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Vancouver Plan Community Infrastructure Policy

Community infrastructure plays an essential role in the lives of Vancouver residents, providing access to the activities, services and supports people need to stay healthy, engaged and connected throughout life. Community infrastructure (e.g., libraries, community centres) are invaluable resources, especially for those who are from lower socio-economic populations or equity-denied communities. Some community infrastructure and services are delivered by the City and its boards, such as libraries and community centres. Others are delivered by non-profit organizations (NPOs) and community partners, often with support from the City through leases and/or operating grants. The City creates opportunities for both City- and community-operated services by working with the development sector and senior governments to secure and maintain spaces. There are also many other community services in Vancouver that are not operated or supported by the City, which also play a significant role in the community infrastructure ‘ecosystem’ to support healthy communities.

Directions and Policies

Direction 7.1: Community-serving spaces

Deliver and support community-serving spaces across all neighbourhoods to meet population growth and changing needs, prioritizing underserved communities.

Community-serving spaces enable the delivery of programs that foster health, well-being and resilience, promote a sense of belonging, and help residents meet their basic needs. These critical programs are delivered by public, non-profit and community operators in a variety of spaces. Community infrastructure is critical to support Vancouver’s population, particularly equity- denied communities. There is strong and growing demand for these spaces and the services they provide.


7.1.1 Ensure growth is supported with community-serving spaces, aligned with the Spaces to Thrive: Vancouver Social Infrastructure Strategy.
7.1.2 Identify strategic opportunities to make space for new community-serving uses (e.g., within new developments – City- owned and private sites) in areas where known service gaps exist.
7.1.3 Centre an Indigenous approach to community infrastructure that honours the relationship to xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations through design, cultural elements and partnerships with urban Indigenous-led service providers.
7.1.4 For City-delivered and City-supported facilities located in areas of existing cultural redress initiatives (e.g., Hogan’s Alley, Chinatown, Paueru-gai, Punjabi Market) and future redress initiatives, ensure statements of cultural significance and partnership with those communities inform the development process, from pre-planning to project delivery.
7.1.5 Develop anti-displacement incentives for NPO-operated social services and programs, including the replacement of existing and the creation of new spaces in high growth and other strategic locations.
7.1.6 Locate new City-delivered facilities close to transit and other services to optimize access and convenience for users.

Direction 7.2: Libraries

Maintain and enhance access to library spaces that are welcoming and enable residents to engage with information, ideas, and each other.

The Vancouver Public Library (VPL) plays a vital role in communities. Libraries provide books, media, accessible information, research support, free learning opportunities, free indoor public space, meeting rooms and shared spaces through the Central Library and 20 branches across the city. The library is facing high demand within aging facilities and insufficiently sized branches in neighbourhoods where the majority of residents live.


7.2.1 Ensure growth is supported with increased library space, with the majority of additional space allocated to branches, in alignment with VPL’s Facilities Master Plan.

Direction 7.3: Community centres and recreational facilities

Ensure community centres and recreational services continue meeting the needs of all communities.

Vancouver’s community centres and recreational facilities are important hubs for community life, health, and play. Their programs and spaces, made possible by partnerships with the Community Centre Associations, contribute to the health of communities and our sense of connection, expression, and identities. Vancouver Plan will ensure these facilities provide for existing and future residents.


7.3.1 Ensure the equitable delivery of services by protecting, renewing, and upgrading facilities and assets (e.g., community centres, recreational facilities, and public washrooms) in alignment with growth and the goals and targets detailed in VanPlay.

Direction 7.4: Co-located Spaces

Enable more social and community uses through co-location, shared spaces and the use of underused or vacant spaces.

Locating multiple services in the same facility can result in many benefits: creating more affordable space; allowing organizations to collaborate and deliver innovative services; increasing opportunities to share resources and services; and enabling residents to access multiple services in the same location. The City can facilitate the use of shared community space in civic buildings, particularly where facilities such as libraries, community centres and other civic amenities are co-located.


7.4.1 Plan and design City-owned civic facilities to accommodate co-location of multiple NPO tenants.


The non-profit sector plays an essential role in the delivery of social-serving programs. While governments and funders help to build and regulate spaces for NPOs (e.g., by providing grants and advocating for the importance of social infrastructure), NPOs give purpose to these spaces. They work by responding to needs in their communities, delivering critical social programs and services.

 Nearly half of social NPOs in Vancouver have reported a lack of suitable, affordable and secure space to meet community needs. A majority of organizations face unstable tenure (i.e., short lease terms) and limited funding.

Direction 7.5: Access to Safe Public Washrooms

Expand the range of public washrooms for all residents and ensure access for people who currently experience barriers to water and washrooms as a human right.

Access to washrooms is a fundamental human right, and providing washroom services as the city grows is essential. Improving the safety, accessibility, availability and cleanliness of washrooms is a high priority for the public, particularly important for women and gender diverse people, people experiencing homelessness, sex workers, people who use drugs and other communities who rely on public washrooms for basic human needs.


7.5.1 Improve access to washrooms in plazas, City-owned civic facilities and other public spaces.
7.5.2 Work with non-profit agencies and business owners to increase washroom services and infrastructure, to align service provision with need.


As of 2021, there were 106 public washrooms facilities in the city with the majority open from dusk to dawn. The Vancouver Public Library also offers washroom access across its 21 locations. The City’s Washroom Trailer Program emerged as a human rights response during the COVID-19 and opioid public health crises. The program is supported to ensure safety and accessibility.

 The Public Washroom Strategy (led by the Vancouver Park Board) begins with an understanding that washrooms are an essential public service and that everyone is entitled to safe, clean, and accessible washrooms, and lays out a plan for how to deliver facilities in a feasible and comprehensive approach.