We Need A Ward System in Vancouver

May 20, 2020

Vancouver municipal politicians are always complaining about the lack of turnout at civic elections (although, you will notice, they still claim that the tiny minority of electors that voted for them gives them a mandate to change the City in any way they want!)

There are, of course, several reasons why municipal turnout is so low (not one of which includes the VAST sums of campaign money spent by the major parties every three years), but one of the major ones has to be a feeling among electors that those who run don’t represent the people in their neighbourhoods.  We can solve this — by re-establishing the Ward System of government that we used to have in Vancouver and which is standard in every other major City in Canada.

A ward system allows each neighbourhood to elect their own chosen representative rather than to have to rely on someone else who is supposedly representing the entire City but who, historically at least, actually works for the west side money machines.  A ward system allows floating coalitions of neighbourhood representatives to work together on specific proposals.

This would be even better and more effective if we banned parties from municipal elections (as is the case in most other Canadian cities) and every Councillor was an independent, bound to represent their voters rather than a party — but one step at a time.


Back2Basics Sounds Like A Tory Trap

May 16, 2020

There is a petition circulating right now called Back2Basics. It seeks to cut back on the services provided by the City of Vancouver with the express aim of relieving home owners of any additional burdens placed on property tax.

It seeks to use the covid-19 crisis as the cover for what is, in reality, a major Tory-like austerity rollback. And we all know from bitter experience gained across so many jurisdictions, that the only people who suffer during such an austerity squeeze are the poorest and most vulnerable.  Their services are the first to be cut in austerity and — should the crisis ever be declared over — their services are always the last to be restored.

We should not be cutting services during a major crisis. In fact, progressive economists will say that now is the time we should be spending more. Governments need to step in when needs are greatest, and step back when good times are here.

The promoters of the petition will not remind you that Vancouver already pays the lowest property tax in North America based on tax per $1,000 value. Their petition does nothing but attempt to guarantee that unsustainable position into the future.

The petition says: “The city must stop pushing their out of control spending onto tax payers.”  We do have out of control spending but it is not because we are spending too much, but rather that we are spending so unwisely.

The failure of the Stewart administration in this crisis has been a failure to prioritize spending where it can do most good. Steered by City staff inherited from the woe-begotten Vision Vancouver years of build for greed and headlines not for genuine need, Vancouver city’s budget is top-heavy on administration and “world class” projects, and sorely lacking in a vision for the most needy half of the population. And any advantage extra staff may have provided is completely lost in the ridiculous byzantine world of delays in development approvals for local projects.

The best thing John Horgan in Victoria could do for the City right now is to free them up to move parts of the huge and unwieldy capital budgets into operations. Put those capital projects on hold for the time being, and plough money into services on the ground where they are most needed. Keeping transit free beyond the virus crisis would be helpful, too:  if we can afford Site C, we can afford free transit!


Vancouver Housing Strategy: Letter to Council

May 11, 2020

A few says ago I wrote a piece about Cllr. Hardwick’s Motion to recalibrate the Vancouver Housing Strategy which is, at this time, operating with faulty assumptions and creating bad policy, exacerbating an already bad housing crisis in the city.  I have today written Council in support of the Motion:

This email is to support Councillor Hardwick’s Motion to recalibrate the Vancouver Housing Strategy.

For many years the City of Vancouver has approved the building of far more housing units than those required by even the most liberal reading of both Provincial and StatsCan population growth estimates for the city.  This was pointed out to the previous Council and City staff as far back as 2016 when building approvals (and subsequent construction) exceeded those of the growth estimates of the Regional Context Statement by many thousands of units.  A number of reputable peer-reviewed studies have confirmed those observations.

These warnings were ignored by the previous majority, and their refusal to recalibrate at that time led directly to the empty homes scandal that still plagues us and, indirectly to the elimination of the previous majority party from civic government at the last election.

The explanation given before – and still percolating among too many groups, including some close to City Hall – is that these huge and unnecessary amounts of supply will somehow create affordable housing.  The facts over the last decade have proven that to be entirely wrong, and Vancouver is now one of the least affordable cities in the world.

It will be argued by some (notably those with a pecuniary interest) that this Motion seeks to create an upper limit to the amount of new housing units to be approved and built in Vancouver.  I don’t see it as such.  There is no doubt that we need to build a lot more PBR and other genuinely affordable housing units (unlike the vast majority of approvals to date) and I for one will continue to lobby for that.

