Vancouver approves tower that will block part of city's protected view of mountains — as long as it's all-rental
Vancouver city council approved a plan Tuesday for a new downtown tower that opponents say will block part of a long-protected view of the North Shore from the slopes that descend down to the south shore of False Creek.
PATRICK JOHNSON (VANCOUVER SUN) - In an amendment presented just before Tuesday’s final vote, Coun. Raymond Louie from Vision Vancouver called for the tower to be approved only if it is 100 per cent rental housing.
Vision councillors said they were wary of the original plan for the tower, but Louie’s amendment apparently changed opinion.
“(Louie’s amendment) makes things more palatable,” Mayor Gregor Robertson said.
The amended plan was approved in a 6-3 vote, with all five Vision councillors along with Robertson voting in favour. Non-Partisan Association councillors George Affleck and Melissa De Genova and Green councillor Adriane Carr voted against.
Two NPA councillors, Hector Bremner and Elizabeth Ball, excused themselves from the vote.
PavCo, the provincial Crown corporation that owns B.C. Place Stadium and land nearby, originally planned to build a tower at 777 Pacific Boulevard that would be the first of three mixed-use, but mostly residential condo buildings that would exceed the view-cone limit.
During council’s debate over the proposal and Louie’s amendment, Robertson called the intrusion into the view corridors “microscopic” and wondered why critics didn’t bring up other things that block view corridors, such as traffic lights and trees.
He said he supported the plan because it would add purpose-built rental housing to Vancouver’s tight housing market.
“The critical importance of rental housing can’t be overstated,” he said.
Carr said she was opposed to the project because of responses from the public that highlighted the importance of preserving view corridors, even if the intrusion in this case was minor.
“Like death by a thousand cuts,” she said.
“We certainly got the message loud and clear that this particular development takes Vancouver down the wrong path in terms of impacting negatively something very precious: the public access of public views to the mountains.”
Carr also said even making the tower all-rental wouldn’t make it affordable for most prospective renters.
“What we need is affordable housing, not just build, build, build any kind of housing.”
Nearly 2,000 people signed a petition opposing the tower plan, circulated by a group called SaveOurSkylineYVR.
More than 160 letters were filed with the city in opposition (compared to nine in support), including one from the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods, which represents 27 community residents’ associations.
“The view cones were established in 1989 to preserve views of mountains, and possibly the ocean, but mostly the mountains which are unique,” said Larry Benge, co-chair of the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods.
“That is Vancouver. I was at Kits Beach with a friend and we said, ‘Isn’t this amazing?’ and it is because of the physical beauty. We would be losing something.”
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