As a co-founder of Abundant Housing Vancouver, it’s been my mission to increase the amount and types of housing we can build and eliminate red tape at City Hall to speed up new home construction.
But for decades Vancouver has laboured under arcane zoning regulations that make it illegal to build even a four storey apartment building on 76% of our residential land.
Single family zoning – also known as exclusionary zoning – has unfortunately done its job. Today, over 65% of Vancouverites are left to fight over the remaining 24% of our land. Most often the excluded are renters, low or middle income residents, and families.
As a result, we have a housing crisis. A crisis that requires an emergency addition of middle class and truly affordable housing.
However, Vancouver’s maze of zoning and approval processes makes quickly getting the right type of new housing to market exceedingly difficult. Few know how to navigate our obtuse systems, leaving residents guessing what might come to their neighbourhood and creating a slanted playing field that benefits only the very wealthy.
We need to cap building permit wait times, for homeowners and property developers alike, to bring clarity, certainty and cost reduction to the process of building new homes.
But Vancouverites don’t want only luxury condo towers or detached houses. Our scarcity of multifamily land creates unfair tradeoffs, as vulnerable residents and communities are displaced by the stroke of a re-zoning pen because 76% of our residential land is zoned to exclude them.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Vancouver is not full. We can retain our character and build the housing we need – not merely million-dollar condos and McMansions, but Missing Middle housing. Housing that crafted many of our most charming neighbourhoods, from the rowhouses of Strathcona to the low rise apartments of Mount Pleasant. We need only look to our past to see how we restore affordability and livability to Vancouver’s future.
I support city-wide pre-zoning to bring certainty to neighbourhood planning, create meaningful housing choices for homeowners and renters, and restore affordability for young people and families.
Let’s fix housing.
Vancouver’s spent the last ten years squabbling over bike lanes. At the same time, drivers feel even small trips have gotten worse. Some will tell you these two issues are irreconcilable.
But for a city to work for cars, it has to work for everyone.
All Vancouverites benefit when we build a robust transportation infrastructure that supports multi-modal travel throughout the city. Private auto trip times decrease, businesses see increased patronage, and residents of all income levels gain choices in how they get around.
Vehicles aren’t going away. But how cars work and how we use them in our city is changing. Vancouver must plan for a future of electric, autonomous and shared vehicle use while continuing to support traffic reduction efforts for today’s cars using our road network.
Abundantly available transit options have the power to transform communities, raising up the poor and opening up new employment and housing possibilities for residents. When we invest in an efficient transit network, we’re making a direct investment in Vancouver’s economic prosperity and overall well-being, while also improving commute times for drivers.
Unfortunately, Vancouver recently lost its leadership position as chair of the regional TransLink Mayors’ Council. In our final year of our current municipal government, we’re not in the driver’s seat anymore – at a time when some of our most crucial transportation decisions are long overdue to be made.
What’s at stake if Vancouver no longer leads the way on transit planning?
- longer and more expensive commute times, as fewer people take transit
- a shrinking pool of employment opportunities, as it’s harder to get to jobs
- dirtier air, increasing traffic fatalities, and a decline in public health
- employers who can’t grow their business because of a smaller accessible talent pool
As the economic hub of our Metro area, smooth transportation of people and goods isn’t a “nice to have” – it’s vital to our survival. We have to find the funding – possibly exploring private sector partnerships such as housing developers funding transit improvements – and get underway with the plans that are already on the table.
Lastly, city-wide pre-zoning will allow for the construction of new walkable urban communities, reducing residents’ need to commute into the city core.
Getting value for taxes paid at a municipal level is an issue that concerns everyone in our city. From renters, to homeowners and business owners, we all have a vested interested in ensuring City Hall spends our tax dollars on services that benefit us and our communities.
But when we constantly witness service failures – from garbage not being collected to snow going uncleared on side streets for weeks – we question how wisely the City is spending our money. Our elderly and mobility-restricted residents shouldn’t have to rely on “Snow Angels” (volunteers) to clear their walks, something our current governing party has fallen back on when services proved insufficient.
If tax dollars aren’t enough to provide this level of basic service, our civic tax regime must be revisited.
At the same time, our city repeatedly over-commits precious city resources, such as police, fire and ambulance, to a single call. The result is a dangerous level of redundancy and unwarranted strain on our first responders.
Police are tasked with camping out on Granville street all night, babysitting Granville street party mobs. Instead, we should redesign unsafe streets and create more options for business licensing to promote a safer environment.
Not only can we do a better job of dispatching and managing our precious resources, but we owe it those who commit their livelihoods to public service to do so.
Let’s re-prioritize how we spend our tax revenue, make value-per-dollar our key metric and ensuring Vancouverites of all ages and abilities get the core services they deserve in a healthy, safe city.