Smart Civic Planning Strategy Working Contributing Nicely to Vancouver Housing Market

Published June 11, 2019 by Real Estate Leads

Over the course of their careers most realtors inherently develop at least a basic understanding of civic planning, and it’s helpful to understand how smart civic planning makes for better housing developments. That is of course beneficial for everyone, and realtors included in as far as the volume of their business is concerned. Nowhere in Canada is smart civic development and housing needed more than in the hotbeds of Vancouver and Toronto.

Not only is it important to try to counter urban sprawl as much as possible, but it’s important that people be able to live in suitable homes and immediate communities and not have overly long commutes to get to work. Again, realtors will be acutely aware of this, and those working in either of Canada’s two biggest metro areas will have heard these concerns from clients. Fortunately, it seems as if there are positive developments being seen.

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But back to the immediate topic, and specifically how Vancouver is seeing the fruits of its planning strategy across the last decade.

Seeds of Change

Metro Vancouver’s vision for this started 8 years ago, and their planning strategy is seeing specific areas of the suburban Vancouver area growing into standalone cities within the city.

It’s easy to see the many new and towering urban enclaves that are taking root throughout the city. Neighbourhoods like Vancouver’s Oakridge, Burnaby’s Brentwood, Lougheed and Metrotown town, plus nearly a dozen other once-suburban areas around the region are becoming developed into smart urban centres.

It’s quite impressive how former regional shopping centres and transit-oriented sites are being redeveloped into mixed-use communities that have the ability to house thousands of residents while also providing clusters of amenities like shopping, entertainment and hospitality, and news office spaces too.

The city’s regional growth strategy had Metro Vancouver – representing the region’s federation of 21 municipalities – laying out future plans for development. City planners and stakeholders chose to focus on urban centre locations and areas connected to major transit stations via Translink’s SkyTrain and Canada Line networks.

Direction was provided to the municipalities, but also to developers and investors so that high-density growth could occur in what is well known to be a very land-constrained market. Once the municipalities adjusted their own zonings and plans for the hubs, it made it possible for investors and builders to buy up land and under-developed assets in regional town centres at Surrey Central, Burnaby’s Brentwood town centre, Richmond Centre, Vancouver’s Marine Gateway and Oakridge neighbourhoods.

Dramatic changes in those neighbourhoods are in progress. A large number of towers – some 60 storeys or higher – are either being built or planned for formerly-low density residential areas. The Brentwood area in Burnaby and the corner of Willingdon and Lougheed Highway is likely the best example.

Brentwood and Oakridge’s Major Transformations

Nowhere has the change been more dramatic that with Burnaby’s Brentwood neighbourhood. Nearly 30 residential and commercial towers are either underway or in their planning stages at four major development complexes. This is going to work out to more than 13,000 homes and 3.86 million square feet of retail and office space being built over the next decade.

The rebirth at Oakridge in Vancouver will also be remarkable. It will have 16 or more new towers itself, comprising one million square feet of retail space, 450K square feet of office space and more than 5,000 new homes.

One of the key strategies of the RGS that’s really been wholly integrated with both was to build towers that replace large tracts of existing surface parking wrapped around suburban shopping centres.

Developing Urban Enclaves

Many cities in North America are developing urban enclaves, but Vancouver is doing it in a big way, and especially so for a relatively small city. What’s unique about Vancouver is it is an overly land-constrained market and the scale of these developments is occurring in what is really a very small geographic area.

All this is going to be important, as Vancouver projects to have a million additional residents over the next 20 years. It needs to become more liveable, and of course with more housing stock comes a greater opportunity for ALL people in any facet of the housing industry. Realtors included.

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