Agenda Index City of Vancouver



Date: February 24, 1998

Author/Local: IASmith/7846

CC File No. 5304-1

TO: Vancouver City Council

FROM: Director of Central Area Planning

SUBJECT: Rezoning of 701 Great Northern Way


THAT the application by Moodie Consultants Ltd. to rezone 701 Great Northern Way (legal description) from M-2 Industrial District to I-2 Industrial District be referred to Public Hearing, together with the recommendation of the Director of Central Area Planning to approve, subject to the conditions of approval contained in Appendix A.

FURTHER THAT the Director of Legal Services be instructed to prepare the necessary By-law for consideration at Public hearing.


The General Manager of Community Services RECOMMENDS approval of the foregoing.


On March 14, 1995, Council adopted the Industrial Lands Policies, which seeks to retain most of the City’s existing industrial land base for industry and service businesses to meet the needs of port/river-related industry, and city-serving and city-oriented industry.

On May 28, 1996, Council approved the False Creek Flats Preliminary Concept Plan which reaffirms the need to preserve the Flats for city-serving and Downtown-related industry.

On November 26, 1996, Council gave final approval to a new I-2 Industrial District Schedule for about 1,000 acres of industrial land, to better accommodate service industrial businesses in the City.

On July 18, 1995, Council approved the Greenways Plan.


This report assesses an application to rezone a 0.92 ha (2.3 acre) property at 701 Great Northern Way from M-2 Industrial District to I-2 Industrial District. The purpose of the rezoning request is to permit the development of a 1.5 FSR research facility containing laboratory and ancillary uses.

Figure 1.Site and context


1.The I-2 Zoning Initiative

To better meet the needs of contemporary industrial and service businesses, a new I-2 Industrial District Schedule was approved for about 405 ha (1,000 acres) of industrial land previously zoned M-1 or M-2. The I-2 zoning permits more floor area for service uses such as laboratories, production studios, work shops, and telecommunications. To improve compatibility with nearby residential areas, outright building height was reduced to 18.3 m (60 ft.) and the maximum floor area was reduced to 3.0 FSR.

Finning owns about 12.1 ha (30 acres) of land in False Creek Flats, along Great Northern Way. These lands, unlike the rest of the Flats, were not rezoned from M-2 to I-2. At Finning’s request, Council permitted the exemption of their land from the I-2 rezoning due to Finning’s concerns about maintaining their current heavy industrial operation and the potential for increased taxes under I-2.

2.The Proposed Rezoning to I-2

The applicant wishes to rezone a vacant parcel on the eastern end of the Finning lands to facilitate the development of laboratory, manufacturing, and general office uses for the prospective purchaser, a local bio-technology company. Rezoning to I-2 is consistent with the Industrial Lands Policies and the I-2 zoning initiative outlined above.

While the I-2 zoning was proposed for all industrial zoned lands on the Flats, on the Finning lands it is seen as an interim measure. On the Finning lands, and the lands extending northward to Industrial Avenue, the False Creek Flats Concept Plan recommends the creation of "a high amenity, urban industrial park, focusing on lower impact and more high-tech industrial use." Here a CD-1 zoning was felt to be necessary to ensure the proper design, and mixture of uses and amenities to create a "high-tech campus." A concept secured through a CD-1 zoning continues to be anticipated for the balance of the site. On this relatively small site, however, staff support the proposed I-2 zoning for the following reasons.

The bio-technological use proposed is one of the high-tech sectors targeted for the Finning site redevelopment. As well, this development is likely to act as a catalyst in achieving the Concept Plan's vision for the remainder of the Finning lands. As a result of this proposal, staff are now discussing with Finning representatives a process for developing an overall concept plan for these lands.


a)"Daylighting" of China Creek

The western boundary of the proposed rezoning abuts a 15 m. (49 ft.) wide easement which contains China Creek in a culvert. It was felt that daylighting this creek would provide positive environmental impacts and assist in developing the "campus" vision. While the easement is outside the area to be rezoned, and there are no plans to proceed with daylighting in the immediate future, staff believe that steps should be taken at this time to create the proper relationship between the subject site and the culverted creek. As a result, a 3.0 m. (10 ft.) building set-back containing a 1.5m (5 ft.) landscaped set-back will be required along the western property line of the new I-2 parcel as a condition of zoning enactment and secured by a legal agreement. This is consistent with the set-back required under the guidelines for Still Creek, the only Vancouver example to date of daylighting a creek in an industrial setting.


