Governance & Politics
March 26, 2019

Strike 3 for District of No Vancouver, and a Resident Responds

Much continues to be said and written about the District of No Vancouver’s compulsive nixing of social and non-market housing projects.

In particular, current Councillor Mathew Bond is a frequent critic of the actions of his counterparts on Council. His Twitter feed serves as running commentary of No after No after No…somehow, he manages to keep an even and rational tone. Maybe just a hint of strain. The sound of one head slapping. Do you hear it?

Bond can’t afford to flame out at his colleagues too hard, because, much like a certain Federal ex-cabinet minister, he still has to work with these people, no matter how ethically challenged.

The parallel ends there, however; he’s member of an elected council, not of a party. He can’t hand in his card, cross the floor, and still keep his power. It’s a District council, and there’s no aisle to cross. He’d have to climb over the Clerk, and then where’d he be?

But he’s not the only one speaking out. Steven Petersson is a former DNV planner, and not only did he write a Master’s thesis on affordable housing provision, he worked as a residential support worker for disabled people for seven years.

In a recent letter to Mayor Little and his NIMBY cohorts — Councillors Muri, Curren, Forbes and Hanson — Petersson lays it on the line:

There’s a desperate community need for social and affordable housing.

Why put the needs of elites who already have homes over the disadvantaged who need your help?

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We’ve covered the rejection by the District of North Vancouver Council of the Delbrook affordable housing proposal, CHAC funding and previous consultation processes.  Here’s another:

Hollyburn Family Services project killed in camera

  • Hollyburn Family Services operates two safe houses/transition houses for young people on Mount Seymour Parkway, in two single-family homes that house six young people each.  Hollyburn leases the land from the DNV.
  • Hollyburn put some resources into crafting a proposal to redevelop the sites into a larger, multi-family style facility with approximately 40 units.
  • Additional density on Mount Seymour Parkway was not acceptable to the majority on DNV Council, so they rejected the proposal. They were able to kill the project in camera because it was a decision re: the disposition of DNV land.

 

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As a follow-up to yesterday’s post on the subject, last night the District of North Vancouver council did what it was expected to with the affordable housing file — continue to sit on it.

Councillors voted along ideological lines, with five votes against two, declining to provide $11,512 in ongoing core funding to CHAC, the housing action arm of North Shore Community Resources.

The non-profit must now pursue alternate funding from the municipality by way of smaller grants, or discontinue plans to tackle affordable housing in 2019.

The qualities of the debate around housing in DNV have become simultaneously evidence-based, emotional, and partisan. This was on full display yesterday, demonstrated by some of the combative words from Mayor Little and other council members in their fight for or against the motion. Here are some highlights/lowlights from a watcher of the broadcast:

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It’s a motion that could be considered a little too on-the-nose.  The District of North Vancouver’s new council — which previously nixed a non-market and seniors housing project in order to preserve a parking lot —has set itself up to vote tonight on whether to grant operating funds to a housing affordability advocacy group.

Development planner Chuck Brook called out the motion in the latest episode of the Price Talks podcast, highlighting the potential for DNV to make yet another decision that not only exemplifies but exacerbates the housing problems on the North Shore.

The Community Housing Action Committee (CHAC), part of the North Shore Community Resources Society (NSCRS), provides “a tri-municipal voice and platform for discussion, sharing of ideas, advocacy, and research into housing affordability on the North Shore”. Like many other volunteer or non-profit groups — such as NS Childcare Resource & Referral, Family Services of the North Shore, or Hollyburn Family Services Society Youth Safe House — CHAC has relied on core funding from the District to fund its research, policy development and outreach activities, all focused on affordable housing advocacy.

Yet at a January 21 council meeting, DNV council passed a motion to review the CHAC funding request of $11,517.

Council has since received a report from DNV’s senior community planner Natasha Letchford, and the debate — and a decision — will likely occur this evening. (Live broadcast begins at 7pm.)

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Mixing land uses has already been done in several notable Vancouver buildings. There is a child care centre planned for the top floor of the 150 Water Street parkade, and South Granville Vancouver Firehall Number 4 shares its structure with the local branch of the Vancouver Public Library. The Vancouver Public Library branch in Strathcona also has 31 units of housing for single mothers and their kids and was opened in 2017.

But as Lori Culbert in the Vancouver Sun wrote the new Firehall Number 5 in Champlain Heights at the corner of Kerr Street and 54th Avenue will be  unique in Canada. While the new building will house three fire engine bays and ten upstairs rooms for the firemen, four floors of the new building will be assigned to mothers and children “with the priority for those fleeing abusive relationships.”

As Ms. Culbert writes “The unusual emergency-services-and-residential combination is a cost-effective experiment in an expensive city where affordable homes are desperately needed. And on a practical level, if you are a woman escaping violence, what better to live below you than a fire department staffed 24/7?”

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Vancouver is getting a major Skytrain extension, a rapid transit line through the second-largest employment corridor in the Province of BC.  It’s the Broadway corridor.

In preparation, the City of Vancouver is working on a plan for this corridor, and you can get in on the process. Remember, you’ll get your say, but not a veto.  Not, that is, until you elect Ken Sim (or his replacement) and the NPA into control of council, provided, of course, that you live somewhere in the vicinity of the area.

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February 22, 2019

Vancouver’s Jericho Lands are essentially 90 acres of greenfield, located amid some of Canada’s most expensive and most desirable real estate.  [Ocean Views!!]

Here’s your chance to have your say about the evolving plan. Remember, though, Ken Sim and the NPA did not win council — so you won’t get a veto, even if that were possible here, given who owns the land.

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Imagine you are in a country that is looking to increase investment in a floundering real estate market. Even though real estate prices are now at 40 percent from their peak, Greece has not recovered from the 2009 debt crisis, and is offering  visas to non-European Union citizens when they invest 250,000 Euros in real estate. This is cheaper than Portugal’s offer of a visa which requires twice the investment of at least 500,000 Euros. Those prices translate to 374,000 Canadian dollars in real estate in Greece to obtain a visa, and 748,000 Canadian dollars  to get a visa in Portugal.

There are three direct flights a week from China to Greece, and for those Chinese investors in Athens real estate their buying power enables them to purchase two properties for the price of one in Portugal. Despite curbs on the exporting of currency from China,  Chinese investment has continued in Greece, along with Russian and Turkish real estate investment.

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From Michael Alexander:

First sunny day above freezing, and the newish playground next to Science World is packed as usual, with long lines for every ride including the zip line.

If the city charged $1 a kid (“C’mon Mom, it’s only a loonie!), in a year we could build enough affordable housing to meet demand*.

 

 

* Ed – First rule of affordable housing: demand is never met.

 

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Addressing the popular myth that people migrate to warmer places to be homeless, this article in the Los Angeles Times  by Gale Holland outlines that five homeless individuals died from causes that included hypothermia in Los Angeles last year.

By comparison, two homeless people in New York City and two in San Francisco died of hypothermia in the same period.

“Hypothermia has led to more deaths in L.A. than in colder regions because 39,000 homeless people here live outdoors — by far the most of any metropolitan area in the country. L.A.’s generally moderate Mediterranean climate is no shield, because hypothermia can set in at temperatures as high as 50 degrees, experts say.”

A 2007 report from the National Health Care for the Homeless Council suggests that going without a hat can “drain up to half of a person’s body heat, and wet clothing can intensify heat loss twentyfold.” 

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