Tag Archives: Density

Housing talk gets louder and angrier in Vancouver

Article in The Globe and Mail today and quoting in part:  one conclusion  “that more supply is nothing but fuel for the unaffordability crisis”

 “The only group at fault are politicians who want growth without having to pay the requisite cost.”

Because the majority of our infrastructure was built before 1990, we are continually drawing on that value with massive new developments. Government should be tapping the “vast fortunes being made in real estate” to ensure equal access to public infrastructure,” he says, echoing Mr. Hudson’s argument for far heftier taxes on speculative buying.

“The growth has not paid for itself. Much of the infrastructure is relatively dated and paid for by a generation that was far more generous, and we are drawing down on that, compromising the quality of life without growing the infrastructure. We are creating congestion, whether it’s traffic, or at the hospitals or universities, whatever. There is plenty of money in private growth, so the growth should at least pay for itself. Why should government and the people in the middle foot the bill?

“Somebody doesn’t spend $4-million on your house alone. It’s the region they are buying, not the house. It’s the community that makes it special. It wouldn’t be worth anything if the community were to decay. That’s what we don’t understand.

“Obviously something terrible is happening – the money flooding in is not a sign of a healthy functioning capitalist market.

“The only group at fault are politicians who want growth without having to pay the requisite cost.”

Source: Housing talk gets louder and angrier in Vancouver

Report calls for fast-tracking medium density housing in Metro Vancouver

Source: Report calls for fast-tracking medium density housing in Metro Vancouver

Vancouver Sun today:

More housing is needed that’s not single-family detached homes or high-rise condominiums if the region’s affordability crisis is to be brought under control, the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade says.

And politicians need to make it easier for developers to build in-between types of housing or local businesses could be suffocated by the region’s inability to attract young talent to live and work here, the board’s latest housing report says. 

The report was to be released at a board housing forum on Tuesday after nearly a year of research, said the board president, Iain Black.

He said his group’s last economic scorecard, in May, rated Vancouver’s affordability at 15th out of 17 cities surveyed — with only Shanghai and Hong Kong rated more unaffordable.

“Out of that report came a number of priorities, including our inability to attract and retain 25 to 35 year-olds, and that is directly tied to affordable housing and public transit,” Black said. “These middle-income earners either have young families or want young families, and they want to choose communities that are desirable to live in, but also physically located close to where they work. We have a great disadvantage in attracting that demographic right now.”

The housing report makes seven recommendations. The main one is giving higher priority to medium-density projects such as duplexes, courtyard apartments, townhouses, laneway houses and secondary suites. The aim of these is to attract young families that can’t fit comfortably in a small highrise condo unit but cannot afford a single-detached home.

The recommendations calls for a more developer-friendly environment to promote these options, dubbed “missing middle” housing, by creating clear deadlines for project approval, allowing a list of previously accredited developers to get fast-track approvals, and changing the community amenity contribution rules away from time-consuming case-by-case negotiations to a set price per unit or per square foot.

Black said some projects in Metro Vancouver are taking five to seven years to get from conception to construction.

“You cannot legislate or bylaw your way out of this problem. You need to do it with partnerships with the people who actually build these things, who are actually putting capital and shovels into the ground.”

A number of the report recommendations are already taking shape in some cities. The City of North Vancouver, for example, processes development permit application and building permit applications at the same time, instead of requiring applicants to get one permit approval before seeking the next one. Black said such changes are still the exception rather than the rule, and a “cultural change” is needed at the municipal level.

“This is not an indictment of the status quo,” he said. “It is, however, an honest assessment that things need to change. And they must change immediately … and the municipalities’ responses have been positive.  They all realize that we need to change, and the current response is not working. This is the start of this conversation.”


Opinion: Housing reset — Supply myth exposed, but more of the same

Comment by Voices:  This article in the Vancouver Sun today applies equally to the City of North Vancouver.  Planned development is well ahead of the Strategic Growth Strategy, updated statistics to come shortly.  

Quoting in part: 

The City of Vancouver is finally admitting that they cannot build their way out of the housing affordability crisis. The supply myth has been driving ever-escalating amounts of market housing, but affordability is getting worse, not better. The city now says that “we have plenty of supply — what we need is the right supply.”

This is the conclusion of a recent report to council that proposes a housing reset. Although they correctly identify that a change of direction is needed, the city instead proposes more of the same.

The city has been approving market development at a record pace, yet prices continue to escalate. The new supply is not bringing affordability and never will if we continue doing the status quo.

In fact rezoning has been inflating land values while demolishing the older more affordable housing stock. People are being displaced and priced out of their city. This is what happens when the real estate market is disconnected from the local economy.

Many of the needed solutions are out of the city’s jurisdiction. However, the city’s own land-use policies of promoting unsustainable levels of market redevelopment has been largely responsible for enabling this crisis to escalate.

