Vancouver has scattered itself across a broad spectrum, two-dimensional no less, on its approach to housing. It’s now carved in a sort of electoral stone, whose duration is 4 years.

Nathan Lauster has written a terrific article (HERE) parsing the makeup of our brand-spankin’ new city council.  If housing is still the topic, then here’s where the parties and members of council fit on Mr. Lauster’s scatter plots.  These add an axis of municipal urbanism (IMBYism) to the traditional social-economic lefty-righty distinctions between parties.

Party and Mayor positioning on a scatter plot

It seems to be a good way to think about how various IMBY’s might form coalitions over the next 4 years.

To give a flavour of his thinking, here’s how he describes the NPA’s quadrant.  Do recall that Vancouver came within 985 votes out of around 177,000 of having a city government controlled by the NPA.

Preservationist Right. To add a bit of nuance, this is a position that I’ve argued actually much better characterizes the North American tradition: Rigid zoning for exclusive single-family neighbourhoods and more flexible market allocation of housing within a constrained urban core. Right leaning municipal coalitions offer a grand bargain between middle-class detached homeowners’ relatively conservative desires to be left alone and developers’ interests in making money downtown. The mantra goes something like: “Strong protections for me and the market for thee.” Or NIMBY in the Great House Reserve, YIMBY in the Urban Core.

Sorta makes me understand why the neighbourhood veto is top of mind with this group.

Quadrant descriptions

The most fun for me is Mr. Lauster’s thinking about coalitions among 10 varied councilors and the mayor, especially when it comes to the enigmatic Greens. Here’s an example

There’s a real and consequential split between Lefty Urbanists and Lefty Preservationists. I think this is often about perspective. From the point of view of anti-poverty activists working in the urban core, developers almost always look like villains (non-profit developers MAY be exceptions). From the point of view of people feeling excluded from cities’ vast tracts of single-family neighbourhoods, developers look like potential allies. On the flip side, the path to political success often runs through middle-class homeowners, and it’s easier to get them on your side by promising it won’t inconvenience them much than by suggesting they might need to sacrifice some parking or sunlight on their gardens. Vancouver’s Green Party, in particular, has walked this line to great success.

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