Governance & Politics
September 22, 2018

And All That Is Old Shall Be New Again — 2018 Vancouver Civic Election

What’s happened with zoning changes in Vancouver is a cultural change, and a fight that’s as old as Vancouver.  The arguements are the same, the type of associations are the same; but the lack of political will to engage the fight in the name of renters, density and affordability may be changing.

The upcoming civic election will tell whether those with the will to make greater and more significant change will assume power, or whether things will go back to same-old, same-old, with all power going to neighbourhood associations themselves to ensure that middle-density rental buildings are excluded.

The messages’ media has certainly changed, but not much else.

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A bold-looking mixed-use Oakridge Centre is rising in the city, on 28 acres, at the site of a Canada Line transit station. Henriquez Partners Architects have designed something that is billed as the largest development in Vancouver’s history. Completion date looks to be 2025, costs somewhere around $5B, with 2,548 new residential units, and two 40+ storey towers among 12 other buildings. And it’s right in the middle of a predominantly single-family residential area, with rising density nearby.

Part of the design rationale is, however, specifically to generate density at an important transit hub.  Mission accomplished, it seems to me.

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Incremental change in the still-big field of entrants, as we edge under the 90-day mark on our trudge towards the October 20 polling date.

For those who want to strap into their world-of-wonk survival gear and get on it, the Cambie Report‘s Ian Bushfield continues to maintain his great big spreadsheet of candidates, now expanded to most, if not all, of Metro Vancouver. Hold on tight, because names and parties continue to change daily hourly — get it HERE.

My current, superficial analysis for Vancouver says 60 “confirmed” candidates, and 11 “maybes”…

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The majority of Vancouver’s land is zoned for residential use, but forbids apartment buildings.  (click to enlarge)

Thanks to @GRIDSVancouver for this rendering of the opportunity in Vancouver to change zoning and provide more housing for more people.

My question: how will this play out in the upcoming civic election? A split across traditional left-right dimensions? Emergence of new poles of opinion  density increase, or status quo; rezone or not; rezone much, or a little; rezone on arterials only; rezone only mansion-oriented pockets; rip out bike lanes?

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Pseudonymous housing wonk YVRYIMBY (Vancouver, Yes In My Back Yard) has created a wonderfully simple yet powerful, data-driven graphical view of Vancouver and its housing crisis.

Consider it a required backgrounder to the premise that land locked up in exclusionary, low-density zoning inflates the cost of land in higher-density zoned areas, due to scarcity. Rezoning more land for higher density should reduce land cost per built square foot and, secondarily, reduce the demolition of existing rental stock.

Needless to say, these ideas attract varying opinion. Sort of like bike lanes did in the bad, primitive olden days.

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