On July 2nd 2019, Vancouver City Council approved recommendation from General Manager of Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability on behalf of Department Heads to start a city wide planning process.

Significance

The decision by city council on city wide plan will certainly have major impact on overall transformation of city of Vancouver in next 30 years or beyond.

Background

On November 14, 2018, City council passed a motion, recognizing the urgency of the housing affordability and accelerating climate change crises, directed staff to report back on a work plan to develop a City-wide Plan informed by equity, accessibility, spatial justice and the right to housing. The Council motion, noted multiple objectives for the City-wide Planning process, including launching a robust and collaborative engagement process with the public.

The process was designed to be flexible and adaptive, responding to community feedback received along the way. At this time, staff is seeking Council approve for a program launch into an intense listening first phase. Consideration of the supporting budget would go through annual budget reviews, tailored to the work program as it is revised to reflect the program’s adaptive approach. Creating a City-wide Plan that reflects the needs of residents, workers and interested parties through a strategic, long-range vision and plan to guide future change and growth is a key priority of City Council. 

Currently, Vancouver does not have an overarching City-wide Plan that sets a broad, integrated vision for the future that addresses key issues holistically and strategically. The only city-wide physical growth plan for Vancouver was created by Harland Bartholomew in the 1920s, almost a hundred years ago under the guidance of the Vancouver Planning Commission at the time.

City Council adopted City Plan Directions in 1995, which outlined broad policy directions for the central area, neighbourhood centres, community services, the economy and the environment, after a thorough and highly regarded public engagement process undertaken between 1992 and 1995. City Plan Directions laid the foundation for a series of city-wide policy plans including the 1997 Transportation Plan and the 2004 Financing Growth policy with ambition to create additional “chapters”. The 1995 City Plan also launched a neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood process to create community ‘visions’ and neighbourhood centres. However, the neighbourhood plan process took 14 years to progress, lost momentum, and was eventually redirected into a series of area and community plans, several of which have been completed (Marpole, West End, Downtown Eastside, Grandview-Woodland, Cambie Corridor, etc.). 

The area and community plans developed over the past ten years, along with the city-wide strategies (are currently guiding growth and change. However, they do not convey an overall city-wide vision for the future of Vancouver with a clear sense of our priorities, particularly in light of contemporary challenges. Undertaking a City-wide Plan presents us with a unique opportunity to engage a broad diversity of Vancouver residents, businesses, and civic entities to develop a future vision that unifies us – our major policy directions and clear direction for our city-wide investment and regulatory structures. Moreover and most importantly, the new City-wide Plan effort is a chance to meaningfully and deeply engage all residents, communities, partners – in particular other levels of government, stakeholders and interested individuals in a significant conversation about what kind of a future we want for ourselves, the children and youth in our city, and their children. It is an opportunity to connect and explore, how we strategically get there, considering necessary choices and trade-offs. 

Our city will continue to be transformed over the coming decades. A city-wide plan offers us a chance to develop a unified vision, strongly aligned with regional planning initiatives, to guide the choices that are within our control with good information, optimism, foresight and intention. Council’s direction is to undertake a city-wide planning program that will determine, with the Vancouver community at-large, what we want Vancouver to become, and how best to address our current challenges like housing affordability, the need to create a more sustainable and equitable future, advancing reconciliation with First Nations, building a strong economy, and a future urban environment with qualities that we desire.

Through an inclusive and robust public process, our diverse communities will be invited and supported in imagining the kind of city they want to create for themselves and their children. Building on our tradition of collective wisdom and action, the City-wide Plan can posit bold ideas and thoughtful strategies to continue to build a vibrant place for our city on this land into the future. 

Objectives of the City-Wide Plan

The flowing are five objectives of this City-wide Plan:

  1. A long-term Vision for the future of Vancouver looking out to 2050 and beyond – taking into account climate change and adaptation, that is developed with extensive engagement using an equity informed approach of all residents, businesses, other governments, agencies, groups and interested parties through informed dialogues. 
  2. A Strategic Policy Framework – that integrates the four pillars of sustainability (social, environmental, economic, cultural) and articulates priority goals and directions across a range of topics to support the overall vision. It will identify ‘big moves’ and strategies across key areas of city-building to support the future urban environment and qualities that Vancouver is seeking to achieve. Participants will engage in deep discussions on priorities and trade-offs related to policy areas such as city and neighbourhood livability, mobility and accessibility, affordable living, protection of natural systems, parks and community amenities, the local economy and community prosperity, social well-being and how we can advance overall equity and reconciliation. 
  3. A High-Level Physical Plan – that will indicate generally where the built environment will change (e.g. areas for future additional housing capacity and choice, enhancement of shopping/service areas, the location of employment lands, new and enhanced transportation connections, green/ecological corridors, and where investments may be required for underground infrastructure to service future growth). This framework will coordinate with and integrate concurrent planning for areas such as the Broadway Corridor and Jericho Lands and inform further detailed area planning efforts that flow out of the City-wide Plan. 
  4. A Public Investment Strategy – to prioritize and coordinate the required supporting investments in infrastructure and civic amenities, as well as programmatic investments for economic, social, and cultural aspirations. This will be developed with a view to coordinating plan directions with city capital and service planning. Partnerships with Provincial and federal agencies, as well as other organizations will be key to realizing a successful strategy and implementation.

Timeline of the City-wide Plan

General planning and engagement process that is anticipated to take about three years (36 months) from Council approval of the planning program to adoption of the City-wide Plan. Starting with a listening phase, the provisional approach is proposed in order to launch the City-wide Plan program, and will be flexible and adapt to respond to community feedback received along the way. In addition to public engagement, technical studies, policy reviews, and modelling are required for the development of the City-wide Plan. The process will be carried out in the following general phases with key deliverables provided to Council at each step: 

  • Background Phase: Scoping to launch (present to Q4 2019) 
  • Phase 1: Listening (Q4 2019 – Q2 2020) 
  • Phase 2: Developing Strategic Directions with the Community (Q2 2020 – Q4 2021) 
  • Phase 3: Refining and Finalizing the Plan (Q4 2021 – Q2 2022) 
  • Phase 4: Implementation (Q2 2022+) 

Documents and Resources

Updates

Council

News releases


Prepared by: Yijin Wen, VCPC Chronology Committee member
Last Updated: October 31, 2019