5 Mayoral Candidates on the Broadway Plan

Colleen Hardwick Speaking

Vancouver, June 19 – In 2022, both independents and political party candidates are vying for the ten spots on the local Vancouver City Council, and a number of very interesting people are running for mayor in the upcoming municipal election on October 15th. As usual, one of the hotly debated and contested topics is that of affordable housing, especially as it relates to the Broadway Plan.

The Broadway Plan, according to the Daily Hive, “Under an agreement with TransLink and the provincial government, the City of Vancouver is required to plan for the densification of Broadway with more housing and employment density, in exchange for the $2.8 billion investment in building SkyTrain’s Millennium Line Broadway Extension to Arbutus.”

This means coming up with a “comprehensive framework to guide growth and positive change in the area over the next 30 years to meet the needs of today’s residents and generations in the future.”

The City did this by engaging the public through 130 different events, such as in-person and virtual open houses and workshops, walking tours, pop-ups, and office hours; thousands of survey responses and input from other channels. The idea is to preserve what’s important to the Kitsilano, Fairway and Mount Pleasant neighbourhoods, and support the growth of the city and region as a whole.

So far, so good.

The Broadway Plan is connected to the “Broadway Subway Project”, which is a 5.7 km extension of the Millenium Line, from VCC-Clark Station to Broadway and Arbutus. The main goals of the Broadway Subway Project include:

  • addressing the need for more housing and job space close to rapid transit
  • greater affordability in housing and supports to allow tenants to stay in their neighbourhoods
  • new and improved ways for people to move around
  • improved parks and public spaces
  • more childcare spaces
  • new and renewed public amenities to serve a growing community
https://www.broadwaysubway.ca/construction/photos-and-videos/

This also sounds good. So why are some people against it? What is the controversy about? Why did 202 people speak for or against the plan to the current sitting Council, according to Frances Bula on the Jas Johal Show?

To help answer that question, I will start by sharing what five upcoming mayoral candidates have to say.

1. Mayor Kennedy Stewart (Forward Together)

And I will start with the current Mayor of the City of Vancouver Kennedy Stewart, who supports the plan, although he also contributed to some of the 42 proposed amendments and counting that will change how the 493-page plan will be implemented in Vancouver.

Kennedy Stewart shared his thoughts. “As the years go along, and more new buildings are completed, the amount of permanently affordable housing goes up. Two-thirds of new homes under the Broadway Plan will be rental, and a large proportion will be permanently affordable. That means more choices for more renters — forever.”

He also says “that thanks to amendments I will bring forward, no one will see their rents go up. In fact, for many people along Broadway who are paying market rates, they could even see their rents drop. That’s because the rents would be capped at 20% below average city rents, or the same as what you paid before, whichever is lower.”

Then there is also the “Kennedy Stewart, mayor, City of Vancouver” official statement:

“The Broadway Subway will be transformational – not just for the City of Vancouver, but for the entire region and the province as a whole. As Metro Vancouver’s second-largest employment centre, the Broadway corridor helps generate $14 billion in gross domestic product that will power our economy for decades to come. This project will not only move people, but also ideas, innovation and investment. The Broadway Subway will move us all forward.”

But then I found this report from the General Manager of Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability, to Standing Committee on Policy and Strategic Priorities, which states:

“THAT, subject to Council approval of the Broadway Plan, Council repeal the

  • Kitsilano Neighbourhood Plan (1977);
  • Fairview Slopes Policy Plan (1977);
  • Central Area Plan: Goals and Land Use Policy C-3A – Central Broadway (1991);
  • Arbutus Neighbourhood Policy Plan (1992);
  • Broadway-Arbutus Policies (2004);
  • Burrard Slopes I-C Districts Interim Rezoning Policies and Guidelines (2007);
  • Mount Pleasant Community Plan (2010); Mount Pleasant Community Plan Implementation Plan (2013)”.

“Oh, oh.”

When these plans were made, nobody thought that one day a new plan would come along and display all the old plans. Therefore, no promises made in this new plan can be guaranteed. Plans change. Priorities change. People change. There will be new mayors and city councillors who will all bring their thoughts and ideas to the table and we all know that change is the only constant in life, according to Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher. And people hate change. Managing this will make the difference between winning and losing the election.

