Vancouver Heritage Foundation Events: False Creek

Evening Lectures: What a Mess: False Creek, the Industrial Waterway

It’s hard to imagine from today’s perspective that False Creek was once the centre of industrial activity for the city. From the beginning of non-native settlement, the waterway became the home to sawmills, shipyards and other heavy industry. This emerging industry destroyed the fishery and displaced the seasonal and permanent settlements along the shoreline that had sustained local First Nations for centuries. This talk with author and historian, John Atkin, will explore the history of industrial development and the Creek’s more recent transformation.
Tuesday, October 24
7:30 pm – 9 pm

1489 McRae Ave, University Women’s Club at Hycroft
Register Here, $15 (incl. tax)

Up Next: Kitsilano Indian Reserve: Contact to Today

The Squamish Indian Reserve Kitsilano No. 6 amounted to 80 acres at the mouth of False Creek, including the Coast Salish village site of Sen̓áḵw. In 2002, the British Columbia Court of Appeal upheld a trial court decision that approximately 10.5 acres of the former Kitsilano reserve, which had since disappeared from maps, should again be Indian reserve. With the decision, the reserve reappeared in the heart of Vancouver. What happened to it between 1876 and 2002? And what about the other 70 acres? This talk by Douglas Harris, the Nathan T. Nemetz Chair in Legal History at UBC, explores the history of the Kitsilano Indian Reserve and the changing legal framework that surrounds what might come next on this important parcel of land.

Tuesday, November 7
7:30 – 9 pm
1489 McRae Ave, University Women’s Club at Hycroft
Register Here, $15 (incl. tax)

Walking Tours: False Creek South

Since the 2010 Olympics, development in False Creek South has never stopped. From West 2nd to West 6th Avenue, the terrain is now unrecognizable. Condos reign supreme, with the odd precious heritage building now preserved in a transformed community role. We’ll find these gems, take a step inside a few and also pay homage to some of our lost ones along the way.

Friday October 20
10 am – 12 pm
Register here, $15(incl. tax)

Port Moody Fall Discussion: Healthy Environments – Oct 30

Port Moody Public Library is hosting a fall Discussion Panel that will be interesting to design, planning, transportation and health professionals: Health, Safety and the Built Environment.  Moderated by Gordon Harris, President and CEO of SFU Community Trust, the panel will feature four health and mobility experts:

* Ingrid Tyler – Medical Health Officer, Fraser Health Authority

* Kay Teschke, PhD – Lead, Cycling in Cities Research Program, UBC

* Marie-Soleil Cloutier, PhD – Director, Pedestrian and Urban Space Lab, Institute National de la Recherche Scientifique, Montreal

* Alice Miro – Manager of Health Promotion, Heart and Stroke Foundation


Monday, October 30

7 pm

Inlet Theatre (100 Newport Drive, Port Moody)

Admission is free – RSVP online here or by calling 604-469-4577.

George Affleck: On housing supply and the prospect of a new city plan

Councillor George Affleck responded on Facebook to this post asking whether more supply can address afforability.  Here’s his comment:


We must start by developing policies and managing the city so developers are encouraged to build homes versus commodities. (And by developer I don’t mean the big guys – let’s spread the net to include co-housing groups, co-op groups, churches, individuals etc.) Several city reports have pointed out that towers are not providing the “units” that will be occupied or affordable. But row houses and town houses could be … (affordable being relative these days).

Yet we have done very little to fast track, encourage, promote, change regulation policies or bylaws to build more of the homes staff keep saying locals want and will live in. Extracting the possibilities City Plan set up 20+ years ago would be a good place to start. (Your take on this would be good, Gordon Price *).

I will say I am impressed with City planning GM Gill Kelly’s thoughtfulness on the subtleties of developing Vancouver. I encourage everyone to read his report from Council yesterday.

Administrative report here.


Hope that helps…for now.



*From Gord Price:

Two thoughts on CityPlan, conducted in the 1990s over several years when I was on Council:

CityPlan focused on the existing neighbourhoods, primarily single-family, while growth was being concentrated in the megaprojects: comprehensively designed and zoned brownfield sites over 50 acres.  Six of them were occurring simultaneously: Concord Pacific, Coal Harbour, Bayshore, Collingwood Village, Arbutus Gardens and Fraser Lands. In addition, we also rezoned Downtown South and Triangle West on the peninsula.   Thousands of units could pour into the market every year at the height of development.

