Brian Jackson “hit the ground running” when he joined the city as its general manager of planning and development in September, but he said his familiarity with Vancouver helped his fast start.
Born at Mount St. Joseph Hospital, he moved to Richmond with his family at age 3 where he graduated from high school. Jackson holds a bachelor of arts in urban geography and a masters of arts in community and regional planning from UBC. “Working for the City of Vancouver and being able to contribute to its urban form and character — it’s something I’ve wanted to do ever since I was a kid. So for me it’s exactly where I wanted to be in terms of my career and aspirations,” said the 58-year-old.
Jackson lives in Yaletown and typically walks to work across the Cambie bridge or takes the Canada Line. (He owns an Acura, but he noted its mileage was at 31,000 kilometres at the beginning and end of 2012.)
Over the past few months, he’s gotten to know staff, functions of departments, issues in more details, developers and community groups.
Asked about this year’s priorities, Jackson listed several: “We have four area plans coming up in 2013 — Marpole, Downtown Eastside, Grandview Woodlands and the West End. So we’re going to be bringing those forward by the end of the year. Those processes are well underway. We have three implementation strategies we have to follow up on — previous plans that have been adopted — in Norquay, Mount Pleasant and Cambie. We have special studies that are underway for the Pearson site on Cambie and Oakridge at Cambie and 41st. We have policy studies that are underway for the viaducts, Northeast False Creek, We have to respond and to provide a regional context statement in association with the new regional growth strategy that’s been approved by Metro Vancouver and a new sign bylaw for the city. And then we have our applications — a lot of applications.”
Last year was a record year for applications of all types, including rezonings, building permits, plumbing permits and electrical permits, with the city handling more than 25,000.
The city’s affordable housing plan, adopted last year, also calls for as many as 20 affordable housing pilot projects. The city received pre-application inquiries in November, which were examined over 30 days. “We received a number of serious ones. We received a number from people who just felt like putting something in to see what they could do,” he said. “Those people have been contacted and received a letter in mid-December and we’re moving forward with about three of the pre-applications, recommending that they go to an application stage.”
Jackson wouldn’t provide details on the proposals, explaining they’re still under discussion. Staff will report back to council in mid-2013.