Friday, June 10, 2022

A letter to the Globe & Mail's Alex Bozikovic re: density and affordability


This morning, I received an email from Alex Bozikovic, the Globe and Mail's Architecture Critic and a journalist whose work I often admire, questioning what I meant when I tweeted out "one of the greatest fallacies in Vancouver is that increasing density results in greater affordability. It doesn't. As higher and higher densities are approved, land values on a square foot basis increase." 

This tweet was referenced in a Globe and Mail story by Kerry Gold, (whose work I also admire) this morning. Below is my response to Alex attempting to explain what on first glance appears to be an odd statement from me.

Alex, while you can't have affordability without density, increased density does not necessarily equate to increased affordability, especially over time. It may in the short term, but not necessarily over time. 

 

This is because there are six key cost components (see attached) when it comes to producing housing and determining affordability. Often the price paid for land is determined on a per square foot basis (psf) given the required end price for condos or rents for purpose-built rentals, the density at a particular point in time, and the other cost considerations.  Here are some recent examples.

 

Condos: The city of Vancouver increased the density along the Cambie Corridor from single-family density to 2.5 FSR in many areas. Developers determined that they could sell completed product for $1400 psf and could pay $400 psf buildable for the single-family lots along the street. The property assessments along the street in turn increased in value from $3 million to around $8.5 million. 

 

However, for a while the end price being paid by buyers (both investors and 'end-users') dropped from $1400 to around $1250 psf. Land values dropped accordingly. Some lots sold at the lower price, but many were taken off the market. Projects stalled.

 

Eventually condo prices increased back up to $1400+ a foot.

 

Another thing happened. One particular architect Arno Matis demonstrated that he could get approval for 2.75 FSR, rather than 2.5. Those who already owned properties benefitted if they hired him and sought 2.75 FSR. Others sought him out.

 

Once other landowners, realtors and developers were aware a 2.75 FSR was possible, and being advertised by realtors, condo prices did not come down. Rather, the price being paid for the bungalows again increased, both to reflect the increased end sales price but also the assumption that if you hired Arno Matis, or an equally talented architect, you could likely get a 10% FSR bonus, or perhaps more. 

 

Over the years I have been involved with one development project and several property tax appeals along the Cambie Corridor. Here is a link to a story I did with the Georgia Straight about Cambie Corridor rezonings. https://www.straight.com/news/michael-geller-explains-how-vancouver-rezoning-plays-on-cambie-corridor-go-round-and-round#:~:text=It%20can%20be%20recalled%20that,the%20story%2C%E2%80%9D%20Geller%20suggested.

 

Rental housing: For some time, developers of purpose-built rental housing determined thy could pay approximately $200 psf buildable for land upon which to build a purpose-built project, provided they could rent it out around $3.75 psf. A lot of sites traded at $200 psf buildable.  The value of the land was site area times $200 times FSR density.

 

If they thought they could get 3.5 FSR, they could pay $3.5 million for a 6000 sq.ft. single family lot, and many did. 

 

However, recently, construction costs and interest rates have increased quite significantly, and many of these projects are no longer economically feasible as initially conceived.

 

Three things are happening. 

  • Land values are starting to come down psf: Developers can no longer pay $200 psf buildable. 
  • Developers are seeking higher densities:  Those who have already bought sites are seeking higher densities to reduce the value of the land on a psf basis.  Others are telling the city it must increase densities along the Broadway Corridor and elsewhere to make projects feasible
  • Developers are having to increase their equity contribution:  To address increased financing costs, developers are having to put in more equity to make a project feasible and financeable. 

So, what's my point. Of course, housing affordability is related to density, but it is also heavily influenced by the market value, (whether ownership or rental, and if rental whether a 20% below market component is required), and the five other cost components.

 

In fact, one might argue that construction cost, interest rates, and municipal fees can be even more significant than density when determining whether a housing development will be affordable.

