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I have been talking with urbanist and statistician extraordinaire Andy Yan about the fact that there are two ends of the housing market that are severely pinched-the very young trying to get into the housing market, and the very old, who may want to downsize from the family home or rental  they raised the kids in, only to find nothing available that can provide the accessibility, safety and security they require.

In an opinion piece in the Vancouver Sun Andy Yan reflects on the opposition to the development of 105 Keefer Street “which proposed “one floor of seniors’ social housing for three floors of luxury penthouses” and which was “an act of tokenism and not a comprehensive strategy to house low-income seniors”.  There was a legendary amount of correspondence to city hall on the subject, and over 150 citizens came to speak against the rezoning with 46 speaking for the rezoning. The rezoning was not approved by Council.

Andy Yan notes that “the Keefer Street proposal became a microcosm of Vancouver’s deficiencies in deep inclusion and engagement. The city is in dire need of a comprehensive housing strategy for a diverse population of seniors. A report in March from the City’s general manager of community services called for a “reset” to “improve housing affordability over the next 10 years. But the plan focuses on those under the age of 64. The oversight seems to ignore a growing population segment whose golden years are haunted by shadows of housing insecurity and social isolation”…

“The City yearns for leadership that transcends social, economic, cultural and political lines and possesses a civic imagination that goes beyond the status quo. The art of the deal needs to be countermanded  by the art of  building and cherishing existing communities. If this Council cannot offer this leadership, several hundred Vancouverites who opposed 105 Keefer showed that they could.” Paraphrasing Andy, “Development cannot be the one  driving force-looking after our most vulnerable should also have inclusion”.

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