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City of Vancouver approves partial rezoning freeze for future subway corridor

WATCH (March 4, 2019): Vancouver Green councillor calls for rezoning freeze along UBC subway-SkyTrain corridor

Vancouver city council has approved a partial rezoning freeze for a large part of the city’s west side.

The interim rezoning policy, which will apply to Kitsilano and West Point Grey, is intended to curb speculation ahead of a possible extension of the SkyTrain from Vine Street to UBC.

The policy mirrors an existing interim zoning plan from Clark Drive to Vine Street, where construction on Phase 1 of the subway is slated to begin next year.

A similar proposal in Surrey to pause development along the planned route of the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain was defeated 5-4 by councillors last week.

READ MORE: Partial rezoning freeze for Kits and West Point Grey heads to Vancouver council

“There’s been a fair bit of misinformation in that this might be superseding planning,” said Green Coun. Pete Fry, who initially proposed the policy.

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“In fact, what this is is an interim policy to make way for a full, robust policy. But in the meantime, we’ve implemented an interim policy to allow us that breathing room and to prevent speculation.”

The motion passed with the support of all councillors except for the Non-Partisan Association’s (NPA) Colleen Hardwick, who expressed reservations about implementing piecemeal zoning policies.

“I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater,” she said.

“(But) I remain concerned about this corridor planning approach … I would just, overarching, say moving towards a citywide planning process. If we’re not listening to the residents now, why should they believe us in the future?”

WATCH (Feb. 15, 2019): TransLink Mayors’ Council approves SkyTrain to UBC

TransLink Mayors’ Council approves SkyTrain to UBC
TransLink Mayors’ Council approves SkyTrain to UBC

With the exception of the First Nations-owned Jericho Lands, the interim policy will essentially freeze rezonings in the two neighbourhoods.

The eight projects that have already submitted rezoning applications or advice for rezoning are exempted.

Also exempted are social and supportive housing, care facilities or group residences, secured-market or below-market rentals and affordable student housing.

READ MORE: Fears of Vancouver SkyTrain speculation frenzy prompt debate on rezoning freeze

The city may allow additional exemptions on a case-by-case basis.

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The policy also asks staff to explore the idea of rental-only zoning but does not implement it anywhere.

“I think this does put a priority on rental, which I think is the largest need that we have in terms of housing in the city with 52 per cent of our households being renters,” said NPA Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung.

“I think that we can expect that will only increase the affordability challenges we have.”

The new policy also extends the Development Contribution Expectations (DCE) policy, currently in place for the Phase 1 subway corridor, to the Kitsilano and West Point Grey areas.

That policy sets a table of expected financial contributions towards city amenities for any developments in the area.

The interim rezoning policy is intended to remain in place until Vancouver’s citywide plan or future area planning are completed.