 

It is for this reason I do not agree with Vancouver's Director of Planning who says you must have 8 FSR or 12 FSR to make a project feasible. It's much more complex than that. If interest rates go to 12% or 21% as they did in 1981 when I left CMHC to join a private developer, this will change required densities until rents increase, etc. or construction costs or municipal fees are adjusted. Or government subsidies become available. 

 

Furthermore, as densities increase, land values will increase, all other things being equal.

 

So, what's the solution? 

 

I believe we must take density into consideration, but we should establish neighbourhood densities based on context and physical form, not just economics. 

 

We must consider urban land economics. This is important since if the value of a single-family lot zoned for multi-family is not greater than its single-family value, it won't get redeveloped as multifamily. 

 

By example, for a while, the required density for townhouses on single-family land in Vancouver was around 1.1 to1.2 FSR. For a single-family lot to be feasible as a purpose-built rental project with a below-market component, a 2.5 to 3 FSR was required. 

 

But these numbers are constantly changing as construction costs, interest rates, and municipal fees, especially community amenity contribution charges, change. In other words, you can't have affordability without density, but increasing density does not necessarily increase affordability. 

 

I hope this is helpful. Cheers

Saturday, June 4, 2022

So, what is the right density? Some additional musings on the Broadway Plan.

I recently sent a message to Theresa O'Donnell. Director of Planning and General Manager of Planning, Urban Design & Sustainability. I don't know if she received it since I didn't receive any acknowledgement, but I did send a copy to the Mayor's Office and members of Council. Below is the message:  

Flawed economic modeling for Broadway Plan heights and densities.

Theresa, I have just reviewed your closing comments document. Having spent five decades developing market and non-market housing in the public, private, and institutional sectors, and often been the proponent for greater heights and densities, I must tell you that while I agree higher densities are required to deliver affordable rental housing, the proposed FSRs and heights as set out below are deeply flawed. 

I would suggest that the land values will be determined by the allowable FSR and heights, not the other way around.

I understand that Coriolis was involved in undertaking fiscal analysis for the city, and while I have known and respected this firm for decades, they are not always right. 

For example, they were wrong in predicting what might happen to property values along Cambie Corridor when they set the CACs. 

Who else has provided the following questionable data? 

  • Along Broadway min. 8 FSR (20+ storeys) is required for market rental and office to be financially viable. 10-12+ FSR (30+ storeys) is required for rental with 20% BMR.
  • In residential areas, min. 5.5-6.5 FSR (18-20 storeys) is required for rental with 20% BMR
These FSRs are most inappropriate for a city that does not aspire to be New York. I hope Council does not approve this level of density and height, especially in the absence of more park space and community amenities.

I'll be happy to discuss this further. 

While I didn't hear back from Ms O'Donnell, I did receive a response from Councillor Jean Swanson who wanted to know 

"So, Michael how much density do U think would be required for say 30 percent affordable or 40 percent? Thanks. "

I was pleased to receive this question and would like to share my response to Councillor Swanson

You have asked what the required density is to achieve different levels of rental housing affordability. Unfortunately, there is no correct answer since although land costs are a critical cost consideration affecting affordability, there are five other cost considerations that impact housing prices and rents.

These are construction costs, soft costs, marketing, financing (interest rates), and profit. (See attached slide presentation.)

As these costs, especially construction and financing costs go up and down, the cost to create housing goes up and down. I therefore do not think we should attempt to establish Building Heights and FSRs based on certain land value assumptions today since other cost will fluctuate over time.

In addition, the required density will also depend on whether there are federal and provincial subsidy dollars available for a project.

For these reasons, we should do what we have traditionally done; establish densities based on sound physical planning practices. How many people do we want to accommodate around new transit stations? What floor space ratio and building height is appropriate next to lower density neighbourhoods, recognizing they too will change over time.

And based on the anticipated/desired population increase, what is the required amount of new park space, community facilities, etc. and where might they go?

It is simply wrong to say 

  • a minimum of 8 FSR (20+ storeys) is required for market rental and office to be financially viable. 10-12+ FSR (30+ storeys) is required for rental with 20% BMR.
  • In residential areas, min. 5.5-6.5 FSR (18-20 storeys) is required for rental with 20% BMR

These FSRs are most inappropriate for a city that does not aspire to be New York.

