More artists in Vancouver could soon have the option to set up studios in industrial areas, if proposed changes to the city’s zoning bylaw are approved.
City council voted unanimously today (January 15) to send the proposed bylaw amendments, which are intended to expand opportunities for “work-only” artist studios in industrial districts, to a public hearing.
Vision Vancouver councillor Heather Deal said the amendments have the potential to be a “real game-changer” for artist studio space in the city.
“This is actually a piece that we’ve needed to crack open for a very long time, which is that industrial space is great space for artist studios, and that our current regulations allow them, but in very restrictive ways and only heavier types of arts—the ones that are higher impact,” she said in a phone interview before council’s vote on the issue. “With a lot of people being multimedia artists now and multiple modes of artists in one studio, that just doesn’t make sense, and this is going to crack open...a lot more available space for artists with a lot fewer barriers.”
The proposed zoning amendments, which were recommended as part of an artist studio regulatory review in 2011, would see low-impact, “work-only” artist studios allowed in all 12 industrial districts in the city. Low-impact studios are currently permitted in four of those zones. The districts are located in areas including Railtown, False Creek Flats, and along the Fraser River.
According to the staff report that went before council today, a low-impact artist studio is defined as a space that doesn’t involve the use of amplified sound or potentially noxious materials. High-impact studios, which are already permitted in all industrial zones, include activities that involve the use of amplified sound, toxic or hazardous materials, or processes such as welding or spraying.
Other proposed bylaw changes include removing the current 500-square-metre size limit for “work-only” artist studios, which could pave the way for multiple groups to share a larger space.
“I think it’s the future of a lot of our arts groups in the city,” said Deal “This means that some of those warehouses in those industrial zones might become really great, thriving kind of hives of art.”
Following today’s vote by council, the application will be referred to a public hearing—a process required when changes to the city’s zoning bylaw are proposed.
Deal said the zoning changes could potentially come into effect soon.
“If it successfully goes through the public hearing and if there are changes, those bylaws are already written, and we can enact them really quite quickly—like at a meeting or two later,” she said.
Council’s vote on the issue came the same day it issued a temporary protection order to prevent any potential demolition of the Waldorf Hotel. Dozens of people gathered outside city hall this afternoon to show their support for venue operators Waldorf Productions, and for the protection of cultural and artistic venues in the city.