As regular readers will know, I have been deeply disappointed by most of the current bunch of Vancouver City councillors. They have approved pro-development stuff that even Vision would have been leery of supporting, and they have done nothing to improve community engagement. In fact, quite the opposite.
However, this week, they were faced with a Motion sponsored by OneCity’s Christine Boyle — to allow 12 storey buildings with 70% of all units at market rents almost anywhere in the City without any public consultation — that was so egregiously anti-democratic and anti-community that all but a few of them finally had to call a halt.
After about 100 speakers came and almost unanimously hated this misbegotten Motion, a large majority of the Councillors recognized the way the wind was blowing and crushed the Motion 7-3. Only Boyle herself, the Mayor (who only came into the meeting to vote, having avoided listening to the chorus of opposition), and Jean Swanson (who failed to see the bait-and-switch that was being proposed) gave it support.
I listened to virtually all the speakers and I did not hear one person complain about building more social housing. But I did hear scores complain about the anti-democratic spirit behind the Motion and the fact that under the City’s definition, 100% of the units built under the scheme — even those with market rentals and above — would be called social housing.
It is interesting to note that Green Councillor Michael Wiebe recused himself from the discussion under conflict-of-interest guidelines because he had received a legal opinion that, as a direct result of the increased land values that would be caused by this Motion, his condo building would significantly increase in value.
It is good that the Motion was struck down, but Boyle could not leave it there. Today, on Twitter, she claimed that Council had voted “against more co-op and non-profit homes.” This a big lie equal in fakeness to almost anything Donald Trump might have said. Council voted down a Motion that was badly drafted, that would not have achieved what she claimed, that would have further destroyed trust in Council’s willingness to listen to the people, and would have wreaked further destruction on Vancouver’s affordability.
I congratulate the majority of City Council for seeing through Boyle’s vacuous proposal. Now, hopefully, we can move on to more serious consideration of how to deal with the lack of affordable housing in this City.