Director of government relations for the Homebuilders Association Vancouver and 4th generation Japanese-Canadian Mark Sakai talks internment, immigration, growing up in Steveston and housing.

Housing. What’s important? Mark asks: can you find the housing you want at your stage of life? Single family housing? Spoiler, it still dominates, but you’re probably going to look in Maple Ridge or Abbotsford, or Brandon, Manitoba for that matter, unless your pockets have depth and breadth. Two-thirds of the residential land in Metro Vancouver is primarily reserved for a “certain type of housing” that is unaffordable to most people. Is it time to re-think the grand bargain?

Mark Sakai on Building For a Warming Future, the Grand Bargain, and Housing Affordability
Price Talks

 
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  1. Maybe we should leave the bargain alone and strike another bargain that responds to pressures of population expansion with ‘new pop-up cities’ consisting of mixed use high density car free centres with surrounding ground oriented housing for families, all built to current best zero emissions practices. Constructed, owned and operated by a non-profit provincial corporation. Instead of continuing with the wasteful practices of the ‘Grand Bargain’ we could have the ‘Environmental Peace Bargain’ instead with affordable housing included.

  2. Maybe we should leave the bargain alone and strike another bargain that responds to pressures of population expansion with ‘new pop-up cities’ consisting of mixed use high density car free centres with surrounding ground oriented housing for families, all built to current best zero emissions practices. Constructed, owned and operated by a non-profit provincial corporation. Instead of continuing with the wasteful practices of the ‘Grand Bargain’ we could have the ‘Environmental Peace Bargain’ instead with affordable housing included.

    1. So you want to build on greenfield sites when we have so much underdeveloped brownfields throughout the region? I don’t get how that could be considered green.

    2. I’d say that’s probably feasible on semi-brownfield land, that is land that has been logged over two or three times in the last century without regard to clearcut size, slopes, soil erosion, soil remediation or mixed species reforestation. The eastern slopes of Vancouver Island come to mind. A peek at Google Earth illustrates the damage — some call it extinction logging — over thousands upon thousands of hectares. Kind of a clean slate, so to speak. The land is privately-owned by one or two companies and was part of the original 8,000 km2 land grant given to Robert Dunsmuir (23% of the entire Island area) in exchange for the construction of the Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway.

      As it happens, the logged-over land nudges several town boundaries, the biggie being Nanaimo. Is this the making of huge additional swaths of automobile-dependent suburban development if a change in zoning can be secured from private forestry? The Regional District of Nanaimo appears to have no plan to properly contend with any kind of development at its door.

      The components are already there to address sustainability and injustice: The ENR corridor is still intact (but growing weeds through rusty rails); the populace has a strong green orientation; and the First Nations along the corridor are already involved in managing the corridor asset and have expressed their opinion (very negative, to say the least) about their land being “stolen” without compensation (except for the Songhees) or representation and are more than willing to negotiate a new deal.

      Let’s see. Rail transport route in place [check]. Large tracts of land damaged by industrial activity and largely naked to the sky in direct adjacency [check]. Electrification potential [check]. Close proximity to build up a network with existing communities and the mainland via the ferries [check]. An Indigenous community willing to negotiate for a better quality of life and correct past wrongs, and thus likely open to sustainable new development [check]. Voters who largely identify with Green New Deals [check]. What’s missing? Participation with the province and the feds. But if not now, then when?

      So, to sum up: Electric commuter and freight rail; compact new towns with accompanying sustainable agriculture; large local community forest trusts under an ongoing permanent silvicultural plan; all placed on already-damaged land on the eastern slopes and developed and managed with the full participation of local Indigenous people. Towns and villages, not subdivisions. Is there anything wring with this picture?

      Otherwise, Ron is right that we already have tens of millions of m2 of brownfield land that needs to be freed from the clutches of exclusionary zoning and that has molded most of our cities into sprawl to this day. but to our detriment.

      1. There is nothing wrong with this picture. The corridor you describe is an interesting area. Key to any development on Vancouver Island is locating project land (say 100 sq. miles_100,000 residents) with proven water recourses sufficient to support the anticipated density and mix of uses. Key to shelter affordability is a Provincial non-profit development corporation. The province and feds can support the ‘pop up city’ with incentives for venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, corporations and businesses to locate with new green energy projects, post industrial projects, and builders of the first 21st Century emissions free electric pop up city

      2. This makes so much sense only a pessimist (or neo-liberal) would consign it to the impossible file. The biggest obstacle might be the necessary formation of the Island Regional District out of the notoriously parochial CRD.

  3. Bob, this would not work in todays free market. People wouldbuy and move in because it is new aand attractive and prestgeous, who do nt work downtown, do not shop dt, and ttheir kids do not ssocialize dt. Result: traffic congestion, pollution and political discord. Putting it in the mountains just makes those things all the worse. A utopian idea.

    Not the solution for aaffordability.

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