Pete McMartin profiles the housing dilemma of Matthew Bond, a councillor in the District of North Vancouver (and graduate of the SFU Next Generation Transportation certificate).
To him, housing affordability is more than just a generational issue. It’s also one of densification. He estimates that 60 to 65 per cent of the district is still comprised of single-family homes, a preponderance that has created housing stock most people can no longer afford. Blue-collar and middle-class families have been priced out, and with them the service people that make a city go.
Meanwhile, Bond said, the district’s population has stagnated for the last 15 years. According to B.C. Stats, he said, it was 85,000 in 2001: it’s 85,000 in 2016.
So while an older generation resists change that could affect traffic and services, and impact the bucolic quality of their neighbourhoods, their resistance — which Bond said he completely understands and sympathizes with — has unintended consequences for a younger generation. “It’s going to be my kids and their kids affected, and so the question is, is the way our community is being currently developed going to provide them the same opportunities that it did to the people who moved here 30 years ago?
One of the connected issues is the increase in traffic on the North Shore. With no accommodation for them, those who work, serve and literally build homes for the resident population have to commute in. Here’s one of the comments to the story in the e-edition.
The lack of affordable housing is causing huge traffic problems as employees stream onto the North Shore in the mornings and off again at the end of the work day. Lineups for Second Narrows and Lions Gate to get into Vancouver in the afternoon stretch the travel from 15 minutes during normal times to an hour or even more at peak times. Tough if you have appointments on the other side of the bridge. Quite seriously, it’s faster for me to ride my bicycle to False Creek or downtown at that time of day, but it’s not always practical.
It’s not uncommon for Highway 1 leading to the Ironworkers’ bridge southbound to be backed up to Westview Drive during the afternoon rush, and at least once a week it’s backed up to Taylor Way in West Vancouver. This is a recent phenomenon, developing only in the last 3 years. Prior to that, as Shelley Fralic wrote a few years ago, North Vancouver’s lack of traffic congestion was one of the best kept secrets in Metro Vancouver. I moved here in 1979, and the traffic delay going downtown via Lions Gate Bridge in the morning was less in 2012 than in 1979. No more.
Affordability isn’t just a problem for the person looking for a home. It’s a problem for everyone when the transportation infrastructure gets overstressed from people having to travel too far to their jobs.