April 14th,19th, & 21st 2022 Public Hearing – Will City Council Vote To Derail Broadway Subway Station?

Public Hearing – April 14th, 2022

(Edited: April 19th, 2022 – As councilors Fry, Swanson, Hardwick and Kirby-Yung refused to hear any more speakers, this meeting will resume once again on April 21th, 2022 with Speaker 62 of 73 on Item #4. As such, it is still possible to speak or comment on 1477 W Broadway.)

When one of Vancouver’s most respected journalist’s tweets this public hearing will be worth watching with a glass of wine, you know it’s going to be an interesting night. Frankly, Hannah and I think you would be better off grabbing a bottle, as we’re certain this event will drag on for multiple days. Which is fitting, because if the last item on this night’s agenda is rejected, it will postpone one of the most important projects in our city’s history.

Usually we follow the order of which applications are scheduled, but there’s no denying the importance of Item #4, as it will host the Broadway Subway’s South Granville station. Considering what’s being built at other transit stations in the suburbs, it probably seemed like a good idea to combine it with a couple hundred rental homes, office space, and a grocery store. That’s triggered a large backlash, and maybe why Councillors Hardiwck, Bligh, and Kirby-Yung voted to suspend this application (pg 22).

Item #3 also highlights the importance of public transit, as it would prohibit the construction of self storage warehouses in “close proximity” to transit stations. Additionally, it excludes that use from the ground floor of these buildings in an effort to promote more active services. Item #2 seeks to support local businesses too, as it would extend the private patio program introduced to offset the challenges of the pandemic, from October 2022 to March 2023.

That small boost is lauded as a huge success, and similarly it only took three extra floors to enable Item #1 to welcome middle class households into the Olympic Villages. There are who would argue a strata building would fit in better than this creative design, and some are just sick of waiting for their long promised elementary school. Delays can certainly cause problems, so before you reach for your favourite drink, make sure to send in your thoughts first.

Backlash Expectations

Item #1 – 5-15 West 2nd Avenue and 1751 Ontario StreetLow
There’s a few people who expected, and would prefer, a shorter strata building here instead

Item #4 – 1477 West BroadwayExtreme
With over 40 people signed up to speak, and hundreds of letters submitted, this is going to be a long one

The First Item – 5-15 West 2nd Avenue and 1751 Ontario Street – Low

What is it?:
This is an 18 floor building with 122 rental homes, including 24 priced at rates affordable for households who earn less than $80,000 as prescribed by the Below Market Income Rental Housing Program. It has retail stores at the street level, one of which will be dedicated as a music rehearsal space.

Where is it?:
Here, currently home to one of the last auto-body shops in the Olympic Village. It’s about a 10 minute walk from either the Expo Line or the Canada Line, and a stone’s throw to the Brewhall.

What will it contribute to the community?:
Aside from voluntarily including a music rehearsal space (pg 12), it will pay ~$1.1 million in fees to fund city-wide infrastructure improvements.

What has changed since it was first proposed?
Following the Urban Design Panel’s advice, city staff are requiring measures to be taken to improve the privacy for neighbouring residents, such as increasing the setback along the laneway (pg 22 & 23).

What was the open house like?:
It was quite active, with people asking about the BMIRH Program, construction timelines, and when a school will finally come to the community. If you’re curious, you can view all 8 questions asked here.

What are its strengths?
It brings a splash of colour to our grey city, and its stacked warehouse-like design relates to the area’s industrial past. Conversely, those lining up to find a home would probably say allowing three extra floors to switch this from a strata building to one with rental homes provides for a better future.

What are its weaknesses?:
While Hannah thinks the variety of window shapes are really neat, I think it looks a little too busy.

What is the opposition like?:
Most view these three floors as the biggest problem, though others hate the entire design, and oddly enough one person is upset that Ontario was supposedly spelled wrong on their notice card for this event.

Want to speak up?:
You can submit your comments using this online form, or register to speak by phone, or in-person, here.

The Fourth Item – 1477 West Broadway – Extreme

What is it?:
In addition to hosting the future South Granville SkyTrain station, it will include 223 homes, with 49 set at rates affordable for households earning between $38,000 – $80,000. There will also be five floors of office space in the podium, and a sought-after grocery store on the second floor.

Where is it?:
Here, at the corner of Granville and West Broadway where construction is already underway on a previously approved five floor office building that would become the base of this structure.

What will it contribute to the community?:
Aside from a SkyTrain station, there will be ~$3.3 million in fees paid to upgrade other civic infrastructure, as well as ~$630,000 for public art (pg 17). We know plenty of people will welcome a grocery store in the area, as even city staff have stressed its importance (pg 25).

What has changed since it was first proposed?
It’s gown a lot since its original plans were first found in an alleyway dumpster, thanks to an Issues Report approved by city council that recognized the benefits of securing rental housing at this transit station.

What was the open house like?:
It seemed calm, as only seven questions were asked, which you can view here. In reality, over 500 comments were submitted, roughly divided equally between those in support and those against (pg 55).

What are its strengths?:
This is a great location, close to amenities as well as employers like the VPL’s Firehall Branch, the Vancouver School Board, and Vancouver General Hospital. The increased room and seating for one the last bus stops before downtown is almost as badly need as the new grocery store.

What are its weaknesses?:
There’s a big one as, due to public safety concerns, the South Granville Broadway Subway station can’t open until this building is finished construction, so any delays to this process will have a huge knock-off effect.

What is the opposition like?:
Many are fearful this could set a precedent for Kitsilano and West Point Grey, and oppose the Broadway Plan for the same reason. They may have already earned the support of Councillors Hardwick, Bligh, and Kirby-Yung, who tried to stop this process over a year ago (pg 8).

Want to speak up?:
You can submit your comments using this online form, or register to speak by phone, or in-person, here.

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