969 Burrard St & 1019-1045 Nelson St

This is my second article on Good Friday about a development application that saves or restores a church. And I’m not even Christian. Also, I recommend this article be enjoyed accompanied by Geoff Berner’s song Higher Ground

First Baptist Church 56-storey tower model at Open House March 10. Peter Joyce, w/ bottled water, happens to be in background.

From the City’s website (bolded font is my doing):

The City of Vancouver has received an application to rezone 969 Burrard Street & 1019-1045 Nelson Street from CD-1 (445) (Comprehensive Development) to a new CD-1 District. The proposal includes:

    • restoration of First Baptist Church;
    • new church ancillary spaces, including a 37-space child daycare, a gymnasium, a counselling centre, offices and a cafe;
    • a new eight-storey building containing 66 social housing units, owned by the church;
    • a new 56-storey tower containing 294 market strata residential units, with a cafe at ground floor;

Other key parameters of the proposal include:

    • a combined total new floor area of approximately 561,881 sq.ft.;
    • a floor space ratio (FSR) of approximately 10.83;
    • 497 underground vehicle parking spaces.

This rezoning application is being considered under the Rezoning Policy for the West End and the West End Community Plan.

The project is called First Baptist Church (FBC) for now. I live close to this property. I think 56-storeys at the highest point downtown in earthquakey Vancouver is a little high but I can live with it if it’s structurally well-built. This building does not obstruct view corridors and falls within the dome skyline.
Currently the entrance is quite unwelcoming with fencing and a big, flashing, lighted sign at Nelson & Burrard. It’s unclear where to enter and not wheelchair accessible. The plans for creating an open, accessible space with a cafe look inviting. The sidewalk on Nelson may be widened as the left turning lane west of Burrard is not well used.
The developer is the First Baptist Church. The builder is Westbank. The architect is Bing Thom. The Traffic Consultant is Peter Joyce of Bunt & Assoc. I spoke to him and others at the Open House – which PT Guest Editor Thomas Beyer covered.
What I object to strongly is the amount of car parking they plan to include. They want 120 parking spaces over the minimum required for a total of 497. (Do we still have minimum parking requirements in downtown Vancouver and why don’t we have a maximum number permitted?)
The overall parking ratio is 1.4 – in the centre of downtown Vancouver at the corner of Nelson & Burrard. That means 1.4 parking spaces for every 1 unit. It’s 0.4 for the rental building and a whopping 1.6 for the strata.
To give you some perspective, these days in Metrotown many high-rises will have a parking ratio of about 1 or less. Portland is building high-rises with 0.6 or less. Some high-rises are proud to be at 0. Granted, this high-rise plans to have a number of 2-3 bedroom suites. Still, allowing so much car parking downtown encourages too much driving and drives up costs. This much car parking doesn’t meet any of our City goals.
I have worked with numerous developers over the years interested in having all access carsharing in their buildings – even before there were incentives from the City to minimize parking requirements for doing so. It’s a popular amenity for buyers. FBC is not including any carsharing as they have no interest in reducing minimum parking requirements. This leaves their buyers with fewer convenient, transportation choices.
The plan is to have 6 levels of subterranean parking. The cost of adding 6 floors underground is staggering in concrete and steel. For developers, the reduced construction time with fewer levels can be a considerable savings for them as well. Housing rates are so expensive in Vancouver that even if the intention is to sell posh 2-3 bedroom suites, the higher cost of the units from additional parking doesn’t make sense to me. Many downtown families have 0 or 1 car and carshare when they need 2 on one day.
Also, units will be sold with parking spots – not unbundled (where the buyer gets to choose to buy a unit with or without a parking space).
Joyce told me the building is likely to be complete in 3 years. I explained that in 5 years or so it’s likely driverless carsharing will be available. People will be even less likely to own vehicles by then. He said it was quite easy to repurpose the underground parking.
The City encourages online feedback or emails to Yan Zeng <yan.zeng@vancouver.ca> by April 14. You can easily sign up to be on the mailing list for updates by adding “Please add me to the mailing list” to your email.


