City of Vancouver's proposed Broadway Plan creates a second city centre

Mar 2 2022, 4:20 am

The process to create and finalize the Broadway Plan is now making its last lap ahead of Vancouver City Council’s final decision in May 2022.

The years-long planning process has now produced a draft plan for the future of the Central Broadway Corridor — a six square kilometre area roughly framed by 1st Avenue to the north, Clark Drive to the east, 16th Avenue to the south, and Vine Street to the west, spanning the districts and neighbourhoods of Kitsilano, Fairview, and Mount Pleasant.

Today, city staff released the area’s draft plan for the fourth and final round of public consultation in their planning process.

The draft Broadway Plan largely aligns with plan directions presented to the public for the third round of public consultation in November 2021, with more fine grain details now provided and recent public input considered.

Similar to other neighbourhood plans like the West End Plan and Cambie Corridor Plan, the Broadway Plan identifies housing, job growth, and land use opportunities that align with broader municipal and regional needs and interests, along with new and improved public spaces, community amenities, transportation infrastructure, and supporting utilities.

The plan was triggered by the construction of SkyTrain Millennium Line’s Broadway Extension to Arbutus Street, which will open in 2025.

In exchange for the $2.8-billion subway investment by the federal and provincial governments, the City of Vancouver is required to densify Central Broadway. In the Supportive Policies Agreement for the Millennium Line Broadway Extension Project, signed between the City of Vancouver and TransLink in 2018, the municipal government will advance “the principles of the Transit-Oriented Communities Design Guidelines in the planning, design, and implementation” by permitting “the concentration of homes, jobs, and key activities within a short walk of the stops for the Project at a level appropriate to support the transit investment.”

While significant new densities can be expected, similar to the Cambie Corridor Plan, especially around the subway stations, there will be a comparatively larger focus on protecting existing and creating new affordable housing, and generating new job space, given that the area is increasingly perceived as an extension of downtown Vancouver’s economic realm.

Currently, the area of the Broadway Plan is home to about 78,000 residents in 50,000 homes, and about 84,400 jobs.

If approved, the plan would set in motion redevelopments allowing 40,000 to 50,000 additional residents, bringing the area’s total population to 90,000 to 100,000 residents in 30 years. The number of homes would increase by 24,000 to 30,000 units.

In addition, the employment base of the area would increase by 33,000 to 42,000, reaching a total of 117,400 to 126,400 jobs.

This essentially solidifies Central Broadway as Vancouver’s secondary city centre, fulfilling its purpose as a large portion of the region’s Metro Core. Central Broadway is already Metro Vancouver’s second largest employment area in terms of number of jobs, just after the downtown peninsula. In the process, Vancouver will also gain a secondary skyline.

broadway plan draft vancouver skyline

Concept sketch of the future Central Broadway skyline as the result of the Broadway Plan. Click on the image for an expanded version. (City of Vancouver)

West End heights and densities for Broadway Plan area

Across the Broadway Plan study area, redevelopments of rental housing sites within existing apartment residential areas would be considered for added height and density if 20% of the residential floor area is dedicated as below-market rental housing, with the remainder of the residential floor area as secured market rental housing.

Strata condominium sites in the existing apartment residential areas would be considered for more height and density if the redevelopments offer at least 20% of the residential floor area as city-owned social housing. Alternatively, such strata sites could provide 100% of the residential floor area as strata ownership housing if they provide a community amenity contribution.

Existing low-density residential areas could gain additional height and density if they provide 100% of the residential floor area as secured market rental housing or dedicate 20% of the residential floor area as below-market rental housing, with the remainder as secured market rental housing.

At least 35% of the units in new residential buildings are required to be sized for families, specifically units with at least two bedrooms.

The envisioned new residential density across the Broadway Plan’s existing residential areas resemble the West End, and local-serving retail will also be encouraged within these traditionally residential areas.

broadway plan draft uses heights

Draft land uses and heights of the Broadway Plan, March 2022. Click on the image for an expanded version. (City of Vancouver)

The greatest overall neighbourhood residential densities are generally located in Kitsilano, which will be directly served by Arbutus Station. Building heights of up to 18 to 20 storeys would be permitted for the vast majority of the area framed by 1st Avenue to the north, Burrard Street to the east, 16th Avenue to the south, and Vine Street to the west. Taller mixed-use residential and commercial tower heights would be allowed near Arbutus Station and along West Broadway within this area. Generally, the plan would allow for up to two towers per city block.

Similar residential heights of up to 20 storeys would be permitted within Fairview south of 10th Avenue to 16th Avenue. Fairview, spanning between Burrard Street and Cambie Street, will be served by South Granville Station and Oak-VGH Station. Mixed-use towers up to 35 to 40 storeys would be allowed around South Granville Station, with these taller heights made possible by the lack of mountain view cones. Mixed-use tower heights of 25 to 30 storeys would be permitted along Broadway west of Fir Street and between Hemlock and Oak streets.

