Dec 12, 2019


Event Description

On 4 December, the City of Vancouver Broadway Planning Team organized one of three public workshops to discuss the long-term vision and priorities for the streets and public realm in the area of Broadway between Clark Drive and Vine Street. The neighbourhood workshops were designed to elicit a thought-provoking discussion about the interconnected relationships between transportation, urban sustainability, and place-making in the context of the city’s 30-year planning and adaptation objectives.  

Event Hosts: City of Vancouver Broadway Planning Team 


The Broadway Plan provides a process to guide future growth, place-based development, and public benefits within the area’s distinctive neighbourhoods: False Creek Flats, Mount Pleasant, Fairview, and Kitsilano. The two-year urban planning process is a unique opportunity for this world-class city to coordinate public space design, transit-supportive land use, affordable housing needs, high-wage job growth, micro-mobility networks, park space, and the Broadway Subway. According to federal census data, 20% of Vancouver’s rental households and 20% of all jobs in the City of Vancouver are concentrated in the study area. 

VSIR Thinking Points: 

  • Vancouver City Council’s decision to launch the Broadway Plan reflects the growing importance of intelligent urban design in the context of unprecedented risk and opportunity. Creating a long-range strategic vision that represents the aspirations and needs of current (and future) residents is not only a call to action, it is a recognition of the limitations of contemporary governance frameworks, off-the-shelf policy prescriptions, and incrementally focused “best” practices. To remain competitive in the global knowledge economy, Vancouver will have to embrace discover-led learning and distributed knowledge sharing. These capabilities are critical since there are no ready-made solutions for the wide spectrum of social, economic, environmental, and political issues that the City of Vancouver will encounter between now and 2050. 
  • Phase Two of the Broadway Plan (Oct 2019 to late 2020) is likely to be a particularly intense period of reflection and “over-the horizon” thinking. The challenge of scaling-up city-level adaptation capacity in the context of converging risks (ie., housing affordability, a climate emergency, an aging demographic, energy use, water security, cyber attacks) should not be underestimated. Traditional city-making priorities like effective governance, mixed land use development, and large-scale capital investments will be important, but so too will collaborative partnerships, agile policy development, and creative innovation. All interested stakeholders – communities, business improvement associations (BIA), civil society organizations, newcomers, and citizens – will need to work collaboratively at anticipating change, creating new sources of knowledge, and networking far outside their established “comfort zones.” A successfully managed transition will also require an action-oriented, interpretive framework to foster sensitivity regarding the potential impacts of second and third-order consequences. 
  • Because of its scale and ambition, the Broadway Plan has great potential as a prototype for the larger Vancouver Plan. In fact, the Broadway Plan represents a unique opportunity to consider how a differentiated portfolio of human-centred designs (ie., “tiny” homes, “superblocks”, “complete” streets, stream restoration) and a multi-layered knowledge mobilization infrastructure (ie., flexible work spaces, innovation districts) can transform the Broadway study area into a much more interesting place to live, work, and learn. Moreover, the openness and interconnectedness of urban places means that even minor changes to the built landscape and institutional structures can have a capacious effect on the long-term adaptability and resilience of the both city and Metropolitan Vancouver.     


Vancouver is consistently ranked among the world’s most livable cities. But that is no excuse for complacency. Rapid demographic, economic, technological, and environmental transformation is forcing a profound rethink of how public and private sector decision-makers prioritize both “hard and “soft infrastructure investments. Our common interest lies in shifting the public discussion from a transactional present to a strategic future. In that regard, it is important to remember that urban planning decisions made along the Broadway corridor over the next few years could be determinative of Vancouver’s prosperity and security beyond 2050.

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