Video and Summary of Candidates Debate at Heritage Hall in Mount Pleasant on Oct. 26

An extensive summary of the Oct 26th Candidates Debate at Heritage Hall was prepared by Jordan Bober and is reproduced here with permission. The video of the entire debate is below (courtesy of ChatterboxFilms):

Bober’s summary starts as follows:

Urban development, housing and the lack of affordability thereof were in the spotlight during a lively, standing-­‐room-­‐only All Candidates debate at Heritage Hall in Mount Pleasant on October 26th – with council incumbents frequently finding themselves in the hotseat. The debate was organised by RAMP (Residents Association Mount Pleasant) and moderated by Ross Moster of Village Vancouver.
The debate began with five questions culled from among scores submitted by community members, to which each candidate was called to respond in turn.
The first question noted the expansion of high-­‐rise developments of more than 10 storeys throughout Vancouver, and asked the candidates whether they thought that these are the best ways to achieve density and affordability without impacting the scale, form and character of the surrounding neighbourhoods.

COPE Councillor Ellen Woodsworth had first crack at this question, answering that studies around the world have found that 6-­storey buildings are much more amenable to cohesive communities, and that developers need to be including affordable housing and community amenities in their developments instead of simply referring to other, nearby amenities in their advertising.

Green Party of Vancouver candidate Adriane Carr, who has a Master’s degree in Urban Geography from UBC, noted that people are largely unhappy about new high-­rise developments, and argued that density can be achieved in a much more humane way within the current zoning. Density, she says, is not the only consideration, but affordability and neighbourhood character must weigh heavily in all development plans.

Vision Vancouver Councillor Geoff Meggs countered that affordability is something that council has been trying to address in all rezoning decisions – some of which, such as Chinatown, were made at the community’s behest – but acknowledges that affordability remains an intractable issue as land values continue to rise, and that other strategies must be found.

Candidate Bill McCreery of the NPA highlighted the existence of neighbourhood plans and expressed concern that they are being overridden on an all-­too-­frequent basis by the current council.

Candidate Elizabeth Murphy of Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver (NSV) began by stating that the current approach to development outside of established neighbourhood plans began under the previous NPA council and continues under Vision Vancouver, and questioned the notion that rezoning is necessary at all, saying that Vancouver’s existing zoning capacity is already enormous and well able to accommodate population growth.

Councillor Heather Deal of Vision Vancouver pointed out that skyrocketing land values drive many development decisions and help explain why short-­ and mid-­rise buildings are often uneconomical to build, and expressed pride over the rezoning of the Cambie corridor, saying that increased densification there is justified by its location along a highly successful transit route, and that transit will likely continue to play a role in densification decisions.

NPA Candidate Jason Lamarche blamed poor development decisions on a “toxic culture” at city hall and on the failure of council to adequately consider the input of neighbourhood residents before making development decisions.

The second question dealt had to do with the Short Term Incentives for Rental (STIR) program, implemented two years ago, offers subsidies to developers for building market rental housing. Would the candidates extend it after it expires at the end of this year?

The rest of this detailed summary is available here.

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