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Line in the sand for next election: Support new kinds of housing in single-family neighbourhoods. Or don’t.

July 10th, 2018 · No Comments

As I’ve remarked a couple of times, I’ve seen a revolution unfold in Vancouver the last couple of years — something I thought I’d never see. That revolution is powered by a new generation of people who’ve gotten interested in housing and who have made it a mission to lobby for new development as a way of making room for more people to live here.

The effects of that YIMBY movement, as it’s sometimes called, are clear in the motion that Mayor Gregor Robertson threw out a couple of weeks ago when he asked that city staff pursue even more aggressive efforts to look at incorporating everything from triplexes to stacked townhouses to small apartment buildings into the city’s single-family areas.

My story for the Globe was an effort (incomplete, missing some nuance) to see where the multiple candidates and parties, in this crowded election-year field, stand on this. Some support the idea with no caveats. (Vision, Yes Vancouver) Some support it with cautions (needs more emphasis on affordability), like One City. Some support it with even stronger cautions (can’t do this process at all the way the mayor has framed it, needs much more public consultation to make sure it doesn’t override neighbourhoods or fuel even more speculation): Green Party, ProVancouver. And others seem dead-set against it for multiple reasons. The NPA’s George Affleck, COPE.

Wherever people fall, it’s still mind-boggling to think that Vancouver can even discuss this. As many councillors can tell you, there were near riots on the west side a couple of decades ago when someone suggested subdividing a Mackenzie Heights lot to allow three houses instead of one. I started my coverage of city hall in the mid-’90s when the basement-suite battles were still going on.

The new council, which may take a year to figure out Robert’s Rules of Orders and what FSR is, likely won’t be moving on this initiative too quickly. But it’s on the table and, if it doesn’t pass in this high tide of housing concern, will likely float to shore the next time.


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