I recently attended the Vancouver City Planning Commission event, A Chronology of Vancouver’s Planning and Development, at the Museum of Vancouver. The event was moderated by Stephen Quinn and panellists included Frances Bula, Noha Sedky, Jennifer Marshall, and Bob Rennie. An incendiary Q&A period followed, mostly directed towards a frustration of where and how to introduce density in Vancouver

From my experience in these kinds of settings, the vast majority of questions that get raised are from implicated parties who are defending their own interests. Further, it is rare for someone under 40 years old to stand up and voice their opinion.

For me, it was a breath of fresh air to see a young student stand up and talk about biased demographics and city-building. Andrew Martin is a Master’s of Community and Regional Planning Student at SCARP, UBC. A transcript of his question follows. I hope you find it as lucid as I did:

We live in a region and country in transition; I suspect most of today’s Canadian-born land owners grew up in single-detached family homes, an experience that is less common today as Canada becomes an increasingly dense, urban nation.

As a result, we’re experiencing growing pains, as every great city of the world has also experienced.  In my lifetime, Metro Vancouver will likely grow to be a region of 5 million inhabitants, and it won’t stop there.  The majority of those 5 million aren’t here right now to speak for themselves, but we’re making key decisions that will profoundly affect their lives.

Are our decisions serving their best interests?  Who speaks for them?  

The challenge here is to accept the reality of growth, and undertake this transition in the most just and sustainable way possible, with attention to creating quality living environments conducive to human well being.  Darwin said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” As a region, we have done this well in the past.  Can the residents of metro Vancouver now embrace this next evolution with rationality, optimism and careful consideration for all residents, now and to come? 

-Andrew Martin

For older generations, the notion of single-family home dwelling is considered the norm. For mine and Martin it has become less so. Will it be significantly easier to give up on preserving our pool of single family homes in Vancouver as new generations take over and what prospective future does that suggest for our dwellings?