Vancouver Thinks About Building Higher -- And So Do Suburbs

Scarcity of land has prompted officials in Vancouver to consider updating building height restrictions to allow buildings to rise higher. Even neighboring suburbs are thinking about raising their own allowed building heights.

"Developers, spurred on by the cost of land and increasing tolerance for density throughout the region, are banging on the doors of the region's city halls to build higher."

"Vancouver, under pressure to accommodate both a hot condo market and a campaign for more office space in a tightly restricted downtown peninsula, is considering whether to lift current height restrictions."

"And even the most suburban of municipalities are opening the door to heights and densities they wouldn't have considered a decade ago. They're encouraged by Vancouver's successful new downtown neighbourhoods, new kinds of residents, including immigrants, who are comfortable with the idea of highrise living in the suburbs, and the current planning mantra that says cities can save the planet by building more compactly."

Full Story: 'Culture shift' takes skyline higher



The "Sky" Way Might Be The Way to Go

Vancouver and its surrounding suburbs may be only the first of many cities that will find it necessary within the next decade or so to embrace increased allowable densities within their metropolitan jurisdictions as cities become increasingly built out horizontally.

Indeed, the poster child for North American urban sprawl, Los Angeles, is experiencing a downtown high-rise condominium building "frenzy" as many residents tire of horrendous morning and evening commutes. Even suburban areas such as San Gabriel, CA are seeing new zoning ordinances that allow FARs up to 3.0.

Increasing densities in response to burgeoning populations, strained and aging infrastructures and commuter fatigue will contribute to increasing vertical densities in areas not normally associated with such in the coming years.

David M. Long, Esq.
Smart Growth Development Advisors, LLC

One Issue, Two Cities: Vancouver and Ho Chi Minh City

The preference to “go higher” is posing both opportunities and threats to Vancouver as well as Ho Chi Minh City nowadays.

The way a city integrates new high density developments into existing urban patterns will foretell whether future high-rise buildings would enhance its identity or would diminish it. Along with the future changes of zoning law to allow more higher constructions, public policies to promote better public facilities (especially public transport systems and parks)and protection of historical heritage, and a revision of long-term master plan, should not be separated on discussion table.

I wonder if Vancouver would lead the way as a good example for Ho Chi Minh City. The ideal way to develop Ho Chi Minh City seemed to be limiting the height of new constructions to protect the identity of the existing & historic downtown, and allowing high-density development in new downtown and in other new urban centers to relieve pressure for new developments. However, this vision would not be implemented effectively, without radical changes of local public policies and regulations.

Dr. Nam-Son Ngo-Viet is a planner / architect and researcher. His research focuses are physical form and human perception of urban centers in Pacific Rim countries.

"eco-density" means mega-profits for developers

Developers are just lapping up this "eco-density" stuff as taller buildings mean more units to sell and larger profits. In fact, it is hard to find a "smart growth" group such as Smart Growth B.C. that doesn't have some developer or realtor backing. And, of course, planners who have been in bed with developers from day one are giving it their endorsement too.

If planners and politicians were really concerned about our environment they would be speaking out in favour of limiting growth instead of stacking people higher on top of one another, as in the end the "smart growth" approach only saves some green space but still results in an over-exploitation of the planet's scarce natural resources, etc., etc., etc.

John Zeger

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