I therefore advocate establishing Building Heights and FSRs that are appropriate from a physical planning perspective, noting that currently, FSRs generally range between 1.5 to 3. While I agree the transit stations warrant special consideration, the density in other areas might be doubled for now depending on location, with bonussing to be determined later over time for more affordable housing projects, considering the other five cost considerations as set out in the attached.

I hope this is helpful. Feel free to share with others to see what they think of my musings! Cheers

Below are the slides I prepared which review six key cost components of housing.













Wednesday, June 1, 2022

June 7, 2022 A Public Hearing for the last major development in DNV's Lions Gate Village -Capilano & Marine


In 2014 I rezoned the former Grouse Inn/Esso property at Capilano & Marine which forms part of the District of North Vancouver's new Lions Gate Village centre. This development, now known as Park West, is nearing completion. On Tuesday June 7th I'll be returning to DNV Council on behalf of Marvel Development, with IBI Architects, to present at Public Hearing a proposal for the adjacent site, currently occupied by the Travelodge Motel, Denny's and Pho Restaurant.

If approved, redevelopment of this property will complete a new public park and road system serving the village. It will also add 330 new homes including 41 non-market rentals, 77 market rentals & 212 condominiums. The non-market building is being constructed to Passive House Standards and the balance of the development is meeting or exceeding DNV's stringent environmental standards.
The condominiums will include rent-to-own and locals-first programs. The overall FSR is only 2.75 and to address traffic concerns, the number of parking spaces has been dramatically reduced to less than one per unit since the development is on the RapidBus route with a stop outside the door.
Details of the application and Public Hearing can be found here:

Recently someone wrote to the Mayor & Council accusing me of being a hypocrite since I strongly support this development but opposed a 28-storey highrise at Broadway & Birch in Vancouver. When I pointed out it that at 10.52 FSR it was a spot-rezoning at almost four times as dense as this development, which conforms with the OCP, he acknowledged that perhaps that made a difference!
If you would like more details about this application and the forthcoming Public Hearing, email me at geller@sfu.ca. Since I expect many to oppose the development due to traffic and view concerns, I am hoping that others will show up to support the need for a very sustainable development, offering more housing choices in very a convenient location,

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Broadway Plan: Letter to Mayor/Council/staff from two former assistant Directors of Planning

One of my frustrations with the discussions regarding the proposed Broadway Plan is that while much of the focus has been on the need for densification around transit stations, and the desperate need for more affordable rental housing, there has not been enough discussion on whether it is a good plan for the neighbourhoods along the corridor. 

I was therefore interested to receive a copy of a letter written by two former Assistant Directors of Planning for the City of Vancouver which was sent to Council. Since it offers some thoughtful suggestions, and generally accords with my own thinking, I am reprinting it below:

Subject: Broadway Plan: Further suggestions from 2 former ADs of Planning

 

Dear Mayor and Council

 

We are two former Assistant Directors of Planning who have followed the development of the Broadway Plan. On March 23, 2022 we wrote to you about the draft Plan with concerns and suggestions. After listening to current discussion at Council on the proposed Broadway Plan, we are writing to reiterate, and refine, our previous suggestion for Council to strategically phase adoption and implementation of the Plan, as follows.   

1.      In Station Areas and the parts of Shoulder Areas directly along Broadway, allow redevelopment to proceed in accordance with the Plan.  This will both support the transit line, and create more housing, including rental, with minimal loss of existing housing.

2.      In the Existing Apartment Areas, where both rental and condo buildings already supply significant and affordable housing, allow only a defined, limited number of projects over the next, say, 5 years provided they either replace existing rental (under the conditions set out in the Plan), or are projects by non-profit groups.  At the end of the 5 years the City should evaluate these to determine whether the hopes and/or fears being expressed by planners, residents and others are coming to pass, and how policies might need to be adjusted.  This will further the goals of dealing with deteriorating existing rental buildings, adding more rental and non-market units,  and maintaining most existing affordable stock, pending determination of whether the economics and various tenant protection and affordability measures are actually workable.  

