Will a Skytrain eventually be making its way through Vancouver's west side neighbourhoods?
A report coming before Vancouver City Council's Traffic and Transportation Committee tomorrow should be of interest to all Broadway corridor business owners and residents. Or at least is should be of interest to those wanting to prevent what happened during the Canada Line construction.
TransLink and the City are looking at their options along the Broadway Corridor to build a new rapid transit line connecting Vancouver Community College and UBC. While I am encouraging business owners and residents to get engaged in this process sooner rather than later, I'd actually like to explore some of the fascinating data laid out in the bowels of the staff report.
There are some very interesting statistics on the lifestyle and travel habits of three distinct West Side neighbourhoods which were included to help provide context for future development. Those neighbourhoods include West Point Grey, Kitsilano and Fairview. Here is some fun with numbers:
- Only 1% of the housing in Fairview is single family homes while that number skyrockets to 44% in West Point Grey
- 67.3% of the housing stock in Fairview is actually deemed to be apartments under 5 stories
- 58% of West Point Grey residents choose to drive their car to work, while only 46% do so in Fairview
- 24% of Fairview residents use public transit, while only 17% do so in Point Grey
When you juxtapose those previous figures with current and projected population densities, you begin to uncover an interesting story. In the areas bounded by Blanca and Alma, the current density is 61 residents per hectare. This is projected to increase to a mere 79 by 2041. In other words, current zoning provides for very little densification of this aging and single-family dominated neighbourhood.
Meanwhile, a bit further east in the Burrard-Main area, the current density is 126 people per hectare with projections that it will jump to 193 by 2041. There are also 52.2 dwellings per hectare in this area compared to 11.8 in West Point Grey.
While there may be other factors at play, it's pretty hard to deny that higher densities in the Fairview area has resulted in increased used of public transit and less reliance on the personal automobile. That's why I continue to argue that despite all of the Mayor's thoughtful suggestions through his Greenest City Action Team (GCAT), they will have nowhere near the impact on the environment as increased density.
Unfortunately, the cold hard political reality is that the GCAT initiatives are all much easier to implement compared to taking on tony westside neighbourhoods. This is despite the fact we know denser neighbourhoods impact the environment less.
The Broadway corridor desperately needs rapid transit all the way out to UBC. There is no doubt in my mind about that. Now if we could only figure out the route, the technology and whether West Point Grey residents can embrace the idea that they will need to significantly densify in order to help pay for this massive project.
- post by Daniel