Opinion: Top issue in election should be density

We (North Van City Voices) agree with Mr Gibson’s view. Contrary to our Mayor’s statement in his ad in the News today that “North Vancouver is growing by less than 1% per year and at 1/3 the rate allowed for in the OCP”, we have now exceeded the targets for 2031 with what is currently under development, or in the pipeline.  This fact has been verified by City staff.  

What can a voter do?  Research the independent candidates (not developer funded) – the tipping point is here.

Opinion: Top issue in election should be density.

Thinking about your neighbourhood, and about density is what Saturday’s election in Vancouver should be about, according to Gordon Gibson. Soon, depending on who is elected, the quiet neighbourhoods may be so surrounded by density that no significant percentage of the electorate will remember what Vancouver once was. It would be all over then, he says.

It hasn’t been much of a municipal election campaign in Vancouver so far. The only two parties of any importance — aside from the Green’s Adrianne Carr, who will certainly be elected and that’s a good thing — are spending all their time talking about things they can’t control.

Take tanker traffic. If you don’t want tankers in Burrard Inlet, talk to Stephen Harper, or maybe Christy Clark, or maybe the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation, or advocate for an extension of the pipeline to a loading point in the Strait of Georgia the other side of YVR, bypassing the inlet entirely. But don’t bother with Messieurs Robertson or LaPointe, who have exactly zero power over this one, much as the current mayor would have you believe otherwise.

They talk about housing affordability in Vancouver. Nice subject, but they can’t do much of anything about that either. Maybe some social housing here and there garnered by developer extortion (although who is the extorter and who is the extortee is a very murky question these days), maybe a few city-owned units could be built, nice for the new occupants but a zero on housing prices for everyone else.

If they could do anything about reducing house prices (such as prohibiting non-Canadians from buying them, as some other countries do) they would run into a firestorm of anger from current owners who would like to sell out at a nice price some day, thank you very much.

As long as much of the rest of the world wants to come to Vancouver, and it does, and we permit that, prices are going to rise.

The two parties talk about homelessness. It is a terrible thing but it is not going away. The more we do for those homeless in Vancouver — and we should do plenty — the more an almost infinite pool of replacement hopefuls will come our way. Homelessness will continue until the national problems of poverty and mental illness and substance abuse are solved — which is beyond the ability of Vancouver. We must do our part, and do. To pretend we have a solution is not right.

The real demand at the local level should be that neighbouring municipalities such as Burnaby should accept their responsibility in this area, but there is little talk of this.

Meanwhile, there is virtually no talk about the largest issue in this city that civic parties could do a lot about: density.

Density is not a topic, but not because people don’t care. They care intensely; see the voter rebellions in Marpole, Grandview-Woodland and Dunbar. It is a not a topic because we have been brainwashed into believing there is nothing we can do about it. It is holy writ that another million people will come to Metro by 2040. Where did that come from? Suppose it was two million? Five million? Still okay?

But whatever the numbers, density is not destiny. It is a choice. There is a great deal cities can do about it by zoning and planning, It is wrong that it is not being discussed in this election, because the parties have positions.

If I were running the NPA campaign (and I did contribute to it) my favourite lawn sign in our still quiet neighbourhoods would be a little thing that said simply, “Vision = Density.” That is where Robertson & Co. are coming from, not just by their words, but far more by way of their passionate dances with developers.

If I were running the Vision campaign I would put earect a different sign referring to the NPA: “The Same Old West Side Story,” a civic musical comedy.

Fair enough, except on density it is not the west side that has the greater stake now, but the east side and south-centre.

When you go to the polls Nov. 15, think about our city overall. Both parties have something to say on that; both have good and bad.

Also think about your neighbourhood, and think about density. We are at a tipping point. Soon, depending on who is elected, the quiet neighbourhoods may be so surrounded by density that no significant percentage of the electorate will remember what Vancouver once was. It would be all over then. That is what this election should be about.

Gordon Gibson is a commentator, author and former leader of the B.C. Liberal party.

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Opinion+issue+election+should+density/10371676/story.html#ixzz3IuCgLbuy



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