.

    With the haste that Vision is pushing so-called “votes” (for their moneyed land speculator friends), by next year the bulldozers will have leveled much of it for tasteless, flat to the street condos with empty shops.

  • 50 boohoo // Jun 14, 2013 at 3:39 pm


    “by next year the bulldozers will have leveled much of it for tasteless, flat to the street condos with empty shops”

    Can I quote you on that in a year? Or are ridiculous exaggerations the rage nowadays.

  • 51 jolson // Jun 14, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    When thinking about the future, we are only limited by our imagination. Building new cities offers an opportunity to solve many problems simultaneously.

  • 52 boohoo // Jun 14, 2013 at 4:04 pm


    Where are you going to put a new City? How would that be ‘greener’ than redevelopment? I don’t even know that you’re being serious?

  • 53 Bill McCreery // Jun 14, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    In the 70’s the Downtown was down zoned a bit and more site responsive conditional use zoning put in place.

    Meanwhile at the newly formed GVRD Vancouver encouraged the development of suburban town centres such as Metro Town, Coquitlam and Surrey. Those centres have taken many years to start to bloom, but today they are beginning to fill out and get the required critical mass to attract other commercial/office uses to them.

    That’s making cities out of suburbs where people can begin to live closer to their work, thereby reducing their commute time and travel carbon foot print.

  • 54 Chris Keam // Jun 14, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    @Bill #41

    The problem with your analysis is that you ignore the overall trend and mistake the detour for the journey. Overall we are moving toward greater adoption of collective efforts on almost every front… because it works. Although I commend you for pointing out that there are some companies that don’t appear to to place much value on their role in contributing to a higher standard of living in their major markets.

  • 55 Lewis N. Villegas // Jun 14, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    Is there a real concrete alternative to the redevelopment of our neighbourhoods? Or is tower-and-podium the only solution?

    It’s ‘yes’ to the first one, and ‘no’ to the second.

    Towers outside the downtown don’t work, and they are not necessary to create socially functioning urbanism.

    It is a fallacy to believe that we must build towers in order to build urban density. Experts the world over point to some very obvious examples of urban neighbourhoods that don’t have towers.

    Let’s name a few:

    San Francisco’s North Beach; NYC Greenwich Village; most neighbourhoods in Montreal; Cabbage Town, Toronto; Niagara on the Lake; New Orleans and the Garden District; Charlottetown; the Market District in Winnipeg; the Hydrostones in Halifax; etc.

    So, if we are going to take up the fight in the Drive (and at Mount Pleasant, and every other neighbourhood outside the downtown CBD), then lets be clear on this one issue: we are all for density in a well planned urban contexts.

    However, we’re not fools enough to swallow that it requires either towers, or CD-1 rezonings. It requires ‘good’ urban planning. A change in government may be necessary to bring that about. The planners are clearly NOT running the show. The professional class has been handed its marching orders.


    As to the sad comment about one pile of dung and another pile of dung… boohoo your postings are just one after another after another!

  • 56 boohoo // Jun 14, 2013 at 11:10 pm


    Regarding political parties, am I wrong?

  • 57 Roger Kemble // Jun 15, 2013 at 1:39 am

    Towers outside the downtown don’t work, and they are not necessary to create socially functioning urbanism.

    Please, Lewis @ #54, please, not again: you have some pretty good ideas but . . . “ not necessary to create socially functioning urbanism.” Well, errrrr, even jail houses develop, over time, a twisted form of a socially functioning urbanism!

    What exactly do you mean “Towers outside the downtown don’t work“. “Don’t work?” Do you mean the roof leaks or maybe mixed use makes for structural instability or temperamental elevators?

    One thing about good urbanism Lewis stay open . . .

    . . . to diverse creativity.

    I’m looking at Kerrisdale: several towers there, mostly occupied by OAP’s like me, and when they have the opportunity to speak evidently they favour.

    Oakridge juxtaposed with shopping, for at least fifty years, works too: evidently the mix is very convenient. That’s way out of downtown. Tom Terrific’s Y shaped thingie on the south end of Burrard Bridge has not caused upheavals to a socially functioning urbanism in Kits: I lived there for fifteen years.

    I have lived fourteen years on the tenth floor of a seventeen story tower on the extreme periphery of the old town here: my neighbours and I, we love it!

    Bill @#52, is onto something: “Those centres have taken many years to start to bloom, says but today they are beginning to fill out and get the required critical mass to attract other commercial/office uses to them.

    Thanqu Bill, of course good urban design is diversity of purpose, function, form, movement and space: especially at ground level between buildings: takes time.

    Vancouver is a city in embryo: its architect, planners and developers have yet to mature. Besides . . .

    the problems we live with in this city have nothing to do with high/low and more to do with inherent bad policy and an inherited ethos of out-dated land ownership. Vancouver is not a place were new ideas blossom!

    Indeed, it is time the city incrementalize around its traditional neighbourhoods thus addressing the issue: getting there or being there!

    I have tried to explain in 37 what generates and motivates city builders in the early twenty-first century and it has got sweet nothing to do with commodity, firmness and delight . . . or form, function and human habitat!

    We humans are most adaptable organisms: we can make anything fit given time. We are also complacent and usually fall for the nostrums of those who thinq in straight lines . . . On the west coast, we are not ready for good urbanism yet!

    One thing doesn’t work in the city Lewis: dogma!

  • 58 Norman // Jun 15, 2013 at 7:50 am

    @jak King: Please explain how the Grandview Woodlands Area Council came into being, when and how the members were chosen and why we are hearing about it for the first time now.

  • 59 Jak King // Jun 15, 2013 at 7:57 am

    GWAC was formed in the spring of 1964 and has been in active existence ever since. GWAC was behind the formation of Britannia, the Info Centre, MOSAIC etc etc and were key players in the 1980 Community Plan, and have been closely monitoring and reporting on this years version. Not sure why you haven’t heard of it before, but we have well-attended meetings every month in GV. Come join us on the 8th and see who we are.

  • 60 brilliant // Jun 15, 2013 at 9:12 am

    @boohoo 40-at least the NPA put a moratorium on tearing down affordable rental buildings. Vision has taken the brakes off even that.

  • 61 Roger Kemble // Jun 15, 2013 at 9:33 am

    I don’t know why Frank you choose GVW to illustrate the city’s push for densification.

    Is it because you listen to Bob Rennie?

    Every time Bob gets up on his two hind legs he chants “go east as if it is the only remaining virgin territory, the ONLY opportunities left for densification in the city.

    How come he misses Shaughnessy? In the sixties and early seventies it was rooming houses, rentals and run down front lawns!

    I lived in Shaughnessy for fourteen years in the 80’s and 90’s.

    I attended all the CITYPLAN deliberations with Bill Lane: I cannot remember one word that challenged the status quo.

    There’s an abundance of left over space in Shaughnessy ripe for densification: the Crescent is but one!

    Hallowed ground I suppose!

  • 62 Jak King // Jun 15, 2013 at 9:38 am

    Good point. Many of the GW residents are complaining that so much densification is coming t the east side when there is so much available space on the west side. They call for more balance in this rush to grow.

  • 63 Bill McCreery // Jun 15, 2013 at 10:13 am

    Don’t think it’s “hallowed ground” Roger. It’s land cost. As ridiculous as land prices are in East Van @ $1M / 33 footer, they’re 2 1/2 times that on the West Side.

  • 64 Bill McCreery // Jun 15, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Having said that, it is the role of the City to create a liveability balance in and between neighbourhoods across the City. Has Vision Vancouver been doing that over the past 5 years?

    Would/will they impose the Norquay template on Point Grey?

    That would be politically, and even legally, more difficult because there are fewer renters, immigrants who don’t do well with English, and a higher education level, all of which create a more formidable critical mass of people who will care enough to inform themselves and can articulate what they see as best for them.

    Just as in its rampant opportunistic spot rezonings, it appears Vision Vancouver is now at a neighbourhood level, engaging in opportunistic, top down planning. And, this is not being done to “create a liveability balance in and between neighbourhoods across the City” is it? It’s being done because they think they can get away with it.

    Here’s the link to see what the City is proposing for Marpole:

    It’s another now you see it, now you don’t technique. In their presentation the neighbourhood is divided into corridors, etc. so you don’t realize the full impact unless you deliberately take the time to put it all together, and that’s difficult enough to do for a professional, much less an average citizen.

  • 65 Bill // Jun 15, 2013 at 11:29 am

    @Chris Keam #53
    “Overall we are moving toward greater adoption of collective efforts on almost every front… because it works.”

    It will come as a shock to the thousands of non-union organizations that they really should unionize if they want to achieve a “collective effort”. Of course, unionization will more likely be an impediment to an organization depending on how poorly the collective agreement is written. A well managed company will find ways to align the individual interests of maximizing compensation through incentive plans with the overall goals of the organization. Turn individuals loose to maximize their personal gain that also furthers the goals of the organization and you have a winning combination. Difficult, if not impossible in a union environment.

    Unions recognize this change in the work environment and they hold on to their power through infringements on personal freedoms like the closed shop. And it’s why they oppose the secret ballot for certification.

    For the private sector, this change is more than a detour.

    (For the record, Chris has once again drifted off topic but his comments are too outrageously wrong to ignore)

  • 66 Julia // Jun 15, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    Roger 61 – right next to Shaughnessy is South Granville which is jammed packed with 3 storey walk up rental housing. Density happened there decades ago. Yes, at some point that beautiful heritage rental stock will have to come down but hopefully, not for a long while.

    Something nobody has mentioned, is while all this density is happening in GW, the land value pressure on the commercial side of the equation is going nuts as well. The cost pressures on existing tenants who serve the community in those little shops is astronomic given they pay property taxes on potential ranther than current use.

    Do not be shocked when the small neighbourhood stores start vanishing. City Council could care less – they get their money and their CACs and their green agenda and all those folks who buy or rent housing in that area will discover what they bought and what they actually get are two different things.

  • 67 Ned // Jun 15, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    Roger #61
    Man, you nailed it!
    “Every time Bob gets up on his two hind legs he chants “go east as if it is the only remaining virgin territory, the ONLY opportunities left for densification in the city.
    How come he misses Shaughnessy? In the sixties and early seventies it was rooming houses, rentals and run down front lawns!”
    What I would like to know too!

