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Highlights from the Mount Pleasant Community Plan

The residents of the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood of Vancouver, together with the planning department, presented a community plan to City Council on November 18, 2010. The plan was unanimously adopted by Council. Perhaps the most contentious aspect of the plan was the large site issue, and Rize Alliance's proposal to put a 22-storey highrise at the corner of Kingsway and Broadway.

However, tucked away in the community plan were a number of excellent recommendations from the community about the shape of future development that residents would like to see in their neighbourhood. These are some of the highlights:

Encourage contemporary and innovative design:
Keep finding a good way for contemporary design to also fit into the
neighbourhood. As an appreciated contrast / complement to preserved
heritage, invite and support architectural innovation that creates new
legacies (individual sites and/or streetscapes) of which the community
is proud. (page 9)
Encourage laneway development:
"Encourage laneways as a prized feature of Mount Pleasant [...]
providing a ‘second face’ of Mount Pleasant with expanded
opportunities to position architecturally innovative new development
along these routes; (pages 10-11)
Encourage laneway housing and rearyard infill:
Encourage housing on lanes in Mount Pleasant – both infill and
'Laneway Housing' [...] fix the existing infill housing policy to
enable infill housing to be built on most lots (e.g., 33 foot lots). (page 15)
Promote sustainable design:
Explore opportunities to further sustainability and energy efficiency
in design (page 15)
Encourage variety and innovation in housing, and discourage new faux heritage houses:
Investigate opportunities to increase the variety in design of new
housing (e.g., discourage 'cookie-cutter design') and innovation in building design (e.g., discourage replications of heritage-style
architecture or 'faux heritage'). (page 16)
Discourage duplexes as a way to add units to residential lots:
Explore impacts of reducing the height and bulk of new duplexes
(including likely impacts on unit size, property values, and carbon
footprint). (page 16)
Encourage retention of existing heritage houses, in part by fixing the bylaws that allow rearyard infill:
Discourage demolition of older buildings and development of new
duplexes, increase the incentives/regulation relaxations (including
zoning and building code) for heritage retention in Mount Pleasant.
Allow transfer of density within Mount Pleasant as a heritage
retention tool. Recognize that infill housing promotes the retention
of heritage. (page 21)
In short, the residents of Mount Pleasant demonstrated through a long series of workshops and neighbourhood meetings that they are forward-thinking, cosmopolitan and conscientious when it comes to housing and architecture.

One of the first entries I wrote on this blog was about the need for better zoning to allow rearyard infill. The new Mount Pleasant Community Plan addresses all of the issues I brought up in that article, and for the same reasons: laneway housing and rearyard infill are sustainable; they are better alternatives to duplexes; they promote heritage preservation; and they should be encouraged by the City.

Now all the City needs to do is turn this community plan into bylaws. In my opinion, this can't happen too soon.