3.      Complete the key follow-up work the Plan requires, including assessing it in the context of the overall Vancouver Plan.  This will address the valid questions about park space, heritage, and other still unresolved parts of the Plan, as well as provide insight as to whether it makes sense to implement all the remaining Broadway Plan densification proposals, or some of them, or to prioritize action in other areas of the city which have lower land costs, more existing amenities, and good transit service.

 Council is hearing a push from some quarters to do none of it, and from others to do all of it right away. There is valid concern about the loss of affordable rental and condos, and the true viability of the proposed development economics and tenant protections. 

The Broadway Plan is very large, very ambitious, and very long term. It has both good directions and significant weaknesses, as well as many unanswered questions.  It does not need to proceed all at one time. Any Council action involves risks—but let them be appropriate and measured risks.

 Thank you for considering our comments.

 Trish French and Ronda Howard

 

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Community Planner Stephen Mikicich's Letter to Council re: Broadway Plan

Stephen Mikicich is a registered planner with considerable experience in Community Planning. I first met him 10 years ago when he worked in the West Vancouver Planning Department, and he was an ardent supporter of innovation and densification in what might best be described as a low-density town. 

He had considerable experience as a private planning consultant before joining the District, and often worked with Business Improvement Areas. He was therefore appointed West Vancouver's first Manager of Economic Development and made great strides in developing an economic development strategy for the District. Today he is working with the District of Langley. He's a resident of Kitsilano.

Stephen and I often get together and argue about planning matters, given our diverse backgrounds and perspectives. 

Today, Stephen shared with me a letter he sent to Council. Since it addresses some important points that I omitted, (but with which I agree), I asked his permission to share it here. I think you'll find it most thoughtful and relevant


May 16, 2022 
Mayor and Council
City of Vancouver
453 West 12th Avenue
Vancouver BC V5Y 1V4

 RE: STRONG OPPOSITION TO THE BROADWAY PLAN

 City staff have described the Broadway Plan as a bold vision for Vancouver’s future and suggest that there has been extensive engagement in developing this plan. However, most Vancouverites know little if anything about the Broadway Plan, and what is envisioned for a 500-block area of the city.

Engagement on goals and objectives, future aspirations, and emerging directions is a normal part of the planning process. However, the ability to fully review a draft plan and provide meaningful and comprehensive input is even more important. Council’s desire to adopt this plan in May only a few weeks since it was publicly released sets a dangerous precedent and may seriously damage public trust in the City.

I do not support the sterile and generic vision the Broadway Plan puts forward for Vancouver’s future. I am disappointed by the complete disregard for established neighbourhoods, and the legacy of past planning achievements that established Vancouver as a global leader in livable cities. It is still possible to increase densities, introduce greater housing options, and enhance public amenities in Vancouver’s valued neighbourhoods without destroying them.

City staff indicate that the Broadway Plan would be implemented over 30 years, and that development would occur slowly over decades. However, if Council rescinds existing policy plans and adopts the Broadway Plan this month – there is really nothing preventing land assembly and real estate speculation from occurring. I am concerned that the massive increase in density will put upward pressure on land values, and displace more tenants, homeowners, and small businesses.

 If Council believes that the Broadway Plan establishes a future vision that most Vancouverites support  - why rush to adopt this plan now? I am sure that many of us would appreciate the time to fully understand the policy implications for the city and our respective communities, to ask questions of staff and Council, and to know that our input will be fully considered in finalizing a plan that truly works for all of us!

If, on the other hand, Council does not feel it has broad community support, and it is politically expedient to adopt the Broadway Plan in advance of the election, I fully understand.

Sincerely,  Stephen Mikicich (Vancouver resident)

Monday, May 16, 2022

Some personal musings on the Broadway Plan


Introduction

For various reasons, I will not be speaking to Council this week about the Broadway Plan. Those who follow me on Twitter are aware of some of my views and I in turn have considered their critiques of my position. However, for what it's worth, I would like to recap some of my tweets and thoughts about the plan in the hope that revisions will be made before Council finally adopts it.