  • 68 jenables // Jun 15, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    Brian, I am curious to know specifically if that laneway house could be affordable to someone, say, on disability; you say the people who live there are artists in their twenties- do their parents pay their rent? Sorry if that sounded rude, it’s not meant to.

    Bill M, i think you meant to say NPA and VISION were birds of a feather above:)

    BOohoo, I’ve never questioned your supposed impartiality more. The problem I have with your attitude is that it convinces in a mocking manner for people to accept an extremely low standard of governance. You’ve also implied no one could possibly run the city better than how it is currently run, but stated you didn’t vote for those currently holding office. My issue on this is pretty clear; low income people will lose their homes. Are you stating that it is physically impossible for this to NOT happen, that council HAS to approve the zoning? Do you not think that if a council majority did not receive huge donations (but extremely cheap in terms of selling off an entire city) from development, and did not give out massive tax breaks to developers that they would be inclined to do such a thing when it is neither sustainable or responsible? If these are the standards you have set for yourself, I think it’s pretty sad, but acting as though everyone should shut up and take it is a different matter entirely. I really don’t see how your statements are coming from an impartial position.

  • 69 jenables // Jun 15, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    Julia, shaugnessy has the lowest density of any neighborhood in Vancouver.

  • 70 jenables // Jun 15, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    I guess you meant Fairview, sorry I misunderstood.

  • 71 tedeastside // Jun 15, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    Vancouver is not growing at all… it doesnt have the wages and job opportunity like Toronto or Calgary

  • 72 Threadkiller // Jun 15, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    @Julia #66:
    The “small neighbourhood stores” have been vanishing all over the city in recent years, especially in the perennially trendy neighbourhoods: Kitsilano, the West End, the Drive, SoMa, et. al. Where have you been?

    But I agree with you that City Council could care less– as the chain stores continue to fester and spread like buboes on a plague victim, eventually the city will come to resemble one big shopping mall. While City Hall continues its Alfred E.Neuman routine… “What, us worry?”

  • 73 Chris Keam // Jun 15, 2013 at 3:24 pm


    Sorry, but ideology can’t trump facts. There are more workers in union positions now than compared to the advent of capitalism. Collective associations of every kind are probably more numerous now than at any time in history. Further, it’s common refrain on this blog that the only ‘average’ people who can afford to live in Vancouver are Vision’s unionized pals — to paraphrase the usual rhetoric. That’s why I’m both right and absolutely on topic. Much easier for a working person to impact their wages and standard of living than to reverse the trend of rising costs in the housing market. And when it comes to guaranteeing a good wage, negotiating as a group is the best course of action in nearly all situations.

  • 74 F.H.Leghorn // Jun 15, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    CK thinks :”negotiating as a group is the best course of action in nearly all situations”. Except the situation when taxpayers can no longer afford wages extorted by a protection racket and their governments outlaw strikes.
    Or the situation when another group offers lower rates.
    Or the situation in which an individual has unique abilities, qualifications or experience.
    Or the situation in which an individual plans carefully and trains for a profession in a field with actual jobs at the end of school.
    Or a situation in which someone with talent sees the deadwood advancing along with him because salary is based solely on seniority.
    Or when the other group in the negotiations has all the power and doesn’t need to negotiate. They can dictate terms.
    Of course all of those situations are just awful. Nonetheless they reflect reality. How does collective action make a difference then?
    If you don’t know ask Occupy.

  • 75 F.H.Leghorn // Jun 15, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    I hate to split hairs or pick nits but : “more numerous now than at any time in history” or “more workers in union positions now than compared to the advent of capitalism”. Just exactly when was that and where. And your source for that claim?

  • 76 Bill // Jun 15, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    @Chris Keam #73

    You choose your words and facts carefully but they do not make the case you are advancing.

    “There are more workers in union positions now than compared to the advent of capitalism.”

    Capitalism came first and unionization was a response so of course there are more workers in union positions – there were none to begin with. Unions were a rational response to a situation where a surplus of unskilled interchangeable labour was at the mercy of the owners who also dominated the political landscape. Today more and more jobs are skilled enabling labour to differentiate their individual value to an organization and the political process is open to all.

    “Collective associations of every kind are probably more numerous now than at any time in history”

    This is also probably true but while every union is a collective association, not every collective association is a union – they are not synonymous. It is a fact that union membership is in decline – Google it and you will find no shortage of references.

  • 77 Lewis N. Villegas // Jun 15, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    Don’t think it’s “hallowed ground” Roger. It’s land cost. As ridiculous as land prices are in East Van @ $1M / 33 footer, they’re 2 1/2 times that on the West Side.

    Bill McCreary 63

    Here’s one I don’t understand. We are at a period in time when couples with two salaries can only afford to rent. The ‘dream’ of home ownership is slipping away. There is a danger there that a community of renters and strata property owners will not provide the same level of vigilance at City Hall and levels higher up as a community of home owners.

    The governments seem helpless to curb it.

    Is it pressure from land speculation unleashed from all the CD-1 redevelopment? Or the condos raising the floor on entry level ownership? Is it the low price of borrowing money? Is it an international mechanism setting the price? Is it that Vancouver has become one of four or five ‘world class cities’? Is it price fixing? Have buyers overseas created more demand than we can handle? I’ve heard each one of these theories proffered at one time or another.

    I think most troubling of all, how is it possible that the laws of supply and demand have been distorted for so long?


    Roger, Translink is suggesting that there is little correlation between high-density at the station (TOD) and higher ridership. I am suggesting that there is little correlation between giga-density at Oakridge (or anywhere outside the downtown) and urbanism.

    Where is the job space? The shopping—yeah, beyond the ONE place. The dining, the entertainment, the cultural venues & museums, the walkable landscapes and memorable places? The urban rooms and the human-scale build out?

    Nowhere in Oakridge because it is still a suburb. Adding density (and doubling the retail) will not change that. Need proof? Look at the parking loads…

    Piling on density does NOT make urbanism. You need more jam than JUST body heat-n-shoppin’.

  • 78 Chris Keam // Jun 15, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    @Leghorn and Bill:

    “Capitalism came first and unionization was a response”

    Guilds (the first unions) started to appear in medieval times.

    “This is also probably true but while every union is a collective association, not every collective association is a union – they are not synonymous.”

    I’m not suggesting they are, simply that collective action for a common cause is a growing trend.

    “Today more and more jobs are skilled enabling labour to differentiate their individual value to an organization”

    Yet I don’t see many doctors (rather a skilled position) aiming to cut themselves from the herd. Or a host of other skilled positions, some of which negotiate individual contracts when it’s sensible for both parties (the movie industry has many examples).

    ““more numerous now than at any time in history” or “more workers in union positions now than compared to the advent of capitalism”.

    These are both true statements and obvious to anyone who is paying attention. Please go count some paved over playing fields and then we can talk.

    “It is a fact that union membership is in decline”

    Yes, the detour not the journey. One has to look beyond a few decades when seeking insight into human history. The bottom line is that humanity continues to trend ‘left’ to use the political shorthand, even our current Conservative gov’t enacts and proposes policies that would be anathema to the right-wing not very long ago.

  • 79 boohoo // Jun 15, 2013 at 7:24 pm



    I’ve never claimed to be impartial…? It has taken a few years and the accusations of being a vision spy have finally ceased, but that’s it.

    I absolutely do not believe we should accept a low standard of governance. I’m sorry if my message is lost in the snark, that’s something I should work on.

    My point is in the current political climate, with parties and not individuals making decisions, we are doomed to a low standard of governance. It’s the lowest common denominator.

    I absolutely have not implied the city couldn’t be run better. Of course it could, it could always be better.

    If you are referring to my claim of never having voted for a winner–that’s Provincial and Federal. Municipally I did vote for some of the current ones, and others who did not win. With so many running it’s hard to be 0 for.

    I’ve never stated this plan HAS to occur, nor have I said council HAS to approve the plan. Your whole post is full of weird assumptions.

    I guess my overall point, and why I am so skeptical of ‘grassroots’ Bill is that it’s the same old thing over and over. It’s insanity to think a party, borne of the same political climate would be somehow miraculously different that those that came before. I mean what evidence is there that would prove me wrong? I would love to be wrong! But I don’t think I am.

    Again, I’ve never said I was impartial, perhaps to this plan specifically as I don’t have a direct horse in the Grandview race, but it certainly impacts my City and future decisions that this government makes. But I lived/am living through the Cambie Corridor Plan, a plan I did not support and still don’t understand, I know, as best as you can, all about how this thing works (or doesn’t really).

    People shouldn’t ‘shut up and take it’, you’ve wildly missed my point, I will try and be clearer. But I do believe that the NPA, vision, or whatever party you vote for, it will be the same thing. Again, I would love to be proven wrong.

  • 80 Bill McCreery // Jun 15, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    Boo, was not the TEAM of the 70’s and 80’s “miraculously different that [assume you meant 'than'] those that came before”? If you were to agree, then logically a TEAM today could also achieve such an impossible feat.

  • 81 Jay // Jun 15, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    Why does everyone act like the whole city is being blanketed with high density tower neighborhoods when clearly it is not. The vast majority of the city are detached homes, and it will remain that way for decades to come. This city, especially, needs high density nodes.

    There shouldn’t be any argument that high density neighborhoods are suitable around high capacity transit hubs, and the Comercial/Broadway area will have the highest transit capacity in the city once the Broadway line gets built (and it will get built). The inbound/outbound capacity for Broadway station will be over 100 000 people per hour per direction as there will be rapid transit radiating outwards in 4 directions. That kind of capacity demands high density, so with that kind of capacity in mind, this community plan looks very much on the modest side.

  • 82 Brian // Jun 15, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    @68 jenables – no, they pay their rent. I don’t know how else to explain it to you. The place seems reasonably well built, but not much to look at, just like a good cheap basement apartment. And the rent is reasonable. Or, Vancouver-reasonable.

  • 83 Julia // Jun 15, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    Threadkiller 72 – where have I been. Actually, I have been saying exactly the same thing on this blog and to anyone who will listen since 2005. Sadly, nobody seems to care.