2. Councillor Colleen Hardwick (TEAM for a Livable Vancouver)

According to an article in the Georgia Straight, written by Editor Charlie Smith, Hardwick said “The Broadway Plan is not only flawed but it is a massive 493-page proposal affecting 500 blocks—and one that few Vancouver citizens have had a chance to review or consider its impact on their neighbourhoods,” Hardwick declared. “Now, council is debating 42 amendments that would substantially alter an already extremely complicated plan—it’s ridiculous and it’s unfair to Vancouver residents.”

Councillor Hardwick is proposing to defer any voting until after the October 15th election and let all the stakeholders to this plan have a chance to properly understand the pros and cons. Hardwick, on her website www.voteteam says that TEAM wants to: “Provide a mix of non-market and market housing, for rentals and ownership, including co-ops, co-housing, secondary suites, multiple conversion dwellings, infill, laneways, multiplexes, townhouses, and apartments, planned in partnership with local residents at the scale of each neighbourhood.”

The wording that seems to be most important in all this at “The scale of each neighbourhood.” This is why, in the interest of full disclosure, I joined TEAM for a Livable Vancouver, as I believe that they want to help the City of Vancouver create affordable diverse housing that will meet the needs of all residents and bring about change in a gradual manner, rather than lightning fast revolutionary transformation of a significant part of the city that no one is ready for. And a crumbling of 7 city plans in one fell swoop that will make no one happy but developers and the tax collectors.

Bill Tieleman, West Broadway resident and professional lobbyist, has recently joined TEAM, and at a protest rally in May commented “Really, what we have here is a battle for the soul of the city,” Tieleman and other residents are concerned about the area becoming a forest of highrises, with some reaching 40 storeys in height. This is according to an article written by Mike Howell on the “Vancouver is Awesome” blog.

Construction of the Broadway Subway has already begun, and as far as I can personally tell, is already disruptive to the flow of traffic and to businesses along the corridor. By the time we add the Vancouver Plan, the Broadway Plan, the Jericho Land’s redevelopment plan, the Squamish Nation Building Plan and the Mount Pleasant Community Plan, Vancouver will just be an anthill of cranes and construction sites, which will make it really hard to get around. But that is just my opinion.

And will really add to the affordability? By the time you add rising construction costs, inflation, the cost of living and supply chain issues, I can just see the prices on all these new homes rising inexorably higher than wanted or planned.

The Arbutus station as seen on Flickr

3. Ken Sim (ABC Vancouver)

So far, I have not been able to find out with certainty on whether or not Ken Sim likes the Broadway Plan or not. I have just seen a few clues that help me guess which way he’s leaning. For example, in a headline written by Jen St. Denis in the Toronto Star back in 2018, “Ken Sim says he (also) won’t sacrifice the ‘soul’ of Vancouver neighbourhoods for development”. At the time, according to the article, “He says Chinatown and Vancouver’s other unique neighbourhoods — Commercial Drive, Main Street, Gastown, the Greek area on Broadway — are worth saving.”

But then, I also found a statement on Twitter written on May 23, 2022: “If I’m elected mayor, ensuring younger generations can afford housing will be my number one priority.”

Also, “ABC has quickly established itself as a commercial and business-friendly choice for Vancouver voters” according to Mo Amir, and the ABC Vancouver party pledges that “We want Vancouver to be a city where residents feel safe to walk down the street and a city where every generation can afford housing. We hope to build on Vancouver’s legacy as a sustainable, inclusive, and vibrant city.” as it states on their website. https://abcvancouver.ca/ .

So it could go either way.

4. Mark Marrison (Progress Vancouver)

Another person I haven’t discovered yet exactly how he feels about the Broadway Plan. A guest article written for the Georgia Straight has the headline “Mark Marissen: Let’s fix this Vancouver housing crisis with open hearts and open minds.” One of his thoughts is that “Our housing shortage is affecting everyone in this city. This is because, regardless of Vancouver’s central role in the region, on most of the residential land in the city, it’s still illegal to build the types of housing we need. And in the few spots where it’s allowed, homeowners are dragged for years through a Kafkaesque maze, even for some of the most routine approvals. “

In the Merriam Webster Dictionary, kafkaesque means “of, relating to, or suggestive of Franz Kafka or his writings especially : having a nightmarishly complex, bizarre, or illogical quality Kafkaesque bureaucratic delays.”

He wants to solve housing problems by “Utilizing as much city-owned (non-park) land as possible to deliver mixed income and affordable family-oriented housing, through a new agency called the Vancouver Civic Housing Corporation.”

