Vancouver Needs a Shaughnessy Plan… and So Does Shaughnessy!


An important motion will be considered by Vancouver City Council on Wednesday, to initiate the process to update zoning policies in the Shaughnessy neighbourhood. Your voice is needed; jump to the end of this post to see how to contact Council to express your support.

Shaughnessy is a historic area of Vancouver, but fewer people have been enjoying that heritage as the population has consistently dropped over the past half century, and many heritage houses have been replaced with new mansions anyway. In fact, despite starting with the lowest population density of any neighbourhood, it shrank more than any other neighbourhood in the last census count.


Transit-Oriented Development and Proximity to Jobs:

The provincial government just announced they are mandating zoning for apartments near SkyTrain stations. This is sensible, the SkyTrain network is a big public investment and more people living near stations will allow many of them to use cars less, or not own a car at all.

But by the same logic, we should allow apartments within an easy green commute of major job centres, regardless of the method of commuting; our cities are themselves a tremendous shared asset. From Shaughnessy, a commuter can:


  • Take a bus downtown in as little as 11 minutes,
  • Cycle to downtown in as little as 15 minutes, at a typical pace,
  • Get to many jobs on the Broadway corridor, already the 2nd biggest job centre in BC, even faster, or
  • Walk to some jobs on the Broadway corridor in less time than many people spend on buses and SkyTrain.

Adding population in Shaughnessy will allow thousands of people to have easier access to jobs, and at the same time support transit improvements that make car-free commuting even easier. If it were not for zoning, it is certain that Shaughnessy would look more like Fairview and less like a suburb. Imposing extraordinarily low-density development on such a central area comes at an enormous cost to the economy, and to the lives of everyone who has to commute farther every day because more people are not allowed to live closer.


Lots of Apartment Opportunities:

Besides their central location, properties in Shaughnessy have a number of advantages that make them better for building apartments:

  • “No assembly required”: Unlike East Van’s 33’-wide lots, lots in Shaughnessy tend to be much larger, meaning expensive and time-consuming lot assembly is minimized or even completely unnecessary.
  • Cheap land: Land on a per square foot (or per square meter) basis, the basis that matters, is some of the cheapest in the city. This is largely because of the large minimum lot sizes, which make it so only the very wealthiest can bid on the land.
  • Low risk of tenant displacement: Shaughnessy has only 1.7 rented dwellings/hectare, the lowest in the City. Compare that to the West End at 125 rented dwellings/hectare! 

New development in Vancouver, and many other cities, has unfairly been targeted to existing multi-family apartment areas while traditionally single-family neighbourhoods have gone untouched. The City’s Secured Rental Policy removed Shaughnessy from consideration for new apartment buildings, although two small projects were approved under the previous Affordable Housing Choices program before it was cancelled. 


Local Services for Complete Communities:

Vancouver’s Climate Emergency Action Plan calls for 90% of people to live within easy walk or roll of everyday services by 2030. Adding population in Shaughnessy will make sustaining local shops and businesses possible. Building apartments will also help young families move in, keeping local school enrolment stable. At the same time, it will enable more people to enjoy the benefits of Shaughnessy’s tree canopy, an important climate change mitigation that many neighbourhoods are relatively lacking.

Take Action BEFORE Wednesday:

The motion will be considered at the Policy & Strategic Priorities council meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 15th. While Shaughnessy is not the only area in Vancouver that needs to accommodate more growth, it is the most stagnant, centrally-located, and with lots of potential. Your voice is needed to ensure Council moves this important initiative forward.

Contact Mayor & Council (web form) - Be sure to mention the "Unlocking Shaughnessy" motion and make it clear you support the motion.

E-Mail Mayor & Council (Outlook or GMail)- Possible Text:

Dear Mayor Sim & Council,

I support a new plan for Shaughnessy. We are in a severe housing crisis and every neighbourhood, especially those that have not accommodated any growth, needs to be part of the solution.


[But say whatever you like. The more personal, the better!]

See the Agenda and Request to Speak (must be requested by Tuesday)

Further Reading: