This radio interview with new City Planner Gil Kelley on CBC’s Early Edition identifies the biggest challenge in metro Vancouver, and it is no surprise-housing affordability.

Part of the job of planning is making sure we’re bringing on a supply of housing that’s not simply trickle-down theory but actually locking in a substantial portion of new housing as long-term or permanently affordable.”

Gil also addresses the elephant in the room, noting that the Federal government has stepped away from providing any incentives for rental housing. And in Vancouver, developers don’t build rental housing as there’s a higher and quicker financial return  in building new houses and condominiums.

When probed about the Cambie Street corridor densification, Gil notes that this was acceptable for Cambie Street as a rapid transit corridor, but may not be the model for other major arterial streets. He also touches upon the laneway housing, the low density darling of the RS-1 single family zoning. While you can build a suite in the basement of a single family house and put up a laneway house, you can’t turn the house legally into a triplex, something that older seniors have been discussing as a way to age in place, have a rental suite, and maybe have homecare live there too.  Triplexing  could also provide more family units which are desperately underbuilt in the city. I was pleased to hear that Gil will be considering more options in RS-1 zoning as well as triplexing.

Lastly, Gil talked about the importance of a regional approach to addressing the low to middle-income people who may be life time renters in need of a place to call home. Without rentals for middle income people being addressed we will be a city of the very rich and the very poor.  The middle income people need to be included or we will decay  the vitality and diversity of the fabric of this city.