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:


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.

never-ever-think-outside-the-box-leo-cullu
“Never, ever think outside the box” (Thanks to Leo Cullum). Click to enlarge

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.

Comments

  1. Change is difficult because housing will remain very expensive. No one has the guts to admit it that in an in-migration city with limited land and massive $ influx from locals, Albertans retiring, baby boomers inserting wealth down to their kids or grandkids, immigrants and foreigners housing will remain expensive.
    Bike lanes are a sideshow and here to stay.
    Many traffic flow issues though could be resolved with different policies such as no left turns in rush hour or more restricted parking on arterials like 76th Ave or Granville.
    Far too much unrealistic hot air.
    Who proposed streamlining housing approvals ?
    How about this: it is approved automatically unless objected to within two months?
    Blanket rezoning like the new Cambie corridor plan ( see here http://vancouver.ca/images/web/cambie-corridor/proposed-cambie-corridor-plan.pdf ) for every arterial road needs to be done ASAP. Who proposed that ?

    1. Why though? Is it all the overpaid unionized government employee’s buying real estate Thomas?

  2. Okay, so let me analyze it from my suspicious perspective.
    > We will carefully pursue density planning to create affordable housing options
    > while respecting existing neighbourhoods.
    The wording implies that density doesn’t respect existing neighbourhoods.
    > We support properly planned bike lanes that do not negatively impact our city,
    > its residents, or businesses.
    The implication being that the current ones are not properly planned and are negatively impacting these things.
    They also use the term “bike lanes” instead of “cycling infrastructure”.
    > We believe bike lanes can be built with the safety of residents in mind,
    Here they’re implying that the current ones are unsafe. Also they’re implying that residents are not who they’re built for. That they’re an imposed thing for outsiders only.
    > 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.
    Again implying that they currently do. Also implying that someone shopping by bicycle doesn’t count as needing access to businesses.
    This entire bit of policy seems to be built on myth. I’m not surprised that they would take this stance but I wonder whether they, the party, believe it themselves or if they know it’s not true but are just trying to get some votes from people who hold these ideas.

    1. The campaign slogan is ‘Your Vancouver, Your Voice,’ but the header image shows luxury yachts and waterfront condos.
      Perhaps the principle and values rhetoric is targeted just right for the constituency they hope will bring them victory?

  3. I have made the mistake of lurking on the VanPoli Facebook page and tried to present some facts which were not well received. Some of these people have an intense hate for all things Vision and all things cycling and I believe that each reinforces the other. Very sad as it creates some very irrational comments which no amount of facts or logic can sway.

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