  1. Seems like sheer madness to me, and not because of the amount of parking (I personally think that the assumption that more parking = more driving needs to be re-thunk: Having a hassle-free place where you can leave your car can grant more freedom to travel using other modalities. Places where you have to have it off the street at certain times of day, it actually forces people who live there to drive a car if they have one).
    Can anyone explain to me why a forest of towers in one place, robbing the streets around them of sunlight, giving no one any views, and creating window-to-window issues, is preferable to a scenario where towers are scattered across the city among blocks of lower density – say, putting a couple of towers in Point Grey or Dunbar? Kind of like Seton Villa in Burnaby.
    What IS the magnetic draw that downtown has for tower construction?

    1. Spoken like someone who hasn’t walked around Grandview Woodlands recently and had to chop their way through the No Tower signs with a machete.

    2. I didn’t say Grandview Woodlands, I said Dunbar or Point Grey. And I said that for a reason. First, those neighbourhoods are far less dense already than GW. Second, they have hills. You put the towers at or near the top of hills, and very few views get disrupted. A few homeowners are in the building’s shadow, but only part time. And as many properties there are vacant anyway, so what? The retail strips in those neighbourhoods need the pick-up – retail in GW is doing pretty well it seems.
      The tower proposed for GW is between the neighbourhood and the mountains. Along with the rest of the development planned for Hastings, that will render the mountains all but invisible to anyone living in GW within 5 years. (Disclosure: my views will be affected by the Hastings development, but would not be by the Boffo proposal).
      My motto for proposals for the east side is this: Would you put this in Dunbar? If not, why are you putting it here?
      The downtown core could use the same one; it’s not patented.

      1. I’m not sure if you’re suggesting posh towers in posh ‘hoods and rental towers in less posh ‘hoods. It’s very important that most neighbourhoods have a diversity density and poshness of housing.
        If we only based where we put towers on views that could work but there are so many other factors. 🙂

      2. I had no thoughts on poshness; I see no reason why rental can’t be posh in any case. Stratas strike me as not having worked out all that well at any socioeconomic level. Just a 4th level of government to do a cash grab in most cases.

        1. Co-operative housing brings together a mix of socio-economic income levels requiring participation from all (4 hours/month) in a way that other set ups don’t. If everyone’s skills are recognized and honed, all works well. In a worst case scenario, co-ops can have nasty dictatorships similar to some stratas and acquire the similar problems that come with them.

    3. For residents of Downtown, Yaletown and Coal Harbour, with no permit parking in their area, it’s a much bigger hassle for them to attempt to park on the street on a regular basis.
      As this building is in the West End, for now, that’s still an option for their second vehicle.
      You asked why there are a forest of towers downtown but you probably already know it’s because it’s more acceptable, politically, than in other areas of the City.
      Also, there’s already a greater density of jobs, transit, and amenities.
      I agree with you that density needs to be increased in more neighbourhoods. I would start with areas where we have rapid transit and job centres.
      One of my peeves is hearing – especially planners who should know better – people talk about neighbourhoods vs. downtown (the peninsula). I consider it old-fashioned plus it assumes that people who live downtown don’t feel part of a neighbourhood. So wrong.

      1. I wonder if it really is that politically acceptable thing. There just aren’t that many voters in the less dense neighbourhoods to object, and there are corollary benefits, like creating demand for better transit where the tower is. Not everyone wants to live two blocks from work either. Downtown is indeed a neighbourhood(s) – so why does it just roll over for tower after tower?

