VCPC in the News — Broadway Subway

The Vancouver City Planning Commissioner has long been interested in the planning for the Broadway Subway. Back in 2017, we submitted two memoranda to  Mayor and Council both recommending comprehensive, engaged land-use planning and urban design processes for the adjoining
areas and neighbourhoods.
March 8, 2017 | December 13, 2017
Commissioners have continued to follow and discuss the progress on the development of the Broadway, including receiving updates from city staff on their work. Last week, Commissioner Amina Yasin was interviewed by Dan Fumano for a story in the Vancouver Sun .  Her comments reflected the VCPC’s earlier recommendations, and added more specific examples of how broader planning could have helped  address some of Vancouver’s most pressing problems by making better use of the publicly owned stations sites.Here is what she had to say:

Dan Fumano: Broadway Subway shouldn’t miss opportunities overhead

Opinion: Underutilization of publicly owned real estate at transit stations is a failure on several fronts: social, environmental and financial.

[…]

“Concurrent with the Broadway Subway project, the City of Vancouver is developing an area plan for Broadway and new developments will follow the city’s permit process,” the statement said. “The province has acquired all necessary land rights for construction and future operation of the line, including the stations.”

But urban planner Amina Yasin questioned the reason for such a “piecemeal” approach. Early construction work is already underway on these Broadway stations, so it seems it would have been preferable to have already planned developments to maximize the public return on investment, instead of hoping it might happen one day in future.

“I’d like to understand why, because with the urgency of the housing crisis … I don’t know why they wouldn’t try to do it now,” Yasin said.

Canadian statistics show that renters are significantly more likely to use public transit, as are recent immigrants. Those are two groups that have not historically been prioritized as much in many urban planning decisions, Yasin said. “This is definitely an equity issue.”

An artist’s rendering of the Arbutus SkyTrain Station.
An artist’s rendering of the Arbutus SkyTrain Station. The Broadway Subway project is a 5.7 kilometre extension of the Millennium Line, from the VCC-Clark Station to Broadway and Arbutus. PHOTO BY CITY OF VANCOUVER HANDOUT /City of Vancouver handout
That valuable airspace above transit hubs could also help address Vancouver’s well-documented and chronic child-care shortage, said Yasin, a member of the Vancouver City Planning Commission and former co-chair of the Canadian Institute of Planners Social Equity Committee.

While a lack of public investment in child care has long been a problem disproportionately shouldered by women, it’s especially acute during the time of COVID-19, Yasin said. One recent RBC study showed that “COVID-19 rolled back the clock on three decades of advances in women’s labour-force participation,” with a troubling trend of women in their 30s “exiting the labour force in droves” largely due to child-rearing responsibilities.

Considering those trends, as well as the City of Vancouver’s laudable recent track record of creative solutions — such as building daycare facilities on the rooftops of parkades and elementary schools — Yasin said “it would be a missed opportunity to not look at these transit hubs as potential rooftop child-care centres, in these neighbourhoods where they’re very badly needed.”

[…]

You can read the entire story on the Vancouver Sun website.

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