However, what this Motion and the taxpayers do demand is (a) that the City’s Housing Strategy be informed by nationally accepted population estimates, and (b) that the City be totally transparent with the data citizens need to track and understand the housing policy and approvals going forward.

The Motion comes before Council tomorrow though, as the final Motion on the agenda, it probably won’t be debated until Wednesday.  I hope that many of you will support this Motion either by writing to Council and/or agreeing to speak (remotely from home by telephone) when the Motion is brought forward.


Vancouver’s Housing Strategy: Real Issues/ Bad Assumptions

May 8, 2020

Four years ago I wrote a long piece called Why Are We Building So Much So Fast? which showed that under Vision’s control of Vancouver City Council we were building significant amounts of housing units in excess of what was required to meet reasonable population estimates. The following was the graph of my conclusion:

“This graph shows the actual housing approvals through to 2016 (red), and the light blue shows the rate of building approvals we need to meet the Regional Context Statement (RCS) target.  The green line shows the projection of housing units if we continue to build at the average of the last five years, while the purple uses the average for the last two years.

The green line meets the RCS requirements by 2028 (13 years early).  The purple line meets RCS requirements by 2026 (15 years early).

Continuing to build at the rate set in 2014 and 2015 will create an additional 195,059 housing units by 2041 – almost 100,000 more units than the projections say are required.”

Since I wrote that, we have had the empty homes scandal, leading to the empty homes tax, which rather proved my point. It was around this time that I changed my Twitter handle to “build4neednot4greed.”

Unfortunately, a majority of the present Council, led by Mayor Kennedy Stewart, has continued on this path, approving thousands upon thousands of units beyond any reasonable estimate of population growth. They are doing this apparently relying on the old Vision Vancouver Housing Strategy (VHS) analysis that city staff seems reluctant to modify even in the face of overwhelming statistical evidence that their numbers are simply wrong.

Councillor Colleen Hardwick has a Motion before Council next week requesting (a) that the VHS be adjusted to reflect actual population growth, and (b) for the staff to reveal detailed data on the current pipeline of approvals and other relevant information.  I hope that many of you will write to support this Motion either by writing to Council and/or agreeing to speak (remotely from home by telephone) when the Motion is brought forward.

It would be especially helpful if someone with a younger and more agile brain than mine could revamp my earlier arguments with more current information.

If Clr Hardwick’s motion is approved and we can find out the current data, we then need to turn to the types and affordability of the approvals being granted and thus ensure that the majority of new building meets the needs of the majority of Vancouver residents not just the lucky few.  But that’s a whole other story.


We Need TMH at Commercial & Adanac

May 5, 2020

Regular readers of this blog may remember that I have been pushing to have Temporary Modular Housing (TMH) built at the virtually-unused City-owned parking lot at the corner of Commercial & Adanac. This is an idea supported by many residents.

When approached, City staff have nixed the idea, saying the site is unsuitable on the grounds of size. I believe that is just nonsense.  Steve Bohus has been studying the layout of the TMH at 220 Terminal Avenue as has produced this image showing that an exactly similar-sized unit is perfectly feasible for the property we have suggested.

 

Image on left is 220 Terminal; image on right is a rendering of the proposed unit at Commercial & Adanac

 

Given that we have here a neighbourhood group requesting a TMH in their district (contrary to the City’s experience in some other neighbourhoods) along with a genuine need for such housing, and a suitable property already owned by the City, we believe it is incumbent on City staff to explain what their plans are for this site and why those plans would be better for our residents than a TMH; and it is equally incumbent on each Councillor to demand those answers.


The Footprint of Highways

April 5, 2020

The activists of the City of Vancouver are rightly proud of keeping highways at bay, more or less, in our city.

The always reliable Visual Capitalist has a feature today on the cost certain US cities paid for allowing the growth of highways. They share bird’s eye views of Oakland (1946-2020), Providence (1955-2020), Miami (1961-2020), and Cincinnati (1955-2020), which were swept along in the highways movement:

 

 

They note:

“Since 1987, there have been more than 20 urban highway segments removed from downtown cores, neighborhoods and waterfronts, mostly in North America. The pace of removals has picked up significantly and an additional 10 highways are now planned for removal in the United States. During the COVID-19 pandemic, American cities have seen their traffic plummet. Rush-hour trips into cities are taking nearly half the time while some are not even commuting at all. While this situation is likely temporary, it is offering a moment for reflection of how cities operate and whether the car should be at the center of urban planning.”

Many of us hope that Vancouver lives up to its historic role, cancels the demolition of the viaducts, and ignores the call to build a brutal urban highway — in all but name — in its place.