During the preparation of the Flats Plan it was assumed that the greenway developed in association with daylighting the creek would be on western edge of the easement where it can be integrated with the circulation system on the larger Finning site. The property owner is aware and supportive of this requirement.


There is currently a berm along Great Northern Way with a number of large trees. Although somewhat fragmented, this is an extension of the landscaped berm which runs along the southern edge of the Finning site. Maintaining this berm and as many of the trees as possible is strongly encouraged by staff. The applicant is advised that a landscape plan showing this berm and the retention of trees, as well as detailing the planting in the 1.5 m (5 ft.) landscaped setback adjacent to the China Creek easement, will be required as part of any development application on the site.

d)Access and Roadways

As the site is separated from the balance of the Finning lands by the China Creek easement it is appropriate that access be taken, as proposed, from Great Northern Way. While an internal road system will be developed as part of the concept plan for the balance of the Finning lands, it would not extend to this site across the China Creek easement, thereby complicating the daylighting initiative. As well, the False Creek Flats Concept Plan calls for the surrounding street system to be extended into the Flats, where possible. This is not an issue on this site as directly across Great Northern Way the street pattern is already interrupted by China Creek Park and a significant escarpment.

e)Soil Contamination

Finning has completed a site assessment and characterization of the soil conditions. They are currently in discussion with the Ministry of the Environment and anticipate receiving a certificate of compliance by the summer of 1998.

To protect the City's interest and to ensure that remediation does occur before occupancy, a section 219 covenant will be required as a condition of zoning enactment.


"This rezoning application is being reviewed and processed as part of the ‘Pilot Project’ for the City’s new Development & Building Review system. Thus far, the process seems to be working well andthere appears to be tangible improvements over the previous system.

With respect to the balance of the Finning Lands along Great Northern Way, Finning acknowledges the City’s desire to have these lands planned in a comprehensive fashion.

Finning also acknowledges the City’s objective to ‘daylight’ China Creek. The current subdivision application and the proposed development program for the subject site would provide the opportunity for daylighting when issues such as water quality, water volumes, and off-site concerns have been adequately addressed."


As a result of this rezoning, the soils on the site will be remediated to the satisfaction of the Ministry of Environment and the City. As well, a proper relationship will be secured between the subject site and China Creek to permit daylighting at a future date. The new use will also increase industrial jobs at a location close to transit.


A more intense use of existing industrially zoned land will create more jobs for city residents. As well, this rezoning will enable an existing expanding industry to remain in Vancouver instead of relocating to a suburban location.


The proposed rezoning is supported by staff, as it is in accordance with existing industrial policy and the False Creek Flats Plan’s vision for this area. The Director of Central Area Planning recommends the application be referred to public hearing and approved, subject to conditions in Appendix 'A'.

* * * * *

Proposed Conditions of Approval

a)That prior to enactment of the amending By-law, at no cost to the City, the registered owner shall:

i)prepare, obtain approval and register a subdivision plan;

ii)execute an agreement satisfactory to the Directors of Central Area Planning and Legal Services to secure a 3.0m (10 ft.) building setback containing 1.5 m. (5ft) of landscaping along the eastern side of the China Creek easement;

iii)obtain and submit to the City a copy of all soils studies and the consequential Remediation Plan approved by the Ministry of Environment and acceptable to the city;

iv)indemnify the City and Approving Officer and its employees against any liability or costs which may be incurred as a result of the presence of contaminated soils or groundwater, including costs arising as a result of any failure to carry out the aforementioned approved Remediation Plan and provide such security for the indemnity as the Director of Legal Services deems necessary; and

v)execute an agreement, satisfactory to the Director of Legal Services, that there will be no occupancy of any building or improvements constructed pursuant to this rezoning on the subject site until the contaminated soils on the subject site have been remediated to the satisfaction of the Ministry of Environment (and all relevant Federal authorities to the extent the same evaluate the remediation).

* * * * *

Comments or questions? You can send us email.
[City Homepage] [Get In Touch]

(c) 1997 City of Vancouver