Therefore, we could take a slow, incremental approach to growth in the low-density, developed parts of the city since there was plenty of capacity to handle demand elsewhere – notably on parcels requiring little demolition or displacement of existing housing and rental stock, and away from neighbourhood groups which would contest any significant change in scale or character.

CityPlan never really  entertained significant new capacity.  The neighbourhood visions that resulted were modest, with growth concentrated on arterials and neighbourhood centres – and even some of those were contested, notably in Norquay, when actual zoning was proposed.  Today, those visions are often used in defense of the status quo.

If there was a failure, it was the lack of immediate follow-through from the visions to actual changes in the zoning that reflected them.  The process was way too slow, and then subsequently displaced by Sam Sullivan’s policy of EcoDensity.

Nor did CityPlan allow for the amount of ‘missing middle’ development that George noted above.  If it had, it might have made a difference.

But, even so, we never imagined the consequence of the flows of global capital and external demand for our favoured housing stock that the city and region have experienced in the last few years.  I’m not sure anyone could have – or what they would have done about it.


Carson City’s Carson Street Revamps for the 21st Century



Earlier this year Price Tags Vancouver reported on a phenomenon that is occurring in many towns that are reclaiming their historic downtowns back from thoroughfare highway use to more pedestrian friendly sidewalks, bike lanes, and slower vehicular flows more attractive for locals.

Carson City Nevada is 30 miles south of Reno, has a population of 55,300 (2010) and is also the state capitol of Nevada. Despite a downtown that contained a lot of important heritage buildings as well as the grounds for the state capitol, motordom reigned supreme on the main street. Four lanes of traffic went through Carson Street at speed, and pedestrians were hurt and killed trying to cross the street. At one point the City installed fence barriers along the narrow sidewalk to try to separate pedestrians from vehicles. It did not make for an inviting experience on this main commercial street.

With the use of a 1/8 per cent  local sales tax, the City was able to issue bonds to pay for a revamping of their downtown corridor. Utilities were replaced under the road surface, and the street made more walkable and visually interesting by the use of  new wide non glare sidewalks, plantings, dropped curbs, pedestrian activated crossings, bike lanes, and attention to detail in textures and materials.


Opened in the Fall of 2016, I visited the street last week to see how the street was functioning, and whether the improvements were a success. Mayor Bob Crowell noted that there had been no pedestrian accidents on the street since the new street treatment had been installed. The new street is designed to maintain cars travelling at the posted speed and no faster. There are quick activation pedestrian crossings throughout the downtown. The design and development of a plaza on a previously opened street has a stage and a kid friendly splash pad, and has small local businesses and outside seating areas for people to linger.


But most importantly,  “early adapter” businesses that focus on all segments of the local population have opened, most notably “Scoups Ice Cream and Soup Bar with engaging staff, a plethora of ice cream flavours, and a ready-made place for kids of all ages to hangout and reflect in the adjoining plaza. As several teenagers admitted, there was no reason to come to the main street of Carson City before, as there was nothing of interest. Now with an  ice cream and soup bar and open seating outside the store, teenagers feel comfortable and have a sense of belonging in the plaza. That is what successful placemaking is all about.

It is no surprise that many locals now are using the downtown Carson Street in a different way, as a place to walk to and to linger. As well new eateries have opened, including The Union which is always busy and attracts hungry visitors from Reno.

Carson City now has a “there there” in their downtown, and is experiencing a renewed interest in its downtown commercial area. The city has a strong arts focus and now has a downtown that is accessible and attractive to pedestrian and bicycle users. Buildings along Carson Street are being renovated, and a new mixed use building with rental apartments on the top floor is being built on a sidestreet. Carson City’s decision to shelve motordom and to enhance local shopping by bike and by foot is already reaping early returns.



City of Richmond~Agricultural Land, not Mini Estates!



The Richmond News reports that Green Party leader Andrew Weaver is serious about his proposal to ban foreign ownership of land on the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) that is over five acres. In his bid to curb “the cash cow of speculative real estate”, Mr. Weaver also noted that Richmond city council should be lowering the present size of houses on the ALR from the Richmond accepted max of 1,000 square metres (that’s a mansion-like 10,764 square feet) to the size recommended by the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture, 500 square metres or 5,382 square feet.

In a surprisingly unsustainable move, Richmond City Council approved 1000 square metre mansions on farmland in the spring, despite the fact that their staff clearly told them that the lack of building restrictions brought a speculative nature to the purchase of farming property, increasing prices and ensuring the farmland would not be used for agricultural purposes. Council was swayed by property owners wanting to get the biggest bang for their agricultural property buck. After six months of allowing the mansioning of farmland, Richmond is revisiting their policy. And the locals are not happy.

One group of locals started the Richmond Citizen’s Association which have an online petition to limit house size to 500 square metres. This group already has over 2,000 signatures on the petition, which can be viewed here. As one of the Richmond Citizen’s Association states  “To suggest that a nearly 10,794-square-foot dwelling, with a 10-car garage, a 25-seat theatre, tennis court, swimming pool, and 15 bedrooms or more is a ‘farmhouse’ is absurd”.

It is disappointing  that the City of Richmond which was built on an agricultural foundation does not have an interest in preserving their larger tracts of agricultural land for local farmers. While 21 per cent of Richmond agricultural properties are less than five acres, the remainder could provide future food security. It’s up to Richmond City Council and residents to insist that these farms are important, and should not be shopped as speculative estates, devoid of the foreign buyer’s property purchase tax.



Amazon HQ2: Is it worth it?


From NPR:

Thursday marks the deadline for bids in Amazon’s highly publicized search for a location for its second headquarters, dubbed HQ2. Cities are clamoring to land the conglomerate’s project and its unparalleled promise of up to 50,000 jobs paying an average of $100,000, at one of the world’s fastest-growing companies.

But with that comes some public soul-searching: How much should a city or state subsidize a wealthy American corporation in exchange for such a shiny promise? …

Corporate subsidies, by one conservative estimate, top $70 billion a year. That’s what cities and states give away in foregone taxes and other concessions to companies — sometimes for the prospect of new jobs and sometimes just to keep existing ones.

In some cases, all the competition does is get concessions from cities that the company would have picked anyway. Amazon representatives have insisted that the company didn’t begin soliciting HQ2 bids with a pre-existing choice. …

“Our concern about [the Amazon] deal is that states and cities are going to overspend for the deal so badly that they’ll never break even,” LeRoy says. “If you as a mayor think, ‘Oh, I’ve gotta break the bank for this deal’ … what money will you have left to maintain the quality of life that you have?” … 

Financial incentives are among numerous criteria Amazon included in its solicitation of bids. The public response has varied. An example on one end is Canada’s Ontario, already a region with booming tech jobs, saying it wouldn’t play the subsidy game. An extreme example on the other end is New Jersey, with its plan of up to $7 billion in tax incentives over 10 years; Amazon expects some $5 billion in capital investments.

By multiple estimates, Amazon has already cashed in on more than $1 billion in taxpayer-funded subsidies and incentives for its warehouses, data centers and other operations.

Yet, there’s a widely shared understanding in economic development: Tax incentives are not what drives companies.

“I never made an investment decision based on the tax code,” Paul O’Neill, former CEO of the industrial giant Alcoa, told lawmakers in 2001, during his confirmation hearing to be U.S. Treasury secretary.

“If you’re giving money away, I’ll take it. If you want to give me inducements for something I’m going to do anyway, I’ll take it. But good business people don’t do things because of inducements.”

In fact, economic development officials in several states said they hoped Amazon wouldn’t decide based on financial incentives. So, tax breaks are more of a cherry on top.

But the competition in corporate discounts has long been part of the U.S. federalist system. Last year, President Trump even called it out in a speech, warning companies against leaving the country, but saying they “can leave from state to state and they can negotiate good deals with the different states.”

Which is why PT is predicting that the chance of Amazon coming to Vancouver, or Canada for that matter, is zero.


Michael Mortensen provides some not-so-simple answers

Occasional Price Tags contributor Michael Mortensen provided a detailed response to the post: What is the simple answer to this question? – on whether more supply is sufficient to address housing affordability.

Here’s a revised and expanded version that’s worth posting on its own:


Any discussion about unit prices needs to address the absolutely skyrocketing price of RESIDENTIAL LAND and various taxes, commissions and exactions on the same. Follow the money.

