Produced by Postmedia Network
Approved this summer by Vancouver City Council, the Broadway Plan represents a visionary approach to a 30-year framework to integrate new housing, commercial and office developments, job space and amenities on 500 city blocks around the Broadway Subway.
Susan Thompson, associate director, research, with leading diversified professional services and investment management company Colliers, has been following the development of the plan since its inception.
Why is this development important for the City of Vancouver?
Cities evolve organically over time. You can resist change or accommodate the change you’re anticipating. Vancouver is one of the fastest growing urban areas and continues to be one of the largest draws in Canada for immigrants as well as interprovincial migration. The Broadway Plan offers a way to accommodate the growth we know is going to happen in a way that creates a livable, vibrant and desirable community.
How do we know that the Broadway Plan will benefit everyone, instead of serving specific interests?
It’s taken a decade to get this project over the approval line and the city has done a great job engaging different stakeholders. The plan really looks at a broad range of benefits, whether you’re a post-secondary student going to school here, a retired senior who imagines walks along the seawall, a growing company, a business looking for fresh office space, a retailer looking for a larger parcel of land or a street front venue, or a company looking to provide a service.
How does the Broadway Plan support economic growth?
Companies that are already here have expressed a need to grow and expand, and others are looking to come into the market. The Broadway Plan accommodates those needs so that we don’t miss out on those opportunities.
Our major education institutions are incubating companies offering new technology and they will also need to find a home. They’d love to locate where they’re familiar and comfortable and this development will give them a reason to stay.
What developments can we expect to see unfold in the area over the next five to 10 years?
You’re going to start to see mixed-use developments incorporating office, retail, services and housing on sites that may have been constrained by zoning that didn’t allow for upscaling and densification, so that developers can begin to meet existing demand.
Thanks in part to the detail of the Broadway Plan, they’ve heard the voices of stakeholders who are telling them, “This is the comprehensive variety of uses we need, these are the business opportunities we need, and these are the streetscape and interactive elements that we want to see.”
What do you like best about the Broadway Plan?
I like that the plan envisions a complete community within the concept of a 15-minute city. All of the things that an average person or family would need will be available within a 15-minute radius, whether by foot, bicycle, bus, trolley or subway.
This will create a diverse, vibrant and dense environment typical of the most popular neighbourhoods people want to live in and visit.
The affordability of housing in Vancouver has driven many people beyond city boundaries. How does the Broadway Plan address this challenge?
We believe that the biggest driver of housing affordability is supply. By increasing supply, the city is attempting to address some of that demand. The Broadway Plan proposes to supply housing across the entire spectrum, from social and affordable housing all the way to market and rental.
The stress on affordability begins with some really strong guidelines to ensure that people who already rent here won’t get priced out of the area.
What type of housing will be available for people who want to live here?
The highest concentrations are going to be around the transit nodes and then the density will taper off to mid-rise and low-rise away from them. But even then, the agreements regarding height restrictions will see buildings of a maximum height of 30 to 40 storeys around those nodes.
The plan envisions a wide variety of housing types for people who want to live here and then to move around within the area as the development continues and their circumstances change.
If the Broadway Plan delivers on its promise, how do you see its legacy?
The Broadway Plan is the type of visionary development that will inspire your grandchildren who are coming here to attend school, or start their first job, to look around them and say they can’t imagine a Vancouver without it.
To download Susan Thompson’s report, Building Cities for the Future, please click here.
This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Colliers.