As a little aside, what surprises me how many different agencies have to work together to achieve one single housing project. Why bother adding one more to the mix when there are so many already in play? Here is just one example as provided by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation:

“The federal government, through the National Housing Co-Investment Fund (NHCF), is investing nearly $35.9 million for a new housing project that will provide 114 new homes and will be operated by the Lookout Housing and Health Society. The Government of British Columbia, through BC Housing, is providing approximately $10.3 million from the Building BC: Community Housing Fund and will provide approximately $200,000 in annual operating funding. The City of Vancouver contributed approximately $3 million from the Community Housing Incentive Program (CHIP).”

So it sounds like Progress Vancouver supports affordable housing, but the question is with our without their support for the Broadway Plan?

5. John Coupar (NPA)

On Twitter, I was able to find this tweet “That’s why I don’t support Broadway Plan in its present form a severe lack of parks and public amenities. Our @NPAVancouver team supports increased density along rapid transit routes but not without needed green spaces.” This was written in response to a tweet by Eddy Elmer: a Gerontology PhDc, who said “More green, less lonely? Longitudinal study finds that people in neighbourhoods with 30%+ green space have lower odds of loneliness over time vs those in areas with <10%. Link even stronger for peoplel living alone.” An especially important concept during pandemic times.

Another thing I read presented by Park Commissionar Coupar was “The view corridor from Queen Elizabeth Park is irreplaceable. The view has immense, demonstrable value for our city, its people, and the larger city economy. If this view were to be lost and/or negatively impacted through any change brought about by the Broadway Plan, the city would be the greatly diminished – not only in the eyes of our city’s residents but also in the eyes of the world. THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Vancouver Park Board opposes any change to the protected views from Queen Elizabeth Park.”

Photo of Queen Elizabeth Park from Pixabay

So it sounds like John Coupar and the NPA don’t support the Broadway Plan, until it has been amended to contain more parks, public amenities and keeps view corridors in place.

Conclusion

We do need housing. We need it to be affordable for residents, especially those who are “Service workers” performing tasks such as food service, cleaning service, personal service, and protective service, or servers, cleaners, trades people and security providers/police.

Everyone has great idealistic ideas on how to create affordable housing, but so far, nothing has worked, because no one seems to be addressing globalism and the fact that we are not just competing with our neighbours with similar salaries, but the uber-wealthy around the world who can afford to buy multiple mansions will purchase a place for the investment or just in case something happens in their home country.

An average salary for a family of 4 in Vancouver is around $90,000 CAD a year. Yet the houses in Vancouver are all at least a million dollars and can mean saving for a $100,000+ down payment while struggling to survive in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

“If you look at per-capita incomes, we look like Reno or Nashville,” Andy Yan, an urban planner at the Vancouver-based firm Bing Thom Architects, told me. “But our housing prices easily compete with San Francisco’s.”

On top of this, development also equals disruption and will mean that thousands of renters and home owners will have to leave while the 6-storey, 20-storey or 40-storey apartments are being constructed and a second downtown is created along the corridor.

Sandy James Planner in an article on Viewpoint Vancouver writes: “Eight blocks on either side of Broadway from Clark Drive to the east and Vine Street to the west already house 81,000 residents, most of them renters. Until a few weeks ago these areas, many which contain three storey walk-up affordable rental accommodations did not understand that they too would be upzoned for up to 20 storey buildings.”

According to Bill McCreery in VanPoli: “The City of Vancouver is replacing perfectly good, comfortable, livable rental accommodation for tiny new units at 256% higher rents (and that’s with the 20% “discount”). And in addition to doing this all over the City, they want to wipe out 50% of the rental buildings in Vancouver in the 500 block proposed Broadway Plan to continue doing the same thing.”

Broadway could look like Coal Harbour

Out of the 5 above-mentioned mayoral candidates, I am putting my money behind Councillor Colleen Hardwick, as she has a slate of candidates that are all knowledgeable and well-educated who can lead us to steady and slow change, rather than scary and disruptive change that will displace and hurt a lot of people over the next four years, until a new council can be elected to bring about even more change in 2026.

TEAM, along with mayoral candidate Hardwick, promises to “ensure residents and businesses are getting the value they deserve from their municipal tax dollars, capitalize on service-delivery proposals and spending efficiencies identified by the Vancouver Auditor General and focus on programs and services within its core mandate in the most efficient and effective way possible before carefully considering the provision of services outside its mandate .” So an amended Broadway Plan could still be on the table, but it will be done while still providing value, keeping within a budget and ensuring core services continue to be provided. I like that idea.

This is downtown, but it could soon be what Broadway looks like in terms of housing density, minus the ocean.
Follow me!
Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail