The City of Richmond wants to explore the pros and cons of increasing building heights in the city centre.
But before developers start rubbing their hands in delight at this potentially upward curve, the city is going to great lengths to ensure everyone is aware it’s just a study and no assumptions are made that maximum building heights will definitely rise.
The proposal to look into the benefits and implications of increasing the height from 47 metres — which was due to go before city council’s planning committee on Tuesday — was sparked by an application from Townline Homes to rezone a small section of the city centre on No. 3 Road between Park and Cook roads.
City staff are proposing the city work with the developer on a study that examines all aspects of increasing the height beyond the federal regulations.
However, no matter the outcome of a city study and any city council rezoning approval, only Transport Canada can change the rules with their own study — and their study can only be initiated by a request from the YVR.
According to a report by the city’s manager of policy planning, Terry Crowe, YVR has been asked several times since 2004 to request Transport Canada carry out the aforementioned study on increasing building heights in the city centre core.
And, as it can take up to three years for Transport Canada to complete its study, city staff think it’s a good idea to carry out its own investigation now, affording Richmond “ample time” to examine its findings.
“…council and others (citizens, community groups, developers) have expressed an interest in having buildings higher … for a variety of reasons (more varied skyline, efficient building forms, better use of limited space),” wrote Crowe.
Any federal study carried out would determine if and where an increase may occur, most likely to be an area bound from Westminster Highway to Blundell Road and Minoru Boulevard to Garden City Road.
If the city/Townline Homes study goes ahead, it will likely focus on a smaller area, from Cook Road to Granville Avenue and from No. 3 to Garden City roads.
Also, a federal study, according to YVR, would mainly address airport and community safety issues and any height increase, if approved, would be determined by the city.
To ensure speculation doesn’t run rife over an increase in building height, staff propose the city post a notice on its website and notify the Urban Development Institute to advise property owners, developers and the general public that the study is a one-time deal and not to assume there will, in fact, be an change in restrictions.