    4. Karin, re: this in your original post “I personally think that the assumption that more parking = more driving needs to be re-thunk: Having a hassle-free place where you can leave your car can grant more freedom to travel using other modalities.”
      That is simply untrue. Our current set-up for owning cars means paying most of the cost up front/monthly for the vehicle and insurance. The biggest costs are paid whether the car owner drives or not. Car owners then think: I’ve already paid so much I might as well drive it. And the convenience and independence one feels getting around by car leads to thinking every trip is easier by car and an addiction ensues. They’ll drive 45min from downtown to Metrotown not even thinking that the train takes 15min, 20 with a walk to the station.
      Montréal’s Ecole Polytechnique has done some great research on this. If you no longer own a car and carshare instead, each time you think about booking a car you stop and think: do I need a car for this trip? You are much more likely to walk, bicycle, take transit when that makes sense and book a car when it does.
      The above information describes the behaviour of the bottom ~80%, economically. Saving money encourages them to make changes. This can happen for the very wealthy as well but is less likely. Anecdotal: I have seen wealthy people sell their cars and move to carsharing and other modes for health or environmental reasons.
      And a car “sitting there” can do more harm than good. From cradle to grave, about 45% of the energy that the car uses in its lifetime is toward the manufacturing of it. Why manufacture so many if each personally-owned one is unused 92-95% each day? Plus, if the car is parked on public space, there are much better uses for that space. If it is parked on private property, is it on permeable land or on a concrete/asphalt slab? If it is in parking in a high-rise, could the housing have been less expensive if not as much parking was built?

      1. To my knowledge in Vancouver parking spots are not sold separately as condos due to ancient bylaws. Toronto allows it. As such one can chose to buy a luxury $5M condo and then buy 0, 1, 2, 3 or 4 parking spot condos at $50-75,000 per.
        This would allow folks with no car or only one to sell off 2-3 stalls if they so chose. Some separate blog posts on this would be useful.
        Let’s also consider that folks that can afford a $2-10M condo have at least a car or often three, even if they use it only in the summer or on weekends or when they are in town.

        1. It’s called unbundling (I mentioned it and defined it in my article above). The building across the street from this church sold out in 6 hours in 1993 with 0 parking in the building but parking spots available in buildings next to it for $10K each.
          More recently (about 2011), at Robson & Richards, the brick building on top of the IGA sold with parking unbundled. It sold a little slower than expected and the last few units were advertising as including 1-2 parking spots for free (since so many people opted out of buying parking with their unit).
          People with money can afford a lot of parking. Should our parking policies cater to them?

    5. Tanya, I really enjoy your approach to most of the issues you’ve covered as editor here, and so I’m sorry to have to disagree. On so many of the points you make you simply are looking through the wrong end of the telescope. And you’re on weak ground anyway trying to describe the thinking of people who own cars, which you said you haven’t done since 1994. I think you do not understand what people are paying for (it’s mobility and freedom vs transportation; illustrated best perhaps by transit strikes), and that you can get your money’s worth on those terms even if the car sits there unused all year.
      You’re applying the EP research to the wrong population. More insight would be provided if you were to ask a thousand bus passengers or 1000 cyclists if they also own cars. And the environmental costs of manufacturing a car are sunk costs once a car is manufactured, and the decision is whether to keep or crush.
      The campaign to reduce the dominance of the automobile is one I am in great sympathy with and which I engage with personally and politically. In the Art of War, much is made of understanding your opponent. Assuming you know how they think doesn’t help with that, and actually weakens the efficacy of the campaign.

      1. Karin, it’s so interesting how others see us.
        Over the past 17 years I have helped thousands and thousands of people change their behaviour and stop owning cars. To those who are ready to receive the information and make a change, my not owning a car serves as an example of what their life can be like.
        Often those who are not ready will interpret the same message by feeling guilty and assume I’m accusing them of something.
        I do understand the convenience of car ownership (which I mentioned in my comments) and where in Metro Vancouver one lives and works, what distance on what routes one commutes, etc. where that convenience starts to drop (especially for those who are not rich).
        Most of my writing this week has been from the point of view of what decisions a Province or a City should make to foster reductions in car ownership rather than as an individual trying directly to convince people out of their cars.

        1. We just have to make car use (in both its states, driving and parking) more expensive AND offer rapid alternatives. Many of these 3 items are missing in MetroVan although we are ever so slowly moving towards it … with a focus on “slowly”.

        2. Car use is already expensive. It always will be (which is why it’s so subsidized.)
          Many people currently cannot afford to include it in their lives. The ones that can are currently well served but to many it’s just not an option. They deserve mobility as well.

