City councillors are considering a ban on residential development in Vancouver’s downtown business core to ensure the city has enough office space for its future business needs.
But, a local architect warned, such a decision could have lasting impact on the look and feel of a city often ranked as one of the most livable on the planet.
“It’s throwing the baby out with the bathwater,” said Michael Geller, who was among a handful of people at a public consultation meeting on the topic (held during Game 4 of the Canucks/Blues series).
“It’s like Houston or Cleveland,” said Geller, an adjunct faculty member of SFU Centre for Sustainable Community Development.
“In fact, in most American towns and cities that don’t have housing downtown, at six o’clock the (business) area becomes almost deserted.”
Geller said mixed use (residential with office and commercial space) should be maintained in the area to ensure its vibrancy and to allow people to live near where they work.
Erecting larger buildings, streamlining approval processes, and shifting the tax burden to residential from non-residential could maintain office space, he said.
Further, said Geller, who ran as an NPA candidate in November’s civic election, constructing office space together with housing, could subsidize its cost.
As an example, he points to Shaw Tower in Coal Harbour. It would never have been built in recent years if it didn’t have the valuable condominiums on top, he said.