Agenda Index City of Vancouver



Standing Committee on Planning and Environment


Director of Central Area Planning, in consultation with the
City Engineer and Director of Legal Services


Planning of the Finning Site: Schedule and Resources





· On February 4, 1992, Council instructed that any recommendations for increased staff or enhanced programs be accompanied by recommendations for related revenue increases.

· On March 14, 1995, Council approved the Industrial Lands Strategy which supports retention of the False Creek Flats for mainly City-serving industry, transport and service uses.

· On May 28, 1996, Council approved the False Creek Flats Preliminary Concept Plan including inclusion of M-1 and M-2 zoned areas in the Flats in the I-2 zoning initiative. At the same time, funding was approved to complete the Thornton Park Area Plan and the Trillium rezoning. This work was never completed, as the Trillium application was withdrawn and staff were released.


The adoption of a preliminary concept plan in May 1996 completed the first phase of planning for False Creek Flats. This included an overall vision of City-serving use; within which sub-areas contributed individual visions including: high-tech industry; commercial/service; and more traditional wholesaling, warehousing and freight forwarding. Instead of proceeding with a second phase, Council decided to wait for more development interest, including a decision by Finning to proceed with the redevelopment of their site.

Over the last few months, interest has been rekindled on a number of sites in False Creek Flats. With the approval of the I-2 rezoning at the eastern end of their site to accommodate Quadralogic Technologies, Finning now wants to proceed with a concept plan for a high-tech, urban industrial park. Following the conclusion of research on precedents in a number of North American cities and a series of workshops with staff in August and September, their proposal is expected in October. In addition to their 11.3 HA (28 acres) site, Finning is now negotiating to include the adjacent 4.0 HA (10-acres) right-of-way, owned by the Burlington Northern Railway (BNR). (Refer to the map on page 3.)

Other development interest in the Flats total 17 HA (42 acres) where both high tech industry and movie production are seeking large site opportunities.

In response to Finning's initiative, a dedicated team approach is recommended to expedite the work. The team would work with Finning in understanding the urban structure of the Flats, what that means on the Finning site, and the mixture of use, amenities and the appropriate zoning necessary to realize the vision of a high-tech, high-amenity urban industrial park.

The work would be initiated on a full cost recovery basis, with Finning International contributing the total cost of $198,684 at the beginning of the process. Providing that the ultimate zoning is less than, or equal to this cost, this will be applied to required rezoning fees such that no additional payment will be required. Should a more expensive zoning result, staff will endeavour to achieve Councils' policy of full cost recovery, while not looking for a contribution above costs, within the requirements of applying the Fee By-law in the normal fashion.


This report seeks Council approval of staff and resources needed to work together with Finning on a concept plan and zoning for their site.


Site and Context

Figure 1 - False Creek Flats and the Finning site.

The False Creek Flats is an area of about 125 HA (308 acres), comprising about 20% of the City's industrial land. The Finning site shown as `A' above is about 11.3 HA (28 acres) and is located on the southern edge of the Flats, fronting on Great Northern Way.

False Creek Flats Plan

In 1996, in response to initiatives from the private sector, Council approved the False Creek Flats Preliminary Concept Plan. For most of the Flats, it basically reaffirmed the existing industrial policy, but for some sites including the Finning lands, a different future was recommended. Here and including lands immediately to the north, a high-tech industrial future was foreseen. For Finning, this was envisioned as a high-amenity, urban industrial park, where more latitude in terms of use and the provision of amenities on-site would create a "campus-like" setting.

Recent Development Interest

In the last few months, interest has been rekindled on a number of sites in the Flats. At the eastern end of the Finning site, an I-2 rezoning has recently been enacted to relocate Quadrologic Technologies. This use was consistent with the vision in the False Creek Flats plan and has acted as a catalyst for planning the redevelopment of the Finning lands. As a first step to developing this plan, staff and Finning representatives have examined precedents in a number of cities to determine what is necessary to realize the high-tech vision which responds to market demands on the Finning site. In accordance with their latest schedule, Finning expects to enter into a series of workshops with staff in August and September leading to the submission of a concept plan in October.

Just to the north of the Finning sit, shown on the map as `B', is the Burlington Northern Rail right-of-way. This siding includes five sets of tracks, which are now only used to serve the Finning site. Finning is currently negotiating with BNR to include this 4.0 HA (10 acre) parcel in their concept plan.