        3. Not quite. Parking is free on most residential streets. Why ? E-cars use road space and wear down bridges and roads yet pay no gasoline taxes. Why ? Most bridges, major thoroughfares, highways and tunnels are free. Why ? A car, once acquired, is cheap to operate.
          If we wish less cars and more transit we need to make car use more expensive and transit options more desirable. A big gap here in MetroVan remains.

      2. Tanya, my point is simply to separate owning a car from driving one. You can make people use transit by making transit fabulous, but deciding to become transit DEPENDENT is another thing entirely – again, think transit strike. Car OWNERSHIP (vs car USE) is not about convenience; it’s about freedom, and control over your own life. Whether you contrast it against cycling and being at the mercy of the weather, against transit and being at the mercy of labour relations, or against car sharing and being at the mercy of availability, OWNING a car gives you more OPTIONS. You don’t have to use it every day to derive value – or call it a mental health thing – from having it. That is and was my only point, but if you don’t want it, I have no interest in forcing it on you 🙂

      3. “In the Art of War, much is made of understanding your opponent. Assuming you know how they think doesn’t help with that, and actually weakens the efficacy of the campaign.”
        I think that the campaign is weakened more by thinking of it as a war. It doesn’t have to be a war.

        1. I hate the title “Street fight”. Also the movie title “Bikes vs Cars”. Neither are an accurate view of the content. Probably some marketing people made them use those titles. I don’t like how everything has to be framed in an extreme way or has to be provocative just to get noticed. It’s not actually what people are wanting to see.
          If I wanted there to be conflict and fighting I would be want to keep things the way they are now.

  2. Does anyone seriously expect that empty cars, on their way to a curbside waiting passenger, will be roving the streets within five, or even ten years?
    Just imagine one little problematic scenario. Traffic is down to one lane on a street due to roadwork, or whatever. The traffic is being controlled by people with stop/slow signs. All traffic needs to stop way back, so traffic from the opposite direction can get through. How is the auto-car to know to stop way back and will the auto-car move forward when the lollipop person flips their sign? School zones, same thing. Those lollipops are going to all have to be electronic and sending out signals to the auto-cars.
    How about if fifty people are leaving their tall building to return home at 5pm and they all order cars to be at curbside but they all become delayed with elevator issues. Are there now 50 auto-cars just stopped and blocking traffic, waiting for them? What about a concert or a convention?

    1. Driverless vehicles are already roaming the streets in other parts of the world, Eric.
      Google is known for its work in this area. You may know they have autonomous vehicles (AVs) that have gone over 2M kms – without any at-fault accidents. Have you?
      Did you know that Google owns shares in Uber (now 18%?) and has bought the Waze app for $1.3B? Most cab or ridesourcing drivers use Waze – giving them the optimum route for each trip based on live data re: road construction, police checkpoints, traffic volumes, etc.
      Google’s investments will triangulate into Waze-using AVs ridesourcing on our streets.
      To answer your specific question, if the flag person steps into the road, the AV will stop. That’s already the case.
      We must move forward to make active transportation a priority but the plan to incorporate AVs into future planning will likely account for less off-street and on-street parking and possibly more pick up/drop off points at certain curbs (a.k.a. taxi stands).
      In cities where Uber and Lyft exist, strangers are already using ridesourcing to rideshare/carpool as well. Uber Pool and Lyft Line are doing very well.
      Therefore, at a concert or a convention, in a line of people waiting, instead of 1-2 people per taxi we might see 3-4 people going the same way in each AV (plus taking other modes).

  3. It sounds like this is a high luxury development, and accordingly they’re probably expecting high demand for secondary parking spots. You have your daily driver and then you need another spot for your super car you only drive in the summer right?

  4. Thank you for adding to my original post from about two weeks ago.
    WWJD: Since I was on the original design committee almost three years ago, I’d say he’d build s.th. like that, perhaps more walkable (i.e. less underground parking) and even more rentals / affordable. This building shows what must be done in Vancouver in general: more affordable housing, more community amenities and more social space for those less able to support themselves, funded by those that are able from higher taxes, higher property values that then get funneled into those affordable and community spaces.
    As to Karen’s comments: the west end is VERY small, many 1 sq km. I think no building should be under 50 stories, if we wish to retain folks that live there today. We need more supply, not more constraints. And every second street should be a green street as shown at UBC’s Wesbrook Village (more on that here: https://pricetags.wordpress.com/2016/03/10/whats-happening-at-ubc-lots/)

    1. I did originally see your FBC Open House post then forgot about it. I’ve now added the link to it in my post.Thx for the reminder and the added info about your participation in the process.

  5. I’ve been looking into electric cars recently and I’m rethinking the whole parking thing. If you buy a pure electric vehicle you face a range limitation on long trips which requires seeking out a charger and waiting for an hour or more to recharge. This will change as chargers become more common and technology improves the charge speeds, but in the short term it means that if you have a requirement to sometimes drive longer distances an electric car makes the most sense as a second vehicle. Therefore, you need two parking spots.
    The real crime is that ICBC won’t give you a break on insurance even though you can’t be using both vehicles at once and therefore your risk of having a accident while driving is no greater than if you have only one vehicle.

    1. I’d rather not own a car (I sold mine in 1994). I’d rather share them or rent since I don’t use them that often.
      However, if I was buying an electric vehicle, I’d get a 2017 model this August or later. The big OEMs all have announced a range of ~350kms on one charge for their 2017 EVs. That would take you from here to Cache Creek. It would take you about 4 hours and you’d probably need a pit stop by then anyway. Within 20 minutes – or longer if you stop for lunch – you could be charged up and ready to go again.
      The real crime is owning 2 vehicles that take up space when all you’d need is 1 EV or just to share/rent sometimes.

    2. I think it’s kind of a thin edge of a wedge to call owning cars a “crime.” Not driven, they may not hurt anyone. Burden on society, OK, although then you have to start comparing them with other burdens on society and you get into relative virtue and judgementalism. Just when we thought we’d evolved past class-based society.

      1. I used the word “crime” in response to Sean’s description of ICBC committing a “crime”. I otherwise do not refer to owning a car as a crime.

  6. As intuitive as it is to assume that requiring (or permitting) fewer parking spaces will result in fewer cars and less driving, that result is not always borne out – particularly with high end buildings in dense urban neighbourhoods. At the incomes needed to buy into a building like this, the number of cars a couple or a family has is not affected by the number their unit provides, but simply by how many drivers there are. As shown in a 2010 study by the NYC Department of City Planning, a couple or family making beyond a particular income threshold is simply going to own at least two cars. If their apartment only comes with one space, the other car or cars go on the street or in a private garage.
    This doesn’t necessarily hold true the further down the socioeconomic ladder you go, but the developer’s market research on tenant incomes likely informed the extra number of underground spaces. That, and minimizing criticism of perceived impacts of on-street parking.
    This is a luxury tower primarily for wealthy tenants. Whether there is 1.0 or 1.4 parking spaces per unit is not going to affect parking or traffic patterns or trip generation. So let them go overboard. It only means fewer BMW’s competing for the same on-street parking.

    1. Excellent points.
      If the building was in Downtown, Yaletown, Crosstown, or Coal Harbour without any permit parking (and most off-street parking for people-in-the-building only), your theory wouldn’t be as strong. However, it’s in the West End and there is ample on-street parking and accessible off-street rental parking as well. Restructuring West End and Robson North parking permits and a few policy changes would need to happen first.
      Side note: Not the solution for the above, but FYI to anyone not aware, West End permit parking is obscenely low at $76.37 per YEAR (that’s $6.36 per month) and ample private parking in the West End is available for about $50-100/month. The rental building in the high-rise of the other church across the street from this one charges $200/month for parking.

  7. If you look at the plans for the project, there is an office space component for the church’s administration and they may be taking the opportunity to provide parking for the congregation.
    The plans from the application have been posted here:
    The parking allocation is found here:
    Total Required: 381
    Non-residential required: 54 min / 58 max
    Market Housing required: 305
    Rental Housing Required: 32
    Total Provided: 497
    Non-residential: 51
    Market Housing: 417
    Rental Housing: 29
    So they’re actually undercut the Non-residential requirement (office, etc.) and the Rental Housing requirement.
    It’s the Market Housing that is at the 1.4 level – which, as others have noted – is probably because of the luxury market.

