What would you think of a vision for the region which warns about the need for “transformative actions and unprecedented collaboration” and also recognizes that 20 per cent of the children in the region will grow up poor, and two million people will live in places that could be leveled by storms and flooding?
No, it’s not metropolitan Vancouver, but Metropolitan New York. Published by the Regional Planning Association (RPA) which has served New York City and the surrounding 31 counties for decades, their report Charting a New Course: A Vision for a Successful Region cites many of the same challenges as we face in Metro Vancouver. They identify the need for enhanced job creation, housing, physical infrastructure and human development strategies.
Interestingly, the report also seeks to “expand multifamily homes in affluent towns and neighbourhoods by more than 50 per cent”.
Through infill and redevelopment accommodating multifamily housing at twice the rate as currently being built, the RPA believes the inclusion of lower and moderate income units will increase accessibility to good schooling and adequate housing.
Currently the RPA estimates that 51 per cent of household income in the New York City regional area goes to housing, real estate taxes, utilities and transportation. By increasing incomes, building new housing, efficient government and reducing driving times and distances the percentage of household income devoted to “getting by” could shrink to 45 per cent.
Three-quarters of new jobs and half of population growth should go to places within walking distance of transit. Two-thirds of new housing should be built in walkable communities. One-third of all work trips should be done by transit, with increasing shares of active transportation users. Preserve open space and agricultural areas. Limit growth on the flood plain.
The Regional Planning Association website is worth taking a look at simply for the clarity of thought and organization of “big ideas” to move the New York region into the 21st century. That clarity and mindfulness highlights the similarities between the New York Region and Metropolitan Vancouver-a large metropolitan area expanding on a river delta, with similar housing, employment , environmental and transportation challenges.