Firstly, to those who cannot understand why I, a developer, planning and real estate consultant and retired architect, would oppose the significant densification of properties along the Broadway Corridor, especially around transit stations, I do not oppose a significant densification along the corridor to create more affordable housing. 

My concerns relate primarily to the form of housing being proposed along the arterials, and the related height and Floor Space Ratio (FSR). I am also concerned about the absence of substantive information about proposed parks and community amenities. I also think better, more realistic illustrations need to be prepared to help all of us appreciate what the various areas along the corridor will look like in 10 years and 20 years, not just at build out. (That said, the drawings provided are not very good or accurate.)

I should add that I have not studied the entire corridor. Rather, I have focussed on the area around Arbutus Street with which I am most familiar.


While the consultation period for this plan has been happening for some time, I did not participate. I had previously participated in the discussion about the Broadway and Birch proposal (on the former Denny's site) and looking back on this experience, I regretted speaking out. Moreover, if planning staff and Council could approve this project, which should not have been approved at the proposed height and FSR (10.52) especially in advance of the Broadway Corridor Plan itself, I questioned why I should get involved in further consultations. I don't need the aggravation!  

Trust me, I received a lot of criticism from many in the development industry. I was also attacked by an industry commentator who was a friend of the developer, and many others who questioned why someone as affluent and old as me, with such old-fashioned ideas about planning, should be listened to.

Indeed, many younger people suggested it's time for them to make the planning decisions for the Broadway Corridor, not me. After all, I'll be dead while this plan is being implemented! :-)

Arbutus Walk

However, in early April I was approached by a planning colleague who owns a property in Arbutus Walk and was asked if I was aware the Broadway Plan had included Arbutus Walk as a location for future higher density highrise buildings. This caused me to download the plan and he appeared to be right.



As evidenced by these extracts from the appendices, Arbutus Walk was designated KBAD with a density of 6.0 to 6.5 FSR and heights of 15-18 storeys. This community was designed and approved after significant community involvement. It was converted from highrise to midrise and lowrise form after much debate. It's only 20 to 25 years old and should not be designated for highrise. Instead, it should have been excluded from the planning area. 

When I suggested this on twitter, others told me this was a 30-year plan, and it might well be appropriate to redevelop this area during this time frame. I strongly disagreed. (Brent Toderian subsequently told me something quite different. He said he spoke to staff, and it wasn't intended that this site be redeveloped within the 30-year timeframe. However, this is contradicted by the map.)

I also note that the Fraser Academy site near Arbutus Walk is designated for 8 FSR. This is an extremely high FSR. I am sure there's a story behind this proposal, but don't have time to investigate. Maybe Frances Bula or others will.

Properties Along Arbutus Street between 13th and 14th near Arbutus Walk are being proposed for 18 storey high rises at 5.5 FSR. Now I appreciate that many readers may not understand what 5.5 FSR means. This is almost twice 3 FSR which is the density I was taught was the maximum to be allowed for a comfortable livable environment. (I would note this is approximately the density of most of Coal Harbour and North Shore False Creek.)


If you look closely at the illustrations, you'll note that the 'Vancouverism' model of a tower on a two or three level podium is not being proposed. Instead, most of the podiums appear to be much higher. Ugh!

It's all about Affordability

While some people have criticized me as an affluent person who can't relate to ordinary people, I am well aware of the need for a lot more affordable housing. After all, I did spend 10 years at CMHC and was for a time responsible for the social housing programs. I get it. There's a need for more affordable housing.

Many people on Twitter, and Theresa O'Donnell, the chief planner for the city have repeatedly noted that while these densities may be high, they are necessary if the city is to achieve a lot of purpose-built rental housing along the corridor with at least a 20% below market component. In other words, FORM MUST FOLLOW FINANCE, not context or fit. I disagree.

