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“Is this the type of society we are turning into?

November 28, 2012

Asks Tom Durning, when he read this:

Coquitlam councillors were both shocked and mystified Monday as they read through submission after submission from southwest Coquitlam residents opposing a planned affordable housing project for seniors.

Located at 352 Marmont St., the site is currently occupied by a two-storey duplex. The applicant behind the proposal, the Bulgarian Home Society of B.C., is planning to convert the duplex into a seven-unit project for low-or moderate-income seniors. …

“Some of the comments that have been made that somehow crime in the area will increase . Can you imagine [people] 65 years old and higher will create some crime in the area? My God, that is really reaching,” said Coun. Lou Sekora. …

Though no name is attached to the letter portion of the petition, the person behind the document suggests, “we are very uncomfortable with having affordable rental apartment [sic] in our neighbourhood….”   The petition also goes on to suggest that the area is already subject to incidents of theft and door-to-door scams, and that the addition of the affordable housing units “may increase rate [sic] of crime, over crowdedness.”

“Providing housing for those folks who are on limited income, who can’t afford to stay in their homes or can’t afford market rent . and what you’re saying is you don’t want those people in your neighbourhood?” asked Coun. Selina Robinson. “[That’s] really, always for me, cause for concern.”

At least it’s not a six-storey behemoth in the middle of where people are living.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. octavio permalink
    November 28, 2012 4:58 pm

    NIMBY at its best.

  2. November 28, 2012 5:36 pm

    This will happen more and more as the baby boomers get older. From the generation that was in the prime in the 80s, known as the greed decade. They got theirs, now screw everyone else.

  3. November 28, 2012 6:17 pm

    Over the last decade there has been a big push to encourage citizen engagement in the planning process, but attending public meetings has given me a jaded view. The problem is that many people just aren’t that well informed. I remember one old guy literally crying about some development destroying the neighbourhood. It was obviously a sincerely held belief, and it filled him with near panic, but it made absolutely no sense.

    At UBC there was a public process about redesigning the main plaza by the old bus loop. Many commentators wanted to keep the grassy knoll and premised their view on the idea the everybody likes green space and that green space is always good. But that really isn’t the case. Most people like other people and go to where the other people are. Even in Stanley Park, most people are on the seawall or at one of the busy areas. Very few are off in the bush. Not that I’m against green space, but the grassy knoll lobby ended up stalling a process to improve what is right now a very bad public space. (For the record I was no great fan of some of the proposals, but I don’t think it should all be green space in the middle of the most important public plaza at UBC.)

    Not that I am a fan of the technocratic system where there is little public input, but more public input does not always mean better decisions.

  4. Andrew Browne permalink
    November 28, 2012 11:26 pm

    We seem destined to see-saw between paternal, protective “planner knows best” planning and the over-indulged, consult everything, do nothing world that we sometimes find ourselves in. yvrlutyens’ anecdote about the older fellow in tears over a sincere belief that a development was going to destroy his neighbourhood is poignant, and frustrating. It’s very difficult to encourage people to be informed – they tend to gather just enough information to be livid and then stop listening.

    What do we do when those who get involved choose to remain uninformed, choose to remain angry, and the decision gets made in opposition to their views anyway? Was everyone’s time wasted? Or was it a valuable process?

    Another commenter noted the influence of boomers and I do think this is an interesting aspect. I can’t remember the last time I saw someone irate at a public hearing who was under 50 (and drawing experiences from many communities). I’ve noticed that same group seem to feel that their property rights extend beyond their property but the irony tends to be lost when the belief is shown to be bidirectional…


  5. Tim permalink
    November 29, 2012 11:30 am

    It sounds like a joke. There was no name attached to the petition.

  6. Marjorie permalink
    November 29, 2012 5:44 pm

    There is a lot of hodge podge intestification happening in this part of Coquitlam. Streets filled with 1950s and 1960s bungalows are giving way to quadplexes, but not always on the end or edges of the streets. If I was a longtime resident, I would too feel saddened about this. Not everybody wants to live in a dense environment so this transition is likely more difficult for those who enjoy the suburban lifestyle (yes, some of us out there actually do!).

  7. November 30, 2012 9:47 am

    I for one am glad that Coquitlam has decided to redevelop into a higher density urban setting; the suburban model of development is a social and environmental disaster. The challenge will be to retain some housing affordability for seniors, young adults and service workers, especially if there continues to be strong opposition to affordable rental. I want my parents and my children to be able to live in the same community as I do. Renters include teachers, nurses, emergency personnel, police officers; all the people we depend on to make our community healthy. I urge Everyone who cares about having complete and healthy communities to advocate to the federal and provincial government for better housing programs. Federal MPs vote this week on Bill C-400 which calls for a National Affordable Housing Strategy. Let your MP know how you feel!

  8. tom durning permalink
    November 30, 2012 9:58 am

    I think that YVR and Andrew capture some of Marjorie’s feelings. Guess there’s still a lot of work to be done.
    The provincial government should change the Local Government Act to take many of these choices out of the hands of local governments. Special needs, seniors, non-profit and, in most cases, affordable rental should be considered outright use. This is done in many jurisdictions in the U.S.
    Also, a few years ago the City of Coquitlam held a public hearing to rezone a property in a mostly commercial area for use as a shelter. A modest proposal too – about six or seven beds. The Mayor of Coquitlam, Richard Stewart, had garbage dumped on his front lawn. As well, the RCMP had to be called in as a precaution at the final reading because of threats.
    So it’s no joke. Outright use may have to be implemented for safety reasons also.

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