  • 84 Everyman // Jun 16, 2013 at 8:18 am

    @Jay 81
    Commercial & Broadway may have high transit capacity, but its no Cambie & Broadway for the simple reason there’s little in the way of employment centred around it. And as far as I can tell this GW plan does nothing to change that, it merely creates a high rise bedroom community.

  • 85 jolson // Jun 16, 2013 at 11:01 am

    The Biosphere and Urbanization
    We need to ask questions that flow from a larger frame of reference if we are going to truly be the Greenest City on the Planet.

    For example;
    What is the current population of this neighbourhood?
    What would be the population if current zoning is built out?
    What would be the population if the proposal before us is built out?

    I would hazard a guess that the proposed “community plan” will accommodate at least 30,000 more people. (Perhaps Frank can clarify these questions?) In any case this is a significant urbanization process, a small town by most standards.

    If we proceed with business as usual we will produce environmental impacts that are unacceptable. The environment has changed as a result of human activity, which means that we have to change the way we go about things.

    We have the opportunity to build a new green city for 30,000 people using current best practices. Why don’t we do that and leave the neighbourhoods to quietly evolve under existing zoning? Why? Why? Why not?

  • 86 teririch // Jun 16, 2013 at 11:18 am

    @Julia #83

    I know you have been speaking out about the loss of biz in Kits and along Broadway.

    I don’t see it getting better in the near future.

    One of the little mom and pop shops in my area is in the process of renegotiating their lease, but the Hong Kong landlords aren’t being overly flexible. This shop is at risk of leaving too.

    West 4th is turning into another Robson St. where only chain stores, with $$ behind them can afford to exist.

    Funny, people speak out about our natural resouces being taken over by foreign lands, yet, I would bet the better part of Vancouver is foreign owned.

    Densifying areas will not lead to affordable housing solutions for the general population. It will lead to further investment opportunites for those that can afford to gobble them up.

    The way I see if, Vision Vancouer is working hard at keepingVancouver in the #1 spot for the most expensive city to live in.

    On a separate note and back to Kits… if you do venture down, there is a new little eatery at the corner of W 4th and Cypress – Tractor. Great fresh food – soups, sandwhiches, salads. I tried the jicama,watercress and pink grapefruit salad yesterday – it was fab! Shop local – shop often. :)

  • 87 Bill // Jun 16, 2013 at 11:22 am

    @Chris Keam #78

    “Guilds (the first unions) started to appear in medieval times.”

    Guilds bear as much resemblance to trade unions as they do to modern cartels like OPEC. Yes, they represent collective action but that’s about it. Evidence of trade goes back to the 2nd millenium BC but I would hardly call that capitalism nor would I call guilds trade unions.

    “Yet I don’t see many doctors (rather a skilled position) aiming to cut themselves from the herd”

    The BCMA is a rational response to a monopolistic purchaser. As well, doctors cannot differentiate their skills effectively since the payer of the service is not the consumer of the service. We don’t have private health care which would lead to different choices.

    “Yes, the detour not the journey. One has to look beyond a few decades when seeking insight into human history”

    Detour? This great wave of collective action is washing across the planet yet union membership is going in the other direction and it is just a detour? Reminds me of climate Alarmists who, in the face of 17 years of no warming despite the growing emissions of CO2, declare that AGW is just on hiatus, a detour if you like.

    You misread the signs, Chris. Progressives focus on the collective when they should look to the individual. This may include collective action if it advances their individual interests but it is the power of individuals that drives progress. (some institutions, like trade unions, are hard to unwind once they outlive their usefulness). I suppose the mediocre can find some refuge in seeking the collective as an end goal rather than simply aligned interests to maximize personal well being.

  • 88 Norman // Jun 16, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    “GWAC was formed in the spring of 1964 and has been in active existence ever since” Interesting. My questions remain unanswered. Are they supposed to “represent” me? Do I have a voice about who they are?

  • 89 Boohoo // Jun 16, 2013 at 2:06 pm


    Where? Are you going to live there or is that for ‘other people’?


    I’m too young to know anything about Vancouver politics in the 1970’s. My lived experience is basically what we see today.

  • 90 F.H.Leghorn // Jun 16, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    Chris is worried about whether or not Vancouver schools provide on-site employee parking. He’s not worried enough to go and take a look, or to try (as I did) to get the info from the Board (“that’s confidential”), but he might find this interesting:

  • 91 Jak King // Jun 16, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    Norman: Of course you do. We have public meetings every month and an AGM every year when the Board is elected by all members. If you are not there, you are possibly not represented, but we have enough members for us to believe we represent a good portion of our neighbourhood.

  • 92 jenables // Jun 16, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Brian thanks for the info. It’s good to know there are people enjoying reasonably priced housing of any form.
    Jolson, gw has a current population of under 30,000. I don’t think your estimate of what they want to add is inaccurate. There isn’t much reason to believe they could build that, at a great social cost to the neighborhood then find that those units get occupied by the current residents … If they are occupied at all! Once again putting investment before the needs of the people who actually live here. It’s truly astounding how much energy people have to spend these days just trying to access information, let alone protect their neighborhoods. And still no one has answered for where the people who are displaced will go. Boohoo, you do run the risk of promoting the kind of culture you are so dismayed with. Sorry if I misunderstood, also I thought you mentioned voting for a slate of independent candidates at some point, which is why I said what I did about you not voting for them.

  • 93 teririch // Jun 16, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    Had a good giggle this afternoon. I was out and about and over heard a young couple talking about buying a boat to live on versus buying a condo because they could get a bigger space for the same amount of $$.

    Congrats to the architects of the micro-lofts and the CoV for promoting them. You have created a new description of ‘boat people’.

  • 94 Bill Lee // Jun 16, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    @teririch // Jun 16, 2013 at 11:18 am #86

    Wandered along Main St. from 30th (bike route) to Broadway (good enough bike route) today for the Car-Free festival.
    Counted 18 empty store fronts.

    Kits Bizness Improvement(!) Association (Bars! Always promote bars and drinking places for depressed singles) highlighted 28 new businesses earlier in the year when promoting 4th Avenue. Since they don’t ‘build’ new shops but take over old locations. that means that there was a 10% turnover, at least. (Some shops will be handed over to others holus-bolus, like restaurants and the change won’t be noticeable.)
    The recent closure of much of 4th Avenue for sewer renewal, (why not sewer moving to other part (up-down, sideways) of the street? may have done in some shops this spring.

    The declared drab standard of shops now appearing around Fraser and 25th and along Main street, such as the new Main and 29th 4423 Main of 5 storeys (top story set back) is appalling. The steel and glass and a token glass awning is distinctly street unfriendly. This was the fight over moving the wooden front of the East is Best to the new location next to the LCB store there did improve the street texture.
    I first noticed this dreadful city style on 41st and Dunbar on the south side.
    Then it kills the street traffic on Victoria at 40th. Ugly, rapid turn over in stores, and no effective rain cover awnings.

    The whole city will be deadened by this stupid “renewal density” push by the city.

    As was noticed in Friday’s TV documentary ” Ou vas tu, Vancouver?” show on CBUF, Vancouver is arts unfriendly and distinctly lonely. Madame Bula interviews at the half hour and the end of the program.
    Bob Rennie gets in kicks at the Federal government lack of effort in city arts.

  • 95 Alex // Jun 16, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    You know the new condo towers of today will be the more affordable options in 3o years. You want to know why rents are too high? Look to the NIMBYs of yesteryear.

    Flood the market with supply, and eventually rents and condo prices will drop. Blame zoning from the 50’s and 60’s, not leaders who are willing to push through some desperately needed zoning changes.

    Read “The Rent is Too Damn High” by Matthew Yglesias.

  • 96 Lewis N. Villegas // Jun 16, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    There shouldn’t be any argument that high density neighborhoods are suitable around high capacity transit hubs, and the Comercial/Broadway area will have the highest transit capacity in the city once the Broadway line gets built (and it will get built). The inbound/outbound capacity for Broadway station will be over 100 000 people per hour per direction … That kind of capacity demands high density, so with that kind of capacity in mind, this community plan looks very much on the modest side.

    Jay 81

    Hi density does not demand towers, Jay. Outside the downtown, towers are a bad fit.

    And density is not the only fact that determines ‘good’ urbanism.

    Answer me this one: Why is Mt. Pleasant being called a hill town?

  • 97 teririch // Jun 16, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    @Lewis N.Villegas #95:

    The one thing that the Broadway Line will greatly impact should it be built and that door opened to ‘desnity’ – student housing.

    Once the density door is opened along this corridor, sutdent housing (UBC) will become either at apremium cost or non-existant. Again, down to realestate specuation and investment and I would put money on it, that it is not Canadian $$ behind it.

    Students will be scambling for housing.

  • 98 Lewis N. Villegas // Jun 16, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    @jolson 85

    Finally, someone with enough courage to speak facts…..

    … if we are going to truly be the Greenest City on the Planet.

    Well, no. It really doesn’t matter WHAT metric we use—save for wearing green tights in Neverland—we are NOT going to be the Greenest City on the Planet… But we can be pretty damn good.

    (1) What is the current population of this neighbourhood? (2) What would be the population if current zoning is built out? (3) What would be the population if the proposal before us is built out?

    Excellent questions.

    1. Mount Pleasant is about 8 pedestrian sheds large. My guess is that it is home to about 20,000 people. A google search returns 25,000.

    2. That question was asked of Council at least a year ago, and no answer has come back as far as I know.

    3. That tally should be the sub-heading of the first sheet of the plan, or the plan really has no credibility at all.

    I would hazard a guess that the proposed “community plan” will accommodate at least 30,000 more people.

    That’s really the issue, Jolson: Do we need to build towers to intensify Mount Pleasant by 30,000 people? Say, 2.2 people per unit (11 every 5 units).

    Why are we looking to house 21% of the Metro 2040 population growth for Vancouver in just little-ol’ Mount Pleasant?

    City of Vancouver has about 100 buildable pedestrian sheds or quartiers. Mount Pleasant represents just 8% of that!

    A quartierbuilt of 3.5 storey row houses would deliver sufficient housing for 21,000 people.

    MTP has the equivalent of 8 quartiers. Thus, it has the potential to house 170,000 people in buildings just 3.5 storeys high!

    Using the higher number of 25,000 residents, there is a buildout potential of 145,000 people.