1477 West Broadway South Granville Station tower

Artistic rendering of the tower concept above the future South Granville Station at 1477 West Broadway, Vancouver. (Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership/PCI Developments)

vancouver broadway plan november 2021

Example building forms next to a future SkyTrain station and a four-lane road configuration for Broadway, under the Broadway Plan. (City of Vancouver)

The area along Broadway between Oak Street and Cambie Street and along Cambie Street between 4th Avenue and 12th Avenue is considered as Vancouver’s Uptown central business district, where commercial-only uses are allowed — retail, office, hotel, and institutional uses. Residential uses are not permitted to protect much-needed employment space to support economic growth.

Up to 32 storeys will be permitted within Uptown, but the building heights would be restricted to the underside of the sweeping View Cone 3 emanating from Queen Elizabeth Park, the view cones from Cambie Street and Vancouver City Hall, or the Vancouver General Hospital helicopter flight path. Uptown is anchored by the hospital and other healthcare-related uses, which will be intensified under the plan to account for long-term hospital, healthcare, and research expansion.

East of Broadway-City Hall Station, the existing residential areas within Mount Pleasant would be mostly limited to six storeys, with the exception of up to 20 to 25 storeys along Main Street from 2nd Avenue to 7th Avenue, and up to 20 to 30 storeys along Kingsway from Main Street to 16th Avenue including Kingsgate Mall. As well, up to 20 storeys would be permitted in pockets of existing residential areas southwest of Mount Pleasant Station and south of Great Northern Way-Emily Carr Station, and 18 to 20 storeys along Broadway from Prince Edward Street to just east of Fraser Street. Fraser Street would also see a transformation, with 15 to 18 storey towers permitted from 10th Avenue to 16th Avenue.

vancouver broadway plan november 2021

Broadway Plan concept for West Broadway near South Granville Station. (City of Vancouver)

Mount Pleasant Industrial Lands — framed by 2nd Avenue to the north, Main Street to the east, 8th Avenue to the south, and Yukon Street to the west — would continue to be protected for intensified light industrial and commercial uses. Residential uses are not permitted in these industrial lands.

For the Creative District along the north side of Great Northern Way, building heights of up to 25 to 35 storeys would be considered closest to Great Northern Way-Emily Carr Station, with a focus on institutional and creative industrial uses, employment spaces such as office, hotel uses, and potentially rental housing.

Existing low-storey retail districts along West 4th Avenue in Kitsilano and along Main Street south of Broadway in Mount Pleasant will only see marginally increased heights of four to six to protect their character and “minimize redevelopment pressures on existing businesses.”

Transportation and public spaces

An early direction in the planning process for the Broadway Plan called for the removal of the southwest loop of the Granville Street Bridge — removing the existing informal open green space for a mixed-use development. But after considering public input, city staff have now eliminated this development concept in the draft plan, and are instead calling for the maintenance and enhancement of this public open/green space, including a potential “gateway” feature near the intersection of Granville Street and West 5th Avenue. Unlike Granville Loop Park on the east side of Granville Street, the southwest loop’s open area is currently not designated as an official public park.

The Broadway Plan generally calls for optimizing existing open and green public spaces, and potentially repurposing some streets. Along commercial high streets, there could be widened sidewalks, parklets, plazas, active laneways, and other public space improvements.

broadway plan streets public spaces

Potential optimization of existing public streets into public spaces within the Broadway Plan, March 2022 draft plan. Click on the image for an expanded version. (City of Vancouver)

The plan also specifically envisions turning Broadway into a “Great Street” by permanently reducing the number of road lanes to accommodate wider pedestrian sidewalks on both sides of the street. One vehicle lane would be removed in each direction to allow for the sidewalk widening for pedestrians, patios, and other public space uses. The implementation of the new four-lane standard will begin with the subway station construction blocks, when the roadway is rebuilt with the new design in 2025. Over time, the four-lane standard will be accomplished for a continuous four-km-long central segment of Broadway between Arbutus and Main streets.

Additionally, an improved and expanded cycling network is planned for the Broadway Plan area, but not on Broadway to ensure its optimal future uses for pedestrians.

broadway plan transportation plan

Potential transportation concept for the Broadway Plan, March 2022 draft plan. Click on the image for an expanded version. (City of Vancouver)

broadway plan priority walking cycling routes

Priority new and improved priority walking and cycling routes within the Broadway Plan, March 2022 draft plan. Click on the image for an expanded version. (City of Vancouver)

$1.2 billion in development-funded public benefits

City staff’s draft Broadway Plan entails a 10-year capital plan strategy of generating funding from developments to support the new public amenities and infrastructure required to support the density of more residents and jobs. This includes mechanisms such as community amenity contributions, development cost levies, and density bonus zoning.

The city is targeting $1.2 billion for the cost of the public benefits in the first 10 years of the Broadway Plan.

This includes $450 million for 600 to 850 new additional units of social housing, $100 million for 250 to 450 replacement and new childcare spaces, $100 million for new and improved parks and community centres, $50 million for expanded arts and culture spaces and public art, $100 million for community and public safety facilities such as the renewal and expansion of the fire hall and Vancouver Public Library’s Fire Hall branch, $100 million for transportation and street uses including the conversion of about four kilometres of Broadway to a four-lane “Great Street” standard with widened pedestrian sidewalks, and $300 million for upgraded sewers, drainage, and green rainwater infrastructure.

Ahead of the Broadway Plan’s finalization, the public can provide their input on the draft plan through an online survey, now open until March 22, 2022.


Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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