WEN asks Council to reject proposals for increased height and take the time to get it right

On January 27, 2011,West End Neighbours wrote Mayor Robertson & Councillors to oppose passing the recommendations in the report on “Vancouver Views” and Opportunities for Higher Buildings in the Downtown.

WEN is opposed to the suggested increases in allowable building height in the Downtown and the West End.

Vancouverites have made it very clear that views of the mountains are a significant part of what makes Vancouver a special place.   The proposed increased building heights will intrude into mountain views and shade our streets, affecting the city for generations.

The additional and exceptional heights proposed do little to increase capacity in the City – their principal role is the same as that which created the desire for skyscrapers in the first place – corporate identity and real estate value.

The report outlines the incremental increases in office and residential floor area, but there is no reference to the increases in density that are expected from the increased heights.  These increases in density will create increased service demands and should be reviewed as part of a comprehensive planning process.

WEN is particularly concerned regarding proposals for increased height near the intersection of Burrard and Davie Streets.  The proposed Burrard Gateway development will loom over the entrance to the downtown peninsula and cast its long shadow into the West End. The proposal to allow a 375’ building height in this location is seen as an attempt to achieve unnecessary increased height at this location in the absence of an up-to-date community plan for this important gateway to Davie Village.

The proposed new “view corridors” suggest tokens offered in exchange for significant changes to the city skyline.  These “new views” are inadequate in truly protecting the character of Vancouver and appear oriented toward justifying the desired outcome rather than a genuine desire to preserve Vancouver’s distinctive combination of sky, mountains, water and cityscape.

The follow-up memos issued after the delay in Council’s consideration of the proposal serve to highlight the lack of clarity on this topic – more work remains to be done.  WEN hopes that Council will reject these proposals for increased height and take the time to get this right.”

There is no rush – the sky and the mountains will wait.

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