    Put another way, we could achieve the ENTIRE Metro Plan 2040 population increase for the City of Vancouver of 140,000 by simply building row houses in Mount Pleasant!

    If we proceed with business as usual we will produce environmental impacts that are unacceptable. The environment has changed as a result of human activity… Why don’t we do that and leave the neighbourhoods to quietly evolve under existing zoning? Why? Why? Why not?

    Hopefully the foregoing analysis suffices to show that ‘best practices’ are not what we are seeing today. If we change to this vision, then we’re going to screw up the neighbourhoods AND the environment.

    Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    Business as usual has put owning a home out of reach of most Vancouverites that don’t already own one. What’s that number I wonder?

    Furthermore, the carbon footprint of the tower and the human-scale product has no comparison.

    Here, ‘business as usual’ nets us far more GHGs. The tower is the row house stood on its end and exposed on all four sides to the elements.

    Heat loss and heat gain are huge in towers compared to human-scale buildings!

    jolson—like others—you need to consider a complex issue in more detail.

    However, unlike most writers here, we have presented concrete and verifiable numbers. We can build a consensus from that!

  • 99 Lewis N. Villegas // Jun 16, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    Students will be sc[r]ambling for housing.

    teririch 98

    The fee-simple row house can have an 800-sf mortgage helper suite on grade and a second one in the top level, leaving 1600 sf for the owner.

    Each one of those suites could house 2 to 4 students sharing a kitchen. What’s the going rate for a student renting a suite?

    In any case, it is not just UBC students that are feeling the heat from the housing market. That problem is attacking every demographic in our society.

    Neither building transit or condos appears to be having any effect. Others can provide better stats. I put the price hike starting with the lead up to the 2010 Olympics.

  • 100 teririch // Jun 17, 2013 at 12:08 am

    @Lewis N. Villages #98:

    Something that drives me a bit crazy – I am 20+ years is a strata building an cannot rent my unit out.

    Only those bought from the ‘original builder’ can be let out – which from what I am learning was a defense against the original developer from losing money,

    If you have any insight as to how to get around this, it would be greatly appreciated.

    The boyfriend (stupid referring to him as boyfriend once you hit a certain age group but..) and I have talked about living together, but we both own our places. As his is larger, it would make more sense that I go there.

    Another fact, I own my place outright and would rent my unit out a a very reasonable cost – preferrably to a senior or someone low income.

  • 101 Roger Kemble // Jun 17, 2013 at 4:58 am

    Lewis @ passimHowever, unlike most writers here, we have presented concrete and verifiable numbers. We can build a consensus from that!” No you haven’t Lewis you continue to regurgitate your usual ‘for RAMP only‘ dogma: +/- a dozen readers.

    WordPress precludes multi-posting of links otherwise I would deluge you with links to good urbanism. Suffice it to say there are multi-refutations to your dogma including many of mine . . .

    . . . some hi! some low!

    GHG’s, we have lately discovered, are good for agriculture and, oh my, AGW has absented itself for at least seventeen years and you and I, egos now deflated, have nothing to do with it! Get up to speed Lewis or shall I continue?

    For example, a pedestrian figure ground providing access to a multi-faceted amenity, some hi, some low, including ped/bike friendly access to necessities, work, entertainment, enlightenment (nothing is more threatening to the statue quo than the enlightened prol) and just “standing on the corner watching all the girls walk by“.

    Dogma does not help stem the torrent of international speculators engulfing this city.

    Green“, “just another word for nothing left to loose“, is just a bereft politicians well worn technique to avoid responsibility to care for the traditional neighbourhood and you are aiding and abetting: distracting the hoi polli from real issues.

    Why is Mt. Pleasant being called a hill town?” Answer, because it is on the top of a hill.

    Don’t take planning jargon seriously, its comfort food if you’re in the loop! And you and I ain’t in the loop!

    PS According to VanCity Buzz MTP pop shakes out at 26,400, 2011, upping per decade @ 1861: certainly not an earth shattering tidal wave!

  • 102 Roger Kemble // Jun 17, 2013 at 5:15 am

    Just another attempt to get around WordPress link restrictions . . .

  • 103 Roger Kemble // Jun 17, 2013 at 6:39 am

    If energy loss is the only criteria, and it is not, then the following provides a comparative analysis tower/cottage . . .

    . . . cladding is the trump card.

    There is a place for the tower, outside the downtown, and there is a place for the fee-simple cottage: more relevant to good street planning is amenity, proximity and usage.

  • 104 Everyman // Jun 17, 2013 at 7:33 am

    @Brian 43
    One more question about that laneway house: where does everybody park? I assume that there are at least two families on the property (more if the main house is divided). The expectation is that there is going to be street parking to benefit that property owner’s decision to monetize his garage. Trends like this, coupled with Vision’s decision to relax parking requirements are going to signal the end of front yard greenspace. Hopefully it will not become as bad as the UK:

    Not something the “greenest city in the world” should welcome.

  • 105 Chris Keam // Jun 17, 2013 at 8:18 am

    “Chris is worried about whether or not Vancouver schools provide on-site employee parking.”

    Umm, no. Let’s stick to the facts instead of fevered imaginings. I’m asking you to provide any proof of your original statement. A quick look through VSB District #39 RFQs on BC Bid doesn’t show any recent paving contracts that I could find with a cursory search. Maybe they have a different process for these particular contracts, but other construction projects for the School Board are there. Regardless, it’s not something I care to find out. Seems you are upset by it, so I say go for it. The thing is, if you actually did provide some evidence of your claim, I’d be right there with you with asking the School Board why they think it’s a good idea to encourage automobile around their schools?

    So, when you can turn your claim from hearsay into a verifiable fact, let me know.

  • 106 Frank Ducote // Jun 17, 2013 at 9:40 am

    Back to the topic at hand:

    I count 11 potential sites with the 400m ped shed at Broadway and Commercial with towers ranging from (up to) 22 storeys to 37 storeys – say 400′ or about the height of Woodwards downtown. There may be some park space related to some of these sites. Shadows of the towers will fall mainly on the Grandview Cut rather than neighbourhing residences and open spaces.

    Two simple questions: 1) how many of you feel is this an appropriate scale of development in this community? 2) Why or why not?

    (Pause for a moment’s relevant consideration: under the Sam Sullivan Eco-Density era, planners fought and won a battle to NOT use the 400′ Woodwards development as a template for other sites in the DTES. One compromise outcome was the 150′ heights we now see being approved in Chinatown. This may be the “new normal” at the Hall.)

    Now, a tricky follow-up question : if you support both this number and heights of towers here, do you feel it would work as a template for future TODs along the Broadway corridor, including at Granville (where 100′-120′ is the current height limit), Arbutus (lower still) and … leafy W. 10th and Blanca?

    (If you don’t belief in templates or precedeents in the planning, development and political world of Vancouver, dream on.)

    For those who feel, as I do, that these heights are extreme beyond all ken here, please postulate a height that you think might be more fitting, given the 3-4 storey character of the existing community.

    A needed postscript: my gut feeling is that the community planners and urban designers who have worked on this area plan for the past year or more have done a remarkable job building trust and a sense of consensus in a notoriously fractious and divese community, or subsets of communities.

    But, to paraphrase Zero Mostel, something happened on the way to the forum, in this case inside the black box of city hall, to drive heights – and densities, I presume – upward. This is today’s version of Eco-Density under a different regime. Plus la change.

  • 107 Jak King // Jun 17, 2013 at 10:00 am

    At our table on CarFreeDay on the Drive yesterday, I spoke with a wide range of local residents. A lot of people accept the idea of increased densification, but I didn’t find a single one who approved high rises in this neighbourhood. It is a built form that is entirely inappropriate to the area, even around the Commercial/Broadway intersection.

  • 108 boohoo // Jun 17, 2013 at 10:09 am

    Is 6 storeys ok? 10? 15? When does it become offensive? Is it more offensive to have ten high density sites in a neighbourhood or to replace much larger areas of single family with row/townhouse?

    Talk to people along the Cambie Corridor and they’ll scream bloody murder about 4-6 storey towers.

    And if towers, of whatever height turns you off, aren’t appropriate at Cambie/Broadway, where an existing skytrain line runs and very likely a connecting line will come in the next 15 years, where then?

  • 109 Frank Ducote // Jun 17, 2013 at 10:31 am

    For those who don’t already know, this hub is the busiest of all transit station areas in the region – WITHOUT any towers. So the people here are pretty good at using what’s available, likely without having a second car or perhaps even a first one, as their mobility choice. I imagine there is also a very high bike and walking mode split as well (data geeks: go at it).

    The second busiest transit node in the Broadway corridor, I believe (but stand to be corrected), is Broadway and Granville, again without extremely tall buildings. The key there is proximity to a lot of jobs, shopping as well as medium-density housing, none taller than 12 storeys. Which is identical upper limit to Kerrisdale, BTW, where a developer would have to be insane to suggest 37 storeys.

    Cambie and Broaddway is doing pretty well with midrise forms, none taller than 90′ -100′ where the new forms of big box, live/work and office mixed use buildings as well as VGH and City Hall are located.

    So I ask @81 and @107 and possibly others, do you believe heights need to be doubled or tripled or quadrupled in these communities to further ratchet up transit riderside, when it is already remarkably high? I think the incremental increase in ridership would be relatively small.

  • 110 boohoo // Jun 17, 2013 at 10:40 am


    No, but attributing the fact that those nodes are busiest to the surrounding land use isn’t fair. They are busy, to one degree or another to the fact they are where two or more major transit links meet. I transit through Commercial/Broadway quasi-regularly so I contribute to its busyness but I don’t live there and rarely shop there.

    I wonder how insane the developers were back in the day when they proposed the 10+ story building at Main/Broadway that we now cherish.

  • 111 Roger Kemble // Jun 17, 2013 at 10:59 am

    Frank, talking of nodes is helpful if you widen the debate beyond high/low.

    The famous city of Curitiba Br. and its even more famous State governor, mayor, architect, planner Jaime Lerner . . .

    . . . successfully describes in real terms an antedote to what you are trying to say.

    Well defined colour coded bus routes, lined with high rises, leave swaths of green open spaces for parks and recreation: flood control lakes, (it rains like hell in the fall), open green space with low/medium rise residential in between.