I also worry that massive increases in density will not translate into massive increases in affordability. Yes, the initial property owners will benefit, and may be able to provide the desired housing. But over time, higher densities will translate into higher land values, and affordable housing will require senior government subsidies. Indeed, as interest rates and construction costs rise, it's questionable whether any new rental housing will be feasible in the immediate future. 

As for the mayor's proposal to allow existing tenants to return to the new buildings near their location at the same or lower rents, this is at best..... aspirational. The developers and lenders with whom I have spoken do not consider this a realistic proposal.

Ironically, while most of the focus has been on the provision of affordable rental housing, I would like to hear more discussion about affordable ownership housing. In some of my other projects, I have explored Rent-to-Own programs, Workforce Housing, co-housing, and other ways to help people buy....not rent. But little is said about ownership housing, other than the developers will have to pay significant CACs to fund community amenities. Good luck creating any affordable ownership on this basis.

It's also about accommodating growth

Others repeatedly remind me that the city must also accommodate a lot of people over the next 30 years, and unless we can rezone all of Vancouver's single-family properties for 6-storey apartments, there won't be sufficient capacity without the proposed densities along the Broadway Corridor. Frankly, this is nonsense. But, if the density along this corridor is impacted by the planning decisions for the rest of the city, then I question why we should approve the Broadway Plan divorced from the City Wide Plan. A more sensible thing would be to approve each with full knowledge and consideration of the other.

Alternative building forms?

Over the years, I have lived in several highrise buildings. In Ottawa I lived in Pestalozzi College. I lived on the 17th and 29th floors of Martello Tower at 1011 Beach Avenue. And I lived in a highrise at Bayshore. I have also designed and developed many highrises, both with CMHC and as a private developer and planning consultant. I like highrises, especially those at Bayshore with which I was involved for 10 years.




However, I question their suitability as affordable housing for families with children, and also question whether they should be juxtaposed with lowrise development. Instead, I prefer more European-style midrise housing forms, such as those found in Amsterdam, Barcelona and most European countries which achieve density without towers. As noted in this CBC article, they can offer attributes not found in highrises, and I see a place for this form of housing along the Broadway Corridor arterials. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/density-without-towers-vancouver-architect-says-yes-1.3982385

So where are the parks?


When I rezoned the Bayshore Hotel property next to Devonian/Stanley Park, a major issue was whether the development would contribute adequate park space to comply with the city's standard of 2.75 acres of park for every 1000 residents. This standard was based on the provision of park space as per the late 1980s. However, this standard appears to have been discarded. (Indeed, if you calculate how much additional park space would be required based on the proposed population increase, there wouldn't be much room for any new housing.

However, for me a bigger question is whether there will be any new parks and community centres. There is reference to a park near Burrard Slopes and some nice words about providing adequate new community amenities. However, I could not find a plan that identified where new parks and community facilities might go. 

Over the years I've been involved in the preparation of several large-scale plans. They always indicate potential locations for new parks, community centres, schools, etc. But not in this plan unless I missed the drawings.

Conclusion

In summary, I agree with the general direction and like many of the words in this planning document. However, I don't like the proposed highrise buildings on high podiums at excessive densities as illustrated in many of the plans that I reviewed, especially for the arterial and 'shoulder' areas. I also worry about the resulting character. 

This worry is founded in part because the illustrations provided in the planning documents are not very good. Some are little more than cartoons, others do not provide accurate street level views. (I should add that the comprehensive but simplistic massing diagram prepared by some of the plan opponents is also misleading.) 

So I suggest that Council ask the planning department to prepare better and more accurate illustrations to help all of us appreciate the scale of new development over time, say after 10 years, 20 years and at final build out. What will the main communities look like? Such phasing illustrations are standard procedure for most of the larger scale projects with which I have been involved, but none have been prepared at all for the Broadway Corridor.

As Theresa O'Donnell told Stephen Quinn on CBC radio, there have been an astonishing number of meetings and opportunities for community input. But we haven't been told what the community said, nor what changes were made in response to community input. 

Moreover, to the best of my knowledge, at no time was the planning or architectural community invited to participate in AIBC or PIBC/City sponsored discussions about the plan with senior city staff in attendance. 

