815-825 Commercial Open House

April 20, 2018

Yesterday afternoon I attended the Open House presentation for a proposed 6-storey rental building at Commercial & Adanac.


I’ve seen a lot worse designs.  There are to be 3 studios, 17 one-bed, 14 2-bed, and 4 3-bedroom suites which seems a reasonable balance.  They are planning 3 commercial units along Commercial, with 23 parking stalls plus 55 bike stands.  They also seem to have taken some care with the green envelope:


As I have mentioned in other forums, I have come to almost accept that 6-storeys is the new 4-storeys, and, given what will be its location behind the 12-storey monstrosity of the proposed Boffo Tower, I will not campaign against its height.

However, the very first thing I heard one of the developers’ reps say to someone else as I walked into the presentation room was “No, these aren’t designed to be “affordable” units. The one beds will probably start at around $2,200 [a month].”  And therein lies the crux of my opposition to this specific proposal.

In general, I am opposed to building any more unaffordable housing units until we have provided enough housing that can be afforded by the majority of the working families in Vancouver (as determined by the media family income in this City). More particularly, I am morally and politically offended that this unaffordable development will be going forward under the Rental100 policy that gives massive incentives to profit-driven developers.

Build it as market housing if you must (at least until we get a Council that sets better priorities) but don’t use taxpayers money to fill out the profiteers’ bottom line.



Yet More on Demolishing Affordability

March 29, 2018

The short interview I gave on CBC Radio this morning is now up and available online:


My segment starts at 1:41:30.  I hope the GWPlan folks listen!



More on Demolishing Affordability

March 27, 2018



On Thursday morning at 6:50am I will be speaking with Stephen Quinn on CBC Radio’s Early Edition about my research on Demolishing Affordability in Grandview.

Update:  The time has been pushed to 7:10am (I get to sleep in!)

Demolishing Affordability

March 24, 2018


Another Open House on Townhouses Etc

March 12, 2018

City Planning is putting on another two Open Houses regarding new building types proposed in the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan.  They seem to be the same as the Open Houses they  held in January, but perhaps they will be updated.

The new Open Houses take place:

Wednesday, March 14, 5:30 – 8:30 pm
Lord Nelson Elementary School Gym, 2235 Kitchener Street

Saturday, March 17, 12 noon – 3 pm
WISE Hall, 1882 Adanac Street (this building is not fully accessible)

Hard to understand why so little notice is being given — barely 48 hours before the first one.  However, if you missed the events in January, this is the chance to catch up on the unaffordable design choices they want us to accept.

Public Engagement Opportunity

February 22, 2018

Go along and tell them what you think.  Here’s a couple of questions you might want to ask:

  1. As was so eloquently stated in the recent Throne Speech in Victoria: “When people can’t find an affordable home … safety and security is taken away …[and]… Businesses cannot grow when the skilled workers they need are shut out by the high cost of housing” How many of the 68 condos will be affordable (by CMHC definition) to Vancouver families earning median incomes (as defined by Stats Can) using government-regulated minimum down payments?
  2. How will you guarantee that all purchasers of the 68 condos are tax-paying Canadian residents?

I’m sure you can think of others.

Good Density

February 9, 2018

There are groups of people  who camp out on Twitter and other social media outlets demanding more and more density as the solution to Vancouver’s housing crisis. I absolutely agree we need to densify. But I have noticed two things about these twitterers:

  • their primary solution is to build new buildings;
  • affordability is of no account;

They are wrong on both counts.

It is clear from Stats Can’s numbers and all the analysis people like Andy Yan have conducted that supply is not the issue here. Even Gregor Robertson in a deathbed conversion has agreed that supply is not the primary problem and our General Manager of Planning says we have spent a decade building the wrong things.  With 25,000+ empty housing units in the City, and tens of thousands of more units in the pipeline, any attempt to blame lack of supply is simply ludicrous.

I will make one exception to that statement:  housing for very low- or no-income  people has been sorely lacking for a decade, probably because it makes so little profit for the developers.  The City and Province are slowly beginning, albeit with some problems, to deal with that with their modular housing schemes. We need to do a lot more, but at least a start has been made.

The crisis is primarily for the regular working Janes and Joes of Vancouver; the folks who are hard-working productive employees but only make at or below the median wage in Vancouver (which is a notoriously low paid City).  These build-build-build types don’t seem to give a damn about these people. They are quite happy to build condos and townhouses and even apartment blocks that the majority of people cannot afford.

The only people who benefit from such buildings are the developers themselves, speculators, and those who already have houses to sell to finance the purchase.

We need to look at ways that can provide decent housing for the median folks, and we need to do it fast or they will simply move out of the city and take their vitality and talents with them. We can do this by encouraging owners of single detached houses to provide at least two and hopefully three households on each lot. This encouragement could come by relaxing the extraordinarily onerous, expensive, and time-consuming regulations the City imposes today on both in-house suites and laneway houses. We need to legalize all the “illegal” suites and encourage their refurbishment and expansion.

Such increases could easily double the density in Grandview, for example (as opposed to the 30% increase envisioned in the Community Plan). And this will be many times less expensive than new building as land costs will be irrelevant.

Finally, while this crisis lasts, it is incumbent on the City to ensure that City-owned land is sold/used only for genuinely affordable housing and not sold or handed over to developers for unaffordable condo towers and the like.

Density is a good thing, but only if regular local people can afford to buy what is built.