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Vancouver councillors vote unanimously to review future of city’s 'view cones'

Vancouver’s skyline could look much different in the future, as councillors agree to review the future of the city’s “view cones.”

A motion passed unanimously Wednesday night to review the building development policy that was put in place in 1989. It preserves the mountain and ocean views of 26 locations across the city by limiting the size of some buildings.

Councillors have agreed to direct city staff to review the view cones guidelines to determine the amount of additional housing, job space and public benefits that would result if some view cones were eliminated.

One amendment made during the meeting was to make sure the policy review would include how the changes could benefit creating affordable housing.

“I don’t believe this was the intent of the original motion, certainty a lot of the correspondence suggested this was about building million-dollar views for condos, and I think that we all recognize that this is an opportunity not to just deliver on million-dollar condo views but also on rental housing and affordable housing for Vancouver,” Coun. Pete Fry said during Wednesday’s meeting.

Another modification noted in the motion’s wording was to look at how the policy changes could help Vancouver’s struggling hotel industry.

“We do need 20,000 hotel rooms by 2050, and that’s a massive shortage that we’re grappling with, and we do have FIFA coming up in 2026 and right now Vancouver’s room rates reached an unprecedented level of almost $400 per night,” Coun. Peter Meiszner said, explaining why he presented the amendment.

Former city planner Brent Toderian explained that a review of previous building policies is appropriate, but it needs to be done in a responsible way.

“It’s not as simple as housing affordability versus public views, because when you really dig into it, how much development can really be achieved in this stage of the evolution of the view corridors?” said Toderian.

He went on to say that there could be other ideas that allow Vancouver to protect public views while also achieving more housing.

“When I was chief planner we reviewed the view corridors in 2010 just before the Winter Olympics and what actually happened was the council of the day decided not to change the view corridors,” said Toderian via Zoom.

Instead city staff was instructed to look into how to increase housing density outside of the view corridors. Toderian says it resulted in high-rise buildings outside of the zones, and views were preserved. But he understands the city faces more housing issues now and the conversation will be more challenging. 

Meiszner told CTV News before the motion was passed that he believed this council was ready to make changes.

“This is not about making sweeping changes to the big panoramic view points around Vancouver like Queen Elizabeth Park, which everybody values and loves. This is just targeting those lower priority view cones, many of which people may not even know about,” he told CTV News last week. Top Stories

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