Vancouver Revisits View Preservation Policy

Amid growing concern that downtown Vancouver's mandated view corridors cost too much development while making too little sense, its planners are once again debating their necessity.
April 2, 2009, 12pm PDT | Judy Chang
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"'I've got a serious appetite for shifting those view corridors,' says Brent Toderian, a former Calgary planner hired two years ago, who has been working hard to set new directions in a city famous for its urban planning. "The view corridors have been one of the most monumental city-shaping tools in Vancouver's history but they need to be looked at again. We have a mountain line and we have a building line where that line is inherently subjective."

The issue isn't just about preserving views versus giving architects free rein. Vancouver has used height and density bonuses to developers with increasing frequency in return for all kinds of community benefits, including daycares, parks, theatres and social housing. A height limit means less to trade for those amenities."

"The view-corridor policy, formally adopted in 1989, was the result of public complaints over some tall buildings going up, including Harbour Centre, which is now, with its tower and revolving restaurant, seen as a defining part of the Vancouver skyline. But then, it helped spur a public consultation process and policy development that many say confused the goal of preserving views with a mathematical set of rules that often didn't make sense."

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Published on Monday, March 30, 2009 in The Globe and Mail
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