Source: Opinion: Housing reset — Supply myth exposed, but more of the same



Why Real Estate Developers Are Ignoring the Middle Class | The Tyee

Comment from Voices:  We have been watching with increasing dismay as the overbuilding continues in the City of North Van.  We are watching new buildings being constructed with starting prices for one bedroom units in excess of $600,000 (Kindred $649+).  We are watching sales being announced in new buildings when the projects have not yet had a public hearinghttps://www.buzzbuzzhome.com/ca/canada/cities/bc-north-vancouver-new-homes.

In the meantime, we note that there have been six Council meetings in 2017 to date – total time for six meetings has been less than 9 hours!  Is it too late for Council to meet with residents in a Town Hall setting to ask residents if they’re happy with this direction?

The following article was published in The Tyee today and quoting in part: ‘But many of the experts quoted in the report spoke candidly about the industry. Some of them are concerned about the direction it’s heading. “We’re not paying enough attention to affordable housing, and I don’t mean low-income or government-subsidized. Just regular rents. No new buildings are providing that kind of product,” said one CEO. “Time will tell if that’s going to come back to haunt us. Not everybody makes $75,000 to $100,000 a year.”’

Source: Why Real Estate Developers Are Ignoring the Middle Class | The Tyee.

Kerry Morris has written to the Mayor and Council expressing his concerns:  Kerry Morris opinion on Tyee article  Quoting in part: ‘

When Darrell Mussatto began as Mayor, the City of North Vancouver was still an affordable place to live. There existed an abundance of large liveable well maintained apartment buildings providing nice accommodation for the more than 50% of City residents who live in our community but do not own a home.

We also note this letter to the Editor, North Shore News today:

Dear Editor:

Recent letters to the editor have prompted me to write.

We have been extremely wasteful with our land, a precious commodity that we buy and sell. However, when it becomes in short supply, we cannot manufacture any more. When a commodity that is in great demand becomes scarce and hard to get, the price skyrockets – a situation we now find ourselves in.

The North Shore has arrived at a point where it is necessary to accommodate a different style of building and people must open their minds to change, as our community planners wrestle with the necessity of smaller footprints, which mean building up in our core centres and with more creative infill in our surrounding neighbourhoods.

It is also time to take a break from the building of high-end market homes and concentrate on building housing for those who live, work and serve our North Shore.

These are the people who give life and vibrancy and caring to a community, the average and low income earning people. They form a large section of the North Shore and certainly deserve the dignity and security of a home, be it rental or freehold, without having to fight tooth and nail to get their homes built in the neighbourhoods they serve and protect.

The North Shore has always been home to people from all walks of life, all levels of income and all forms of expertise. Let’s keep it that way.

Maureen Bragg
North Vancouver

– See more at: http://www.nsnews.com/opinion/letters/letter-housing-should-serve-the-needs-of-those-who-live-here-1.12483976#sthash.kGLXXNsG.dpuf

Stick to the plan | The Local Weekly

Comment from Voices:  This letter to the Editor was published in The Local, a weekly newspaper on the lower Sunshine Coast and refers to Sechelt.  We (Voices) are in the process of updating the development statistics for the City of North Van and take note of the overwhelming number of rezoning applications being brought forward.  We’ll publish the new numbers within a week.  We agree with the letter writer.

Stick to the plan

Think about all those colourful zoning maps and booklets and thick binders of all the zoning rules that developers can read and understand. Think of the new staff required and wages paid out to experts and consultants. Think how effortless and trouble-free the planning process can be for the developers and how the citizens will always know what to expect when something new is planned.

Except that the developers want rezoning. They don’t want three stories when they can make more money with six. They don’t want that density when this density will “be better for the community.”

So the council will entertain rezoning, will hold more hearings and make more models and more pictures and more binders and bylaws and basically throw the community plan away. The “Community Plan” becomes a pointless, wasteful, useless pile of waste paper that all the developers (I’m not mad at developers, they have a right to do what they do) know can be circumvented by either asking for or buying a change. The Community Plan is reduced to a book of negotiating positions.

Isn’t it time to change this farce? Either toss the zoning rules as a useless exercise, or hold builders and developers to the letter of the zoning rules. This back and forth (buy another floor, lobby for exemptions, confound and confuse the neighbours and citizens and waste everybody’s time) has got to stop. To see where this can go, just look at the big city across the water – the roads and infrastructure are a mess, just about every building produced in the last few years has been loaded with exemptions.

We can do better than that here.

Ken Dibnah, Wakefield Beach

Source: Stick to the plan | The Local Weekly

Posted by: The Local Weekly December 28, 2016 in Letters To The Editor, Opinion Leave a comment

151 East Keith – new infill proposal?

We have been sent a copy of this email to the owners (Starlight Investment) of the rental property at 151 East Keith.  There was a ‘private open house’ held last week to inform some of the neighbourhood.    So now it seems that any green open space is a target for increased density.    Full details of the application are not yet available.