    I am sure you have studied Curitiba! It is world famous. So is its erstwhile mayor.

    Please visit next vacation time and tell Jaime I asked you to cal.

    There’s much more to hi/lo than tower versus bungalow!

  • 112 Roger Kemble // Jun 17, 2013 at 11:15 am

    The old shibboleth . . .

    . . . is long past its buy date.

    If us bloggers wish to be taken seriously best get beyond the shop worn rhetoric . . .

  • 113 boohoo // Jun 17, 2013 at 11:23 am


    That’s why it’s actually called climate change.

    But please, tell us more about Peter Ferrara, senior fellow for the Heartland Institute (you know, the group funded by oil companies and coal lobby groups with the objective of discrediting science). I’m sure he’s got lots of impartial things to teach us.

  • 114 Roger Kemble // Jun 17, 2013 at 11:28 am

    Oh bo ho ho ho ho boooooooooho . . . are high school seniors in the pay of big oil too?

  • 115 Bill // Jun 17, 2013 at 11:32 am

    @boohoo #112

    When Alarmists can’t rebut the message, all they are left with is attacking the messenger.

  • 116 Don D // Jun 17, 2013 at 11:47 am


    Norman, the fact that you are not aware of the GWAC and (therefore?) don’t go to its meetings does not call into question that it was “formed in 1964 and has been in active existence ever since”

    Your position is akin to saying that we don’t live in a democracy because I don’t vote.

    The GVAC is very well known and active in the community and provides an OPPORTUNITY for your involvement. Go to a meeting.

  • 117 Boohoo // Jun 17, 2013 at 11:50 am

    @113 114

    I don’t claim to be an expert in climate science, I’m quite sure you aren’t. I’ll believe the vast and overwhelming evidence and leave the tin foil to you.

    And Bill… I’ll be sure to remind you of your post the next 100 times you and others do the same.

  • 118 L. Park // Jun 17, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    I am a resident of the area and find this alarming.

    1. That is a LOT of people to dump into a neighbourhood. It is impossible to do this without substantially altering the character of the neighbourhood. The area is one of the more distinctive cultural areas of the city. This results, in my view, from the demographic mix being heavy with young/impecunious/alternative people living in low rent, shared or modest housing. They support the distinctive small businesses in the area, give the place the vibe that it has. Which is often trotted out in the tourist lit as one of the places that makes Vancouver Vancouver. Swamp that mix with 20,000 yaletown types, and the businesses change, the culture changes, the vibe changes. “The Drive” as we know it is at risk of disappearing. Though there may be even more sports bars and another Starbucks or 5!

    2. How on earth are all those people going to get around? The skytrain is at capacity now, the 99 is WELL beyond capacity, and I have a hard time envisioning even more cars on the road in that area.

    3. Like Lewis Villegas, I don’t see sky high towers as a livable urbanism. Take London, for example, whose vitality seems to be commerical districts with mixed use 5 storey buidlings fronting neighbourhoods of 3 storey walk up townhomes. The area could gently, organically densify (townhome zoning, lanehomes, new homes with suites, 3-4 storey mixed use) and absorb some added densification OK, as it is doing right now.

    4. For pity’s sake take the childish global warming is not / is too debate elsewhere. You won’t convince anyone of anything in this thread. It’s the environmental analog to Godwin’s.

  • 119 jolson // Jun 17, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    We need to start noticing the linkages between biosphere / urbanization / species extinctions / environmental deterioration / transportation systems / global economies before we propose ways to accommodate population growth.

    Intense development around existing transit stations is a good idea and it doesn’t much matter what form the building typology takes. However, this proposed community plan for urban re-development is about much more than taking advantage of existing transit stations. The scale of proposed intervention does warrant a broader discussion and more imagination than it has received so far. Is this really the best that we can do?

  • 120 Lance B // Jun 17, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    Frank and others, I too am increasingly disturbed by the relentless stream of very high-rise densification that is coming out of City Hall these days, in the guise of ‘neighbourhood planning’. While the Planning Department has some very good and ethical professional staff who no doubt believe in community consultation, they are being overridden and directed by the City Manager’s office (to which the new General Manager, Planning and Development – replacing the former and more autonomous Director of Planning position which has now disappeared – now directly reports) and the Vision caucus. This is all part of an unprecedented increase in centralization and top-down management of City Hall, strongly supported by elements of the development industry which back Vision, and the results are being rolled out neighbourhood by neighbourhood. Regardless of the specific neighbourhood, the proposed solution is largely the same: The dominant form of densification (which I support in principle, by the way, provided it is context-sensitive, and there are lots of ways to do that well) is the high-rise tower, as this is what most local developers know best how to build and is typically most profitable for them to do.

    I predict we will see ever more of this form of densification regardless of the specific community (pace Marine Drive/Marpole, Mount Pleasant, Grandview Woodlands, Oakridge, etc.). It is not neighbourhood sensitive urbanism. It is not smart growth either. It is not even very effective transit oriented development (TOD), as Frank has pointed out, as it is being justified based on an already oversubscribed public transit system that cannot accommodate substantially more riders without major investment, which government shows no appetite for committing to. And it is resulting in the increasing homogenization of Vancouver’s diverse neighbourhoods. This form of densification does not seem to be cracking the housing affordability nut either, which I acknowledge is complex. In fact, it tends to result in the loss of older, more affordable housing stock, as property values (and property taxes) increase. The City will need to become far more prescriptive on the requirement to include truly affordable (read subsidized, non-market) housing in new developments (i.e. inclusive zoning), if it wants to address this issue.

    To be clear, densification is a key part of the solution, but the issue is the form – and location – of such densification tied to the urgent need to invest heavily in more public transit infrastructure. I can’t wait to see what the City of Vancouver is proposing along the Broadway corridor, as it continues its battle with the province and TransLink for a subway to replace the 99B bus. 30 storeys, anyone? How about 40 storeys? 50? Coming soon to a neighbourhood near you…

  • 121 Joe Just Joe // Jun 17, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    Personally I think the Norquay Village plan isn’t too terrible as a template but needs tweeking and obviously each community needs to make any plan their own. I felt the density levels were about right but the heights a little higher then they should’ve been, but we were working around an exisiting tower.
    What I’d have liked to have seen is the city to allow 6 floors along all aterials(~3.5FSR), with retail on ground level(the demand isn’t there yet for retail along all aterials but it will eventually once the surrounding areas densify more). Where arterials intersect perhaps allow the 4 corners up to 10 floors (~4FSR)and the rest of that block to 8 floors. The back side of all arterials should allow for 4 story apartment blocks(~2FSR). While the remaining areas should be free to remain sfhs, do townhouses, rowhouse etc (.6-~1.2FSR).
    This would allow small players to develop themselves if they choose to and provide a system where everyone benefits more evenly then the current system with big winners on big rezonings.

  • 122 Joe Just Joe // Jun 17, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Another benefit of more evenly distrubuted density is that we end up with more walkable communities instead of the current node system where we might still need to drive or take transit to the closest hub.

  • 123 Jak King // Jun 17, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    HGetting back to the title topic, here’s my latest take on the GW Plan:

  • 124 Kenji // Jun 17, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Just from a quick look at the plan, I don’t hate the pictures. I think it is sensible to take those high traffic streets and replace the old time houses with apartments and rowhouses – on a busy street, I don’t know how much fun it is to live in a regular house anyway – very noisy and your cats get run over.

    It’s now the what but the how that makes me apprehensive. As many posters are saying, the area is home to a sizeable number of renters. What are they going to do? It’s one thing to draw a pretty picture of this built-up urban area, but what is the time line? Who is going to provide rental units?

    I would think this proposal has the best chance of being accepted if there is a workable plan to keep the existing tenants in the area.

  • 125 Frank Ducote // Jun 17, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Further to questions about additional population, courtesy of Lachlan Murray and Jak King’s website @120 above:

    “According to the city publication Grandview-Woodland Community Profile 2012, “in 2011, the population of Grandview-Woodland was 27,297.” When I asked Shillito how many additional residents the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan would eventually add to the area, he said “about 10,000.” That’s an increase of about 37%. I inquired if there would be any increase in park space and Shillito said it was unlikely because the current cost of land in the city makes it prohibitively expensive for the city to make this kind of acquisition.”

  • 126 boohoo // Jun 17, 2013 at 2:47 pm


    I struggle to believe that. The City collects DCC’s for park acquisition. Yes, it is expensive, but they are collecting a lot. Even if you only buy say 4 or 6 lots for a new neighbourhood park, that’s under 10 million. I’m sure they are collecting far more than that in DCC’s.

  • 127 Frank Ducote // Jun 17, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    JJJ@118 – a reasoned answer to my earlier questions about scale and density, based on a real-world and recent experience. Thanks.

  • 128 Mitzi B. // Jun 17, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    JJJ@118 makes a lot of sense. I am not a planner or planner wannabe, just a person who grew up here. I love the idea of 3 to 6 storey buildings as the bulk of densification. Isn’t that what works in dense European cities like Paris or Barcelona? The really tall towers don’t feel right here – if only because they get in the way of the view of the mountains.

  • 129 jolson // Jun 17, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Let’s be frank 10,000 new people is not believable when you consider that the OV plus surrounding re-zonings is estimated at 12,000 new people. Can someone cross check this number? Lewis where are you? It is a tedious exercise, but it is important. One has the feeling that this plan is block busting at an unprecedented scale, beyond what the free way builders of the 60’s could even imagine. There are better ways and places to accommodate population growth.

  • 130 Boohoo // Jun 17, 2013 at 4:35 pm


    I assume your questions are rhetorical? You never answer others…

  • 131 Jay // Jun 17, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    My rough calculations using Google Earth shows the area bounded by Commercial/Lakewood/Grandview cut to be a bit larger than the original OV, with the Broadway TOD area having a higher density (only going by floor count), so in this one small area of the map you have a planned population of the Olympic Village and then some.

  • 132 Bill Lee // Jun 17, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    “the area bounded by Commercial/Lakewood/Grandview cut to be a bit larger than the original OV,”
    What is the 4th side?

    Grandview Cut is the north or south boundary of your discussion? Are you going south of Broadway along the Cut?

