Agenda Index City of Vancouver



Date: October 21, 1997

Dept. File No.: HR

C.C. File: 5301

TO: Vancouver City Council

FROM: Director of Community Planning, in consultation with

Director of Legal Services

SUBJECT: Amendments to the MC-1 District Schedule and New Design Guidelines


A.THAT the Director of Community Planning make application to amend the Zoning and Development By-law, generally in accordance with Appendix A, to amend the MC-1 District Schedule and to implement Council-approved policies;

FURTHER THAT the Director of Legal Services prepare the necessary by-laws;

AND FURTHER THAT the applications and draft by-laws be referred to Public Hearing.

B.THAT, if approved at Public Hearing, the by-law be accompanied at the time of enactment by the Cedar Cottage MC-1 Guidelines, to be adopted by resolution of Council.


The General Manager of Community Services RECOMMENDS approval of A and B.


On July 10, 1990, Council resolved that 109.3 ha (270 ac.) be released from industrial use, and that the Director of Planning, in consultation with the Director of Housing and Properties and the City Engineer, review land use options and recommend new zoning schedules, including residential, where appropriate. The MC-1 area was included in these lands.

On April 25, 1996, Council adopted the Cedar Cottage MC-1/Welwyn Street Planning Policies as a guide to amendments to the existing MC-1 zoning and the development of design guidelines.


This report recommends referral of the amendments to the MC-1 District Schedule to Public Hearing, and the consideration of associated design guidelines.

The MC-1 area, located along Commercial Street, between 18th and 22nd Avenues (see Figure 1) was designated as an "industrial let-go" area in 1990. In April, 1996, following a planning study, Council adopted a set of policies that keep the mixed use nature of the area, while improving compatibility among land uses.

The existing MC-1 district schedule allows a mix of uses, including residential in most of the area, in a four-storey building form. However, all uses are conditional, without guidelines as to what conditions apply; some sections of the schedule, notably the FSR section, are unclear; and various sections are out of date relative to the rest of the by-law. The new district schedule updates and clarifies the uses and FSRs without changing the overall development potential. An exception is a small portion of the area where residential is not currently permitted, and is proposed to be allowed. Other changes update the schedule and bring it into closer conformity with other mixed-use schedules.

The other major change is a new set of design guidelines which emphasize building design that furthers compatibility among uses, adds to area character, and contributes to pedestrian interest. The proposed changes have been reviewed by a working group, and area property owners, business owners, and tenants have been consulted. There is general support for the proposals.


In 1990, recognizing the MC-1 district was no longer primarily industrial, Council designated it as "let-go". Following a planning study that involved the community, Council adopted the MC-1/Welwyn Street Planning Policies in April, 1996. The policy directions support continuing the mixed use of the area, permitting continuation of industrial, commercial and residential uses. The policies also seek to better ensure compatibility among uses and to improve the "fit" of new development. Council instructed staff to use these policies as a guide to a number of implementation actions, including changes to the zoning and the development of design guidelines. Staff are also preparing a separate report on Development Cost Levies (DCLs) to be charged for new construction.

Figure 1. MC-1 Area - Zoning Boundary


The existing MC-1 zoning was adopted in 1976, a partial combination of M-1 and C-2 zoning schedules. It has no outright uses, a complicated Floor Space Ratio (FSR) section, and no associated guidelines. In addition, it does not allow for retail and residential uses in the Stainsbury Triangle portion of the area (refer to Figure 1).

While substantial changes are proposed (see proposed amended zoning schedule in Appendix A), the overall development potential remains unchanged at 2.5 FSR in mixed-use, in a 4-storey building form. The FSRs permitted for the individual use categories (residential, commercial, industrial) also remain the same at 1.5 FSR. However, the amount of retail permitted is proposed to increase somewhat, from 1 000 m² (10,764 sq. ft.) to 1 300 m² (13,994 sq. ft.)

1. Uses

(a)Uses have been separated into outright and conditional, as is normal practice. Forty-six uses have been made "outright", including eighteen light industrial and twenty-one service uses which would help reduce the requirements and time needed to obtain development and related permits.

Cultural and recreational, institutional, and dwelling uses remain conditional, as do most retail uses. High impact manufacturing uses (like metal products manufacturing) and service uses (like auction hall, neighbourhood public house) and all other industrial uses (like transportation and storage) also remain conditional.

(b)Sixteen new uses have been added to expand the range of currently permitted uses, and to make some existing uses conforming, in keeping with the policy directions.

