West End BIA welcomes new community plan

A West End business group is "thrilled" that a community plan for the area was approved this week by Vancouver city council.

"We need to revitalize the neighbourhood, and we think the plan lands a pretty good balance for the community," Stephen Regan, president of the West End Business Improvement Association (WEBIA), told Business in Vancouver.

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"It's going to set the foundations for us to promote and revitalize the commercial streets in partnership with the city."

The plan calls for new residential high-rises to be allowed on the Georgia and Burrard Street corridors, as well as Alberni Street and Lower Davie. New residential developments will not be allowed in the West End's three commercial "village" areas, on upper Davie Street, Denman Street and Lower Robson.

New zoning will allow for infill development behind existing apartment buildings, such as townhouses and laneway houses, that would be rental only.

The WEBIA had advocated for mixed-use development and for improvements to the retail streets, such as building façade renovations, better lighting and a consistent look and feel throughout the three commercial areas. The advocacy group also called for improvements to bus service.

Regan said the WEBIA can now move forward to work with the city on plans to spruce up the village areas. He noted that $1 million of community amenity contribution funds from the Beach and Howe development has already been earmarked for public realm improvements to Davie Village.

NPA councillor George Affleck said he voted against the plan because he did not believe it was detailed enough.

"People wanted more time," Affleck said. "The two or three weeks to look at the full document, which is over 200 pages, just wasn't enough."

While the majority of yesterday's speakers were in support of the plan, Affleck believed the speaker list was "stacked," he said. Many of the speakers who supported the plan were from groups like the WEBIA, he said, who are "funded by the city."

He warned that a vague community plan can lead to delayed development applications and neighbourhood angst further down the road.

"This is the challenge we've seen in Mount Pleasant," he said, referring to the controversial Rize Alliance development, which has sparked backlash from residents.

Regan said the WEBIA will continue to work with the city and with TransLink on improvements to bus service, especially on the lower end of Davie Street where buses currently stop at a bus loop instead of continuing directly on to Denman Street.

The City of Vancouver and TransLink are currently working on a downtown bus service review.

Read more: Business in Vancouver

jstdenis@biv.com

@jenstden

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