Vancouver council approves review of city’s protected view corridors

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Vancouver council has voted to go ahead with a review of the city’s long-standing view cones, with a focus on continuing to protect key corridors while allowing increased housing, work and hotel space along less significant ones.

A motion by Coun. Peter Meiszner was approved at a strategy committee meeting this week, with a few amendments aimed at steering away from eliminating the corridors with the top priority.

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The city has 26 protected view corridors, and councillors agreed many are significant in providing ocean and mountain views that contribute to the beauty of the city and the well-being of residents.

But with a deepening and “unprecedented housing crisis” and skyrocketing rental rates, the restrictions that date from 1989 are due for a new look by city staff, according to Meiszner’s motion.

Higher buildings have been restricted to sites outside those corridors for decades, but the policy hasn’t been carefully re-assessed for its impact on much-needed development in many years, said Meiszner.

Meiszner’s motion said allowing taller buildings and greater density along some of the “obsolete and/or no longer functionally relevant” corridors is one step to help the city create more housing and hotel space, while also meeting its sustainability goals by reducing urban sprawl.

At Wednesday’s meeting, some of the wording was tweaked to take the focus away from “eliminating” corridors. The review will focus instead on how reducing or revising some view cones could increase the supply of affordable and market housing, office and hotel space and other public amenities.

An initial report on easing some of the view protection guidelines is expected by late 2023, with a full analysis due by the end of 2024.

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