- Mayor Gregor Robertson at just before 5 pm today sent out a word-crafted e-mail with a subject line “Housing Affordability Update.” Text is copied below. We may annotate it with comments later. At 6 pm, the minutes of the October 3 council meeting, where dramatic rezoning policies were adopted, were just posted online (download PDF CoV PTE Ctee minutes, 3-Oct-2012, Mayor Task Force etc, ptec20121003min). Now it’s time to cut through the spin and analyze exactly what was adopted. The video clips are available online on the City website. It is clever for Vision communications mastermind Mike Magee and Vision strategists to cloak ecodensity in the sweet-sounding word of “affordability.” But many people fail to be convinced that the policies just adopted will actually provide affordable housing — in the normal sense of the word affordable. In fact, some of them might actually promote speculation and escalate land prices, and create dispute and disruptions in communities. One speaker in Council reported that a developer anticipating imminent upzoning on Dunbar had contacted her to see if she would like to sell her place.
- Different topic, but also important, referring to the Oct 3 Council meeting on the Budget Outlook 2013, The Province editorial today attacked the secrecy of civic finances and calls upon citizens to fight it. Perhaps there will be a role for the new Auditor General for Local Government, once the office is set up.
- About maps of the impacts of major rezoning policies adopted on October 3, we notice that the City has, as far as we know, still not made available to the public detailed maps of the impact zones of the rezoning policies adopted on October 3. Click here for PDF of what was presented to Council. It was inferior to what was in the Vancouver Sun the next morning… So far, it looks like the maps created and posted by CityHallWatch BEFORE the October 3 meeting are still the most accurate ones available.
- The Vancouver Sun front page in print on October 4 had an article by Darah Hansen entitled “Council approves housing affordability plan,” with a map entitled “Our New Dense City” (Source: City of Vancouver) splashed across the front page. Darah got one thing right. Vision Vancouver is implementing former NPA Mayor Sam Sullivan’s ecodensity policy very closely. This is ironic, but true, considering Sam lost the 2008 election in large part due to the public opposition to ecodensity — which Robertson vowed to fight. See YouTube video below of Robertson just after being elected in 2008 slamming ecodensity. The bizarre outcome gives the public a good reason to consider the NPA and Vision Vancouver as the “Developer Party,” considering also the fact that developers are the largest political contributors to both parties. It also suggests that something very odd is going on in at City Hall. We note that the Vancouver Sun decided, for some reason, not to provide the map with the online version of the front page article. (We’ve written to the editor asking them to put it up online. No response yet.) But just in case the Vancouver Sun has technical problems and can’t post the map online, we have posted a scanned version of the map below.
- We are hearing that on the Mayor’s Task Force on “Housing Affordability” (a.k.a. “rezoning the city”) there was disagreement on what recommendations to make, but that there was political direction as to the content. Note that three politicians were on the Task Force: Robertson, and Councillors Raymond Louie and Geoff Meggs. We hope that free-thinking members of the Task Force will speak up and strongly encourage full public dialogue and debate.
Mayor Gregor Robertson in December 2008, slamming ecodensity, just after being elected.
Below is the map that appeared on front page of print version of Vancouver Sun, Thursday, October 4, 2012. If this map existed before, if they wanted to avoid misunderstanding and mistrust, why didn’t the Mayor or his Task Force make it available BEFORE ramming the drastic rezoning policies through on Oct 3?
Below is the map that was presented to City Council at 1 pm on October 3, 2012. This was an afterthought by staff, responding to a request from a Councillor to show what was meant by “arterials,” “shopping centres” and “neighbourhood centres.” This map is inferior to the one that appeared on the front of the Vancouver Sun the next day. In effect, Council made its decision based on inferior information.
MESSAGE FROM GREGOR ROBERTSON TO PEOPLE WHO HAD WRITTEN IN REGARDING THE OCTOBER 3 COUNCIL MEETING ON THE MAYOR’S TASK FORCE.
From: ”Robertson, Gregor” <Gregor.Robertson@vancouver.ca>
Sent: Friday, October 5, 2012
Subject: Housing Affordability Update
Thank you for your email regarding the Task Force on Housing Affordability’s recommendations.
Housing affordability is an urgent challenge, as you know. That is why the first action I took following the last election was to create a Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability.
This week, Council voted to move forward on a number of recommendations from the Task Force, along with some changes based on your feedback, to create new affordable housing targeted to low and middle-income citizens such as seniors, young families and students.
We will continue to work in close consultation with residents across the city to ensure that any actions we undertake reflect the unique character of neighbourhoods and the needs expressed by local residents.
In response to your feedback, Council made a number of changes this week to the report that went to council. These included:
- Directing staff that the ‘Thin Streets’ concept is to be only considered – not implemented, as it said in the report – by the three community plan processes underway in Marpole, the West End, and Grandview Woodland.
These citizen-led plans will consider the idea as part of their work over the next 14 months, and report back on community interest by the end of 2013. I believe the idea has merit; however, if it is to happen, there needs to be neighbourhood support. It is not an idea that will be forced on any community.
- As part of the interim affordable housing rezoning bylaw, we capped the number of pilot projects at two along any ten-block stretch of an arterial, to ensure neighbourhood character is respected and maintained. We have placed a cap of 20 on these projects for the entire city.
There is a lot of misinformation circulating about what type of housing we are proposing. These are not high-rise condos. They are low-rise buildings such as townhouses, rowhouses and duplexes, and they must either be affordable rental, or sold at 20% below market rate, so that they are affordable for people like seniors, young families, and students.
- We also directed staff to consult with the City’s citizen advisory groups, and reconvene the Talk Housing to Us Renters’ Roundtable, during the next eight months to get feedback and report back to council by June 2013. We have also asked them to solicit feedback from neighbourhood groups on the by-law as well.
No final decision on the interim affordable housing bylaw will be made until June 2013, when this public consultation is complete.
We also directed staff to accelerate work on an affordable housing authority, which will build affordable housing on city land, as well as a review of regulations to enhance building upgrades and better protect renters.
A recent RBC report showed Vancouver had the most expensive housing costs in the country. Our city needs 1,500 new rental units every year just to meet demand and your feedback is crucial to ensuring we develop the most effective set of actions to address affordability. I invite you to keep in touch via email at Gregor.firstname.lastname@example.org and by signing up to receive updates via my newsletter at www.mayorofvancouver.ca
Thank you again for adding your thoughts on this important issue and I look forward to continued dialogue with you.
Mayor of Vancouver