Memorandum: Arbutus Corridor and Millennium Line Extension Planning

On March 8, 2017, the Vancouver City Planning Commission submitted a memorandum to Mayor and Council on the need for comprehensive, engaged land-use planning and urban design processes for the Arbutus Corridor and Millennium Line Extension projects.  Here is the text of the memorandum.

Arbutus Corridor and Millennium Line Extension Planning

As part of its mandate to advise Mayor and Council on issues relevant to the future of the city, the Commission has recently been observing with great interest the launch of two significant projects: the Arbutus Greenway planning process following the City’s acquisition of the previous railway corridor, and the process for the extension of the SkyTrain system’s Millennium Line along the Broadway corridor. Both of these projects will significantly impact the future development of the City. Both of these projects are also exceptional opportunities to enhance the quality of life of Vancouverites and to act as catalysts for the further development of a more sustainable and prosperous city.

The VCPC also wishes to raise our concern to Council that, to date, it seems that the specific planning for both of these significant projects is proceeding without concurrent comprehensive, engaged land-use planning and urban design processes for the adjoining areas and neighbourhoods. Public investments of the scale of both the Arbutus Greenway project and the Millennium Line SkyTrain extension have the potential to significantly impact adjacent neighbourhoods and local communities, as well as the potential to create opportunities to expand housing choice and economic opportunity in balance with public amenities, enhanced public realm, and needed infrastructure.

Although there is always the option to launch comprehensive planning and public processes in the future, we believe the best approach is to commence meaningful, engaged, and extensive planning processes for these areas sooner rather than later – integrated and in tandem with the specific planning and development of these two significant projects. Coordination of land-use and transportation has for decades been a hallmark of Vancouver’s livable city success story and is central to achieving our ‘Greenest City’ ambitions. We support and endorse continuing this coordinated approach.

Considering current land use speculation trends (which can be further fueled by the advancement of major infrastructure projects) and the many pressures facing the city, options may become increasingly limited as time moves forward. Further, engaging the public in the development and design conversation through the planning process early on may provide the opportunity for the public to more fully imagine and influence the range of opportunities these projects may provide (and thus alleviate potential concerns or anxieties).

The Vancouver City Planning Commission strongly encourages Mayor and Council to give direction for the early inclusion and integration of comprehensive land-use and urban design planning processes for both the Arbutus and Broadway corridors to take place in conjunction with the specific planning for the Arbutus Greenway project and the Millennium Line SkyTrain extension. We would further encourage the City to regularly undertake such a coordinated and comprehensive planning approach to major infrastructure projects in Vancouver.

We are pleased to offer the Commission’s support and encouragement for the inclusion of these matters for Mayor and Council’s consideration, and further offer our assistance in promoting dialogue and engaging the public on them. Should you have any questions, or require anything further, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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