Planners in Vancouver are moving to curb booming residential growth to expand commercial development downtown. 'It's all good to walk and bike to work, but if you don't have offices for people to go to, that makes things rather difficult.'
"City planners are proposing that residential development be banned from an expanded new commercial district, that office towers automatically be granted 20 to 40 per cent more density, and that developers be encouraged to build as high as possible without blocking the city's designated view corridors.
"When you look at the capacity for job space in the city, there's a problem, particularly in the downtown," said planner Kevin McNaney, who is in charge of the city's massive metro-core jobs study that has been examining what kinds of occupations and locations the city will need in the future. "And it really has nowhere to go but up. There's heritage on one side, strata condos on the others and then the port."
The city is also proposing that all conversions from office to residential in buildings over 50,000 square feet will be discouraged through the new central business district, which will now stretch from Bute to Beatty and Robson to Cordova. Similarly, conversions of buildings over 30,000 square feet in Yaletown, Chinatown and Gastown will also be discouraged.
That change is being welcomed by the business community, which has been raising the alarm for a couple of years about the way office development has been losing the battle to more profitable condo development.