From Vancouver Sun ( Matt Robinson)
Published on: April 16, 2018 | Last Updated: April 16, 2018 7:40 PM PDT
Vancouver city councillors are set to debate this week the last major piece of a three-part plan to triple the population in the Cambie Street corridor by 2041, but mayoral hopeful and Non-Partisan Association councillor Hector Bremner wants to see redevelopment in the area sped up.
Councillors have already voted to support greater density along Cambie Street and other major arterial routes in the corridor. Now up for consideration are dozens of blocks off those busy thoroughfares that are within a ten minute walk from existing and future rapid transit stations.
The plan before councillors calls for hundreds of single-family lots to be redeveloped into townhouses, row houses and apartment buildings. The general idea is to use these blocks as a “neighbourly transition” between high density buildings along major routes and the low density single-family areas that are adjacent to them, according to a staff report to councillors.
If councillors approve the plan, staff will start to plan an overhaul of utility infrastructure in the area. After that, “it is anticipated” that the city would rezone initial areas identified for townhouses, according to the report. Developers would initiate rezonings for buildings in the remainder of the corridor, the report states.
Bremner argued in a motion that is also slated to be heard this week against such a “building-by-building” approach. He has called for the areas proposed for greater density to be prezoned by the city to avoid lengthy spot rezoning processes.
“Vancouver is facing a housing crisis, requiring immediate and bold action,” Bremner said in his motion, arguing for prezoning “so that the politicians no longer need to meddle in the building process and slow important housing from reaching citizens.”
Bremner said in an interview that prezoning would bring a smoother, clearer, more transparent approach to redevelopment in the area.
“What we’re saying is we don’t need to go through the procedural, time-consuming, multi-million dollar staff tax dollar drain of re-hearing every individual property within there.”
Bremner said he thought the majority of residents generally agreed with the city’s plan for the area, but added that he had an open mind and wanted to hear from speakers.
“If it is going to happen, I want it prezoned,” he said.
A city spokesman said many of the areas in the Cambie corridor need further study to determine how prezoning would work out, citing additional height and density for social and below-market rental housing.
It’s anticipated, however, that some of the areas for townhouses will be prezoned after a utilities servicing plan is completed in July.
In a Facebook post from April 13, Bremner argued that the city’s existing rezoning process “leads to the opportunity for corruption.”
The broader Cambie corridor plan covers an area stretching 10 square kilometres — about nine per cent of the city’s area — that is home to roughly 35,000 people, or six per cent of Vancouver’s population, according to the city. More than one-in-five lots in the area is zoned for single-family housing.
Staff say there has been “localized concern” over specific locations and types of proposed development in the area.
“Residents expressed concerns over impacts of future development, suggesting either no change for their area, or an expanded area of change that would increase development potential for their site,” according to the city’s report.
The cost to replace the existing water, sewage and drainage infrastructure in the area is around $500 million, according to the city. The cost to upgrade that infrastructure would exceed that, according to the city, which did not include a projected price tag in its report.
with file from Gordon McIntyre