Developers are still operating on a Return on Cost margin of about 15% (to 20% if they are lucky). Internal Rates of Return – factoring in the interest costs and cash outflows needed over 4 to 5 years needed to realize that profit – are c.12% (not MASSIVE by any stretch given some of the risk involved. These benchmark ratios have not changed so it is not so much “developer greed” driving prices upwards as many might suggest. Development management fees are calculated as 2% to 4% of total costs EXCLUDING land, so there are no huge windfalls there.

Construction costs have escalated somewhat. Extended timelines for rezoning, development and building permits are also a factor in many municipalities. However, land supply and cost are the real issues.

When I left Vancouver in 2013 to work in London, land was $250/ buildable square foot in the downtown core; when I moved back to Vancouver in 2016, it was over $500 / buildable square foot – a 100% increase in 3 years! Land is now more expensive than construction on a square foot buildable basis – and remember that land costs have to be paid at the beginning of the development period … that’s an expensive financial “carry” on a project that will take 3 to 5 years to complete.

I think that most people in the development industry would agree we are seeing the influx of more global capital which takes a  more speculative view of our market – witness some irrational purchases as various syndicates buy and flip land on to other syndicates Peter Wall’s flip of a Nelson Street site near Burrard – purchased for $16.8M sold less than a year later for $60M –  and resold again months later for $68M is illustrative). The only thing changing in their sequential pro formas – other than escalating land costs – is an escalation in their anticipated selling prices … what will the market bear? Apparently a LOT! Down the housing production chain, a similar game exists with condo flippers who secure and assign pre-sale contracts.


Nelson Street Property Flip


The land flippers are not advancing new development rights,  producing anything or, or creating any new value – they are simply inflating the price of land and housing.

The “heat map” of racing land prices has radiated outwards as developers struggle and compete to secure developable sites. Most EVERYTHING out there has some complexity and risk to it – be it environmental contamination, or political/planning risk, or assembly risk. Transit Oriented sites along the Skytrain routes are trending up to and over $200/sf buildable as these assemblies will be substitutes for the convenience of inner city living.


On the supply side, in the face of strong demand there are virtually no completed units available for sale in our region of 2.4 million people. Don’t believe me? Check CMHC’s reliable statistics.

There are really very few “greenfield” sites – most development prospects entail destroying existing value in return for the opportunity to create more intense land uses on a given parcel of land. We are so land constrained – Montreal has 80,000 square kilometres of land in a circle with a 50km radius from the city centre; Toronto has 40,000 because of Lake Ontario; Greater Vancouver has only 18,000 square kilometres once you take away mountain slopes, the Fraser river, the US border, the ALR (a regional planning success story) and the Pacific ocean.

Now, more and more, we have to RECYCLE and REPLAN developed land – witness the new Strata Dissolution legislation that allows the demise and sale of older buildings nearing the end of their service lives. More and more older stratas (remember the leaky condo crisis!) are being targeted.


Strata Dissolution


Who are the winners in all of this? …. anyone selling property is selling into a very constrained land market. For example, Homeowners along the Cambie corridor are organizing and selling their single family lots for $3 to $5 to $6 million (one seeking $11M below). That’s all capital gains free provided they were primary residences. Any business selling larger sites will trigger capital gains taxes, so they really need to see big bumps in value in order to justify redevelopment. Governments selling land also win (witness any recent large land plays and you’ll see big numbers on sales revenue for any provincial, crown, or municipal sale of land). For example, watch the City of North Vancouver’s sale of the 5 acre Harry Jerome site – it will be c.$300+/sf buildable.

Cambie Corridor Homes/


Harry Jerome RFP

Also add the brokers who guide these deals – they are making their cut on hefty commissions.


Governments are winners in other ways: Provincial Property Transfer tax fills BC’s coffers. The province collects tax on the purchase of development sites AND on the sale of the new units created on the same site – a double dip! And as land and property prices double, so too does the Province’s cut – to the point where the value of real estate property transfer taxes now eclipse natural resource royalties on an annual basis. Municipalities across BC also take their cut as they try to capture 75% of the “Land Lift” as properties are up-zoned.


Property Transfer Tax Double Dip


By virtue of their land use powers, Cities can create “land” (buildable area) for free – so this is one tool we have at our disposal to create some degree of affordability. Take Vancouver’s suburbs for example, which account for 85% of the City’s land base but houses only 75% of the population.

Time to think about a new Vancouver Special (below), about how we re-use land, and how we plan growth in our other close-in neighbourhoods to accommodate more people at greater intensity with commensurate (and reasonable) levels of new amenity. The subject of the relative fairness of compulsory city Community Amenity Contributions is rife with debate, but the truism these are exacted at the rate the market can bear – coming out of the land price, or added to the purchase price of units.


A New “Vancouver Special”


The question of who benefits from the uplift as land is rezoned is really one of equity: a classic planning problem. I think we’ll be hearing more and more about inclusionary zoning as a planning tool to share the uplift, but this still raises the question of access and fairness in the distribution of the benefits of rezoned development potential. Who wins the lottery for the next affordable home?

Ultimately supply and demand and government policies all shape the market for land and housing. We need to look at land, tax and housing policies at federal, provincial, regional and municipal levels in a holistic manner to create the conditions needed for more balanced markets.

I’m interested in other people’s perspectives on this.

Michael Mortensen

Supply as a Solution? The Answer is Yes


Alan Durning of the Sightline Institute maintains that more housing supply is the solution to housing affordability. Lots of housing.  

From News1130:

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – While Vancouver City Council looks at ways to put a roof over the head of more locals, a recent report out of Seattle shines a spotlight on how other major centres have been able to build their way to affordability.

“While housing prices in Vancouver, as in my home city of Seattle, have been going through the roof, cities around the world have been keeping housing prices flat or rising very slowly by building lots and lots of housing,” says Alan Durning, executive director of Sightline Institute.

“In the United States, Houston has housing that is no more expensive than it was in the 1980s, even though the population has been growing extraordinarily quickly and incomes have been rising,” he tells NEWS 1130.

“In Canada, Montreal housing prices are less than half as much as in Greater Vancouver, largely because they have been building plenty of housing. And Tokyo, a very dense city like Vancouver, has kept housing prices flat even as the population and incomes have been rising in the city.”

Durning says that goes counter to the conventional wisdom that you can’t build your way out of a housing affordability problem.

“I hear it all the time: Prosperous, growing, tech-rich cities from Seattle to the Bay Area and from Austin to Boston are all gripped by soaring rents and home prices,” he recently posted in a Sightline blog.

“But what if you can build your way to affordable housing? What if, in fact, building is the only path to affordable housing? What if cities around the world have been building their way to affordability for decades? You can. It is. And they have.”

Sprawling Houston and dense Tokyo have done it by keeping red tape for construction at a minimum; Montreal’s zoning is largely for efficient and affordable low- and mid-rises.

“Vienna is a really interesting case where most of the housing is public or non-profit. It still has housing prices less than half as high as in Seattle or Vancouver,” he adds.

Durning says while regional or governmental differences may prevent every model from being successful in the Pacific Northwest, all have lessons for Vancouver.

“To have affordable housing, you have to build homes in great abundance, and without that, other affordability strategies … can be fruitless or counterproductive,” he concludes in his blog.

“Building plenty of housing is not just one way to affordability, it is the only way—the foundation on which other affordability solutions, measures against displacement, and programs for inclusion rest.”


Google ‘s Sidewalk Lab Chosen for Toronto’s Quayside Development



As reported in the Toronto Star a federal-provincial-city agency overseeing Toronto’s Quayside 12 acre  project site  announced that Sidewalk Labs a sister company of Google has won a competition to build a new high-tech neighbourhood on that  city’s east downtown waterfront. Once confirmed by the Waterfront Toronto board,  “the choice of a firm owned by Google holding company Alphabet Inc. would be a big high-tech feather in the cap of the city currently chasing the second headquarters of Amazon and other innovation opportunities.”

Sidewalk Labs is committed to reimagine cities from the Internet up. The new Quayside neighbourhood will be “a testbed for cutting-edge technology as well as a bustling, functioning neighbourhood, with homes, offices, retail and cultural space, near Queens Quay East. and Parliament Street.” 

As Alphabet’s urban innovation unit, Sidewalk Labs has been searching for a larger scale area to act as its “smart city test bed…The community would be universally connected by broadband and could have  prefabricated modular housing, sensors to constantly monitor building performance, and robotic delivery services to cut residential storage space, The Architects’ Newspaper reported in May.”

