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Why the difference in public reactions to upzoning for two big projects: Heather Lands and Jericho Lands

April 12th, 2022 · No Comments

Too long to do this as a screenshot, but here’s an interesting email someone (identifying as initials “PC”) sent me on this recent Twitter question.

You mentioned the difference in reactions between the Jericho and Heather Lands, wondering why one project is facing an organised NIMBY revolt and the other is basically being ignored:
“So it’s actually further along than Jericho and yet, as far as I can tell, there has been little or no public commentary. (Probably something out there but nothing like the current Jericho debate.) Why is that? Same FSR, similar concepts, also some towers.”
I’m not a social scientist, but using Jens’ excellent census mapper, I’d suggest a good portion of the reason for this difference in reaction lies with the racial/ethnic make-up of the two neighbourhoods. There’s a pretty clear difference in visible minority between the neighbourhoods surrounding the Heather Lands, and those surrounding Jericho:
In the census block immediately to the East of the Heather Lands, visible minorities make up over 80% of the population. In the census blocks surrounding Jericho, visible minorities make up 15-30%.
You can also look at the difference in how different neighbourhoods reacted to the Cambie Corridor rezoning of the last decade. I took part in the Douglas Park workshops organized by the City in 2015-2016. I was the only one at the table who argued in favour of even modest density in that neighbourhood (and the City had already taken the decision prior to the workshops of only allowing density along the Cambie and King Ed arterials). At most, the others at my table were ok with townhouses along King Ed.
I don’t know if you remember it, but here’s a prime example of how vociferous Douglas Park’s NIMBY’s are:
In sharp contrast, I don’t recall even a hint of controversy last year when this 19 storey rental tower was proposed for Columbia Park, also part of the Cambie Corridor, but about 15 blocks South, in the neighbourhood East of Oakridge and South of 41st:
Visible Minority of Columbia Park: 78%
Visible Minority of Douglas Park: 25-40%
I can only imagine how Douglas Park would implode at the thought of a 19-storey tower anywhere in this neighbourhood, especially based on how they’re reacting to the idea of a couple of 4-5 storey condo buildings on the old Balfour Lands:
“It’s often said gentle density proposed under a community plan would be warmly welcomed across #Vancouver. Perhaps some near Douglas Park missed that memo, as they’re vehemently opposed to this mix of strata, market & moderate income rental homes”
That diversion aside, and back to your original question: in terms of the difference between Heather and Jericho, I don’t think it’s a question of age, since the neighbourhoods around Heather tend to skew slightly older than those around Jericho:
I also don’t think it’s a question of income level, since the census areas to the East of Heather have slightly higher incomes than many of the areas around Jericho:

I don’t know if the Canadian Census tracks household wealth (vs just income), but maybe there’s a bit of a difference there between the two.

Anyway, that’s my two cents on this. Happy to read/hear about other possible explanations for this broad difference in NIMBY reactions.


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