    As Wile E. Coyote buys all his tools from Acme, I go to and find that Commercial to Lakewood 3 streets east and from Grandview cut to 1st avenue is 12.75 Hectares.
    Dreadfully long Disessemination Area (smaller than Census Tracts) can show granularity of population numbers and number of households for components of your view area.

  • 133 gman // Jun 17, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    Yours is the only comment that really addresses the reality of these decisions.Now you only have to understand what is behind them and where they come from.

  • 134 Jay // Jun 17, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    @Bill Lee

    Thanks for those links!

    I forgot 12th Ave. and a short section of Broadway.

  • 135 lowermainlander // Jun 18, 2013 at 9:34 am

    The Feds increase demand through low interest rates and the CMHC, and all you Nimby’s restrict supply, driving prices up. This is why I can’t afford a home in Van.

    Can’t wait til the boomers all die off.

    In the mean time the development oligarchy, who already assembled land in non-sf areas smile happily.

  • 136 Bill // Jun 18, 2013 at 10:13 am

    @lowermainlander #131

    “The Feds increase demand through low interest rates and the CMHC, and all you Nimby’s restrict supply, driving prices up. This is why I can’t afford a home in Van.”

    Higher interest rates would undoubtedly have an effect to lower house prices but you probably still couldn’t afford a house with the mortgage at the higher rates. As for supply, it is land so it is inherently fixed and there is nothing Nimby’s can do about that. As for increasing density, it people like their single family neighbourhood, that is their right. Increasing density is not making housing more affordable but offering a different product at a lower price.

    “Can’t wait til the boomers all die off.”

    Now you’ve done it. It use to be that the goal of Boomers was to spend all their wealth before they died. With attitudes like yours the new goal will be to die owing a whole bunch of money. Wait a minute, they are already doing that with government debt aren’t they.

  • 137 babalu1 // Jun 18, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Now here’s an example of community opposition as manifested by their elected officials in a municipality in New Jersey.
    Guess what the target is?

    Now that’s progress!!

  • 138 jenables // Jun 18, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    Lowermainlander, haven’t we learned yet that increasing supply doesn’t lower prices? As long as someone in the WORLD is willing to buy (with no repercussions to whether or not they inhabit, because we’re classy like that) prices do not go down. If they go down, it is not because the market is flooded with condos. It is because they were ridiculously unsustainable in the first place. Even people with money to burn have their limits. Thanks gman

  • 139 jenables // Jun 18, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Babalu, your link took me to a site with discussions about the high line in new York and like projects in other cities all concerning the reuse of abandoned transportation facilities. Here in Vancouver, we talk about doing to this to heavily used infrastructure… Sigh. (driving across the viaducts, one sees few pedestrians, some bikes and lots of cars… Yet turning it into a pedestrian walkway was actually considered..) I digress…

  • 140 lowermainlander // Jun 18, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    @ Bill. Surprised that you think that about interest rates. I depends on how much prices fell or how much interest rates went up. If prices were 30% lower and interest rates were double what they are now, I would still be better off. If an 800k condo is worth 600k, then that is 200k less to borrow, and I could pay off in 15 years instead of 25. Even with double the current interest rates that would be around a $100k savings in interest payments. Plus the savings on the home. I guess not too many people do the math, and that is why they are sucked into the market at these cheap rates driving prices up.

    You can’t create more land, but you can create more real estate through density. Can’t deny that. You are certainly not going to lower prices by restricting supply.

    And no one has a ‘right’ to keep their neighbourhood as is. The City is for everyone, not just those that live in one neighbourhood today.It belongs to the next generations, too. The city can’t keep sprawling and it’s ridiculous that there are single family densities a 10 or 15 minute drive from a CBD of a 2million pop city.

  • 141 teririch // Jun 18, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    ‘Can’t wait til the boomers all die off.’

    I always enjoy reading posts with that idiotic statement included.

    It reminds me of how some people feel they are entitled simply because they exist.

    Forget the fact that those ‘boomers’ have worked a hell of a lot harder than the generations behind them and have contribtued more to society overall with many still contributing.

    And I smile at the fact that those ‘boomers’ are living longer and will be able to enjoy the lives they have worked for and created for themselves.

  • 142 Bill // Jun 18, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    @lowermainlander #136

    I’m not sure that your example works mathematically but, of course, we can all make up changes in interest rates and housing prices but it doesn’t mean they would actually move as assumed. Generally speaking, (unless there is a complete collapse in housing prices with homeowners equity wiped out, foreclosures etc) those who can afford to out bid you today at existing rates would still out bid you at higher rates.

    Why do you think your desire to live in Vancouver trumps someone’s desire to keep their backyard?

  • 143 babalu1 // Jun 18, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    That’s the crux of it, Bill. Not just in Vancouver but in many other cities.
    This has evolved into a pretty good discussion, though. So far.

  • 144 boohoo // Jun 18, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    “And I smile at the fact that those ‘boomers’ are living longer and will be able to enjoy the lives they have worked for and created for themselves.”

    Except of course for the teachers and other public union members that have paid into theirs for decades cause they’re just sucking on the teat right?

  • 145 brilliant // Jun 18, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    @lowermamainlander 136-its not ridiculous there are single family homes 15 minutes from the CBD and if you look around its quite common , not just in North America.

    As to your boomer bashing, why not just get up the gumption to do what countless others have done seeking economic opportunity: Move!

  • 146 Silly Season // Jun 18, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    Who is going to be Vancouver’s Andrew Berman?

  • 147 jenables // Jun 19, 2013 at 1:13 am

    Teri, I don’t think it’s fair to say the boomers have worked a hell of a lot harder than the generations behind them. Most boomers tend to sympathize with my generation because it wasn’t as hard for them to have a home and a job that paid decently. Let me put it this way. my class in grade twelve I think were the first to have mandatory CAPP class (career and personal planning). Here’s what we were told – the boomers won’t be ready to retire when you enter the workforce, and they’ve got most of the decent jobs. You’ll probably have five or more different careers in your life. If you really want to make money, go into geriatric care. Thanks for the advice, guess I’ll get a crappy job since the boomers have taken them all then wait until the time is right so I can spend the rest of my working life wiping their assets. I meant asses, but it seemed apt. However, I don’t harbor hostility against people simply because they grew up in a much more advantageous time than I.

    Lowermainlander, I don’t think anyone was saying it was their ‘right’. Kind of like I don’t think the fact that you have money makes all the people who don’t disappear. Where are they going to live?

  • 148 jenables // Jun 19, 2013 at 1:19 am

    Although Teri of course I acknowledge they have been working longer.

  • 149 jenables // Jun 19, 2013 at 1:26 am

    Oh, I forgot to mention, our teacher made sure to inform us that although we will pay into the pension plan, it will likely be gone by the time we retire. I’m thinking they don’t treat kids the same way today, mind you most of my peers have boomer parents but we still grew up in a time where kids ran free and parents didn’t spend time coddling them. I’ll always be grateful for that.

  • 150 Roger Kemble // Jun 19, 2013 at 7:11 am

    GVW’s latest, and I emphasize latest, plan seem to be overkill to me.

    Essentially the plan leaves The Drive alone, envisions Lee Building type development along Hastings and TOD expansion at Broadway and Commercial.

    To my shop worn perceptions it is just more boilerplate planning wishfully building on the myth of a prosperous future.

    Growth seems to have become a mark of civic virility when, in fact, badly managed it leads to stagnation.

    2011: City @ +4.4% Metro @ 9.3%. I don’t see any evidence of exponential growth, least of all at the level of accommodation in this plan.

    Housing cost are unrelated to demand, driven by off-shore speculation as the Mayor’s task force found out. This of course is off the table in polite circles: have you noticed the loquacious Michael Geller is mute of late!

    Planning following construction has nothing to do with population growth and more to do with currency failure. See my comment #38.

    Where have all the flowers gone?
    Long time passing
    Where have all the flowers gone?
    Long time ago
    Where have all the flowers gone?
    Girls have picked them every one
    When will they ever learn?
    When will they ever learn?
    Pete Seeger.

    Whatever happened to the hundreds of jobs PM Harper promised for the North Shore shipyards? That was two years ago!

  • 151 Norman // Jun 19, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    Until this plan came out, I lived in Kensington Cedar Cottage, and the maps still say so. Suddenly, Grandview Woodlands extends to 12th Avenue, so please don’t try to tell me I haven’t taken advantage of the so-called “representation” for my area.

  • 152 F.H.Leghorn // Jun 19, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    Speaking as a boomer parent, I just want to say that my chicks can afford to live in Vancouver. Why? Thanks to a lifetime of hard work, self-denial, careful planning and a bit of luck I can leverage the house I own into down payments I “loan” to my chicks.
    If they prefer to rent a roost somewhere they can wait to collect from my estate for their housing needs. In a lot of ways that’s better than a non-indexed pension. You don’t have to work for it or contribute financially and it’s tax-free.
    But you know how chicks are: nothing you do is good enough.

  • 153 brilliant // Jun 19, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    @Jenable I’d be more sympathetic to post-boomers complaints they bothered to show up at a polling station on election day. As we saw on May 14 a vast majority of that demographic can’t be bothered, so they should just suck it up.

  • 154 boohoo // Jun 19, 2013 at 2:31 pm


    Do you have a breakdown of voter turn out by age?

  • 155 jenables // Jun 19, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    Norman, I thought I’d get an answer straight from the horse’s mouth, so I called 311. Wow. I talked to two people, one who was in zoning… Neither seemed to have any idea what I was talking about. They weren’t insincere, or impolite, but man oh man. I explained that I was wondering what the south border of Grandview woodland was as there is conflicting information online. Is it Broadway or twelfth? What should have been a simple answer took thirteen minutes and fifty one seconds and ended with the zoning lady telling me to go on the website and click on Grandview. I have seen a sign up the street that is an info map for the neighborhood, and I’ve called them in the post to complain about the fact that the close up is just a square which doesn’t show anything below Adanac and is misleading. So I can’t really go by that one either. I encourage you to call 311…..they might learn something! You’ll also get to enjoy new hold music.. No more channel four community listing loop.. Now we have Greek jeopardy music!

