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Vancouver considers rental-only zoning around proposed SkyTrain line to UBC

Vancouver city councillors are considering a motion Tuesday morning that could bring a temporary halt to all re-zoning applications along the Broadway corridor, the proposed route for a SkyTrain line to UBC.

Council voted in favour of extending the rapid-transit project west beyond Arbutus Street to the university campus last month.

Coun. Pete Fry has since put forward a motion with “emergency” zoning policy in an effort to protect renters and affordability in the area surrounding the proposed extension.

“When we’re building transit and we’re adding transit-oriented development and transit infrastructure … we’re making sure that we’re doing this in an equitable way and making sure it’s accessible and affordable for people who are going to use transit,” Fry told CBC News on Monday.

“One of the great injustices with a lot of transit-oriented development that’s been done is it actually forces the very people who use transit the most further and further afield from the actual transit line.”

The policy would create a rental-only zoning area for just under a kilometre on either side of the proposed SkyTrain line. That would mean any re-zoning applications from developers would need to include projects like below-market rental housing, affordable student housing and social housing.

Coalition concern

Fry said he’s received a “considerable” amount of positive feedback about the motion, but the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods took issue.

Co-chair Larry Benge said the group appreciates the idea behind the motion, but not the labelling.

“What we’re concerned with in this motion is the definition of the area along Broadway west of Arbutus as a Broadway ‘corridor’ … as opposed to looking at the neighbourhoods that are affected along that street and dealing with the neighbourhoods as unique,” said Benge, who lives in Kitsilano.

“We would like to see the area defined as the Kitsilano neighbourhoods, the West Point Grey neighbourhoods, as opposed to a corridor.”

Benge said he’s also concerned about the cost of the SkyTrain extension, currently estimated at around $3.8 billion. He said he’d prefer to see a project “more akin to a light surface rail system along Broadway” for less.

City council is set to consider Fry’s motion later Tuesday.

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