How we plan liveable and sustainable neighbourhoods


The City of Vancouver uses community plans to provide clear but flexible frameworks to guide positive change and development in neighbourhoods over a period of approximately 20 – 30 years.

Each plan considers long-range and shorter-term goals, and work within broader objectives established for the entire city and at regional and provincial levels.

A community plan also recognizes the parts of the community valued by its citizens, and addresses the specific issues and initiatives of each area.

Community plans are policy documents that provide guidance and direction on a variety of topics, from land use and urban design, to housing, transportation, and community facilities.

Completed plans being carried out

Vancouver neighbourhoods

In this map, blue shapes describe the official boundaries of Vancouver's 22 neighbourhoods. The map also includes the Downtown Eastside and Norquay Village areas. Choose a neighbourhood to view its name. (Source: VanMap)

Three community plans are complete

Winter 2015 – The West End (October 2014), Downtown Eastside (March 2014) and Marpole (April 2014) community planning programs are now complete and the plans approved by Council.

The Grandview-Woodlands planning program is currently underway with events occurring in early 2015.

Second phase of community planning underway

Fall 2012 – The second phases of the Grandview-Woodland, Marpole and West End community planning processes are underway. We are in the process of creating long-term plans for the future of these areas and we need your help. Visit the websites of each plan for updates and events.

Even though our photo contest is over now, feel free to continue submitting, rating and commenting on photos and  sharing how you picture your neighbourhood. What are the great places and spaces in your neighbourhood? This could include great views, special buildings, parks and even the people that you feel express the uniqueness of your community. 

Community planning photo contests for Grandview-Woodland, Marpole, and the West End

May 31, 2012 – Show us the hidden gems, your favourite routes, the places you like to visit, or the ones you choose to avoid, in this community planning photo contest.

Submit your favourite photos of Grandview-Woodland, Marpole, and the West End, and we will choose 18 winners.

Grandview-Woodland community plan launched

May 11, 2012 – City staff launched the new community plan for Grandview-Woodland with a community storytelling event at the WISE hall.

New community plans general terms of reference established

March 7, 2012 – City staff developed terms of reference for community plans in Grandview-Woodland, Marpole, and the West End. It outlines the key principles and products that will be common to all three planning processes.

New community plans for Grandview-Woodland, Marpole, and the West End endorsed by council

July 28, 2011 – Council endorsed three new community plans for Grandview-Woodland, Marpole, and the West End. These new plans will incorporate improvements to the planning process, which include:

  • More effectively balance city-wide challenges with neighbourhood perspectives
  • Offer opportunities for deeper, more diverse forms of public engagement
  • Manage development pressures and priority setting for public amenities
  • Make clear and effective plans for everyone in a timely, efficient way

Read the Council report that endorsed the plans

Enhancing community plans

From 2010-2011, staff and Council worked to improve the community planning process, to:

  • Balance city-wide challenges with neighbourhood perspectives
  • Offer opportunities for deeper, more diverse forms of public engagement
  • Better manage development pressures and priority setting for public amenities
  • Make clear and effective plans for everyone, in a timely, efficient way

Here are the key documents from this improvement process.

October 2010 community workshop materials

May 2011 stakeholder workshop

July 2011 Community plan open house

Terms of reference

Backgrounder - Community Planning 101


The community planning process is conducted in four phases:

  • Phase 1: Launch
  • Phase 2: Plan and policy generation
  • Phase 3: Draft plan
  • Phase 4: Plan approval

Phase 1: Launch

During the first phase, we will:

  • Compile relevant city-wide policies
  • Review the existing research on neighbourhood issues
  • Discuss the needs, challenges, and opportunities related to the plan's key areas of focus with the community
  • Develop a local area profile

About the local area profile

The profile will include:

  • Demographics (e.g. population, age, household income, tenure, etc.)
  • Forecasts and demographic changes, housing stock (e.g. type, age, tenure, etc.)
  • Assessment of potential change and development under existing zoning
  • Synopsis of existing land use and built form
  • Community service needs
  • Cultural spaces
  • Health indicators
  • Sustainability indicators
  • Social development issues
  • Business activity
  • Water/sewer/storm infrastructure

Details of the Profile will be provided in the Launch phase.

Phase 2: Plan and policy generation

Step 1: Community-wide policies

This step will look at key themes and topic areas.

During this second phase, we will:

  • Generate policy options
  • Conduct a broad review of options, leading to refinements
  • Recommendations some options
  • Incorporate the policies into the overall community plan.

Step 2: Sub-area plans

This step will involve open meetings and dialogue with stakeholders, to collaboratively produce sub-area plans.

During this step, we will:

  • Review existing policy, land use, and transportation patterns
  • Analyze urban design and economic options for new development, including alternative land uses
  • Examine potential public benefits and improvements to public spaces
  • Identify public open space opportunities, and opportunities to optimize street design
  • Enhance active transportation and transit service

Step 3: Community action projects/plans

This step will focus on ways to take action on pressing social issues, placemaking initiatives, community development opportunities, and other actions that can be accomplished during the planning process.

Some initiatives may be project based (e.g., urban agriculture and community gardens). Others may be more comprehensive explorations of issues and opportunities for community and service providers to pursue.

Phase 3: Draft plan

At this phase, all the elements of the community plan will be brought together for broad community review.

During this phase, we will:

  • Prepare a draft community plan that combines the community-wide policies and sub-area plans
  • Identify recommended priorities and other implementation-related activities
  • Conduct a final, broad public review of the draft plan

So that participants  will be able to see how their ideas have been incorporated into the plan, we will provide a clear links between the ideas generated in Phase 2, and the policies we include in the plan.

Phase 4: Plan approval

At this phase, we will finalize the plan and prepare to present it to Council.

During this phase, we will:

  • Modify and refine the draft plan based on feedback
  • Prepare a report for Council
  • Forward the draft plan to Council for adoption, and to the Park Board and the School Board for consideration of parks and recreation, or education-related matters

Early local area planning

In the mid 1970s, in response to various growth and development pressures across Vancouver, the City approved the creation of a program of Local Area Planning (LAP). 

These plans were undertaken in a number of neighbourhoods, but not all.  The plans that were produced were comprehensive and often quite detailed, but took considerable time and resources to produce (up to five years in some cases).  The last LAP initiative was completed in the early 1990s.

The creation of CityPlan

Shortly thereafter, City Council embarked on a comprehensive planning initiative called CityPlan.  It was the first comprehensive city-wide planning initiative since the original Bartholemew Plan in 1928.  CityPlan: Directions for Vancouver was approved 2 in 1995 and affirmed Vancouver as “a city of neighbourhoods.” 

Through CityPlan, Vancouver residents and City Council agreed on these directions for the city’s future:

  • Strengthen neighbourhood centres
  • Improve safety and ensure appropriate community services
  • Reduce reliance on the car
  • Improving environmental sustainability
  • Increase the variety and affordability of housing
  • Define neighbourhood character
  • Diversify parks and public places
  • Involve people in decisions affecting their neighbourhood

As part of this process, it was recognized that CityPlan could only be truly effective if it were ‘scaled’ to the neighbourhood level. 

Community Visions Program

In 1997, the Community Visions Program was launched – and targeted at single-family neighbourhoods that hadn’t yet had a Local Area Plan.  The program involved communities working with City staff to create their visions for the future, based on CityPlan directions and community needs and aspirations.

The last Community Vision – West Point Grey - was completed in September 2010.