Milestones 2016: VCPC hosts panel on year’s top planning developments
by Naomi Wittes Reichstein, VPSN communications coordinator and Arbutus Greenway project lead
From the Grandview-Woodland community plan to the City’s purchase of the Arbutus Greenway, from the launch of Vancouver’s Mobi bike-share and the permanent redesignation of the 800 block of Robson as pedestrian-only to the introduction of taxes on housing vacancies and foreign purchases, the year 2016 was packed with an extraordinary number of major moves in planning.
In recognition of these, the Vancouver City Planning Commission (VCPC) held a year-in-review panel discussion on January 30, 2017 revolving around a selection of the most notable ones. Moderated by Stephen Quinn, host of CBC Radio’s On the Coast, the panel included Carla Guerrera, strategic advisor in urban planning and real-estate development; Mike Harcourt, former Mayor of Vancouver and Premier of B.C.; Jen St. Denis, urban affairs journalist, Vancouver Metro; and Andy Yan, director of the SFU City Program.
The panel’s conversation covered a variety of topics from over-building in Chinatown to the rise in First Nations real-estate development and economic self-reliance. While clearly acknowledging the good-news events of 2016, the panel was united in laying major emphasis on the urgency of addressing Vancouver’s affordable housing crisis and the threat it poses not only to residents’ well-being but to the area’s overall economic sustainability. In that regard, the event sounded at times less like a retrospective and more like a rallying cry well timed with the arrival of the City’s new general manager of planning (who, coincidentally, also came on board in 2016).
Building a chronology: past to future
The VCPC hosted the Milestones event as part of its larger project of compiling a chronology of major planning decisions over the city’s history since the early 20th century. According to the VCPC, the reason for the project is that such decisions were under-documented in the past, leaving a need for better records for informing the future. The VCPC intends to continue building this chronology in the years ahead as further projects emerge over time.
Image (top): Proposed design concept, including plaza, for Safeway site at Broadway and Commercial, Grandview-Woodland Community Plan