Council may try to rush through critical view and higher buildings proposals for the West End and Downtown

The reports before council are:

Implementation of “Vancouver Views” and Opportunities for Higher Buildings in the Downtown (supplemental memo, and previous staff presentation on December 16, 2011).

These are videos from a public presentation by city staff on Monday:

Moderator’s Introduction
Director of Planning’s Introduction to Staff Reports
Historic Area Height Review Presentation
Vancouver Views and Higher Buildings Downtown Presentation
Question and Answer Session

Key Points

The proposed building heights would increase shadowing of both the exterior and interior spaces, with a loss of daylight and access to the sky under all weather conditions. Loss of natural light in downtown Vancouver resulting from tower development over the last few decades is a growing concern. Many Vancouverites feel that we have reached the limits of what is acceptable.

International research on tall buildings indicates they are not a responsible building form from either an economic or an environmental standpoint.

The energy requirements for construction and operation of such buildings are relatively high, owing to climatic and safety factors. Attempts to reduce these problems usually involves other costs. For example, constraining window area to improve heat retention reduces the appeal of towers for their occupants, and the loss of light reflected to the street worsens the effects of the shadows.

Currently, the planning department has stated that there are no concrete proposals to redevelop some of the identified sites. To pre-designate these for radical redevelopment seems counterproductive in several ways;

  • First, present land supply seems adequate to accommodate anticipated population and job growth.
  • Second, any change in the present that contributes to land price inflation may reduce the ability to negotiate for public benefits if and when proposals emerge.
  • Third, we should not fuel expectations for less sustainable land use when the skyscraper form itself is in serious question.

The report envisions one such speculative site, Burrard at Georgia, as offering potential for Vancouver’s tallest building (over 700 feet). The existing 19 storey-office tower at that location, the Burrard Building, has qualities that merit consideration for heritage landmark status.

For West End residents, one site is at the north west corner of Burrard and Davie Street. They recommend increasing the allowable height on the property. West End residents were not informed about this change and believe we require additional consultation and a rationale why it is necessary and desirable.

If you want to speak to Council about these reports at the January 20, 2011 meeting, contact Tina Hildebrandt in the City Clerk’s office at telephone: 604.873.7268 or by email at tina.hildebrandt@vancouver.ca.

Additional background information on this study is available at HigherBuildings

Thursday January 20, 2011 2:00 or later
City Hall, 3rd Floor, Council Chamber

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