Agenda Index City of Vancouver



Standing Committee on Planning and Environment


Director of Central Area Planning


Granville Street (Downtown South) Guidelines and
Downtown Official Development Plan Amendments





· The Granville Street (Downtown South) Design Guidelines, adopted July 30, 1991, apply to Granville Street between Robson and Drake (800-1200 Blocks).

· A liquor licensing strategy for the Theatre Row Entertainment District and other areas of the downtown, adopted June 19, 1997.


This report recommends amendments to the Granville Street (Downtown South) Guidelines and recommends for referral to Public Hearing amendments to the Downtown Official Development Plan (DODP). These amendments are based on "A Design Handbook for Building Frontages on Granville Street", which was prepared for the City by consultants.


On March 16, 1995, Council approved a series of studies and projects that together formed the Downtown Granville Street Revitalization Program, as part of the overall planning program for Downtown South. The studies were jointly funded by the City and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs through its Downtown Revitalization Program. An advisory group of Granville Street stakeholders, including business groups, property owners, developers, merchants, residents and service agencies provided input to both studies.

The recommended guideline and DODP amendments, which further advance the work of the revitalization program, are based on the "Design Handbook for Building Frontages on Granville Street," prepared for the City by Hotson Bakker Architects in 1997. This handbook is on file in the City Clerk's office and will also be available to applicants as a reference document.


The recommended guideline amendments, as shown in Appendix A, will do the following:

· recognize Granville Street's designation as an entertainment district;
· reinforce the importance of the street's heritage buildings;
· encourage buildings that have a more sculptural quality by increased articulation of building mass and the addition of decorative features, roofs and signage;

· encourage a distinct and decorative treatment for entrances to buildings at cross streets and for other larger significant buildings;
· encourage attractive storefront treatments;
· encourage a broad and lively range of colours for building frontages;
· promote the inventive, sculptural use of metal for railings, screens and other structural elements; and
· retain the typical 25-foot rhythm of retail bays, with accommodation for larger stores.

Other proposed changes to the guidelines aim to improve residential liveability for those blocks where residential use is permitted and to improve the lane environment for the benefit of residential developments that share the same blocks.

Further changes to the guidelines and amendments to the Downtown Official Development Plan are also recommended to bring the prescribed building envelope for Granville Street and the rear yard and setback provisions in line with the Design Handbook (see Appendices B and C). The DODP currently requires a rear setback of 30 feet from the lane. The proposed building envelope and the draft guidelines recommend that no rear setback be required for up to 30 feet in building height. Above this height, setbacks are specified. The elimination of the rear setback requirement, for the first 30 feet in building height, will achieve the following objectives:

· permit a traditional form of building massing, with full lot coverage, that is more in keeping with the older buildings along Granville Street;
· facilitate small (25-foot) store frontages by allowing larger retail tenants to locate the bulk of their floor space at the rear half of the lot;
· assure a more attractive and quieter overlook for residential units in developments across the lane because there is a greater likelihood that parking, loading and service functions will be enclosed within the rear portions of buildings.

The recommended building envelope will still preserve a 45-degree sun angle in the upper rear portions of buildings, maintaining the current amount of sun exposure for the lane and adjacent properties across the lane.

Should Council approve the amendment to the DODP to reduce the rear setback requirements, the guidelines would need to be further amended as outlined in Appendix C. These further amendments would be brought forward for adoption following enactment of the amending by-law.

Staff are currently working on amendments to the Sign By-law to permit a greater use of neon signage on Granville Street. These amendments will be presented to Council later in the spring.


Following the results of the Downtown Granville Revitalization Program, amendments are proposed for the Downtown Official Development Plan and the Granville Street (Downtown South) Guidelines. These changes are intended to facilitate and encourage the types of development projects which will help bring about revitalization of Granville Street in Downtown South, so that it may build on its ability to attract and entertain people in an atmosphere which recalls the street's colourful history and assists in its reinstatement as one of Vancouver's showpiece streets.

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