The winning bid was to  “foster sustainability, resiliency and urban innovation; complete communities with a range of housing types for families of all sizes and income levels; economic development and prosperity driving innovation that will be rolled out to the rest of the world; and partnership and investment ensuring a solid financial foundation that secures revenue and manages financial risk.” Toronto also perceives that Google’s presence in Toronto as well as the decision by Uber to make Toronto a driverless car research hub as the first step towards a massive technology boom that will shape the city.




Double Dipping MLA Has Time for Massey Tunnel Billboards


1008 col smyth.jpgThe Province Images

In the “you just can’t make this stuff up” department, double salary dipping Provincial MLA Ian Paton thought he had a very good idea. A newly minted Liberal MLA and also  happily continuing the strange conflict of interest of being on Delta City Council,  Mr. Paton still is representing Delta’s one hand clapping for the new Massey Bridge. Instead of productively working with the new Provincial government which is overseeing an evaluation of the Massey crossing options, Mr. Paton had the time to go the Massey Tunnel and hammer in some political billboards. Seriously.

Instead of those billboards saying something constructive, those billboards contain  one-sided tired 20th century political rhetoric. Those billboards don’t say that a multi-billion dollar overbuilt bridge on the sensitive Fraser River delta is being re-evaluated, that the lack of public process and the lack of buy-in of the Mayor’s Council on the size and the location was a concern. Oh no. They embarrassingly tell drivers that they are stuck in traffic because of the current government.  The signs are also placed on property not surprisingly owned by Ron Toigo of White Spot fame, who of course would greatly benefit if his farmland was rezoned industrial due to the location of a ten lane bridge. It’s all so transparent.

As Mike Smyth in The Province observes Andrew Weaver of the Green Party notes  what many others are thinking of these billboards: “It’s hilarious. I’ve had dozens of people contacting me to say, ‘Thank you for stopping the reckless path of an unreviewed bridge that was promised out of nowhere by the Liberals.’”

It’s really time to stop thinking of the Massey crossing as a political boondoggle and evaluate it for what it truly is. No one is disputing the need for better, more efficient access across the Fraser River. Bullying tactics don’t work~and future generations living in Metro Vancouver may inherit a prudent crossing that is respectful to the existing Agricultural Land Reserve and sensitive delta conditions, or a ten lane crossing that will speed up  the industrialization of the banks of the Fraser River. It’s our choice and we need to take the time to make the right decision for future generations.




North Shore Dreams


 From North Shore News: 

North Vancouver-Seymour Liberal MLA Jane Thornthwaite (has) drawn up a proposal including hypothetical transit map featuring a SkyTrain connection over the Second Narrows with stops across the North Shore, from Cates Park to Dundarave. And she’s started consulting with local MPs and the North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce. …

Thornthwaite said she was inspired to lobby for a North Shore rail link because constituents in North Vancouver-Seymour have very little coming to them in terms of transit improvements. …

Funding is in place currently for a new SeaBus, which will allow 10-minute service during rush hour, a 30 per cent increase in regular bus service and new B-Line buses for the North Shore.

Thornthwaite said she hasn’t done any back-of-the-envelope calculations on what such a plan would cost although she conceded it would be in the billions.

“But the only way we can get an assessment going and the interest from the decision-makers like TransLink and the mayors’ council is to start talking about it. That’s what I’m trying to do. Everybody I’ve talked to thinks it’s a good idea.”

Such a rail line could even be connected to Squamish and Whistler over the longer term, Thornthwaite added.

Gordon Price, fellow with SFU’s Centre for Dialogue and former head of the university’s city program, said it’s refreshing to see the discussion of a fabled “third crossing” return but centred around mass transit for a change.

“It’s certainly doable and it could certainly be doable faster than what dreamers might think at this point. That’s a political and financial commitment,” he said.

But before North Vancouver and West Vancouver can pursue a rail link with any seriousness, they have to be able to answer some existential questions about the kind of communities they aspire to be. To justify a SkyTrain, our urban planning would have to become much more centred around transit over the long term than it currently is.

“If you’re going to be looking at something like SkyTrain rapid transit, and you should, it’s a long-term solution. We’re talking over 100 years. And it means a fundamental change in the scale, and for some parts of your community, a fundamental change in character. You’re building transit-oriented, concentrated communities with both work and play and all the rest of it,” he said. “Because otherwise, why build rapid transit?”

