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Vancouver seeks to curb land speculation ahead of Broadway Subway opening

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Kenneth Chan May 23, 2018 4:34 pm 2,175

Learning from the impacts of the Canada Line on the Cambie Corridor, the City of Vancouver announced today it intends to take proactive measures to limit land speculation along the Broadway Corridor ahead of the completion of the underground SkyTrain extension of the Millennium Line to Arbutus Street.

According to a release, the proposed new policy measure called the Development Contribution Expectation (DCE) is designed to ensure owners, realtors, and developers understand the municipal government’s intention to preserve and grow affordable and rental housing and job space along the Corridor.

This DEC will outline the municipality’s expectation for development contributions that support public amenities and affordable housing, including where below-market rental housing will be prioritized.

The city says a contracted independent analysis has determined an interim “substantial contribution” based on the forecasted market value increase from the subway, and where additional density for market condominiums is being sought.

878-898 West Broadway Vancouver

Artistic rendering of the redevelopment at 878-898 West Broadway, Vancouver. (Arno Matis Architecture)

“Stabilizing land values along the Broadway corridor to prioritize the retention of existing affordable rental housing is one of the priority actions in the Housing Vancouver strategy,” says Gil Kelley, the City’s General Manager of Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability, in a statement.

“This approach also supports existing city and provincial policies on financing public benefits to serve growth, and will enable new supply and further strengthen protections for renters.”

Artistic rendering of the redevelopment at 510 West Broadway – the southwest corner of the intersection of Cambie Street and West Broadway. (W.T. Leung Architects / Pacific Crown Management Company Ltd.)

Building design constraints such as heights, densities, and types of uses will not be determined by the Developer Contribution Rate, as that will be determined by the final Broadway Corridor Plan. An interim rezoning policy for the Corridor may be created to limit rezonings, with some exceptions, while the planning process is underway.

However, the city already has certain restrictions in mind that will be carried forward into the eventual final area plan.

No additional density of market condominiums are permitted in areas already protected against the loss of rental housing through the Rental Housing Stock Official Development Plan, which stipulates a one-for-one replacement of rental units for new developments of three units or more.

As well, no additional residential density can be built along West Broadway between Yukon Street and Oak Street as the city has decided to prioritize job-creating uses for the area such as office and retail space. This area is a part of the healthcare precinct anchored by Vancouver General Hospital.

City Council will review the proposed process for the Broadway Corridor planning program, with the recommended measures to restrict land price speculation, next month.

In contrast, a similar step with the Cambie Corridor planning program was not made until three weeks before the Canada Line opened in the summer of 2009. All three components of the final Cambie Corridor Plan were only approved earlier this month.

Broadway Extension

Map of the Millennium Line’s Broadway Extension subway stations. (TransLink)

The city-building and economic potential of the $2.83-billion, 5.7-km-long, six-station Broadway Extension project is immense. Construction is slated to begin in 2020 for an opening in 2025.

It already has a significantly high ridership of over 100,000 passengers per day, including 55,000 on the 99 B-Line, which is the busiest bus route in Canada and the United States. Upon opening, the subway is expected to immediately attract 140,000 passengers per day – the same ridership as the much longer Canada Line today.

The Broadway Corridor is the second largest employment area in the Metro Vancouver region, right after the downtown Vancouver peninsula, and it is expected to absorb much of Vancouver’s future growth.

“The future SkyTrain development along Broadway is a key opportunity to continue creating more job space and affordable housing,” says Sadhu Johnston, Vancouver City Manager. “By leveraging this critical transportation investment we can ensure that the needs of our employers and residents are being met as our city continues to grow.”

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Kenneth Chan
National Features Editor at Daily Hive, the evolution of Vancity Buzz. He covers local architecture, urban issues, politics, business, retail, economic development, transportation and infrastructure, and the travel industry. Kenneth is also a Co-Founder of New Year's Eve Vancouver. Connect with him at kenneth[at]dailyhive.com

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