  • 156 Jak King // Jun 19, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    The boundaries of GW have not changed. What we have here is the Broadway Transit Zone overlain on top of the GW map. This Zone goes down at least to 12th in the south and up to, perhaps, 4th in the north. Different animals in the same cage.

  • 157 jenables // Jun 19, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Oops, it should say above that I have called them in the past to complain, not post.

  • 158 MB // Jun 20, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Thank you Frank Ducote for posting this important plan.

    I worked in a large multi-disciplinary firm in the early 90s that proposed another Broadway Station redevelopment. It proposed towers in the (if memory serves) 8-20 storey range on the Safeway site and adjacent parcels south of Broadway, and continuous low and mid-rise retail and office space along the north side of Broadway and the east side of Commercial.

    The most unique feature proposed was a continuous deck over the Cut and a wide (6+ m) pedestrian link directly under the curved SkyTrain guideway separating two buildings, essentially an internal linear pedestrian plaza with retail on both sides. We pushed for a dramatic water fountain running up the centre of this space with computer-controlled water jets timed to the arrival and departure of the overhead trains.

    The Millennium Line and the Commercial Drive Station weren’t even an itch in Glen Clark’s groin yet.

    Neighbourhood opposition was expected and, in my view, more or less rightfully justified at the time with concerns over height and precedent-setting development wedges potentially being driven further into the community, though the mixed use and continuous sidewalk retail were appealing. There was a serious effort to discredit the seismic stability of placing buildings partially over the Cut, but the structural subs in the team had it all worked out.

    What actually killed the project was the strong rejection by the traffic planners in the Vancouver Engineering Dept., backed by the Fire dept., who said decking over the Cut would present a serious challenge to their pet 6-lane double decker commercial truck freeway project that was then proposed in the Cut. They said the deck would potentially lock in the smoke and fumes of combustible hazardous materials transported by trucks, completely ignoring the materials moved by train for the past century.

    I wonder if parts of this earlier project would be a relevant pivot point to adjust the heights downward on the current proposal? I am still intrigued by the notion of decking over part of the Cut. Currently, great crowds back up on the sidewalks while waiting for a B-Line bus after transferring from SkyTrain. Clearly the capacities are mismatched. Extending the Millennium Line to UBC would help alleviate this backup and shift the huge transit-based pedestrian flows to between the two stations from the street.

    If the Cut were decked over between Commercial and Broadway / Victoria, leaving the Commercial Station roof open to the sky, then an additional ~6,000 m2 (1.5 acres) of level surface space would be created to accommodate pedestrian circulation routes, plazas and park space. Going farther, if the Cut was decked over between Commercial and Woodland Dr, an additional ~17,250 m2 (4.3 ac) of level surface space would be created for parkland. You’re looking at potentially ~six acres of additional park space concentrated right at Broadway Station. Lowering the proposed heights dramatically and offering a very significant amount of additional park land directly to the community most affected could be perceived as a fairer trade off than 400 foot towers with CACs going into general revenue.

  • 159 MB // Jun 20, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    The proposed heights at Broadway x Commercial are not the only troubling area of concern. Why on Earth would the planners reason that 12-storey towers on 1st Ave x Clark and continuous low rise (4-6 storeys) are justified along this arterial? To me the most important distinction to densifying arterials is efficient transit, which also hooks into the issue affordability.

    Everyone harps on affordability with a singular focus on housing prices and rents, which are effectively subsets of land value. Yes, land / housing is more expensive in the inner city than in the suburbs, but that trend, if mapped, evens out quickly when transportation is included. Affordability is relative to income. When transportation is included, then the suburbs look a helluva lot less affordable.

    To illustrate, I worked out that my rusty old VW costs me about $6,000 each year, which includes the purchase price, financing, fuel, repairs and insurance averaged over a decade. My commute is very reasonable, yet still costs about $1,200 a year in fuel alone. Over 10 years, this increasingly decrepit car has diminished our family income by about $60,000. Should we have gotten bitten by the lower-housing-prices-in-the-suburbs narrative, then we’d need two larger cars capable of long freeway commutes, orders-of-magnitude more fuel costs, bigger repair bills, and two insurance policies and financing plans, easily racking up to $200,000 over 10 years and many tens of thousands more hours spent on one’s butt behind the wheel instead of being more productive. Empty nesters have often spent a quarter century or more in the suburbs before downsizing, so the math suddenly makes the more expensive housing closer to the centre much more affordable relative to income over long periods of time.

    Living near an arterial with good transit service and close to work, schools, shopping and amenities even in “unaffordable” Vancouver allows a family to spend more on a home on a smaller parcel of land and diminish their expenditures on transportation, and possibly save a lot more over a generation than if they had to drive more while living in less expensive housing further out.

    When you look at affordability in this way, then building more housing using less land and improving transit are key to making living in an expensive city less of a drain on incomes over the long run.

  • 160 Bill McCreery // Jun 20, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    @ MB 158.

    You articulate some interesting ideas. Thank you for sharing them.

  • 161 Bill McCreery // Jun 22, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    As well, it’s good to see someone thinking, talking and designing about the public realm. What we’re seeing today has been dummed down to planning and design for profit. Public benefit is an irritating inconvenience. The wheel has gone full circle.

  • 162 Westender1 // Jun 24, 2013 at 9:06 am

    It appears the City has scheduled a “follow-up” event on the issue of densification at Broadway and commercial. (But register early as space is “extremely limited” – perhaps the meeting place is a laneway home?!?)

  • 163 IanS // Jun 24, 2013 at 10:09 am

    @MB #159:

    “When you look at affordability in this way…”

    Good point. IMO, the cost of commuting is a factor most people would take into account when considering how much they can afford when buying a property. By way of example, I live and work downtown and the fact that my commute is free (I walk) and that I fill up my little car once, or maybe twice, a year is definitely a factor which I took into account in determining how much I could afford to spend on a property.

    However, I question whether this factor results in an increase in affordability, as anyone buying in the area would be able to make the same calculation. Arguably, it is a factor which would result in an increased selling price.

  • 164 Bill Lee // Jun 25, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    And transport prices is one of the causes of the Brazil riots last weeks.
    CBC put up an infographic that the monthly average wage is $325, and that transport takes a third of that.

  • 165 Frank Ducote // Jun 25, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    IaanS@ 163 “However, I question whether this factor results in an increase in affordability, as anyone buying in the area would be able to make the same calculation. Arguably, it is a factor which would result in an increased selling price.”

    The (U.S.) Center for Transportation-Oriented Development estimates that the shae of income that a household spends in a “transit rich” location is 9%, while in “automobile dependent exurbs” the figure rises to 25%.

    If the share of housing costs remain the same at, in there estimation 32%, that leaves 59% of income available for other things (food, clothing, eduction, entertainment, etc.) in the transit-oriented locations and only 43% availaable in the exurbs.

    To put it simply, living in a transit rich location saves a household about 16% of their income.

    This seems to support MB’s point, and that of a lot of researchers in this area, including New Urbanists.

  • 166 Frank Ducote // Jun 25, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    Argh – typ0s. Should read IanS@163 (not Iaan)

    Also the share (not shae) of income …

  • 167 Jak King // Jun 25, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    We should stop all the current Plans today and re-think the entire process:

  • 168 IanS // Jun 25, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    @Frank Ducote #165:

    I don’t dispute that one spends less living in locations which eliminate the need, or lower the cost, of commuting. The math is pretty straightforward. However, taht same math also justifies spending more to purchase a property (ie. because one didn’t need to spend $__ on the commute, that is $___ more one has to put towards a mortgage which, in turn, supports spending more to buy a property).

    Wouldn’t that factor into (ie. increase) the purchase price for that property?

  • 169 Frank Ducote // Jun 25, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    IanS – the analysis assumes people move out from cities to get more house for the same buck. I guess some folks could spend more for a house out in the exurbs but that is not the general case.

  • 170 IanS // Jun 25, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    My last post was pretty inarticulate. Let me try again.

    I agree that there are advantages to living in a “transit rich” area. I agree that there are savings to be realized from a less expensive, or free, commute.

    My point was that these savings are likely factored into the cost of property in such areas, both because they are more desirable and because a purchaser can afford to pay more due to the savings.

    Hence, I’m not certain that such areas are necessarily more affordable than others.

  • 171 IanS // Jun 25, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    @Frank Ducote #169:

    ” the analysis assumes people move out from cities to get more house for the same buck ”

    In my experience, they do. I know people who bought further out so that they could afford a detached house with a yard etc.

  • 172 Joe Just Joe // Jun 25, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    I agree with IanS, just as lower mortgage rates helped push real estate prices higher because the purchaser could afford more for the the same monthly outflow. If a location allows a couple to eliminate a vehicle we will see that location over time creep upwards in price as the purchasers can afford to increase their outflow for the mortgage as they reduced it on a car.
    We see that quite clearly, condos next to transit are more expensive then those not near transit, not only because of convenience but because of economics.

  • 173 Bill Lee // Jun 26, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    “What about the [del] workers [/del] Renters?

    Why all the emphasis of housing when renters in many districts are the majority, and will move if the rents go up.

    Many “houses” have been subdivided into rental suites, and that is supposed to be the case with so-called “Laneway Housing” [Granny shacks]?

    With parties bringing in political operatives for the 2014 election coming in a few days, renters are more important.

    StatCan’s numbers show average incomes don’t support house ownership anymore.
    Dollars per hour, Southwest BC (Lower Mainland)

    For those looking narrowly at the City proper.

  • 174 InsiderDoug // Jun 27, 2013 at 8:06 am

    This really is a great article.

    The process wasn’t broken. It has been a big success, and the staff team should be proud of it/ But then Jackson & Ballem inserted their own answer, changed staffs work out of no-where, all hell broke loose, and staff are thrown under the bus and have to repeat the party line for their vindictive bosses.

    Shameful and disappointing for staff.

  • 175 spartikus // Jun 27, 2013 at 8:28 am

    From InsiderDoug’s Tyee cite:

    “We seem to have only one way [towers] of expressing density, but we know from around the world that’s not the only way…We hear nothing until we see a written report. At that point, the only intervention is yes or no.”

    Sentiments expressed here for years.

    So it’s very interesting who said it.

  • 176 Frank Ducote // Jun 27, 2013 at 10:02 am

    “This blog has become an exhibition of disgraceful petulant childishness!”

