The more things change — visibly agitated citizens

HERE‘s a deep overview of the housing question, the single top of mind issue for citizens of Vancouver.

With thanks to Christopher Porter, it’s part backgrounder and part parsing of various candidate and party platforms.

Lurking just out of view, for most pundits and journalists, is a broad schism in Vancouver.  Renters (50% + of its citizens, cheesed off and looking for homes) vs. homeowners (recognisable by their mating call “awk — neighbourhood character — awk”, and by their love of veto power).

There seems to be only one issue this election that everyone is talking about, and it’s housing (note: I covered the minor issues last week). We’re in a crisis and every politician has a plan to make it better.

I’m happy for all the attention. I’m a renter who is frustrated by the ridiculous price of housing and the ever-increasing rents. When I moved to Vancouver in 2006, the market was crazy and it has only gotten worse since.

So what are the politicians promising and will it actually fix anything? . . .

I think the most important part of any party’s housing platform is not the specific policies, but the urgency to act. It feels like some parties are favouring older property owners who are resistant to change over younger renters who are desperate for it. The language is guarded but the biases are clear. The NPA and Green Party are the NIMBY parties, talking about preserving neighbourhood character and consultation with neighbourhood groups. It is language you won’t hear from the YIMBY parties like OneCity, YES Vancouver, or (to a lesser degree) Vision. Even COPE shows more urgency to act with policies targeted at renters.


  1. The worst thing for affordability was Vision Vancouver’s decision to allow unbridled development in the West End. That sealed the death warrant for affordable rentals close to downtown.

    1. By “unbridled” do you mean ‘without condition of subsidy contribution to future affordable units’ or simply ‘new buildings’? Because it’s not clear how new buildings, in and of themselves, make things less affordable overall. Unless one doesn’t understand how capitalism works. Conversely, it is clear that the City has not sufficiently leveraged its position to mandate below-market units in new buildings.

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