What happened to the EcoDensity debate?
Frances Bula, ctvbc.ca
Published Friday, November 14, 2008 1:26PM PST
This has been one of Vancouver's strangest civic elections on record, as we've lurched at an incredible pace from controversy to controversy in the past 10 days.
All kinds of major issues have been forgotten while people debated, first, Gregor Robertson's SkyTrain ticket and, then, the city's decision to provide as much as $100 mllion in a loan to the Olympic village builders to cover construction-cost overruns.
Homelessness, affordable housing, budgets, crime, sustainability, the arts -- all the issues that popped up in the early weeks have disappeared in the recent nuclear blasts.
There's one more that could be added to the list -- EcoDensity.
Remember Mayor Sam Sullivan's ambitious plan to make Vancouver a greener city by encouraging more density and more environmentally friendly building practices? It hasn't gone away, you know.
Once the current economic roller-coaster slows down and development resumes some level of normalized activity, city planners will be looking at what's to follow after laneway housing, which got approved in principle last month.
One of the key areas they'll be looking at is densification around Vancouver's new transit stops on Cambie. Council candidate Michael Geller, a development consultant, said in one election debate that that's a natural next place for the city to go as it moves ahead with efforts to accommodate growth in the city.
I thought until recently that there wasn't anything going on around the transit stations. I guessed that, since the Canada Line has been controversial enough by itself, the last thing anyone wanted to do was tell the residents along Cambie that they were now about to see talk of densification around the stations on their street. But, prompted by a question from a Simon Fraser University urban-studies student, I checked with Vancouver planning director Brent Toderian to see what was happening, if anything.
Yes, in fact, there is a planning process for all the areas around the Canada Line stations, starting with the one down on Southeast Marine first, and that will be moving into a somewhat higher gear over the next three years. There is some pressure on the city because one developer has expressed an interest in building a condo development down there, but on land south of Marine that is now zoned industrial or highway-oriented retail. The city would like to see density around the stations, but using non-residential-zoned land for it is another question.
All of that would have been an interesting topic for our council candidates to discuss, this evolution of what has been traditionally a heavily single-family zone running through the centre of Vancouver into a much more urban strip.
But with all the sound and fury over other issues, we never got to hear what our prospective councillors might have had to say. I guess we'll just have to wait to see what they do once the issue comes up in the next year.