About fifteen years ago at a hearing regarding the future of the Arbutus rail alignment (now a greenway) a resident made this very astounding statement to the Mayor and Council: “We are the people who live in your neighbourhood. We are dentists, doctors, lawyers, professionals, CEOs of companies. We are the crème de la crème in Vancouver. We live in a very expensive neighbourhood and we’re well educated and well informed. And that’s what we intend to be.”
Somehow that became a litmus test not so much of entitlement, but the need for a universal understanding across the City that the development of the Arbutus right-of-way was a public good for everyone, including the local residents. Jen St. Denis in Metro News reports on another unfortunate analogy which appeared in the Shaughnessy Property Owners’ Association newsletter, suggesting that “gentle density” in laneway houses and secondary suites accessible to citizens of all incomes was a bit improper for the large lots and mansions in the Shaughnessy area .
Part of the Shaughnessy newsletter states: “The notion underlying this right is that anyone who wants to live in Vancouver should be able to, regardless of their ability to compete in the housing market.This is a major departure from past decades where people who could not afford a home in Vancouver left for the more affordable suburbs. Young working class people were content with the idea that you moved in order to find ‘affordable’ housing.”
“The Mayor has announced further intentions to densify single family neighbourhoods to allow greater numbers people to be shoe-horned into them, so that they can enjoy their ‘right’ to an ‘affordable’ home within the city’s environs. The fact is, however, that the more people who exercise this ‘right’, the more unaffordable homes will become..The result puts one in mind of the ‘dense pack’ strategy of early 18th century slavers, wherein they struck upon the idea of stacking their human cargo like cordwood in the hopes of increasing profits. The result was an increase in mortality that did exactly the opposite of what was intended.”
Again another unfortunate analogy that does not represent what gentle density could look like in the Shaughnessy area, but does show the need for better planning outreach, process and education on how walkable, healthy, and liveable higher density in Shaughnessy could be.