Vancouver’s October civic election contains a fascinating struggle by young new faces to effect real change on council and the city.
I’m seeing young people who are working to switch Vancouver City Hall from comfortable old party-centric positions and into an alliance of progressives, centrists and conservatives across party lines. It’s beginning to look like there’s a movement to try to bring their housing-related ideas to council, where at least a bit of political power resides.
I’m not alone, it seems, in sensing the change:
To repeat myself: This is a profound change in city dynamics. For all my quarter century covering urban issues, it's homeowners fiercely defending the status quo in their neighbourhoods who have dominated in decisions about development. https://t.co/OCtQcf3Q7q
— Frances Bula (@fabulavancouver) April 10, 2018
The highest priority for this movement clearly will be housing. Some of these potential new faces are renters and proto-owners proposing sharp and pointed policies like zoning changes, land value taxes, flipping levies: all intended to curb speculation. And building more rental stock with the proceeds.
The first struggle is, for some hopefuls, to swing party platforms to focus on the new priority. Then, in October, all of them need to attract enough votes to win a seat and bring these priorities to council.
Which brings us to the biggest struggle — the NPA.
The NPA makes a brief, broad, bland and non-specific mention of housing in their Principles and Goals Statement. They seem to support density, but with a carefully protective caveat in place for traditional NPA voters sitting on housing capital gains, or who are perhaps playing the speculation game. The word “renter”, or any derivative, does not appear anywhere in the NPA’s Statement. Neither does “young”.
We will carefully pursue density planning to create affordable housing options while respecting existing neighbourhoods.
Meanwhile, the NPA’s focus seems disproportionately on — you guessed it — them stinkin’ bike lanes. A by-now shrinking cultural divide and failed wedge issue. A full 10% of the words in their Principles and Goals Statement describe specific, wonkish and oddly pointed criteria to apply to any bike lane decision. Compare this to the NPA’s short, broad, bland criterion-free sentence on housing (above).
Develop, and continually enhance, our transportation system and infrastructure to serve all Vancouver residents. We support properly planned bike lanes that do not negatively impact our city, its residents, or businesses. We believe bike lanes can be built with the safety of residents in mind, while also having a positive effect on traffic flow and mobility that does not negatively impact the movement of goods and services or sacrifice ease of access to local businesses.
The word “transit”, it must be said, does not appear in the NPA’s Principles and Goals Statement. It’s only a few billion bucks, after all; and fundamentally changes the dynamics of the city, but doesn’t affect their traditional voters. Nothing to get wonkified about.
So, if you’re a young NPA hopeful, with housing on your mind (and not bike lanes), which way will the change go? You adopting old ideas; or the party going with your ideas?
They’ve got a big fight on their hands, just for a nomination. Best of luck.