False Creek South residents envision 1 million sq. ft. of new homes, commercial space

Jan 31 2020, 3:02 pm

Over a million sq. ft. of new housing and commercial space has been envisioned for False Creek South by the area’s neighbourhood association.

The False Creek South Neighbourhood Association (FCSNA) is hoping its draft plan for the area — stretching from Burrard Bridge to the west to Cambie Bridge to the east — will help guide the City of Vancouver’s possible future development plans in the neighbourhood.

They also support gradual infill in the existing developed areas, but much of the growth would occur within a so-called Intergenerational Hub near the Canada Line’s Olympic Village Station.

Within this hub, a new “Campus Of Care” providing health services for seniors on the current site of False Creek Public Tennis Club could replace the Broadway Lodge long-term care facility currently located near Granville Island.

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Artistic rendering of the Intergenerational Hub in False Creek South. (False Creek South Neighbourhood Association)

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Potential new opportunities for development in False Creek South. (False Creek South Neighbourhood Association)

There could also be workforce housing next to the SkyTrain station, specifically for the city-based police, fire, and healthcare workers and local teachers. The site surrounding the station is currently undeveloped, with a ground-level parking lot and temporary homeless modular housing structure.

Additionally, the neighbourhood association would like to see co-op housing for families and seniors on the current footprint of the Heather Square bus loop.

All of these specific sites eyed for the Intergenerational Hub are owned by the City of Vancouver.

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The City of Vancouver owns 80% of the False Creek South neighbourhood. (City of Vancouver)

The municipal government’s Property Endowment Fund owns 80% of this 136-acre waterfront neighbourhood, which was previously an industrial site until the 1970s when it was redeveloped into a mixed tenure — co-ops, strata condominiums, and non-profit and supportive housing — and mixed-income community of one-third low income, one-third middle income, and one-third high income residents.

False Creek South “has succeeded beyond original expectations to become one of the world’s most livable urban neighbourhoods,” reads the draft plan.

“Our goal is to retain and increase the stock of affordable housing on that basis, where at least two-thirds of homes are low and middle income households, and where affordability is defined as a percentage of income.”

Residents have created their own vision as there is some uncertainty with the neighbourhood’s future, given that most of the properties on city-owned land were set at a term of 60 years. According to FCSNA, the leases on city-owned land expire between 2022 and 2046.

False Creek South Seawall

The reconstructed False Creek South seawall with separated and widened bike and pedestrian paths. (Kenneth Chan / Daily Hive)

This week, the municipal government launched a public consultation on renewing co-op leases on city-owned land ahead of their expiration. Feedback is being sought by city staff on four scenarios, including a status quo basic renewal, renewal with an additional grant to ensure affordability for co-op members, redevelopment to increase the number of co-op homes, and the termination of lease.

“The lease scenarios aim to maximize city land, while also ensuring that residents have the ability to keep living in their homes and not paying more than 30% of their income on housing costs,” reads a city release, which emphasized on the need of protecting existing homes while also generating funding for more stable, high-quality, affordable units to help address Vancouver’s continuing housing affordability challenges.

The leased land in False Creek South is currently occupied by six co-ops totalling 573 homes, four market rental buildings totalling 124 homes, six non-profit rental buildings totalling 455 homes, and 13 stratas totalling 669 homes.

In total, 1,821 of the approximate 3,000 homes in False Creek South are on city-owned leased land. Nearly 6,000 residents live in the neighbourhood.

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Artistic rendering of the Senakw development in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood. (Revery Architecture / Westbank / Squamish First Nation)

Comparatively, the approved Senakw redevelopment on the Squamish First Nation’s reserve at the southern foot of the Burrard Bridge will have 6,000 homes on a ground footprint that is just 7% of all of False Creek South.

FCSNA’s draft plan also envisions a number of public realm and connectivity improvements, including improved pedestrian pathways and transit, an extension of most of the city’s north-south streets across West 6th Avenue into the neighbourhood, and improved green spaces.

There should also be district energy systems, an encouragement for green building retrofitting, and a consideration of relocation or redevelopment of some buildings subject to flooding.