Park Royal would have to look more like Burnaby’s Brentwood neighbourhood, Price used as an example.

“North Van and West Vancouver would have to commit themselves to having a different kind of long-term vision for themselves, and I’m not sure that the population is yet ready for that,” he said.

But, Price noted, if the hope is that a North Shore SkyTrain would be the silver bullet to solving the bridge congestion problem, there are much cheaper and faster options within reach, namely mobility pricing. The technology to track usage of the roads and transit system in real time exists in most anyone’s smartphone, meaning it would not be difficult to charge tolls based on usage. That would be the most effective incentive for getting people and cars off the road, and speeding up the daily commutes, Price said.

“That’s going to be so much easier to do in the world we’re moving into. We’re not quite there yet but it’s happening,” he said.  “The politics of that? Brutal. But it could be done.”

What is the simple answer to this question?

Can UDI or NPA or REIBC or any other advocate of more supply, supply, supply answer this question in a way that is intuitive, simple to understand and correct?  Otherwise, why should anyone believe them – particularly those groups who will be out in force to fight any significant rezoning of their RS-1 neighbourhoods?

From Business in Vancouver:

“What’s causing the supply shortage is the restrictive single-family home neighborhood zoning on 85% of our residential land base. That keeps out young families, middle income earners and renters, who can’t afford single-family homes,” said Anne McMullin, president and CEO of the Urban Development Institute, Pacific Region.

“We clearly need a regional housing strategy with more homes for more people,” she added. “That means more high-rise apartments along rapid transit corridors and more townhomes, rowhomes [and] multi-family low-rises.”

But recent studies show the reverse is true: fewer people can afford to buy condominiums in the Metro suburbs that have seen the greatest increase in supply over the past two years.

Spurred by the extension of rapid transit, Burnaby, Coquitlam, New Westminster and Surrey have seen explosive growth in strata projects, but they all share something else in common: as the residential towers ascend, housing affordability has eroded.

After record-breaking construction in 2016, Surrey had more multi-family housing starts– 2,390 and mostly condo apartments –in the first half of this year than in any other Metro Vancouver municipality, but condo affordability has fallen by 7.8% compared to a year earlier, according to a survey by credit union Vancity.

More here.

George Massey Bridge Boondoggle-“A Large Expensive Napkin”



You can learn a lot about the previous Provincial government’s Massey Bridge process by looking at how other observers view it. This article from the Windsor Star compares the Gordie Howe International Bridge project connecting the Windsor and Detroit regions to the halted George Massey bridge project in Metro Vancouver.  That six lane international bridge is estimated to cost two billion dollars and is a public-private partnership, with a suggested opening for 2022.

A community advisory group member of the Gordie Howe Bridge project noted  that the “scuttling” of that bridge could occur without sound financial backing, drawing a comparison to the George Massey bridge which ” was scrapped on the eve of construction despite years of planning, plus $66 million spent on site clearing and other preparatory work.”  

While the Windsor article describes the  Massey Bridge ten lane crossing as being built to ease metro Vancouver commuter traffic, it also describes the intent as replacing “a crumbling, four-lane tunnel feared to be at risk of collapse in the event of an earthquake”,   that had a poor planning process and a lack of support from impacted communities. The article also states that local mayors were critical of the Massey Bridge which would increase congestion by throttling traffic into a four lane road.

Local Member of Parliament Peter Julian (NDP — New Westminster-Burnaby), weighs in calling the Massey Bridge plan “as “back of the napkin” thinking despite the large amount of money spent and preparation work completed.“Maybe it was a large, expensive napkin, but you had 10 lanes going into four lanes,” Julian said Friday. “There was no out (for traffic). It was absurd. It wasn’t well thought out and you had municipalities rejecting the idea.”

Ontario Member of Parliament Brian Masse (NDP — Windsor-West) for the Windsor and Detroit bridge said the two bridge projects appear eerily similar “on the surface,” but in reality are not. “One is an international bridge, the other was a provincial initiative that posed problems for a lot of municipalities which opposed the idea to begin with,” he said. “There seemed to be a lack of consultation, while we had full community consultation as part of a long public process.”

The Massey Tunnel/Bridge Crossing will be re-examined by the Provincial Government, with an expected study completed by late 2018.