(c)It is proposed to permit residential uses in the Stainsbury Triangle (see Figure 1)--they are not permitted there now. In addition, unlike the rest of MC-1, where developments must have non-residential uses at street level, it is proposed to allow all-residential buildings, and residential at grade, on the north side of Stainsbury Avenue between the lane east of Commercial Street and the lane west of Victoria Diversion. (However, no difference in allowable residential FSR is proposed.)

(d)It is proposed to permit Artist Studio - Class A and Class B. The zoning currently allows only Artist Studio - Class B, the higher impact studio use. While this restriction is appropriate in industrial areas, both Class A and Class B are appropriate in the MC-1 area, recognizing that it is a mixed-use area with a substantial residential component.

(e)A number of updating changes are proposed that reflect recently adopted initiatives related to secondhand stores, pawnshops, and the I-2 zoning schedule.

2. Regulations

(a)Consistent with the recent amendments to C-2 and C-7/C-8, the proposed amendments include a provision for relaxation of height [from 12.2 m (40 ft.) to 13.8 m (45 ft.)]. This allows for response to sloped sites, for the provision of design features beneficial to the character of the area, and for non-combustible construction.

(b)Front yard provisions have been changed to ensure that the "main street" character of the area is maintained, by locating buildings at the property line. Appropriate rear setbacks have been added to improve privacy and reduce overlook of single-family properties across the lane.

(c)The current FSR section has confusing wording with inappropriate references to use locations. The new regulations keep the same effective development potential, but in a simplified way. An outright maximum of 0.75 is proposed, which allows for small developments and changes of use without major review. The overall discretionary maximum remains at 2.5 FSR, within which individual categories of uses (e.g., manufacturing) remain limited to 1.5 FSR, as now. This discretionary maximum ensures that major mixed-use developments are reviewed under the proposed guidelines.

(d)In recognition of the mixed-use character of the area, a section on Acoustics has been added, providing regulations on acceptable noise levels within new developments.

(e)The retail use maximum has been increased from 1 000 m² (10,764 sq. ft.) to 1 300 m² (13,994 sq. ft.) to allow large sites to develop as retail uses.

(f)Both market and non-market housing projects can be developed under the proposed zoning, to a maximum of 1.5 FSR. As well, non-market projects at greater density could be pursued through rezoning and specific housing agreements, as is the case throughout the city.

In addition, the revised MC-1 zoning proposes to allow any project to have an additional 0.3 FSR for non-market or guaranteed rental housing, to be located at grade, in the rear. While this provision may have limited use, it may be achievable in some cases where the non-residential space at grade does not need the full depth of the ground floor, or in the case of a sloping site. This additional 0.3 FSR could be combined with either market or non-market residential projects, for a maximum residential FSR of 1.8.

3. Guidelines

The zoning currently has no associated guidelines, despite conditionally permitting significant mixed-use development. The proposed guidelines (see Appendix B) provide direction for conditional uses and discretionary variations in the MC-1 regulations.

The guidelines include provisions to:

-enhance livability in, and compatibility of mixed-use developments, including a Residential Compatibility Matrix;

-encourage building design that reinforces the traditional character of the street by maintaining the small scale and rhythm of Commercial Street;

-enhance the pedestrian environment through improvements to streetscape, including weather protection, window design, exterior finishing and lighting; and

-encourage significant site landscaping to soften the building form, and help mitigate impacts between residential and industrial uses.


The proposed changes to the zoning and the new design guidelines were reviewed by the original MC-1 core working group that helped develop the planning policies on which the changes were based. In addition, a letter describing the proposed changes was mailed to all the property owners, business owners and tenants in and around the study area. There was general support for the proposed amendments to the district schedule, and the introduction of design guidelines.


By providing additional housing opportunities close to the city centre and transit, and increased housing variety, the amendments will contribute to the goal of decreasing atmospheric pollution through "access by proximity".


The amended MC-1 zoning schedule replaces an existing schedule. All uses are currently conditional, yet without associated guidelines to provide direction for staff and applicants, resulting in significant processing time. The new, clarified zoning, and guidelines will make processing clearer and more certain, and may reduce processing time somewhat. Further, as the volume of applications is historically low (two in the 1990s), no additional staff resources will be required.


The amendments to the MC-1 zoning, and the new design guidelines aim to implement the policy directions approved by Council in April, 1996. If approved, they will result in development that respects the needs of new and existing industrial uses and adds to housing supply and variety, while contributing to area character and pedestrian interest.

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