Vancouver appears poised to review a policy that has literally shaped the city’s skyline for decades.
The view cones were designed to preserve ocean and mountain views from 26 specific locations in the city, and have limited the size and location of new construction.
Now, a Vancouver city councillor is proposing the view cones, along with the city’s building height policy, be reviewed with an eye to tackling the housing crisis.
“This is not really about making sweeping huge changes. We will always have view cones in Vancouver,” ABC Coun. Peter Meiszner told Global News.
“This is really about eliminating those lower priority view cones that are not visible or don’t make sense anymore due to other development that has occurred, but are actually holding up development around the city.”
Meiszner’s motion, set to be presented Wednesday October 4, would see city staff conduct a review of Vancouver’s view protection guidelines “to determine the amount of additional housing, job space and public benefits” if various view cones were removed.
Staff would also be directed to conduct a review on framed views that could be “eliminated to unlock additional housing and job space.”
“I say obsolete view cones because some of these view cones are very obscured, there’s trees in front of them, they’re not visible,” Meiszner said.
“We also have some view cones in Vancouver that are only visible from a moving vehicle, three of those are on the Granville Street Bridge, it’s just a second you can see them.”
Meiszner said he understands people value the city’s views, but argued they need to be balanced with the need for more housing.
He pointed to the example of a social housing project being constructed at Richards and Drake streets that sits in the middle of a view cone. He said the project ultimately “sliced into a triangle” resulting in the potential loss of scores of units.
“Are we in a view crisis or are we in a housing crisis? I would argue we are in a serious housing crisis,” he said.
Vancouver OneCity Coun. Christine Boyle responded to the proposal by agreeing that view cones need a review.
But she said the city could do more to create housing by allowing the construction of four-to-six storey rentals and co-op housing citywide.
“I don’t want #TallAndSprawl,” she wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
If the motion is approved, city staff would provide a preliminary report by the end of the first quarter of 2023, followed by a final report in Q2, 2024.
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