The “views” from above

A critical consideration in the debate on protection of Vancouver’s view corridors was the need — real or perceived — for higher buildings in the views to accommodate future growth in jobs and residents.

The facts were clear: they were not needed.

Now Vancouver’s current and past planning directors have weighed in with their assessments of council’s Jan. 27 vote to protect the views. Brent Toderian spells out the logic in the process; Larry Beasley hails the vote and repeats his view that the entire review was unnecessary.

One of the most revealing staff submissions in the entire process came near the end, in response to questions from council. See for yourself as you scroll through overhead views of the study area.

Staff identified all potential future taller building sites in the area, marking mixed use sites in yellow and commercial office sites in blue. They then overlaid the corridors. The impact is dramatic.

Most buildings in the study area can still be quite tall — in some cases up to 400 feet or even higher — before they hit the “umbrella” of the corridors. But almost none could go higher.

Staff could only find four sites that might merit approval to go higher in an existing view. Council rejected three. The fourth, at Burrard and Drake, was impacted only by the QE view, shown in a green screen, and could go higher without changing policy.

Public input on the view corridors was overwhelmingly in favour of protection. The Chinatown debate was more polarized, with strongly held views on both sides. Since the decision, however, I have had nothing but positive feedback on both counts.