Explainer: Vancouver’s new city plan

The City of Vancouver will soon have a unified city plan for 2050

The City of Vancouver expects to have its first unified city-wide plan ready for this summer. (Flickr/Paul Krueger)

The City of Vancouver expects to have its first unified city-wide plan ready for this summer. (Flickr/Paul Krueger)

The City of Vancouver is currently in the process of developing its first unified city-wide plan, which it hopes to have completed by the summer of 2022.

The plan aims to make Vancouver a more “liveable, affordable and sustainable city” by 2050, integrating a number of previously developed city plans such as the Broadway Plan and Housing Vancouver Strategy, regional ones such as the Metro Vancouver Regional Growth Strategy and Transport 2050, as well as input from recent public engagement processes.

The plan addresses 10 provisional goals identified through public engagement that took place between 2019 and 2020, discussing residents’ “hopes, fears, joys and struggles.” Some of the goals include reconciliation commitments, creating an inclusive city, and becoming a more sustainable and carbon-neutral city.

Special attention was given to ensuring the views of traditionally underrepresented groups were heard early on in the process.

Three foundational principles, Reconciliation, Equity, and Resilience, emerged to inform the core of the plan, including three “Big Ideas” — providing equitable housing, improving the economy, and restoring local ecosystems. 

The ideas reflect the primary priorities identified by participants to “add more housing choice in neighbourhoods across the city,” “protect ecosystems and biodiversity,” and “create ‘people-oriented’ streets that prioritize walking, rolling, and cycling” over cars.

Complete neighbourhoods are those that have all residents’ essential needs within close proximity to one other, “regardless of income, culture, background or ability,” and provide a diverse range of housing options, shops, services, childcare facilities, libraries, galleries and recreational centres accessible by interconnected paths, parks and plazas.

Many participants were in support of more walkable neighbourhoods as well as greater access to affordable low-density housing options such as townhomes and low-rise apartment buildings up to six storeys throughout the city.

The majority of participants also supported the idea of creating opportunities to work closer to home, with 82 per cent of survey respondents agreeing that Vancouver should have more places for people to work closer to residential areas, such as “home based businesses, offices, and retail.”

High levels of support were also shown for climate-resilient infrastructure, including “streets, sewer and water systems, and urban forests,” and limits to growth in environmentally sensitive areas.

Rapid Transit, neighbourhood shopping and low-density residential areas were seen as key opportunities for supporting such growth and changes.

The Land Use Strategy, divided into eleven key policy chapters, informs how to achieve these goals by individual building topics, including housing, the economy, climate, ecology, and transportation.

The strategy does not yet permit development or rezoning applications and will continue to be refined over time. 

Vancouver is currently home to 25 per cent of the region’s population with roughly 662,000 residents, has 30 per cent of the region’s 328,000 homes and 34 percent of the region’s 337,000 jobs, with an additional 260,000 residents and 210,000 jobs expected to be added by 2050.

The draft plan is in the final phase of development and will continue to receive public input until April 27. The final draft will be presented to the City Council in June. 


Editor’s note: the deadline for public input on the draft plan was extended from April 24 to April 27. The article has been updated to reflect that.