  8. A 45 storey residential building in Toronto (on Yonge St. near College) with 423 units and a residential floor area of ~356,000 sq. ft. is proposing a mere 131 automobile parking spots with 438 bicycle parking spots. Living within walking distance of several rapid transit stations and streetcar lines makes for a lot less car ownership.

    1. Thank you for adding. I thought of that one but didn’t take the time to look it up. Do you know if it’s mainly 1 bdrm units, though? The Traffic Consultant’s excuse/reason for more parking is that these would be a lot of 2-3 bdrm units.
      What’s the name of it?

      1. The supporting documentation for the development is found at http://tiny.cc/d6aiay. The address is 480-494 Yonge St. which is the site of the (in)famous St. Charles Tavern. There are 27 studio, 272 1-bedroom, 83 2-bedroom and 43 3-bedroom units proposed along with 26 rental replacement units of various sizes.
        Scanning the documents brought out some interesting numbers. The 2011 modal split for home-based weekday, peak-hour trips in this particular neighbourhood is walk 44%, transit 32%, auto 22% and cycle 2%. Only 42% of apartment dwellers in the neighbourhood own a vehicle. Based on existing developments in the area, this particular development would generate 63-68 2-way peak hour trips. The proposed 131 vehicular parking spots are significantly less than those required (300+) by Toronto’s by-laws. The final number will be determined during the development review process; the developer will consider car-share parking spots.
        I noticed a number of developments around Toronto with seemingly reduced parking requirements – not all of them downtown.
        • 412 Church Street – 32 storey student residence – 119 units with 532 beds – 5 parking spots and 266 bicycle spots.
        • 422 Roncesvalles – 8 storey mixed use development – 93 units and 6 townhouses – 77 parking spots and 99 bicycle spots.
        • 125 Parliament – 21 storey mixed use development – 446 units- 181 parking spots and 446 bicycle spots.

    2. You’re conflating theory and fact. Just because buildings in proximity to transit do not require as much parking as those further away doesn’t mean that they generate fewer car trips. That assumption, however intuitive, is the basis for these types of parking relaxations. But there’s little actual evidence to support that this produces the desired effect with respect to certain types of buildings, especially luxury towers. Their income determines how many cars they own or how many trips they’ll take, not their proximity to transit.

      1. Dan, the developer is a church.
        There’s a mix of luxury units and social housing planned for this site.
        If each luxury unit was allocated 1 parking stall and 120 parking spots didn’t need to be built, with 51 spots per level, that’s at least 2 levels that wouldn’t need to be built. The cost to build is ~$50K each (for P1 and P2, more expensive lower down) x 120 = $6M. The savings are even greater since P5 and P6 wouldn’t need to be built.
        How many more social housing units could be built with those savings? The developer is a church.
        Would the luxury units still sell with 1 parking spot each – especially with parking so easily available in buildings nearby?
        Would it be worth it (for what’s best for the City overall) to risk adding more cars to on-street parking for the added social housing?
        Is your assumption still true that each resident wants their own vehicle to drive? Isn’t it more luxurious to have someone pick you up and drop you off so you don’t have to worry about finding parking, plugging the meter, having only 2 hours at each location, taking it in for maintenance, etc.? In three years, it’s likely that ridesourcing will be operating here. Soon after that, driverless cars. If the car is driverless, does a household need more than one, when driverless sharing is also available?

        1. Tanya, the rich are different than you and I. You are certainly correct that the building would be cheaper without the extraneous parking spaces it provides. But the assertion that a tenant’s perception of luxury includes access to a driverless chauffeur is a stretch. And the fact that the developer is a church is immaterial as far as parking is concerned. Right now, the developer’s market survey is the only data informing the decision to over-provide parking. When they get data telling them that their prospective luxury tenants will in fact not purchase 2-plus cars per unit, they’ll go back to the minimums and save themselves the outlay.

