From an op-ed in Postmedia papers: Older Canadians are not the problem.

Older Canadians pay a disproportionate share of municipal taxes, with 40 percent of homes in Canada owned by those who are age 50 to 70.

The percent is probably higher in the City of Vancouver.
And in that statistic is the reason why residential property taxes are so low, particularly compared to commercial classes. And why it is unthinkable by municipal leaders to raise them enough to pay for more capital costs of rapid transit – or to capture and transfer wealth from high-asset single-family homes to pay for more affordable housing.  It’s not even seriously discussed.
It also explains the difficulty in rezoning the Great Housing Reserve of RS-1 to develop more of the missing-middle forms like row housing.

If you are over 50 (and I speak from experience) and have completely or mostly paid for the house you bought decades ago, there is little apparent reason why you would support a rezoning of your neighbourhood that would visibly change its character and bring in what you perceive to be a different class of people.  And, unthinkably, might lower the property values you have internalized as the primary source of your wealth and are counting on as you age.
You also have the interest and time to study development issues, to organize, to lobby, to complain.  And you vote.  Those younger people who might benefit don’t live there, don’t organize and vote less.
Additional irony: when younger people do organize, as the protest against the 105 Keefer project in Chinatown or the towers proposed for the Commercial-Broadway station area demonstrate, it’s to oppose larger scale development that is meant to accommodate growth to offset the difficulty in rezoning single-family areas (or neighbourhoods that look ‘single-family’ regardless of actual density.)
Which is why the middle is missing.


  1. Well put. One additional point: because the middle is missing, when older people cash out of their single detatched house, they only have the apartment end of the market to go to if they want to stay in the area. When they get $3 million or more for their house and then go to the condo market, they have both the need and the resources to be alpha competitors, as we have found out first hand.

  2. If that percentage of owners includes landlords, then the statistic is deceptive. Renters, not owners, should probably be considered the payers of property taxes on rental properties. Leaving rental properties out is also problematic for this reason.

  3. Gord, my only comment on that is that the proposed towers that are being built or are under discussion, thinking of Broadway & Commercial as well as other areas, are not suitable for families, nor affordable for the younger generation. That is a big part of the problem. As well, GW may appear to have a lot of single family, but it also has a lot of densification, social housing and more co-op housing than anywhere else in BC.

  4. There are 1001 ways to change this situation from a planning and architectural perspective as we reiterate over and over here, but the false perception is that the political solution needs to be monolithic across the city. I am not convinced people living in already dense, highly diverse RS1 + 2 neighbourhoods filled with basement suites, two-storey apartments and small lots will be that resistant to change, especially with new ground-oriented development done with sensitivity. It may be different in Kerrisdale, but time will tell.
    I also see no reason why upzoning RS1 necessarily leads to seniors being forced out of their own homes. If offered a choice of staying in their home while their backyard is sold and subdivided into three freehold rowhouses, or moving into one of the rowhouses, I’ll bet a bushel of Sunday crumpets at least half will stay close.
    This is all conjecture until some one at city hall and the office in Victoria that imposes strata title come together and do something realistic about it. Until then the situation with inefficient land use and affordability will only lock in further because of political paralysis.

  5. An extremely interesting read. I’m trying to educate myself on anything Vancouver as I’m moving out there in July. Interesting to hear your points of view. I’m sure I’ll be one of those unorganised young people who probably end up in a basement suite god knows where. Thanks and keep posting 🙂

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