Fear and Loathing In Lotusland

March 11, 2020

Yesterday on Twitter, Councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung wrote:

“Attn all Vancouver #smallbusiness & businesses. If you are having a real challenge with City of Vancouver permitting, I’d like to hear from you to hear the problems firsthand, as well as try to help. My Council email is CLRkirby-yung@vancouver.ca & my phone is on City web.”

She was responding to numerous conversations that morning about how City of Vancouver permits and licensing are difficult. expensive, and frustratingly time consuming.  A journalist noted:

“I tried to write about this two years ago and couldn’t get any businesses to go on the record. They were fearful it could further delay their permits!!”

This seemed to be a not uncommon feeling and the words “petty” and “fear” were frequent.

I have a good friend who had a very lengthy, expensive, and frustrating experience a year or so ago when he was renovating an in-law suite. I asked him if he would speak with Councillor Kirby-Yung. His reaction:  “I would be happy to do that but it would have to be anonymous,” and he went on to describe issues he could expect from City Hall staff if he were to make his feelings public.

How can we have gotten to this state where an entrenched bureaucracy in our beautiful City can instil such fear in successful business people and tax-paying citizens who are just trying to improve their lives and their properties? What is going on here? Why is the City Manager allowing this to happen?

I wish Councillor Kirby-Yung the very best results with her inquiries, and would close by making it clear that calling out inefficiency is not a sign of disrespect to staff; but failure to root out the problem IS disrespectful to the tax-payers of Vancouver.

 


How Power Works

March 4, 2020

Let us imagine a situation where a developer, probably supported by CoV Planning, wants to build a structure that will change the very nature of a neighbourhood; a tower, say, in an otherwise low rise commercial/residential area.

When the plans are made public, there is outrage by many residents and they form a small volunteer group to oppose the development. Over a period of weeks, they knock on doors, hold public meetings, and collect 5,000 signatures on a petition.  When they know the development is about to go before Council in a public hearing, the opposition group sends their petition into City Hall.  At the same time, the developer gets three of his friends to write letters of support for the development.

When the Public Hearing opens, the City Clerk announces to Council that one piece of correspondence has been received opposing the project, and three pieces have been received in support. The fact that the “one” piece represents 5,000 neighbourhood residents is deliberately obscured.  Councillors (and the general public and media) are thereby led to believe that most people support the project.

That’s how power works in our City.

Reformist Councillor Colleen Hardwick has submitted a Motion that proposes a number of important reforms to City processes, including making sure that the number of residents signing a petition are properly recognized, and that the opinions of residents are valued rather than discounted.  The Motion comes before Council on March 10th. It is yet another attempt to re-balance power at City Hall: pushing more power toward voters and the elected Council and away from an entrenched Staff.

I urge everyone to write to Council supporting these vital changes that will help invigorate our local democracy.

 

Update:  Thanks to Carlito Pablo of the Georgia Strait for the detailed coverage of the other aspects of the Motion.


A Councillor Listens!

February 21, 2020

An interesting group of Grandview residents and business people met today with Councillor Colleen Hardwick.  This was one of her 50 Neighbourhood Talks to ensure that every neighbourhood in Vancouver is aware of, and become involved in, the City Plan process.  It was very much a working group meeting, expanding from the historical review of planning that Colleen had presented at GWAC earlier in the month.

I am sure an official reporting out of the meeting will be available soon but in the meanwhile I can say that a lot of ground was covered — both in presentations by Colleen and Lewis Villegas, and from the active back-and-forth discussion that included everyone present.  The flaws in the recent Grandview Woodland Community Plan process were aired, the business owners in attendance repeated their oft-said but no less valid issues with the slowness and cost of City permitting and the zoning-taxation regime, and almost all the attendees complained that the Community Plan was not being followed, with too many spot rezonings, additional heights, etc.

The accuracy (or otherwise) of the population estimates used by City staff to sell more development was discussed in detail, as was the City’s over-reliance on CAC funding. Specific local issues such as the Broadway/Commercial area and the Venables/Commercial intersection were discussed as outstanding issues of local concern, and there was a lively discussion about the housing types needed to meet the reasonable needs of local population increase.

It has been an age since we had such an adult conversation with anyone from City Hall.

My clearest takeaway from the meeting is the need for the neighbourhood to once again actively organize itself in preparation for the City Plan, more changes to the GW Plan, and the next civic election.

