Monday, August 8, 2016

Follow up to Vancouver Courier column on Howe and Georgia plaza/rotunda

I am pleased to report that a number of media outlets have followed up on my column expressing concern about the proposed redevelopment of the plaza/rotunda at Howe and Georgia Streets. Over the weekend Global TV did a story and this morning Breakfast Television did a story featuring Ray Spaxman. While they kindly asked me to comment as well, I was golfing at the time! :-)

While I do not realistically expect my criticism to stop the three storey retail development given the zoning change in 2006, I do hope it will lead to some redesign of the project to better respond to its prominent corner location, with an improved open space, as set out in the zoning.

I also hope this incident will lead to the preparation of an overall open space plan for the city, including the identification of future plazas and open spaces. While it is not well known, Vancouver has a park/open space standard of 2.75 acres/1000 population. When I managed the redevelopment of the Bayshore property, we were required to create two new parks and donate $5 million to the city to make up for a park shortage resulting from the 1500 projected new residents This for a site next to Stanley Park!
This small public space at Seymour and Hastings will soon be gone.
However, in the subsequent years, thousands of additional people have been added to the downtown population outside of False Creek and Coal Harbour, with only two new parks: Emery Barnes park, and a small park on Beach Avenue created (to the best of my knowledge).

In addition to the new residential towers, we are also seeing a number of new office buildings filling up what were relatively open spaces, or low rise buildings. For these reasons, I think its time to take a broader look at creating a plan for the city, identifying existing open spaces, and identifying where new park and open spaces can be created in the future.

If you too would like to see the plans and possible retention of some open space through a redesign of the proposed development, write to the city contact: Kyle Pringle, Project Coordinator,, 604.873.7088

Here are details of the proposal

701 W Georgia Street - DP-2016-00107

Perkins + Will Architects Canada has applied to the City of Vancouver for permission to replace the existing rotunda at Pacific Centre Mall with a three-storey commercial building consisting of:
    • 31,603 sq. ft. of new retail space; and
    • peak height of 63.36 ft.
Under the site’s existing CD-1 (455) zoning, the application is “conditional” so it may be permitted; however, it requires the decision of the Director of Planning.
We welcome your written comments (letter or e-mail) on this development application. Comments should be received on, or before August 28, 2016, to be included in the staff review. However, comments will be considered up until the date of decision.


To assist you, a Glossary of key technical terms and a brief explanation of the application process is posted on our website at:

In reviewing this application, and before making a decision, the Director of Planning will also need to consider City by-law regulations, and Council-adopted policies and guidelines. Once a full application review is completed, a decision will be made. If you respond to this notification, we will keep you informed by re-notifying you as to the decision.

The submitted plans may be viewed at the Project Coordinator's office, Development and Building Services Centre, 1st Floor at 515 West 10th Avenue between 8:30a.m. and 4:30p.m., Monday through Friday. Copies of City by-law regulations, policies and guidelines are available at the City's website at or at either the Development and Building Services Centre (1st Floor, 515 West 10th Avenue) or the Central Public Library (350 West Georgia Street).
Please note that all comments and responses to this notification are subject to, and may be released, pursuant to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The Act does, however, protect your privacy by prohibiting disclosure of personal information (such as names, addresses and other identifying information) where such a disclosure would be an unreasonable invasion of personal privacy.



Anonymous said...

There is this additional park being added downtown as well:

plus Jim Deva plaza in the West End. Your point still stands, however, filling in urban plaza spaces as we continue to densify is silly.

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