View corridors from the old Mayor's office (the red lines on this map) need to go
When I’m visiting Vancouver’s lovely Fairview Slopes neighbourhood I envy the postcard view of our downtown skyline. However, it never occurs to me for a minute that I might not be able to see the ski slopes of Grouse Mountain.
I think many people know that Vancouver limits building heights downtown so that residents living across False Creek can get a glimpse of mountains. If you stop someone on the street and ask them should if those views should remain, about nine out of ten people say ‘yes’.
But did you know that one of the locations where you are supposed to be able to view the mountains is the old mayor’s office? That’s the one Gregor Robertson didn’t like so he spent $260,000 building a new one.
So I have to ask, why would we bother to keep that view corridor from City Hall open?
I bet that if you ask fifty people walking the seawall on south False Creek what they like about the view, none of them would say the mountains. They’d talk about the water, the evidence of wildlife, the people walking by, or the beautiful city skyline.
But as soon as you suggest changes to those view corridors, people go nuts.
I think some of us fear we’re losing something, but in my opinion we are potentially gaining something by adding new structures downtown.
Some of the most talented architects and urban designers live and work right here in Vancouver. There’s no question they can enhance our urban skyline, so why not let them try?
This week Jimmy Pattison announced a proposal to build a 48-storey building in Vancouver’s downtown, and the City seems to approve. It won’t be the tallest tower in downtown (the Shangri-La is 62 storeys), but it looks as though City planners are looking favourably at the idea of even higher buildings.
The benefit to Vancouver’s sustainability is huge. Downtown density has far less impact on the planet than does living in the suburbs. A downtown resident reportedly produces 1.5 tonnes of greenhouse gases (GHGs) per year. Move to Fairview Slopes just outside of downtown, and on average you produce three tonnes of GHGs.
Move to neighbourhoods south of 16th Avenue and you’re producing on average six to eight tonnes. Someone living in a sprawl community outside Calgary it’s estimated produces up to 15 tonnes of greenhouse gases per person annually!
It’s as simple as this. If you really want to save the planet, you give people the option of living in well-designed but denser neighbourhoods. This allows them to opt for transit over cars.
This is not to say we get rid of views downtown. The policy about “street ends” is one the City shouldn’t tamper with. If you live downtown and look up streets like Burrard, you should be able to see those mountain views.
But if you live outside of downtown, it makes sense that your view is that of Vancouver’s beautiful city skyline.
- post by Mike. Originally published in 24 Hours newspaper on Thursday, Oct. 28th