This e-mail is being sent to:       

Daniel Drimmer, President and Chief Executive Officer

David Chalmer, Vice President, Asset Management

Honorable Mayor Darryl Mussatto and City of North Vancouver Council Members

Posted for all OWNERS of:           VICTORIA PLACE                   

Messrs. Drimmer and Chalmers: 

As you are aware, on November 10th, 2016 an ‘Open House’ was held at St. Andrew’s Church in North Vancouver.  The purported purpose of this meeting was to open a discussion with the residents of our building.  The notice stated:  “As valued neighbours, Starlight wishes to invite residents of Victoria Place to a private Open House to preview our proposal and solicit your initial input.”

Infill developments face several challenges.  The projects are more expensive to build; infill sites are sometimes constricted in available space; additional transportation and vehicle parking issues have to be addressed; and the need for architects and developers to “respond to the context” of the neighborhood – in other words, to create a development that fits into the “character” of the neighborhood. 

How does one define the “character” of a neighborhood?  A neighborhood’s character goes well beyond how the buildings look – it’s about how people live and work there, how people move around, the scale of the neighborhood, and many other factors.  Architects and planners should be asking themselves how people live in and interact with a place – and how they can support people living with broader, longer-term changes in the economy and environment. 

When the Starlight Investments proposal was shown to the owners of this building, without having a representative from Starlight there to address our concerns, it was evident that you intend to proceed with presentation for approval to the City of North Vancouver with a total disregard as to how the neighbours really feel. 

We realize that neighbors, too, have a responsibility to be more open-minded about the design of new developments.  However, there are several negative factors in your proposal that we were previously not aware of.  The property currently under development at 161 Keith Road East was approved in spite of huge opposition from the residents of this area.  Your proposal has “assumed” Starlight will be granted the same concessions and have indicated the intention to build from property line to property line all the way around the development.

Architects can also get it wrong.   Unfortunately too many of them don’t understand enough about the neighborhoods they’re building in, or the legacy they will leave.  The biggest mitigating factor against your development is the misguided conception that there is ‘already sufficient parking’ under the current building at 151 East Keith to allow for the additional cars that will need parking for the proposed new tenants.  This is definitely not the case and, since the onset of the construction at 161 East Keith, parking has become significantly less easy to find on either 6th Street or Keith Road.

Obviously, there has not been enough discussion on infill.  In light of the many projects currently in the works in North Vancouver, our neighbourhoods are concerned the City or the developers might not ‘do it right’.

To us, it now seems apparent that the infill solution is designed to satisfy the greed of the developers at the cost of ruining the few neighbourhoods with character left in this city.

In your presentation, the theme seems to be more about why we should accept infill rather than what we would like to see.  Meeting with the neighbourhood ‘face to face’ would have certainly been more productive than presenting a proposal with ‘no face’ from your end and no input from ours.

This e-mail will confirm that the owners of Victoria Place are unhappy with your proposal and we fully intend to voice our concerns to the City.

I trust you can empathize with our position.

Respectfully submitted,

Terry Lehouillier, President

On behalf of all Owners

Strata Plan VR 2735 Victoria Place


 Left is 161 E Keith new tower underway; middle is existing building at 151 E Keith (proponent of new application) and right is existing building at 123 E Keith

A Petition? Don’t Bother!

Comment from Voices:  We have received the following copy of a Letter to the Editor, North Shore News (not yet published):


How I wish Mayor Mussatto had mustered the courage 2 years ago to tell us honestly his plans for the densification of our little 4.6 sq. mile city. Just consider the time that could have been saved — hours on the phone, computer and knocking on doors; afternoons standing on street corners in the rain; evenings at meetings; the endless talking and planning with like-minded people — all aimed at gathering signatures for the time-honored method of showing public opposition, A PETITION. 


    The reality is that all opposition petitions presented to the current council over the past two years  have been either maligned or ignored by the Mayor and his majority slate .  Every path to success has been tried — 2500 signatures were deemed to be from people who would not be affected by the project, 85 signatures from an immediate neighbourhood were said to be from too narrow an area  and the most recent  with 325 signatures from taxpaying city residents against the Hollyburn tower were proclaimed to be inadequate in contrast to the pity felt by one councillor for the 800 hopefuls on a waiting list.


    If only the Mayor and his slate had been honest.  Of course, they might not have been elected but then, they may have been successful.  Either way, everyone would have understood what was ahead.  Instead the Mayor, in my opinion, has become a bully and has been  publicly downright rude to several citizens and councillors who have spoken against him .  Council meetings are overcome by an atmosphere of antagonism.


    Are you mad enough about all the significant problems densification is heaping upon our city and are contemplating a petition?  My advice is – DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME AND EFFORT!   The final council vote is guaranteed to be 4-3 in favour of all future densification projects.


   Our City deserves better!      
 Joan Peters