          1. You’re saying “this is how it is” and I’m saying “we need to make it better”.
            And we can both stay there.
            I’m familiar with the hesitation/reluctance of marketing departments of developers. If you think convincing some to build less parking has been easy, it hasn’t. They’re always glad they did, though.
            An observation I find interesting: long before you moved here, we had UberX briefly. It was SUVs and limos with spare time as they waited for the wedding, grad party to end, etc. It cost $35 per trip – whatever the distance – and people I know with money (not super rich, more like penthouse/townhouse downtown for >$1M paid off kind of well off) who liked to drink everyday loved it.
            And it probably freed up some taxis for the middle-class and the poor who were willing to wait for one.
            So I do think in the near future even the rich might not see the need for a car for everyone of driving age – especially if it’s a hassle to find parking for them.
            I’m asking: does it still need to be done that way because it’s what the developer wants?

        2. Technically, the church is the land owner. The developer is Westbank. There is a land lease and profit sharing arrangement.
          The church also needs visitor parking, pus the many amenities will necessitate visitor parking. The city requires a certain minimum per unit, plus there is 1-3 stalls for higher end units. Rest assured that Westbank is a smart developer. If they didn’t need 500 parking spots but only 400 they’d build only 400.

        3. Has it occurred to you that some people actually like to drive, say to Whistler on a nice day, or to Tsawwassen, or V Island or to Kelowna ? Give the customer what they want.
          If we toll roads and parking more, people will make a rational choice. Don’t disallow cars, just make them pay more. Big failure here on MetroVan councils’ parts.

        4. Way back in the 1980s when I visited Hong Kong it had the world’s highest number of Rolls Royce cars per capita. Why? Because parking spots were so expensive that anyone who could afford to park a car could afford to buy a luxury car to put in that space.
          Parking is possibly the worst land use possible, yet it covers a significant percentage of most cities.
          I agree with Karen that owning a car is freedom from dependence on transit schedules and transfers, freedom from bad weather cycling. I have kids so using a car is often far easier than trying to get all of us onto bikes or transit and, once the initial costs are sunk, can be cheaper than 4 round trips on transit.
          But what if driving was almost never cheaper than transit? What if there was no longer a such thing as free parking or free use of the roads at rush hour? I think many of us would make different choices. We’d plan better, question the need to travel great distances when similar utility could be obtained with a shorter, quicker trip. Rather than looking at distance as the crow flies or as the car drives, we would start looking at destinations requiring only a single bus or train as preferable.
          As Thomas says, don’t tell people (especially the rich) they aren’t allowed to purchase that kind of freedom. Make it more expensive and we’ll find that more and more trips are made by other means, combined or not made at all.

    3. Does anyone commenting here ever transport a family? Go anywhere with another person, including one who is maybe not able to use active/self-directed transportation? Leave home for the express purpose of accompanying someone somewhere? All those functions are the social ties that bind us. They are enhanced by collective, private, readily available transportation. How, Thomas et al, do your visions accommodate those without imposing the highest costs on those who are least able to afford them, in the highest stress, busiest, most cash-strapped years of their lives?

      1. The handout mentality is well developed and widespread, and politicians are all too eager to hand out freebies paid for by others, preferably the non-voting sub 18 or yet unborn.
        The resulting massive deficits are exactly what we get when we expect too much free stuff from our elected, but budget constrained governments !!
        Healthcare and education use up about 70% of most provincial budgets. This is just two of many items where we spend far too much or pay too little. Cars and roads is another.

      2. That’s… not an answer. And to the tiny extent to which it is, that means you’d rather let those that have families subsidize you – because they do, you know – than subsidize them. Imagine all young people removed from society, and see where your economy and quality of life goes.
        Old people should support young people, not make demands of them.

