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Fears of Vancouver SkyTrain speculation frenzy prompt debate on rezoning freeze

WATCH: Vancouver Green councillor calls for rezoning freeze along UBC subway/SkyTrain corridor

Vancouver City Council is expected to vote Tuesday on a motion to freeze rezonings along the proposed UBC extension of the coming Broadway subway.

The emergency motion, proposed by Green Coun. Pete Fry, is meant to help stave off feared speculation and rapid appreciation of property values that some anticipate the SkyTrain expansion will bring.

READ MORE: Mayors’ council approves SkyTrain to UBC, subway bid process unveiled

Under the proposal, no new rezoning applications would be considered along the line, or within 800 metres north or south of it while the city’s planning process is underway.

“It’s really designed to make sure that areas around transit aren’t just speculated upon and used to build luxury condos, but for people who live and work in our city,” said Fry.

“Don’t expect that you can buy this land with some wild dreams of making a big profit, because we’re not promising that at all.”

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READ MORE: Vancouver city council votes to support future SkyTrain extension to UBC

Fry said the intent of the motion is to prevent another Cambie Corridor-style land rush, as occurred around the Canada Line.

But others, such as Non-Partisan Association (NPA) Coun. Melissa De Genova, have expressed reservations, warning of unintended consequences.

WATCH: TransLink Mayors’ Council approves SkyTrain to UBC

TransLink Mayors’ Council approves SkyTrain to UBC
TransLink Mayors’ Council approves SkyTrain to UBC
“I think it’s important that we aren’t setting new policies on the fly, and that we are honouring [that] there are people who have gone through the process and followed the rules,” said De Genova.

She says she fears the proposal could actually hurt affordability in some areas, and fears the freeze could shut out child care or non-profit operators.

The proposal would exempt the Jericho lands development site. It would also exempt projects where a rezoning application has already been filed or the proponent has made a request for zoning advice and received a reply that rezoning would be considered.

READ MORE: New report concludes SkyTrain is the best transit option to get to UBC

The proposal would also exempt applications for 100 per cent social and supportive housing, 100 per cent affordable student housing, 100 per cent below market housing or community care facilities.

The motion also asks staff to look into options for rental-only zoning.

A SkyTrain subway extension along Broadway is already approved and funded from Commercial Broadway station to Arbutus Street.

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Vancouver City Council and the TransLink Mayors’ Council have both approved a further extension to UBC in principle, but have yet to secure funding for the proposal.