Northeast False Creek plan threatens Vancouver's mountain views: former city planners
Proposed plan would allow future towers to partially block viewing corridor along Cambie Street
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As Vancouver city council prepares to discuss the proposed Northeast False Creek plan, former city planners are warning that residents could lose their view of the mountains if the current plan passes.
In 1989, Vancouver established a policy to protect 11 “view cones” or view corridors throughout the city centre. As a result, it is possible to see the North Shore mountains from much of downtown Vancouver.
“It’s remarkable how many millions of dollars of development have been shaped by the approved view corridors,” said Brent Toderian, Vancouver’s city planner from 2006 to 2012.
He pointed to Vancouver’s tallest building, the Shangri-la Hotel, which is shaped in a triangle rather than a rectangle, as an example of the policy at work.
But inside the lengthy Northeast False Creek Plan, one clause details an allowance that would permit future developments to be 425 feet high (about 42 storeys), partially blocking the view corridor from Cambie and 11th Avenue.
It would be a costly mistake, said Toderian, who acknowledged he was pressured by developers during his time at the city to relax the viewing corridor rules.
“You can do it right nine times out of 10 and only once succumb to the pressure to block them – and you would have essentially undone the entire policy,” he said.
While many Vancouverites may not know the history behind view corridors, Toderian asserted that residents care about protecting them.
Another former Vancouver city planner, Larry Beasley, agreed.
“If Vancouverites were asked to weigh in on what public amenities matter to them, the view cones will be right up there with the seawall and beaches as a treasured public asset,” he said in a tweet on Tuesday.
“Instead of cramming more housing in where it is crowded and blocks views, let’s open up some new communities.”
Toderian, who has championed increasing density in the past, emphasized that he is impressed with the city's plans for Northeast False Creek in general. But in some cases, the city simply needs to say no to developers, he said.
“The principle of Vancouver city building has never been to trade off well designed density in order to solve our housing crisis in one project."
Tomorrow, Metro explores the historical and cultural importance of the Northeast False Creek plan.