Housing From Who’s Perspective?

September 30, 2014

On Saturday morning, the residents of Grandview will have a chance to see some part of the new Community Plan Citizens’ Assembly (CA) process in action. This first public event is a forum called “Perspectives on Housing” — and a very particular perspective it promises to be.

The panel put together by the CA managers to discuss Grandview’s housing future consists of a realtor, a developer, a social worker, and a City planner.  Fine people all, I am sure.  But without an owner not in the housing business, or one of the 60%+ of Grandview who rent, or one of the 1000-odd people who live in co-ops, (not to mention one of the homeless), this is just a housing industry/City perspective that’s being presented, completely unrepresentative of the neighbourhood.  These are the people that the CA has “training” the CA members.

This is the latest gaffe in a process that has been off the rails for well over a year.  It is about time we called “Time!” on this whole sad affair, and allow our highly successful community to continue to evolve and grow at its own pace in its own way as we have been doing so well since the last Plan back in 1980.

If you want to attend the forum, it begins at 10:45am on Saturday 4th October, at the Croatian Cultural Centre.


Previous posts on the Community Plan.


Fall’s Here!

September 29, 2014

St Paul's Fall2

Select image for a better view.

Words Of Wisdom

September 29, 2014


The History of Gentrification in Vancouver

September 28, 2014

MK gentrification

There has been endless talk in Vancouver over many years now about the effects of gentrification on our beautiful city.  How endless, you say?  Well, Grandview’s own illustrious city historian Michael Kluckner will tell you at a lecture this coming Tuesday, September 30th, 7:30 pm at Hycroft, 1489 McRae Avenue.

As Michael writes:  “This is my lecture on Gentrification in Vancouver, its historical roots in the city and its relationship to heritage, urban renewal and The Big Picture of global economic changes in recent decades.”

Tickets are a modest $12 and are available from http://www.vancouverheritagefoundation.org/learn-with-us/workshops-talks/evening-lectures/ or by calling 604 264-9642.

Michael is an excellent lecturer, always erudite and amusing.  This will be a worthwhile evening for anyone interested in the subject.

Good Family Food

September 26, 2014

This evening, the ever-loving and I went for dinner to Tom & Jerry’s on Hastings by Slocan.  I used to go there almost every Saturday morning for breakfast when I did my weekly laundry in a place that used to be on that block in the 1990s.  Herself and I even had a Christmas dinner there about a dozen years ago .

It hasn’t changed much since I was last there, though I think they name may have changed to “Moulin Rouge”.  It is a family oriented restaurant that specializes in roadhouse-fare such as breaded veal cutlets, baby back liver, and Salisbury steak.  It is clean and friendly and extraordinarily value-oriented.  The boss had the salmon special, while I had a schnitzel.  The servings were enormous (neither of us managed to finish our plates) and the food was  certainly a lot more than adequate.  With a (good-sized) glass of wine, we spent less than $30 and both of us are complaining about how full we feel!

This is not a multi-star restaurant with a huge reputation, but I enjoyed my dinner more than I have in many establishments ten times the price and with gourmet stars.  Good for them!

The Crack Cocaine of City Finance

September 23, 2014

Community Amenity Contributions — CACs — are a debilitating and socially-destructive drug that the City of Vancouver has fallen addicted to over the last twenty years.  They are, to be frank, the crack cocaine of city finance and they need to be flushed right out of our system.

Perhaps many of you have never heard of CACs; they are not, after all, everyday talk in the coffee shops and diners.  CACs are a bribe developers pay the city to allow them to breach the previously agreed zoning for a particular lot.  If you want to exceed the height limits, floor space ratio (FSR), use profile, or some other aspect of what the local community has determined is best for their neighbourhood, you can negotiate a fee — the CAC — with City Planning that will get you off the regulatory hook.  City Planning then puts that money toward specific new public amenities (supposedly in that neighbourhood, but apparently not always).

That sounds like an interesting idea — if a developer wants to break the rules, that’s OK, so long as he buys us a shiny new library or a small park or a community meeting room in exchange.  But it is actually a terrible idea, especially as now the City essentially says that the availability of new community amenities are completely dependent on getting CACs from developers.  In other words, we can have nice things but only so long as we give away profitable density to developers; who, in turn, may or may not contribute some of their excess profits to particular municipal parties.  Moreover, the current system encourages spot rezoning (often against the terms of Vancouver Charter section 565A), especially when the developer is dealing with today’s majority on City Council that never votes against development applications.

It is vital that we de-couple the civic amenities that residents need from the indiscriminate and rapid densification of our beautiful city that six years of Vision Vancouver management has brought us.  The NPA and COPE were also in power during the period while this addiction took hold.

It didn’t used to be this way.  In the good old days — just a couple of decades ago — we voted on plebiscites every other year to determine which amenities we were willing to pay for by issuing City bonds.  It was mostly efficient. It was defiantly democratic.  The people got to decide what they thought was worth paying for, and the developers were not involved at all.  We need to go back to that system or something very much like it.

In return for lessening their costs, by eliminating CACs, I would tie this change into a change to the Development Cost Levy by-law to ensure a developer pays the entire cost of city infrastructure required for new development.

These changes, to CACs and DCLs, frees developers from paying CACs, obliges developments to pay for their own infrastructure, and allows the electors of Vancouver to more directly control the flow of amenities required to make us the most livable city in the world.



Buddha Sleeps

September 22, 2014

buddha sleeps