 


Defending the Auditor General for Vancouver

February 10, 2020

Regular readers of this blog, and most anyone interested in improvements to Vancouver’s civic governance, will recall that, almost single-handedly, Councilor Colleen Hardwick succeeded in pushing through City Council a motion to establish an office of the Auditor General.  In my opinion, and in the opinion of others that I respect, this is a matter of fundamental reform, introducing a degree of transparency to a system that today shields staff (and often Councillors) from the consequences of their actions.

It is such a fundamental reform that it seriously disturbs the technocratic power structures that have governed us for years and offers our elected representatives a far better shot at changing the system to meet their constituents’ wishes than we have today.  And that potential disturbance to their charmed lives caused — and continues to cause — certain City Hall staff and their political allies to fight like hell to stop or radically weaken this initiative.

I am hearing rumours that Councillors Boyle, Carr and Fry are working hand in hand with the City Manager to emasculate the office at the very least (who knows if those rumours are true?), and I am hearing that even some of Councillor Hardwick’s NPA colleagues are wavering in the face of staff’s self-serving but firm opposition to more openness in government.

I hope that everyone in Vancouver who is interested in government transparency and efficiency will email City Hall and make sure they know that we are watching and eagerly awaiting a fully-functioning Auditor General for Vancouver.


Last Night’s GWAC Meeting

February 4, 2020

Image: Stephen Bohus

 

I attended the monthly GWAC meeting last night, along with about 60 others.  Councillor Colleen Hardwick gave an excellent presentation that took us through the history of urban planning in Vancouver, and then focused on some areas where she is determined to improve the consultation process.

In her historical review, Colleen moved forward from the Bartholomew Plan of 1927-1930, noting that the sale and subsequent development of the “Expo lands” was the tipping point for the commodification of land in our city. She noted that throughout the 1980s and 1990s, numerous local community plans and vision statements (City Plan) were developed. However, this historical knowledge was essentially lost with the wholesale replacement of senior City staff when Vision Vancouver took over Council and hired Penny Ballem as City Manager. City departments that had developed a deep understanding of the neighbourhoods of Vancouver were shuffled around, broken apart or lumped together, and fresh managers out in place.

Since then, we have had a build for growth strategy rather than a build for need plan, and Colleen demonstrated quite forcefully that we have been — and continue — building more housing units that the anticipated population increase would suggest are required.

There were quite a few questions from the floor, the majority of which wondered what the point of the efforts put into the Grandview Woodland Community Plan was if Council continues to change the Plan on a spot rezoning basis without neighbourhood-wide consultation.  There was also some renewed interest in wards (rather than at-large elections), though Colleen expressed herself as not convinced of their efficacy.

Colleen as a sitting Councillor is constrained by the City’s Code of Conduct in what she can say about current senior staff; therefore, I will step into the breach.  She made the point, quite correctly, that experience and historical knowledge were shown the door when Vision came to power and replaced the staff.  I would argue that the current staff are continuing to execute Vision’s development template — regardless of the political changes that saw Vision eliminated from Council in 2018 — and it is about time Councillors took control of the agenda from the staff, replacing all those that remain recalcitrant.

It was a good meeting, I thought, and saw some interesting back-and-forth between speaker and audience.

It should be noted that this was NOT one of Colleen’s planned 50 Neighbourhood Talks. The official Grandview Talk will be on February 20th, details tba.


Councillor Colleen Hardwick at GWAC

January 30, 2020

The next meeting of the Grandview Woodland Area Council is on Monday 3rd February at 7:00pm.   The speaker this month is Vancouver City Councillor Colleen Hardwick.

The only urban planner on City Council, Colleen has been an active opponent of the City’s planning policies and processes.  Moreover, against vigorous opposition from City staff and their minions, she recently managed to get Council to approve the establishment of an independent Auditor General’s office to ensure that, over time, that Vancouver tax payers get good value for the decisions made by Council.

Colleen is a keen proponent of a City Plan to rationalise development in our growing metropolis.  However, she wants to make sure that the people of Vancouver have more say in the future than the tenured staff at City Hall. In furtherance of this,

“Colleen plans to visit every neighbourhood within the boundaries of the City.  In each case, she will meet with organizations within neighbourhood boundaries including but not limited to residents’ associations, BIAs, community centers, heritage, and faith-based groups to take a detailed look at where to best accommodate growth of approximately 1,000 new dwelling units per neighbourhood over the next decade.”

Note that this meeting is scheduled to take place in the Activity Room above the Britannia Ice Rink.


