This article by Elizabeth Murphy appeared on the Vancouver Sun opinion page, Saturday, September 1, 2018.
Elizabeth Murphy: City’s high housing growth rate making homes less affordable
Most new housing construction is unaffordable and involves demolishing older building stock that former occupants could afford but who are then displaced. More new supply doesn’t make things more affordable – quite the opposite.
Photo caption: Marine Drive and Cambie Street is part of the Cambie corridor plan that requires $750 million in utility upgrades as part of the billions of dollars of upgrades required for city-wide growth.
After more than a decade of high levels of growth in the city of Vancouver, we can now see what that is achieving. The results are record homelessness, an affordability crisis, inflated land values and unsustainable demolitions. But on top of that we are only now being given a peak under the hood at what the costs of servicing that growth will be. And it is enormous.
In July, the city approved a report on city-wide utilities financing growth strategy and a Cambie corridor utilities servicing plan. It disclosed, in somewhat of an opaque and incomplete way, anticipated growth and the costs to service that growth that is in the billions of dollars. It also posed some significant environmental sustainability issues that had not previously been raised by the city and puts in question the current growth agenda.
The report does not disclose full population and unit growth, so it doesn’t show the whole picture. But it is enough to identify that we have a huge deficit in utility servicing capacity for the projected growth, where unit development and zoned capacity is far exceeding population increases. It will take billions of dollars to cover the required upgrades to water, sewer and drainage systems, as well as other services for this growth, most of which is unaffordable housing. Continue reading