Dan Fumano: Vancouver council approves controversial Broadway plan

The controversial Broadway plan was approved on Wednesday, after a failed attempt to leave the issue until after the next election.

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The Vancouver council approved the controversial Broadway plan on Wednesday night, after defeating an attempt to put the whole thing off until after the next election.

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Mayor Kennedy Stewart, speaking in favor of the plan, described it as “an incredible plan” to turn the Broadway corridor into “one of the most exciting neighborhoods in the country” by dramatically increasing housing options, especially for renters, by while also aiming to protect existing tenants.

But TEAM Count. Colleen Hardwick, who has been highly critical of the plan, predicted that its higher density will lead to tenant displacement and higher rents and home prices, arguing that it “promotes a false narrative of undersupply.”

After the vote, Hardwick said that if he is successful in his bid for mayor this year, and TEAM elects a majority to the council, they would “absolutely” try to repeal the Broadway plan.

“Obviously the subway is happening, there is no doubt about that. But there’s a good planning process, and there’s a bad planning process, and this one has been bad,” Hardwick said. “I think there is a right way, and I think there is the potential to course correct after the election.”

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Along with Stewart, seven other council members supported the plan overall and voted for most of it: Green Couns. Adriane Carr, Pete Fry, and Michael Wiebe, OneCity County. Christine Boyle and ABC Cons. Lisa Dominato, Rebecca Bligh, and Sarah Kirby-Yung.

Along with Hardwick, NPA Earl. Melissa De Genova and COPE Coun. Jean Swanson said that she would not support the plan and voted against most parts of it.

Earlier on Wednesday, the council rejected Hardwick’s attempt to delay the plan until after the October election. Near the end of a sixth day of public meetings on the issue, he proposed sending the entire plan, with amendments, back to staff to “undertake neighborhood-based planning with affected communities and bring it back to council for consideration afterward.” of the municipal assembly of 2022”. choice.”

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Hardwick’s proposal to postpone a decision on the plan was supported by Wiebe and De Genova. But the rest of the council voted against the delay and a heated exchange ensued.

The plan looks to the next 30 years for an area of ​​nearly 500 city blocks along the Broadway subway line, which is under construction, and envisions increasing the population of the corridor described as Vancouver’s “second center.” It sets a course for higher density in the area, where the city council expects the population to grow from about 78,000 residents to 128,000, and from 84,000 jobs to about 126,000.

More than 200 people signed up to address the council about the plan, one of the highest totals for a single article in recent history, and the council heard passionate arguments for and against it.

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Hardwick said the fact that council members prepared more than 40 amendments to the plan showed that it was “not ready for prime time.”

By forwarding the plan to staff, Hardwick said, “the new board can go into this with a fresh look and a fresh attitude. … We are trying to impose it before the end of our term, and that is inappropriate.”

Other councilors disagreed that something was catching on, considering that more than three years of staff work and public consultation had been included in the plan.

“What is behind this reference?” Bligh asked. “The reality is that the engine of this reference votes against 90 percent of the development.”

Hardwick objected to that characterization of Bligh. The two councilors ran together under the NPA banner in the 2018 elections, but will represent different parties in the October elections.

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When Mayor Kennedy Stewart spoke next, Hardwick objected again, and the meeting grew more heated.

Stewart said, “It’s not really a referral that’s being discussed here, it’s the whole concept of the plan. So I would just say, don’t recommend it, downvote it. I think a referral is not really what is being discussed here, I think if there are fundamental problems with this plan, referring it is not doing a public service.”

“I agree with the Count. Bligh, that if he is against the Broadway subway, and against the UBC extension, and against 90 percent of the things that come to council, of course he will be against this plan,” Stewart said. “But really express your intentions, don’t pretend to do it with a recommendation. Vote against the plan.”

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Hardwick demurred, saying, “I feel like I’ve been smeared by two council members,” namely Bligh and the mayor.

Stewart responded that citing a councilmember’s voting record on public affairs was not the same as defaming someone.

Carr, who was chairing the meeting, urged council members to treat each other with respect, even when they disagree.

The plan has been described, by supporters and opponents alike, as one of the biggest building decisions for the city of Vancouver in at least a generation.

Brent Toderian, Vancouver’s former chief planner, argued in a recent Vancouver Sun commentary that the plan’s vision of a denser, more transit-oriented future is necessary for the city to address interconnected crises related to housing, climate, social equity, public health, and infrastructure

Broadway’s plan is bold, which is one reason it’s controversial, Toderian wrote, “but it’s the absolute thing to do if we care about the future and are willing to back our own rhetoric.”

Other leading voices disagreed. In another Vancouver Sun commentary this week, David Ley, an emeritus professor of urban geography at the University of BC, predicted that the plan will lead to increases in land values, the loss of currently existing affordable rental housing, and the displacement of the tenants who live there. This day.

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