Month: September 2019

Response to a Vancouver Sun opinion “Single-family zoning has no place in cities”

Response to a Vancouver Sun opinion “Single-family zoning has no place in cities”

A recent Opinion Page in the Vancouver Sun carried a heading “Single-family zoning has no place in cities”.  A better heading for the article would come from Dante’s allegorical poemhung over the Inferno: “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.”

Vancouver has no City Plan. Instead Vancouver has embraced hodge-podge spot re-zoning. Unsurprisingly, it has produced neither affordable housing nor affordable rental accommodation.

Without a City Plan, developers have been free to focus on nothing more than how to make their developments profitable. With the acquiescence of Vancouver’s Planning Department and City Council, developers have been free to ignore environmental issues as well as the impact of developments on communities and future community development within the City.

Vancouverism, which was recognized internationally as a model of planning, is now being ignored in its place of origin. Downtown Vancouver has become a city of concrete with few community parks, green spaces or view corridors.

The drooping concrete edifice overhanging the north end of the Granville Bridge is said to represent one-half of a gateway to the City.  The other half of the gate is rising opposite. The off and on ramps at the north end of the Bridge are going to be removed to accommodate the construction and the development below the Bridge.

Asking for community response to the proposed bike lanes on the Granville Bridge, important though it may be, is little more than a planning sideshow.

Removing single family zoning throughout Vancouver would make no sense.  Vancouver has a robust tree by-law for a reason.  The beneficial effect of having trees and lawns in urban areas is well-known.  Vancouver has an army of gardeners in single-family zoned areas.  Victoria has battalions. So do other cities in BC. And their gardening efforts, which help to maintain acceptable environmental standards and to avoid the risk of increasing heat within cities, all come free.

The Provincial Government has taken a number of steps to stop use of real property as a commodity and to inquire into corruption in the development and use of property.  The Government has also imposed what amounts to a wealth tax on residential property valued at over $3M. But what the Government has yet to do is require the City of Vancouver, under the Vancouver Charter, to have and implement city planning as other local governments in the Province are required to do.

Requiring Vancouver to have a City Plan is essential to ensure the city can have an orderly and vibrant development including a reduction in the risks of corruption.

Developers are part of the key to enabling Vancouver to increase both affordable housing and affordable rentals in the city.  There is no reason for developers to object to having the guidance a City Plan would provide and no doubt some would readily embrace it.

It is time the BC Government enacted legislation to require Vancouver to have a City Plan.  And Vancouver needs to end spot rezoning, not entrench it.