Last year marked Brian Jackson’s first full year as the City of Vancouver’s manager of planning and development after starting the job in August 2012.
Jackson sat down with the Courier early last week to reflect on 2013 and what’s on the city’s agenda for 2014.
Jackson cited the decision to reject the application for a six-storey market condo building on top of a grocery store as his “single toughest decision” in 2013.
“Because, do I think it would be the end of the world if there was a six-storey building on that site? Professionally, I don’t think it would be the end of the world, but there was no policy basis for us to consider a six-storey building on that site,” he said. “So, ironically, if they were to propose affordable housing on top a grocery store, there would have been a policy basis on which we would have considered it.”
Jackson expects the proponent to file another application under the existing zoning, which allows for a four-storey building — although because it’s a sloped site it actually allows for five without a rezoning.
“[The application] likely will have a grocery store,” he added.
Jackson considers the adoption of the Heritage Action Plan, which includes updating the city’s heritage registry, as well as the adoption of the West End Community Plan as two major accomplishments last year.
“I’m very pleased with the public process involved with [the West End] plan, as well as the product in terms of allowing for opportunities for increasing density in a neighbourhood immediately adjacent to the downtown while at the same time preserving the bulk of the West End neighbourhood as a very mixed-use, mixed-income community with leafy green trees and allowing for what I call surgical increases in density through laneway rental housing,” he said.
The revised plan had still included proposed changes for a single-family area west of Granville Street encompassing 188 properties, but that’s being dropped.
When asked if Marpole is getting off easily in terms of the city’s objectives for densification in light of the revisions to the plan, Jackson said no.
“The interesting thing about Marpole is they’re carrying their weight in terms of increasing population in the Cambie corridor and the Marine Gateway area and what’s happening along Granville, so they’re moving more towards the city norm in terms of what’s expected in population as opposed to being significantly above,” he said.
City staff was supposed to report back on the Downtown Eastside Community Plan at the beginning of January, but that’s been moved to about mid-March. The draft plan is out for discussion and posted online.
Plans to form a Citizen’s Assembly in response to the contentious Grandview-Woodland Community Plan are also moving forward after criticism that it’s been taking too long.
The Ad-Hoc Committee on the Citizen's Assembly met Jan. 14 to discuss questions from the City of Vancouver about the assembly’s formation.
In last week’s sit-down, Jackson said the city is about to hire a consultant to lead the process and staff hope to take a report forward on what the process will look like in February.
The Citizen’s Assembly could be up and running by March or April at the latest, he said.
Watch for an upcoming “Developing Story” to read about Jackson’s other priorities for 2014.
Note: This story has been corrected since it was first posted Jan. 14