Collaborative Planning Process starts for False Creek South

Summary

In May 2017, Council approved the terms of reference for a planning process for False Creek South.  The Council report emphasized the collaborative character to be taken in the planning process, acknowledging both the participatory nature of the original 1970s planning process and the initiative taken by the residents in 2010 to start a grassroots planning process in anticipation of the expiry of land leases with the City.

Potential Significance

Unlike recent community planning processes in Grandview-Woodland, Marpole and the West End, the False Creek South process provides a unique opportunity for the City to use its position as the major landowner to shield this neighbourhood from the gentrifying impacts of redevelopment by a community-based adopting community-based models of governance such as a land trust. The creation of a Resident Protection and Retention Plan (pdf) may also prove precedent-setting.

Description

Situated between the Burrard and Cambie bridges to the west and east, Fairview Slopes to the south and False Creek to the north, False Creek South is one of Vancouver’s pioneering waterfront communities for multi-family development in the city centre. It was one of Vancouver’s first highly livable and walkable inner-city neighbourhoods, with a unique mix of land uses, housing types, transportation options, urban character, an elementary school, a community centre and other amenities, including three kilometres of seawall and a major destination waterfront park. The master plan, created through a participatory panning process, called for a mix of one-third non-market rental housing, co-ops and condominiums in a “Garden City” landscaped setting.

The City of Vancouver retained ownership of 80 percent of the land within its Property Endowment Fund and completed 50-year lease agreements with owners of the coops and condominiums. The majority of the 1,172 non-market housing units are on City land with leases that will begin to expire in 2025. The residents saw the future of their housing stock and their unique and historic urban landscape at risk, and the False Creek South Neighbourhood Association (FCSNA) started their own grassroots planning process called RePlan in 2010.

Their objective has been to work with the City of Vancouver on developing new lease options to preserve the community beyond lease expiry. Its members believe that new leases will be enablers for creating affordable housing options for all residents – in co-ops, non-profits and stratas – to remain in the community. They also support an increase in density, while protecting the neighbourhood’s character, to accommodate newcomers to the community.

The City’s terms of reference acknowledge the groundwork done by the FCSNA in initiating the planning process and its uniqueness as a stakeholder group, with representatives from all of the strata and cooperative housing groups, as well as those on freehold properties, and buildings operated by non-profit housing societies. The terms of reference included an engagement plan and a framework for a False Creek South Advisory Group, to be “a key vehicle of the planning process.” The development of a Resident Protection and Retention Plan will be part of the planning process.

A new model of governance for the land – possibly a community land trust – will be considered. The planning work would also look into street design and a possible streetcar connecting False Creek South to other neighbourhoods in the future. The area represents approximately 55 hectares of land (136 acres) and currently has a resident population of approximately 5400 people (2011).

The Vancouver Heritage Society placed False Creek South on its Top 10 Watch List for 2016, noting the multiple threats faced by the neighbourhood with the expiry of the City-owned leases and the need to upgrade the non-market housing stock.

Sources


Prepared by: Elizabeth Ballantyne, Vancouver City Planning Commission Chronology Committee
Revised: Thursday, December 7, 2017