Vancouver City Council will be considering a recommendation to repeal
the current Highway Oriented Retail (HOR) zoning on Southeast Marine
Drive. An application by Wal-Mart and Canadian Tire to build big-box
stores in the HOR zone has been the focus of an ongoing public debate
on big-boxes in Vancouver.
Scrapping the HOR zoning is only one recommendation in an HOR Report
from city staff that is going before City Council on May 16. Other
recommendations in the report range from limiting the size and nature
of any future big-boxes on Marine Drive, to leaving the existing HOR
zoning intact. If HOR stays, there could be up to eight big box
developments along Marine Drive between Main and Cambie St.
The previous COPE council requested the staff report last June after
they voted down Wal-Mart and Canadian Tire’s big-box applications.
Hundreds of South Vancouver residents packed Council chambers
opposing the big-boxes. Only NPA Cllrs Sam Sullivan and Peter Ladner,
and Mayor Larry Campbell supported Wal-Mart. The HOR zoning was
originally implemented by NPA Mayor Philip Owen in 2001.
During the 2005 civic election, consultants with the public relations
firm that represented Wal-Mart, also managed Sullivan and Ladner’s
"We now have a second chance to get the zoning and planning right on
Marine Drive," said COPE Councilor David Cadman, who voted against
Wal-Mart’s 2005 development application. "With the new RAV line going
in we have an opportunity to plan for development that maximizes the
advantages of proximity to transit. Putting thousands more cars on
Marine Drive going to big-boxes, isn’t compatible with our
transportation plan, our climate change plan or our community vision
for South Vancouver.
"As a city we have committed to a climate change plan which calls for
reducing, not increasing car and truck traffic. Moreover, the City is
already committed to protecting existing neighbourhoods and local
retail areas. Wherever big boxes have located in other cities they
have negatively impacted local retail areas."
The Report also notes that the current HOR zoning contradicts
existing city policies.
Vancouver’s 1997 Transportation Plan calls for reducing car use and
promoting walking, biking and transit. The Wal-Mart and Canadian Tire
big-boxes proposals would have attracted 18,000 more car trips a day
with attendant traffic congestion and pollution. Eight big box
stores would generate around 50,000 more daily car trips along
already congested sections Marine Drive.
Council’s 2002 Victoria-Fraserview/Killarney and Sunset Community
Visions discourage the development of big-box stores selling
groceries, clothing and other daily needs where they threaten the
economic health of local shopping areas.
HOR big boxes would also increase traffic on the Ontario
Bikeway/Greenway. The Kent Street Bikeway, just developed at a cost
of $1.2 million, would also be adversely impacted, as would the newly
approved $10 million bike path planned for the nearby RAV bridge.
The HOR zoning was put in place before the RAV project and increased
transit were planned for Marine drive. According to Vancouver’s top
city engineer, Tom Timm, " as a result of the emerging Vancouver
/UBC Transit Plan, and future bus integration with the RAV line, it
is anticipated that there will be significantly more buses on this
section of Marine Drive. With this increased service along Marine
Drive, maintaining schedule compliance through this increasingly busy
section of marine could become a problem."
RAV also raises the possibility for development along Marine Drive
similar to the mixed uses along the current SkyTrain lines in
Burnaby and the Broadway Corridor.
"Keeping HOR in place will only lead to big-boxes," said Louise Seto,
spokesperson for Building Better Neighbourhoods. "As a mother I am
concerned about the impact of air pollution on my kids. We are seeing
asthma among children skyrocketing.
"This will be an opportunity for the community to decide what is the
best use for this land. Let’s look at how to plug into the RAV line.
We’re spending more than $2 billion to develop transit. We should be
looking at uses that take advantage of the transit system, not rely
on more automobiles that result in dangerous air pollution. Our
community wants to look at creative opportunities and positive
"South Vancouver and Sunset are not throw-away communities. City
Council can’t expect us to be the ones to put up with all the big
boxes that want to come into Vancouver. "
In 2002 Building Better Neighbourhoods collected 9,000 names on
petitions opposing a big box Wal-Mart in South Vancouver.
A public meeting on repealing the HOR zoning on Marine Drive will
likely be held in early June. The issue is then expected to go back
to City Council sometime in July for a decision.