Bias alert: I think PT commenters offers some of the best-quality observations and critiques of any urban blog I read. Some are especially worthy of reprint here – the foreground – so they don’t get lost in the streams of comments to previous posts.
Like this one from Vanessa Catalano who commented on Civic Election: Issues that Matter Most:
First, local government policy and procedures severely constrain supply of housing, and what does get through pays dearly when they take their financial cut. Many studies (here in B.C. and elsewhere in North America), have demonstrated that local government clearly has the ability to maintain negative impacts in the housing market.
Secondly, these are contradictory terms when the latter creates a veto:
“…. accommodate growth … while maintaining … character …”
The freezing of perpetual character is the cliché that prevents vast areas of centrally-located, over-serviced, environmentally-unsustainable, low-density, single-family-dwelling neighborhoods from evolving.
Character is just a state; it can be good or bad, and for many people, the actual characteristic with which critically-needed infill is measured is PAST character; “how things used to be,” or “how I rosily imagine the past.”
The essential problem with this region is that its ‘character’ needs to evolve. And because that natural change has been artificially suppressed, it now needs to do that in significant steps. That’s the only way the carefree adolescence of Vancouver can face some of the harsh realities of adulthood.
Almost every candidate for council in the current election has promised that neighbourhood consultation will be a priority (and the main charge against the incumbents is their failure to do so). The contenders come very close to promising ‘the community’ a veto over change.
Yet they imply or state that issues related to growth can be resolved through consultation – as though the process itself, properly conducted, generates consensus. But if Vanessa is right, the only consensus, at least among property owners, that reasonably has a chance of agreement is that the character of the community will be retained and the status quo preserved, with only change allowed that matches the scale of the existing fabric. The problem of affordability is left hanging or, depending on the candidate, expected to be addressed through drastically increased regulation and taxation.
How can growth and character be reconciled, when the rate of change extrapolated from past experience and projected into the future is “a million new people in the region in the next 30 years” – roughly the same number of people that New York City, a metropolis of eight million, anticipates over the same time period?