Mayor’s Communiqué: Vancouver’s Leadership in Sustainable Growth

Mayor’s Communiqué: Vancouver’s Leadership in Sustainable Growth

In this edition:

  • City Council Unanimously Approves EcoDensity Laneway Housing Plan
  • Making Vancouver a World Leader in Sustainable Development
  • EcoDensity Survey Results
  • BC Place Development Approved – Future Secured in Vancouver
  • Poppy Week in Vancouver

Councillor Suzanne Anton (with Park Board Chair Konna Houghton, left) has helped
lead City Council’s effort to make Vancouver one of the world’s greenest cities

EcoDensity Laneway Housing Plan Approved

Last week, Vancouver City Council approved a series of recommendations to expand access to laneway housing across the City of Vancouver. The recommendations deliver on a key EcoDensity action item unanimously approved by Council in June.

Laneway housing is generally a smaller house or cottage at the rear of the lot near the lane. The report we approved provides much more defined parameters of what laneway housing would be in the context of Vancouver single family areas. It covers close to 70,000 lots of varying sizes and shapes with a variety of existing houses and garage types.

The recommendations in the report include:

  • laneway housing to be permitted in all single family areas of the City
  • designated family or rental housing instead of strata
  • no reductions in backyard open space
  • maximum height of 1.5 stories
  • configurations that allow for one or two parking spaces
  • application of new green building standards for single family homes
  • separated storm & sanitary sewage connections
  • staff report back on progress after three years or after 100 projects – whichever comes first

Expanding laneway housing across the City of Vancouver is a win-win-win for city. We are supporting more affordable housing choices, protecting the environment and stimulating the economy at the same time. I want to thank my colleagues for supporting this important part of our EcoDensity plan – particularly Councillor Suzanne Anton for her tireless work on this file.

Mayor Sullivan & Clr Anton discuss Laneway Housing at EcoDensity media event

In addition to supporting laneway housing, we approved a number of other housing measures last week, including:

  • over $5 million for development of 70 new units of social & supportive housing at 3595 West 17th Avenue
  • amendments to city by-laws to remove barriers to green building approaches – including relaxed building height restrictions & thicker wall assemblies
  • $300,000 to complete a comprehensive rental housing strategy for the City of Vancouver that focuses on rented condo stock, secondary suites, existing supply and purpose built housing

Additional housing measures are expected to be considered by City Council at our final meeting later this month.

Making Vancouver a World Leader in Sustainable Development

This week, I had an opportunity to deliver a keynote address to corporate and government leaders from across Canada attending a Vancouver summit on sustainable development.

In addition to updating them on the implementation of EcoDensity, I provided a short recap of our record of accomplishment over the last three years to further Vancouver’s international reputation as a world leader in urban planning and sustainable development. The green record includes:

  • new measures to allow more electric cars on more Vancouver streets
  • action to clean up False Creek
  • expanded community clean-up campaigns & car free days across the city
  • established 33% city-wide greenhouse gas emission reduction target by 2020 and 80% by 2050 – with carbon neutrality for all new buildings by 2030
  • awarded “2007 Greenest City” from provincial government
  • delivered $2 million to restore Stanley Park & $4 million in additional federal & provincial restoration funds
  • successfully lobbied provincial government to support Millennium Line completion to UBC as top transit infrastructure priority
  • approved record number of new bike lanes – over 100km in past three years
  • secured record numbers of buses & hybrid taxis for Vancouver’s transportation needs
  • approved millions for green infrastructure, new bike lanes & safer pedestrian corridors
  • introduced tough new anti-idling & anti-smoking by-laws
  • advanced development of downtown railcar service – with the first phase to be completed by 2010 between Granville Island and the Cambie Street Canada Line station
  • successfully lobbied for tax changes in support of the Vancouver Co-operative Auto Network & supported community bike donation programs
  • ensured Southeast False Creek buildings will be a showcase of green development, as they are designed to LEED Gold with a goal of LEED Platinum for the community centre
  • established strongest green building standards in North America with Green Homes Program

Mayor Sullivan beside False Creek
Mayor Sullivan at the Athlete’s Village – one of the greenest housing
developments in North America


EcoDensity Survey Results

Over the summer, we introduced an on-line survey and Facebook site to hear what people were saying about EcoDensity. We initiated similar efforts in association with Project Civil City and the completion of the Millennium Line to UBC. In each case, the input received has helped to shape our government’s policy.

The EcoDensity Implementation on-line survey featured a list of over 20 specific questions. The following is a short summary of the unscientific results:

  • Based on what they have heard, respondents feel the City of Vancouver is implementing EcoDensity to increase housing options and protect the environment.
  • When asked to choose from a list of policy priorities, respondents chose access to public transit and environmental protection as the most important issues to them – followed by housing affordability.
  • When asked to rate transit priorities, most respondents identified more buses (26%) and completion of the UBC Line (25%) as the most important – followed by transit corridors for buses (18%) and a public bike system (17%).
  • 73% of respondents feel the construction of the UBC rapid transit line should be moved up to as early as 2011.
  • 70% of respondents feel Vancouver’s future is at-risk because of climate change.
  • 84% of respondents think urban sprawl is an immediate threat to our environment.
  • 93% of respondents identified land use and an important tool to address climate change.
  • 83% of respondents say they would support more density in their neighbourhood if they knew it also meant more local amenities.

When asked to choose from a list of community amenities, respondents chose transit (80%) and parks (54%) as the most important – followed by schools (39%), health facilities (37%) and bike lanes (35%). Parking (12%) and heritage (13%) were ranked the lowest.

  • 65% of respondents say a neighbourhood’s commitment to high quality density should be considered in association with the allocation of school budgets and new construction projects
  • 54% of respondents say the EcoDensity plan should be applied to whole city as opposed to only some neighbourhoods.
  • 66% of respondents were familiar with the concept of laneway housing. 59% say it should be allowed all across the city.
  • 74% of respondents say they support rules that would allow for secondary suites in townhouses and condos. Of those – only 16% feel secondary suites should be mandatory in new single family residences.
  • 57% of respondents support the BC government’s carbon tax.
  • 67% of respondents feel Vancouver’s EcoDensity Charter should include more specific targets.

Of the 100+ people who responded:

  • 67% reside in Vancouver. Of these 11% were from Kitsilano – followed by Mount Pleasant (7%) and the downtown (7%).
  • 43% of respondents took transit to work as opposed to car (34%), walking (11%) and bike (6%).
  • 64% of respondents are not familiar with their current neighbourhood plan.
  • 70% of respondents say they feel Vancouver’s has a good international reputation for sustainable urban development.


BC Place Development Approved – Future Secured in Vancouver

Following presentations from over 20 speakers over two nights of public hearings, City Council last week approved an amendment to the False Creek North Official Development Plan to allow for additional development potential on the BC Place Stadium site.

BC Place Redesign by mayorsamsullivan

This historic decision will secure the future of BC Place Stadium in our community for generations to come. In addition to facilitating improvements to the stadium in advance of the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, this decision will help:

  • finance the construction of a new retractable roof after 2010
  • provide more downtown office space
  • facilitate the proposed relocation of the Vancouver Art Gallery
  • support the Vancouver Whitecaps Major League Soccer bid
  • increase local density


Poppy Fund Campaign Begins

Poppy Day Oct 31 2008 by mayorsamsullivan

On Friday, it was an honour to host local veterans at my office to declare this week Poppy Week in the City of Vancouver.


Volunteer workers will be selling poppies around the city to during this period to raise funds to assist needy veterans and their families.


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Yours truly,

Sam Sullivan

Sam Sullivan
Mayor of Vancouver