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Selling a West Broadway alley has unintended consequences for delivery drivers

December 11, 2019

By-law enforcement officer driving away at 9:33 a.m. after giving a No Stopping ticket to a truck delivering food supplies to a restaurant in the 1400 block of West Broadway–as seen from the blocked alley where such delivery trucks used to park.

A deal whereby a private developer will pay the City of Vancouver $3.7 million and change to buy a bit of back alley in the 1400 block of West Broadway could also force delivery companies to pay money to the city—in the form of No Stopping tickets.

That’s because the bit of alley is the only legal place where commercial trucks can park during the morning rush hour, when they deliver food supplies to the seven restaurants still in business on the north side of the block.

Now that the alley has been gated to all traffic delivery trucks have no choice but to park on the street and face being ticketed, like a delivery truck from the food services company Snowcap was Tuesday morning (December 11), at about 9:30 a.m. (with 30 minutes to go in rush hour).

Two more delivery trucks—one food services and one courier—that stopped in the same block between 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. happily escaped the notice of by-law enforcement.

The Snowcap driver shrugged off the ticket. He wasn’t the one who would have to pay it, he explained.

Making way for the subway station in the development

Diagram from the city staff report showing the lane being sold to PCI (red); the remaining city lane (dark grey) and the “Surface Right-of-Way” PCI is giving to the city.—City of Vancouver

As originally reported December 6 by Naoibh O’Connor, for the Vancouver Courier, PCI Developments has agreed to buy the 213.7 square metres-worth of laneway separating 1489 and 1465 West Broadway Avenue, which the developer expects to redevelop into a single property incorporating—as a City of Vancouver staff report on the alley sale explains:

“…a 5-storey office building over six levels of underground parking that incorporates retail at grade and the Granville station head house and transit access for the Broadway subway.

The city staff report basically justifies the sale of the lane to PCI as being “essential” to keep the planned Broadway subway on track:

“The closure and sale of the lane is essential to the development application and to the multi-party arrangement to ensure the Granville station head house will be located at the corner of Granville and West Broadway.”

West Broadway side of the gated lane at 7:02 a.m.

The report concludes that the lane is surplus to the city’s needs; that $3,795,00 represents the lane’s fair market value and that the proceeds of the sale should be credited to the city’s Property Endowment Fund (PEF).

The PEF is a shadowy arrangement which somehow looks after the value all of city-owned property and, in 2010, was estimated to be worth $3 billion.

Over and above the land sale price of $3.7 million, PCI will pay an additional road closure fee of $10,460, as well as any related taxes, fees, etc.

Unfortunately the road closure fee will also go into the PEF, rather than going toward paying any parking tickets incurred by commercial delivery truck drivers.

As part of the deal PCI has agreed to give the city a 2 metre wide sliver of land from 1465 West Broadway that is contiguous with the remaining L-shaped laneway between the 1400 block of Broadway and 8th Avenue. This is to give trucks faced with the blocked lane more room to turn around.

The lane sale was scheduled to be put up for council approval on December 10—the day after the Development Permit Board was to consider approving PCI’s development application for 1465-1489 West Broadway.

Toting up a back alley bargain

The back alley side of the lane closure at 6:53 a.m.

Is $3,795,000 really “fair market value” for the lane separating 1489 and 1465 West Broadway Avenue?

Adding in the road closure fee of $10,460, PCI will be paying about $17,807.48 per square metre for the 213.7 square metres of lane way.

Based solely on their combined current assessments of $47,507,600 (and Google Maps’ measurement tool), the roughly 2,423.62 square metres of 1489 and 1465 have a 10 percent-higher value per square metre of $19,601.91.

Arguably that should have been the minimum value per square metre placed on the laneway between the two properties. If it had been, the cost to PCI for the laneway would have been more like 4.18 million.

As it is, I’m surprised that the city—which seems to have almost as much riding on the commencement of the Broadway subway as the B.C. government—did not just wrap up the alley and give it to PCI for Christmas.

But perhaps PCI is willing to forgo this little present for a bigger one in the near future.

When gifting a developer density never disappoints

It’s no secret that the five-storey plan for 1465-1489 West Broadway is something of a placeholder waiting for the significantly increased allowable density expected in the city’s Broadway Plan—due December 2020.

If the city’s Broadway Plan does deliver the gift of higher density in Christmas 2020, it is expected that PCI will try to amend its current development plans for the corner of West Broadway and South Granville to include the additional residential floors needed to justify both the “future residential elevator” and six floors (and 332 stalls-worth) of underground parking already in the submitted blueprints. Click the images to enlarge them.

  1. Sharon Townsend. permalink

    and this is only the beginning. Perhaps the city should have thrown in the alley for free in trade for some public plaza space the neighbourhood so desperately needs.


    • Public plaza. Park. Community centre. For such a supposedly well-off area we are surprisingly needy, where certain essentials are concerned. I wouldn’t be opposed to all four corners and the intersection of Broadway and Granville being redeveloped and re-imagined. But how many places in Vancouver have the plaza space you are imagining. I can think of two downtown: in front of the art gallery and the main library.


      • Sharon Townsend permalink

        there are more. It does not have to be monumental. A spot to put up a community Christmas tree, wait for a friend, enjoy a busker… eat your lunch.


      • Perhaps the focus should shift from the north east corner of the intersection to the five properties-worth of land that is going to be levelled in the middle of the block for construction staging area. All of this is apparently city-, or provincial-owned property. Nothing has been said about its future.


  2. SharonTownsend permalink

    given Broadway and Granville is the most significant intersection outside of the downtown…I think it deserves some public space.


    • Speaking of downtown, the city has to build a $14 million park there. Which is to say that the city hardly has the time, or the money, to humour the misplaced priorities of South Granville or the Fairview neighbourhood.


  3. As a truck driver I can assure you the city of Vancouver doesnt give a rats ass about truck access. I have had a semi truck and trailer shoehorned into a wide variety of alleys in Vancouver. Ive been cursed at threatened and my favorite ticketed and told the tow truck was on the way by parking enforcement. The chances of a tow truck being able to drag a 70 foot long rig out of an alley in gastown was laughable. I couldnt even drive it out untill 4pm when cars were no longer allowed to park on Cambie. Ive been in alleys on both sides of Broadway and have always enjoyed the chaos.


    • Commercial truck drivers appear to have to swallow a lot in Vancouver. And commercial truck drivers are the ones I most trust to be even-tempered and drive properly and predictably. Luckily, I haven’t seen another truck get a ticket while performing an early morning food services delivery in the 1400 block. Bylaw enforcement could make far better money in the alley on the other side of the 1400 block — what with all the illegally parking and stopping UberEats and SkipTheDishes drivers picking up from the McD’s. I even know of one such ad hoc delivery driver who had their car stolen while they were in the restaurant picking up their order.


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