Shortlisted project West End Community Plan

Vancouver, Canada

The West End Community Plan provides a clear and flexible framework to implement positive change and sustainable development.

The West End area of Vancouver is a livable neighbourhood that is home to a unique mix of people and places. It is a community that features a range of housing, land use, heritage buildings, transportation options and amenities. A growing population, ageing public facilities, an evolving economy and a changing climate provided the impetus for Vancouver City Council to engage with the community and business groups to develop the West End Community Plan.

The West End community planning process took place over 20 months, starting in April 2012, and was completed in four phases. There were a wide range of opportunities for individuals and organizations to become involved, share ideas, and provide feedback throughout the process.

The West End Community Plan was adopted by Vancouver City Council in November 2013. The policy framework in the plan provides clarity on the appropriate character, scale and land uses, identifies areas for growth, revitalisation and change, and identifies a strategy for providing new amenities and renewing or expanding existing public facilities. The policy directions in the plan will be realized through a variety of approaches, initiatives, tools and partnerships with community and business groups.

Shortlisted project

This project was shortlisted for the 'Guangzhou Award' in 2014 in the following category: Deserving initiative. Learn more about the award.


City information

Size and population development
2011: 2,267,000, 1990: 1,559,000, 2025: 2,765,000, 2010-2015: +1,45% / year

Population composition
the most culturally diverse city in Canada / only 49% of the inhabitants speak English as their first language (25.3 % speak Chinese)

Main functions
industrial centre, transportation hub (seaport)

Main industries / business
forestry, film industry, high tech

Political structure
Mayor and City Council elected every three years.

Administrative structure
Mayor and Vancouver City Council, School Board and Park Board elected for a three-year term

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Background and objectives

The West End is a vibrant, diverse, walkable and densely populated community surrounded by parks and beaches as well as Vancouver's downtown and Central business district. Approximately 45,000 residents, 23,000 workers and 1,600 businesses make up the population.

Due to growing demand for new development, Vancouver City Council embarked on preparing a plan to ensure that future growth in the West End is sustainable and would meet the needs of the community . After extensive consultation with community and business groups a set of refined plan directions, including the West End Community Values, was agreed upon.

The key objectives of the West End Community Plan are:
  • Achieve a green, environmentally sustainable urban pattern
  • Support a range of affordable housing options to meet the diverse needs of the community
  • Foster a robust, resilient economy
  • Enhance culture, heritage and creativity in the city
  • Provide and support a range of sustainable transportation options
  • Protect and enhance public open spaces, parks and green linkages
  • Foster resilient, sustainable, safe and healthy communities

The City of Vancouver is the lead agency for the West End Community Plan and will provide the majority of funding as the project rolls out over the next three decades. Implementation will be guided by the Public Benefits Strategy. Targets have been identified for social housing, rental housing, facility renewal and expansion, public spaces, sustainability measures, utilities and heritage and culture priorities. The targets and associated metrics allow monitoring of implementation, tracking overall progress and will recommend adjustments if targets are not met.

Partners include:
  • West End residents
  • Government agencies
  • Business improvement associations
  • Private developers
  • Social housing operators
  • Public and private service providers
  • Local businesses
  • Arts and culture organisation
  • Heritage organisations
Financing and resources

As the lead agency, the City of Vancouver has committed to estimated funds of $CAN585 - $CAN630 million over three decades along with a fully costed and defined public benefits strategy providing direction for expenditure.  Moving forward, additional financial contributions will be sourced from other government agencies and business groups.

Results and impacts
The West End Community Plan will impact on many levels; new housing, renewed and new public amenities, revitalized commercial opportunities, preservation of heritage buildings and fostering arts and culture.  The plan anticipates growth of 10,00 new residents and 7,000 new jobs over three decades.
Barriers and challenges
To combat some initial resistance by both business groups and the community, Council commissioned a pilot project, Action While Planning to demonstrate the potential of the proposed changes and development. It further established the West End Neighbourhood Champions Network to provide advice on matters of public involvement and to assist with outreach to encourage wide participation in the public engagement process. The group was critical to achieving broad, inclusive and innovative engagement throughout the community.
Lessons learned and transferability
The innovative planning process demonstrates how a community plan can engage with a wide range of stakeholders in a relatively short time frame. Utilizing communications methods such as social media, 3-D computer modelling and interactive online mapping combined with surveys, meetings and "walk shops" provides many opportunities for the community and business groups to become involved with the process.

A fully defined and costed Public Benefits Strategy provides surety for partners, business groups and community.
Vancouver, Canada, West End Community Plan, Guangzhou Award, 2014

External links / documents