“…And The Waters Around Us Have Grown”

November 5, 2019

Thanks to @Lidsville on Twitter we are alerted to the excellent interactive maps of anticipated sea level rise by 2050, just 30 years away. Here is a map of the Lower  Mainland:

 

A closer view of Grandview and its neighbours shows False Creek reclaiming its historic Clark Drive boundary:

 

More importantly, this is where the new St. Paul’s Hospital is supposed to be built.  Already there have been stories of liquefaction tests at the proposed site; this is a problem that can only be worsened by a rise in sea level. I suspect  that the technology-heavy and expensive “solution” will be some form of barrier at Main Street, probably with SNC involved.

And what of the entire industrial waterfront along the Inlet?  Are they planning for sea level rise and I missed seeing the stories?

This is important stuff, and thirty years is not very long.


Council Passes AG Motion

October 24, 2019

Councillor Colleen Hardwick

At yesterday’s Vancouver City Council Meeting, Clr. Colleen Hardwick’s Motion to establish an Auditor General was passed unanimously (with Clr. Wiebe absent).

The Motion passed more quickly and less divisively than I had expected, though it was not without incident. Clr. Pete Fry issued a set of amendments that sounded as if they had been drafted by and on behalf of the City Manager, but Clr. Rebecca Bligh managed to remove the most objectionable features of the Fry amendments through an amendment of her own.

I am hopeful for the future but now, we wait and see what impediments the City bureaucracy and their allies throw up to delay and/or water down this fine achievement.


Who Deserves More Respect: City Staff or City Taxpayers?

October 18, 2019

As I have written about before, Vancouver City Councillor Colleen Hardwick has proposed a most important and vital reform of city governance: that, like every other major city in Canada, Vancouver should appoint a completely independent Auditor General.

The function of this position is NOT to ensure that monies are being spent legally — that is the job of the outside auditor which every City is obliged to have.  Rather, the function of the Auditor General will be to ensure that Vancouver city taxpayers are getting value for the taxes they pay, that City departments are being run efficiently and are actually fulfilling the tasks that Council sets for them.  The proposed budget for this new position of about one million dollars a year is an infinitesimally small percentage of Vancouver’s almost $2 billion annual budget and, if other cities’ experience is any guide, will pay for itself several times over in savings and efficiencies identified.

This Motion is to come before City Council next Wednesday and it seems to many of us in the City that there is an open and shut case for such a position, especially as Vancouver is one of the last big cities to make such an appointment. Such positions have proved both successful and indeed invaluable elsewhere.  However, there is resistance to this Motion; partly from the entrenched city bureaucracy that will be the focus of the Auditor General’s work; after all, none of us like to have someone looking over our shoulder while we do our work. One might hope that they will understand in time that more autonomy not less comes with transparency and a proven track record of effective spending.

The opposition from certain Councillors are for reasons that are far less clear. Some Vancouver Green councillors, for example are said to be opposed to the Motion because, according to them, it is disrespectful to the City staff. Nonsense. I ask everyone to read motionb6 and show me where disrespect is shown to staff. These Councillors, apparently, would prefer to refer this to staff for their opinion. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether you think a completely unbiased assessment is likely to result from such a referral.

Vision Vancouver — whom the electors of Vancouver firmly and decisively removed from office at the last election — often used a referral to staff to minimize, significantly delay, or even bury for ever Motions they didn’t like. Many of us assumed that a new Council would be different.  We hope that is the case here.

But, perhaps they all need to be reminded that, while City staff do deserve respect, the taxpayers of this City deserve it even more.

 


Urban Renewal

October 10, 2019

class war


Important — An Auditor General For Vancouver

October 5, 2019

What may be the most important Motion to come before Vancouver City Council this term is sponsored by Councillor Colleen Hardwick.  It is a Motion that calls for the establishment of an independent Auditor-General to provide

“effective stewardship over public assets, value-for-money in operations, transparent administration, and accountability … [to ensure] that the City of Vancouver is financially healthy and administratively effective, including a commitment to service excellence.”

The full Motion is 9 pages long.  It is worth reading:  motionb6

The Motion notes that:

“Vancouver is the only major Canadian city that does not have an Auditor General’s office (or a comparable “City Auditor” office) that is independent of the City’s management – one that is capable of providing an essential layer of independent financial and performance oversight of the City’s financial and operational affairs.”

I find it hard to believe that anyone could object to this reform. However, some years ago when George Affleck proposed something less substantial (an Ombudsman), the Vision Vancouver majority made sure that it never saw the light of day. And a well-informed observer tells me that City staff “are freaking out” about the current Motion — which makes me an even stronger believer in its necessity.