    You said it, buddy!

    Up to that point this had been a pretty civil and very topical conversation, a rare thing these days on the Fabula blog.

    Insider Doug – thanks for the link to a very thorough article that certainly lays it out there for all to see.

  • 177 Frank Ducote // Jun 27, 2013 at 10:37 am


    I’ve never said that before and hope to never again.

  • 178 Jak King // Jun 27, 2013 at 11:06 am

    I guess Kemble hasn’t bothered to read the extensive coverage of the problems with the process in GW that are about far more than his precious towers.

    By the way, while you folks are arguing the toss, we have an online petition in play at and a Public Meeting on the 8th July. Real stuff.

  • 179 Lady Grantham // Jun 27, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    Good Lord, Mr. Kemble!

    Where is the Yorkshire Lad we knew? Please don’t become a scribbling disgrace to our birthlace, blowing your cantankerous wind under the noses of people who have so far maintained their civility! Stop farting in the middle of the conversation at the dinner table.

    Take a pill. Take it with two single malt chasers. Have s-e-x-u-a-l intercourse with the neighbour, for goodness sake! Do something to calm your chemical imbalance demon!

    Please, my Dear Roger, we really don’t want to laugh at you.

    With much affection, though it is wearing thin.


  • 180 Roger Kemble // Jun 28, 2013 at 3:59 am

    Good lord Lady Grantham @ #179 you’re but marginally more pompous, and certainly less effectual, than the Iron Lady herself.

    Read Pierrie Berton’s wonderful 1965 book, “The Comfortable Pew” wherein he expresses his contempt for you and your ilk as “the boys who gang up to whistle at the girls across the street because they do not have the courage to do it on their own.” How well you fit!

    Enough of your incoherent waddling self-promotion Lewis @ #88. Lining the streets with the Lombardi Poplars does not a downtown make.

    Most of Council was in attendance. ” Ah yes the ballroom was full of hopefully expectant acolytes until you strutted and insulted the mayor and council into walking out. Your misplaced arrogance is exacerbated only by your utter lack of talent and knowledge of the subject you purport to promote.

    The Krier Bros would jump off their Luxemburg hometown cliff if they knew you were sucking their lollipop.

    Obsessing is not neighbourhood building little man!

    Trying to impress me with Roger is an expert in urban design is your kind of brown nosing that doesn’t work on me. Your dabbling is an embarrassment.

    Now, all of you, stop the gossip and go back to your knitting. QED

  • 181 InsiderDoug // Jun 28, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    To Roger Kemble. Your angry attacks are unintelligible. As are your links.

  • 182 Frank Ducote // Jun 28, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    RK Your obsession with scatological references, bodily functions and personal insults – bottom sniffing, excrement dumping etc.- makes you quite capable of being voted off the island by your own doing. Self, meet petard.

    I’m sorry you chose to try and totally derail by oversimplification and name-calling the worthwhile discussion about the future of the GW plan as well as the COV plan-making process. (See 174 insiderdoug above). There is something very important underlying the dramatic scale change here and how it was apparently imposed that calls for a meaningful and rich discussion, most legitimately by those who live in and care about that community. All I did was raise the issue, which I’m very happy to have done.

    Thanks to the rest of you who have tried to be topical and civil, despite the venom.

  • 183 Roger Kemble // Jun 28, 2013 at 6:58 pm


    Thanqu Frank @ #182 showing us the Grandview-Woodland plan and for your sage advice.

    Sometimes eschatological terminology is preferable to scatological terminology. Indeed I will in future eschew both.

    To the GVW plan. In its embryonic form it shows promise. The Drive is preserved, Hastings has, so far as I can see, given so little detail, been zoned in a Lee Building typology.

    The Broadway and Commercial TOD needs a lot of work but essentially it attracts my attention.

    In my opinion towers well sited with mixed usage is appropriate. The point of the towers is to keep amenity close, compact and convenient for walking

    Pictures speak louder than words . . .
    . . . accordingly I prefer to present solutions rather than engage eternal gossip. Unfortunately this is when the abuse enters the conversation.

    My thesis is that a well-designed compact, diversified urban village centre, including entertainment, education, shopping and other amenities clustered in towers, for close proximity, is appropriate urban design for GVW’s TOD.

    Much neglected in this conversation is figure ground treatment: i.e. buildings sprouting out of a garden-like base. By that I mean treatment of the horizontal surface between the buildings: an amenity completely neglected in the current local planning ethos.

    It isn’t that people on this conversation don’t understand an alternative approach: they are hell bent on not understanding!

    One very discouraging aspect is that the abuse begins immediately. When I check my web stats I find the abusers haven’t even checked in.

    And this is when the invective becomes justifiable: an eye for a eye!

    Have a good evening. Best wishes Roger K.

  • 184 Andrew Browne // Jul 4, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    I’m going to go out on an (undoubtedly unpopular) limb and say that… at first blush the notion of towers of some height in the vicinity of the busiest transit station in the region is… downright appropriate. An earlier poster brought up some conceptual work from the 90s (?) that contemplated capturing additional park space by covering over some of the cut… and to my mind that has a lot of potential to achieve increased open space. There is a certain playfulness that I enjoy in being able to see the station below grade as you pass over it on the connecting gangway, but I see no reason that you couldn’t have portions of the cut covered and portions not.

    I note also that the majority of geography covered by the plan seems to contemplate townhouses, rowhouses, stacked townhouses, and apartments of between 3 and 4 storeys, with certain areas allowing 6 storeys, and fewer still allowing heights above that.

    At the risk of being put on trial – what here is so dramatically different than, say, a Collingwood Village? Collingwood has its challenges but they largely don’t relate to building height but rather poor material choices and a certain inattentiveness to effective street-level urbanism.

  • 185 Bill Lee // Jul 5, 2013 at 10:08 am

    @Andrew Browne // Jul 4, 2013 at 3:55 pm #184

    Collingwood Village as you put it, (it is a big area, which?) was a browfield site.
    Warehouses associated with the rail line and light industry in the area and a few homes spread apart. See the

    What is happening with the cut and the monster towers at Commercial and Broadway where few want to live is Norquay II, the forcing of the present residents out for rampant out-of-scale speculative land development.
    See the Rennie-marketed Tower at Nanaimo and Kingsway, with retail only being the dead space of a bank and that blockbuster of Shoppers, (exactly the same tenants and street level desert as at 18th on Main and the “3300 Building” Great Wall of a sick building. [ Google street view still shows it being built, aerial shots show the previous car dealership in birds eye and the ground razing in aerial ].

  • 186 Frank Ducote // Jul 8, 2013 at 11:39 am

  • 187 Andrew Browne // Jul 9, 2013 at 9:53 am

    @ Bill Lee #185

    I appreciate that Collingwood was a brownfield site while Commercial & Broadway (and vicinity) is established, but so what? We don’t really have convenient magical brownfield sites anymore – they’re largely used up and, if not, tend to be far from significant transit. Should we just keep expanding endlessly out toward Langley and Chilliwack? Part of making plans is planning for change so that it doesn’t end up controlling you slowly, one step at a time. The idea that a neighbourhood plan would contemplate and plan for change is prudent and shouldn’t be startling.

    If the ‘rule’ now is that we can’t ever contemplate change anywhere near something that already exists, we’re all in for a world of trouble. That’s a recipe for disappointment all around. I know it’s not quite that simple, but come on, most of the plan contemplates 4 storeys! I think sometimes that Vancouver residents need to get out a bit and realize just how much change the surrounding municipalities have been experiencing – not to mention that Vancouver badly needs housing options in the spectrum between ‘500 sq ft sky box’ and ‘5000 sq ft mcmansion’ (i.e. 3-4 storey townhomes, stacked townhomes, and apartments).

  • 188 Jak King // Jul 9, 2013 at 10:04 am

    So how many of you attended the GWAC meeting last night to hear what residents have to say. It was, I am reliably informed, the largest political meeting in GW for a couple of decades. A great success — but will the City Councilors and the planners who were there actually listen?

  • 189 Frank Ducote // Jul 9, 2013 at 10:51 am

    Jak@188 – Not being a resident of GW, I didn’t attend, despite my outsider’s interest in the outcome. At this point in the process it is the community’s fight, and you seem to be doing quite well, thank you.

    One of the clips from your meeting on CBC this morning talked about the need for social justice in any plans coming forward, to applause. A very insightful and energizing comment, IMO. Keeping that issue and opportunity in the forefront will help in future planning, I would think.

    I’m particularly happy that the proposed scale – and density – of development at Broadway and Commercial has been brought to the fore for a closer look. This is an already incredibly congested TOD that truly needs the Broadway subway to help relieve the pressure on it caused by all the mode transfers. Livability needs to be a primary goal for futuer intensification, it would seem to me.

    I hope the the response to the original posting of this guest blog indicates a wider interest. At the least, it does seem to have helped foster a broader discussion of the GW planning process to date. Hopefully the next round will include options for development that the community can review and assess. I think that step got missed somehow but I don’t think it will in the future.

    Good luck.

  • 190 Westender1 // Jul 9, 2013 at 11:27 am

    As Frank Ducote noted: “At the least, it does seem to have helped foster a broader discussion of the GW planning process to date…”
    And equally importantly, perhaps can offer some different perspectives on the City’s approach to community planning in other neighbourhoods as well, such as Marpole and the West End.

  • 191 Andrew Browne // Jul 9, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Thanks to Jak King and Frank Ducote for posting about the neighbourhood meeting – I will be very interested to see where this ends up.

    I wonder why we are not exploring local-area type charges in support of transit? If the Broadway line is what is needed, why not assess $20/sqft (or whatever) for all development in the corridor area, held in reserve for the purpose of Broadway transit? Growth and change can be put to work for the benefit of everyone.

  • 192 jenables // Jul 9, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    Jak, I was there for the last half, trying not to yell “I move we take this meeting outside!” Phew!! Also had an interesting chat with councillor Reimer and although I missed her illustrious entrance, I was filled in later. I thought everyone who spoke, spoke very well. How telling that they had nothing budgeted for these changes…

  • 193 jenables // Jul 9, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Although I did enjoy clr Reimer asking me if i wanted to take it outside with her. She should have known my answer would be yes!

Leave a Comment