        1. Karin:
          that IS the answer. You just don’t like it. Democracy’s Achilles heel is that states can buy votes by promising free stuff, paid for by others, i.e. borrow, and offloading responsibilities to others, namely future tax payers. Nothing is free. Someone (else) ALWAYS has to pay !
          I am neither old nor young. Seniors take in a LOT of free stuff, like healthcare, for example and OAS/CPP. I am in the category where I support old AND young through my excessive income taxes I pay. At least the roads are still free, for now. Waiting for Tesla’s 3 Series car then I can offload my road costs to others as I will not pay anymore gasoline taxes. As such, the road model has to change. Perhaps politicians will recognize it when there are 20-35% e-cars.

        2. Well I may be missing something but even if I am there is a logical inconsistency in your position. Either your taxes are excessive or we should all be paying more; you can’t play both those tunes. And you are looking only at money in terms of costs, not, as I suggested, seeing how others may subsidize your life in intangible but no less valuable ways. Anyway, I don’t disagree that the model has to change. I am just kind of keen for it to change in rational ways that enhance how we all live together rather than just change who the beneficiary is.

        3. Income taxes are far too high in Canada. Canada’s average combined top marginal tax rate, at 53 per cent, is now one of the highest in the Western world; only Sweden, Denmark and France’s are steeper. Even a middle class worker pays 30% (20% federal and 10% provincial)
          Our consumption taxes and property taxes are far too low, widely exploited by affluent immigrants and foreign owners of real estate.
          Cars and road use are also too cheap: free parking ( https://pricetags.wordpress.com/2016/03/07/free-parking-is-like-squatting/ ) and no road tolls, even for affluent Tesla owners.
          So here is the rational behavior of affluent immigrants: buy a Tesla, buy the biggest house you can afford, get all capital gains tax free, low low property taxes, free healthcare, ESL and education ( for kids & aging parents ).
          Does this not strike you as wrong taxation policy, rooted in post WW II thinking with high interest rates and low mobility ?
          Better would be far lower federal income taxes, say 10%, regardless of income, consumption taxes at 15% to 20% (combined GST + PST) as that is actually real green, namely it discourages consumption of new stuff, and property taxes that are double to triple. Affluent people usually have a fancy house (or 3) so you get their money there, inc. foreigners and affluent immigrants.
          Food for thought ..

        4. Thomas, direct road costs are covered by a plethora of taxes, property taxes high among them. Accounting for the external costs of car dependency, including emergency services, healthcare, litigation and environmental remediation, are usually socialized at the end of the day.

        5. The problem with dividing the world into “affluent” and “non-affluent” or for that matter “car owner” and non, or “car driver” and non, is that it misses that some people’s consumption/taxation is for 3 people or more, while other people’s is for one. The HOV system is an example of how that can in fact be accommodated. You can never stop the rich from gaming your system – hell, they can hire someone to sit in their car so they can take the HOV lane or they qualify with their chauffeur. It is useful to know what the rich do, but policies should be made to enable the average, not to punish the rich. Because when you do the latter, invariably you punish the average or poor because they cannot game your policies the way the rich can. Again, I don’t disagree with anything you’re saying, it’s just you’re still not addressing my point about small-group, paired, or multiple personal transportation needs of the sort that happen in families – and families are overwhelmingly financially average to poor. When your anti-car policies prevent families from going out together or make it so difficult that it happens less often, you’ve hardly enhanced urban life.

  9. I think some people need to have a reality check about the demographics of people who will be buying into expensive trophy buildings like this. They’re likely to have a car, then a sports car, and maybe an SUV. After all when they’re in town they will tailor their vehicle requirements they way they choose their wardrobe.

  10. Tanya, why is it a public concern if a developer wants to include more parking? Do we need to micromanage that much? I completely agree with the argument that we should not be mandating that buildings have minimum parking requirements, as this is effectively a tax on housing to support a particular (and disfavored) transit choice. I also am skeptical of subsidizing the automobile through free street parking. But I think the corollary to these arguments is that we have to allow the private market to provide parking and have drivers pay for it if they want a car. I don’t see what problem is being solved by putting a maximum on the allowable number of parking spaces that a developer can build. Especially if we allow unbundling, then maybe it will be more politically-feasible to build other buildings with fewer parking allotments and less free (or nearly free) curbside parking spots. Outlawing private parking options seems like an unnecessary and unhelpful provocation of the defenders of Motordom.

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