Unfortunately, I am also hearing that the Vancouver Greens (in whom so much progressive hope was lodged in the last election) will move to refer this Motion to staff for study. In other words, they want to bury it. I hope that serious reformers with contacts in the Greens can help shift them from this disastrous position.

The Motion goes before Council on 23rd October.  I hope that many of you will write to Council before that date in support of this vital reform to bring Vancouver into the 21st century.

You can email them at:   clrbligh@vancouver.ca;  clrboyle@vancouver.ca; clrcarre@vancouver.ca;  clrdegenova@vancouver.ca;  clrdominato@vancouver.ca;  clrfry@vancouver.ca; @clrhardwick@vancouver.ca; clrkirby-yung@vancouver.ca;  clrswanson@vancouver.ca; clrweibe@vancouver.ca


What Value Neighbourhoods?

September 27, 2019

In a post yesterday, I outlined a few of the developments that are altering Grandview beyond recognition.  As if on cue, on Wednesday October 9th, Heritage Vancouver and SFU are hosting a conversation specifically called “What do we do about neighbourhoods?”  To quote their website:

“Neighbourhoods are often positively associated with community. They tend to have a combination of qualities that communities identify with which can make them distinct. These include the people, the types of interactions they have with each other, nature, types of commercial spaces, housing tenure, and public spaces in addition to the type and design of buildings. However, there are conflicting views as to whether this distinctiveness is positive or not.”

In 2016, I was a panellist on one of these “Shaping Vancouver” conversations, and this is part of what I had to say then about the changing nature of the Drive:

“Since that time – for some 60 years – the Drive has been the scene of continuous change. We have had a constant change of people on the Drive – starting with the Italians and the Portuguese and some East Europeans, followed by Central Americans, Jamaicans, those from the Middle East, and a variety of Africans. Not only different cultures and nationalities and languages, but also different sexualities and those of various economic circumstances were welcomed to the neighbourhood.

Each of these groups have left their mark on the patina that is the glory of the Drive today. They have changed building styles, grocery options, street art, food availability, everything; and they have done this over and over again.

And all of these continuous changes have been welcomed, indeed encouraged, by most Drive residents.  And that is because all these changes have been subtle, incremental, and evolutionary within the general envelope of what the Drive is – which is a place of low-rise buildings, 25′ store fronts, and, importantly, local business ownership.

That is how we got to today, and it this same velocity and style of change that will maintain the Drive that we all love. Introducing rapid and intrusive change can only damage what is a highly successful and well-loved neighbourhood.”

My opinion  hasn’t changed.  It will be interesting to hear a discussion on this three years later.  Hope to see some of you there.


St. Paul’s Could Be Our Saviour

September 23, 2019

The wonderful old St Paul’s Hospital is now for sale.  It was announced some while ago that a new St Paul’s will be built on the False Creek Flats, and so the current 6.6 acre site in the West End has been put on the market.

I am sure any number of major developers are salivating at the prospect. However, what we don’t need are more high-end condo towers designed for foreign speculators and other 1%ers. In fact, the sales agent’s release itself notes that already “there are 11 active and 23 upcoming high-density condo projects in the Vancouver downtown core, delivering a total of 6,766 units.  The average price of these units are reaching up to $2,154 PSF.” That’s more than $2 million for a 1,000 sq.ft condo.

What we do need are a lot of low-income and lower-income rentals, and the old St. Paul’s offers a tremendous opportunity to supply those in the medium term by renovating the current structures.  Not only could this site supply a huge amount of affordable housing, it will save vast amounts of landfill space from any proposed redevelopment and, I am sure, will be cheaper to renovate than to demolish and rebuild.

The only question I have is whether we have any politicians, at any level of government, with the guts and the foresight to grab this opportunity and make it work for the working people of Vancouver?


High Rent Project On Grant Approved

September 17, 2019

The current Vancouver Council continues to disappoint those who worked hard to rid us of Vision Vancouver.  In their latest pro-developer action tonight, they voted 6-3 to approve the highly contentious rental project in the 1500-block of Grant Street. Councillors Carr, Fry and Swanson voted against, while Hardwick and Bligh were absent.

As will be clear from my earlier posts on this topic, I was generally supportive of this project but strongly opposed to the rents proposed, all of which are unaffordable to the majority of Vancouverites. With this approval, tax-payers are subsidising rents for households making well in excess of $100,000 and more a year.

How can that be right?