Other sites which are the subject of development interest include:

· 6.9 HA (17 acres) of residual CN land, (shown as `C') now in a variety of ownership, where there has been interest in film production;

· 2.8 HA (7 acres) of City-owned land fronting (shown as `D''), on Main and Terminal where proposals for both movie production/entertainment retail and high tech industries, have caused the Property Endowment Fund to consider selling of these lands;

· The 7.3 HA (18 acre) Trillium site (shown as `E')where movie production and a high-tech industry are both actively pursuing the site; and

· Two acres of City-owned land (shown as `F") fronting on Terminal, between Quebec and Main Streets, being considered for an office development.

In a number of these cases, proceeding to development, as defined by the proponents will result in some form of rezoning.

Next Steps

Once funding is approved, staff will immediately:

· work together with Finning to understand the urban structure of the Flats and what this means in terms of access, connections and parcelization on their site.

· Develop a concept plan and frame appropriate zoning for a range of use and amenities to realize the vision of a high-tech, high-amenity urban industrial park on the Finning site.

· Provide guidance on any other development or zoning initiatives in the Flats.

Staff Management and Resources

A dedicated team approach is proposed to undertake and complete the work within a one year period. This team will be managed within the Central Area Planning division by the Senior Planner currently in charge of the South East False Creek planning effort and will report to the Steering Committee consistent with established practices for large inner-city projects. A separate project account will be established from which departments will draw funds to meet their staffing and other resource commitments.

Appendix B indicates the positions required, and the departments involved. Consistent with other Mega Project rezonings, the Planning, Engineering and the Law Departments, need to commit resources as follows (staff resources are indicated in person-month equivalents):

Planning Department

Planner I (12 months) - Coordinate urban structure, land use and zoning issues in developing a concept plan for the Finning site.

In anticipation, of filling this position, the Community Services Group looked first at redeploying existing staff where feasible (e.g., areas where there has been a drop in application volumes). While some redeployment can occur, it is limited and not sufficient to create a twelve month full-time position. This position will therefore, be classified and posted as full-time temporary. The Community Services Group will, however, continue to examine work volumes and fee revenues, and redeploy staff in future as circumstances dictate.

Engineering Department

Civil Engineer (6 months) - Provide required expertise for roads and other infrastructure necessary to serve more intensive use of the Finning site.

Law Department (6 months) - Provide expertise required in drafting and reviewing legal agreements and zoning amendments.

Program Management and Better City Government

The management approach proposed is consistent with Better City Government and the Development and Building Review principles and practices as follows: it builds on the successful multi-departmental team approach pioneered by the Major Project Technical and Steering Committees and endorsed by Better City Government;

· the team is maintained (as much as possible) through planning and rezoning processes; and

· traditional "down stream" components of the process will be addressed earlier with staff responsible for these areas participating earlier.

Budget and Cost-Recovery

Estimated City costs for the components of the proposed False Creek Flats planning process are as follows:

As the dedicated team would be assigned to work with Finning, it is proposed that the cost would be contributed by Finning now and ultimately be applied to their rezoning fee. The estimated cost of the work is slightly more than a rezoning fee based on Finning's preliminary program which at $125,000, would result in an I-2 zoning on 75% of the site and a CD-1 on the remaining 25%.

The ultimate zoning necessary to secure the vision will be decided upon and recommended to Council at the conclusion of the process. Providing that the fee for this rezoning is less than or equal to the current contribution, no additional costs will be levied to Finning. If the fees are more than the current payment, Finning will be assessed the balance as per the Fee By-law. The exception would be if a more expensive zoning was to be initiated by the Director of Planning because it is in the public interest to do so. In any event, staff will endeavour to achieve Councils' policy of full cost recovery, while not looking for a contribution above full cost recovery, within the requirement of applying the Fee By-law in the normal fashion. However if the fees are less, Finning has agreed to absorb the extra cost and to make the full payment up front to support the planning now.


As a result of increased interest in False Creek Flats, and their own corporate decisions, Finning is now prepared to start work on their concept plan. To respond to this initiative which is consistent with approved policy for this site, staff recommend a dedicated team approach to expedite the processing with new temporary staff in the Planning, Engineering and Law Departments. The full cost of this work will be recovered through a contribution Finning has agreed to pay before work starts, and which will ultimately be applied against their required rezoning fees.

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