I therefore hope Council will now receive the plan and the various appendices, but direct staff to now consult with the development and banking communities to discuss the concerns that have been raised by existing tenants and their organizations about being accommodated in new buildings at the same or lower rents as the mayor has recently proposed. 

Staff should also be directed to meet with the architectural, planning and development communities to review the most appropriate forms of zoning to allow higher density development over time, since what may be acceptable in five years may be different than what's acceptable in twenty-five years. This is called Dynamic Zoning and could address many of my concerns about context and fit over time.

I hope this is helpful in furthering the discussion. 

Friday, May 13, 2022

An urban planner & former developer offers Council his comments re: Broadway Plan

 Arnie Wise is a former developer who lives in Kitsilano. He recently sent the following comments to Council. I share many of his concerns and observations, although I would note that the city has recently announced a new policy related to the relocation of existing tenants in affordable housing. A key aspect of this is that tenants who are evicted can move back into new projects at the same rent. This of course sounds admirable, but one needs to question whether developers will agree to this, and whether former tenants will want to return what might be 3 or 4 years after they move out.


During a recent interview with Stephen Quinn on CBC Early Edition, Theresa O'Donnell, the chief planner for Vancouver said that one of the reasons why the city is proposing such high densities is to help make this tenant relocation strategy happen. While I hope the city's plan will be modified to reduce the number of very high FSR towers by introducing more high density 'street wall' and other 'European Style' design concepts like this Amsterdam streetscape, I also hope I will live long enough to see how this relocation policy works out!

Here are Arnie Wise's comments:

Good morning Mayor Stewart & Members of City Council,

In the run up to a municipal election, we used to call this the “silly season”.
The Broadway Plan is a perfect example.

Respectfully,

ARNY WISE
urban planner / retired developer

Broadway Plan

The famous urbanist Jane Jacobs would be appalled by this Broadway Plan, because it has only one brutal objective - increased density.  
This Plan ignores the communities on the ground where folks meet, walk, play, shop, bike, go to parks, schools & gyms. These are the community amenities that make a neighbourhood function and thrive.
The Broadway Plan's rather simple & flawed bird's eye view of city planning ignores the mosaic of communities along the Broadway Corridor, that make up the City of Vancouver. 
It's a good idea to Increase density in nodes around subway stops, but the rest of the neighbourhood need not be a sea of towers. That isn't how an organic city grows & functions. 
This plan seems to have been designed by a city planner who has never lived in Vancouver and is out of touch with Vancouver's reality of being a series of local communities and neighbourhoods tied together by arterial networks.
And any boosterism appeal to being "world class" because of high density is laughable if it wasn't so sad, in that Vancouver is the least affordable City in North America and the third least affordable City in the world. That's Vancouver's unenviable distinction as being "world class". 
"World class" housing prices in Vancouver are forcing essential workers earning good salaries like nurses, firefighters, police & teachers to flee the city to the suburbs, and commute, spewing harmful gases into the environment, because they can't afford to live in the City they serve. This is also a strain on Metro's transportation network.
This plan never mentions the word "affordable" in the midst of the worst housing affordability crisis in a generation.  
As if more density and more supply will magically mean more affordable. According to Douglas Porter the Chief Economist of the Bank of Montreal, the idea that more supply will lower home prices is a self serving myth touted by the real estate industry to justify high housing prices.

Recommendations:
1. Reject the Broadway Plan and send it back to staff for a major revision and rethink with different objectives - namely affordable housing, community amenities, a liveable scale, as well as increased density.
2. Direct staff to scale down the neighbourhood heights and densities beyond the immediate subway stop nodes, to respect the existing neighbourhoods and communities.
3. Require 50% affordable housing from the developer on all site specific up-zonings, in exchange for more density.  
Why should the City give a gift to landowners without the landowner giving something back to the City and the Community in the form of affordable housing ?

Name:

ARNY WISE, urban planner / retired developer

Which neighbourhood do you live in?

Kitsilano