One of the more contentious city planning projects in recent memory comes before council this week
If you’ve heard about the City of Vancouver’s upcoming Broadway Plan, you’ve likely already decided what side you’re on. The 30-year plan will effectively seek to build a “second downtown” along Vancouver’s Broadway corridor and build housing and retail around the Broadway Subway line.
There are no shortage of places that you can go to get takes on whether this plan should be supported. Attorney general and housing minister David Eby has thrown his support to the plan, and housing advocates have also rallied around it. There are those in opposition as well, including some residents in the area, as well as the YVR Tenants Union, which is worried that renters aren’t going to be protected in the plan.
Vancouver City Council will start meeting about the issue on Wednesday, May 18 in a meeting that promises to last about as long as War and Peace.
There are 102 people signed up so far to speak to the Broadway Plan starting Wednesday. I can only imagine the list will grow considerably in the next two days.— Frances Bula (@fabulavancouver) May 16, 2022
It’s also an extremely important piece of city planning that will likely end up playing a huge role in determining how residents vote in the upcoming municipal election on October 15.
So, what might happen when the dust is cleared and council finally votes on the plan? Let’s find out by analyzing what individual council members might do.
For Sure Yes Votes
Mayor Kennedy Stewart (Forward Together)
Stewart has long been an advocate of the plan as he tries to make good on his original election promise of bringing more affordable housing to the city. He’s also called for strong rental protections if the plan does get passed.
Councillor Christine Boyle (OneCity)
Boyle has been vocal about supporting the plan and will also be introducing an amendment that would see Broadway add a bike lane.
For Sure No Votes
Councillor Colleen Hardwick (TEAM)
Set to run for mayor in October as the head of a new party named after her former councillor father’s old one, Hardwick will surely be voting against the Broadway Plan. She has often shown skepticism around City of Vancouver staff plans—especially when it comes to development—and she’ll be one of the loudest voices in the room on this.
Councillor Melissa De Genova (NPA)
It might not be “for sure,” but De Genova’s recent social media activity indicates that she’ll side with the vocal residents on this one and go against the mayor, the latter of which isn’t a shock.
The Green Party councillors
Adrienne Carr, Michael Wiebe and Pete Fry have sometimes been hard to predict on council (especially Carr and Fry), but one gets the sense that they realize they don’t have a chance of re-election without catering to some of the younger voters that are struggling to find rents. The Greens have mostly been willing to support the mayor on important council votes, so it feels like they’ll back him here.
And if Fry's recent Saturday night stream of consciousness Twitter poem was any indication, he's voting yes.
Councillor Jean Swanson (COPE)
It might not be a lock, but it feels like Swanson is going against this. A long-time advocate for the city’s poorest, Swanson won’t be on board with potential increases in rent for displaced tenants. The Tenants Union being against this probably seals the deal for her.
Could Go Either Way
The ABC Councillors
Rebecca Bligh, Lisa Dominato, and Sarah Kirby-Yung were first elected as NPA members but went independent and then, earlier this year, joined former NPA mayoral candidate Ken Sim on the ABC Vancouver slate.
This is going to be a very tough decision for them, as they’re likely to be the swing votes. ABC fashions itself as the main competing force against Kennedy Stewart in the upcoming election. So supporting an initiative that he’s incredibly passionate about doesn’t give them a ton of ground to stand on when trying to separate themselves from other voices on the centre-right.
But they also know that Vancouver badly needs new housing, and Sim at least appears to have housing affordability on his agenda for the city. Will he agree that this is the way to do it? Either way, it’s going to be hard to frame.
In the end, we think Bligh, Dominato and Kirby-Yung support the plan, allowing it to pass by an 8-3 margin.