Crossing the Cambie Street Bridge, to enter downtown, Vancouver has a generic modern appearance. This view of the city, if seen in an anonymous film, could be anywhere. While change is a healthy sign of a vibrant city, growth in Vancouver is erupting too fast, fuelled by eagerness and a low Canadian dollar and high land costs. In the process, our city’s unique character is in danger of getting lost.
In 2015 the Heritage Action Plan (HAC), undertaken by the City of Vancouver, identified character streets as being important to people across the city. Whilst character is a nebulous term, it is the best way citizens can describe their passionate feelings about what they value in their neighbourhoods. This means retaining the integrity of residential single family (RS) neighbourhoods with their pleasantly treed streets, sympathetic infill and complementary design (not replication). Until the main arterials are built to their new scale, let us not spot re-zone in RS neighbourhoods. If amassing lands for redevelopment in RS areas is not allowed, then the same rules should apply to lands held by institutions such as schools and churches.
Who really owns the city: its residents or the politicians? If it is the residents, then they have a duty to be involved, vote responsibly and instruct politicians in how the city needs to evolve.
Let us find a vision and a cohesive plan in which residents can participate.