(This version: 13-Oct-2012) Announcement —
Forum: “The Future of Vancouver” Community Issues Forum
When: Saturday, October 20, 2012, 3-5 pm
Where: St. Patrick Parish Hall, 2881 Main Street
What: A major topic will be what City Council has adopted on October 3.
This page will consolidate critical information for the public on the implications of the Final Report of the Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability. The report was made public on September 26, 2012, allowing only three business days before City Council heard the report on Tuesday, October 2. Council heard speakers on October 3, and adopted most of the Task Force recommendations, with a few tweaks. CityHallWatch covered the story extensively in several posts (see our top page to read), and was the first to publicly provide a visual map of the impact zones of the Task Force’s proposed rezoning policies up to 3.5 and 6 storeys across large tracts of the City.
CityHallWatch is considering public responses. From the very selection process of Task Force members, the entire process failed to enable meaningful public consultation (e.g., see appendices of NSV letter to Mayor on Sept 26). We’ll show why this is true, and what are the real implications of this Task Force recommendations. Stay tuned.
Are we witnessing some manufactured consent? Mainstream media heavily dependent on real estate advertising are largely uncritical of the process and outcomes. Also, one wonders if consultants commenting publicly have a bit of a conflict of interest — anything critical could affect their future contracts and stature in the planning world.
Conspicuously absent from the Task Force report is a map of the city showing implications on our neighbourhoods. For example, no clear display of “arterial” roads on a map. Also absent is objective and quantitative analysis of what the Task Force recommendations will actually do to make Vancouver affordable — costs and benefits. Where is the formal academic peer review and debate by independent thinkers who do not stand to gain by the policy changes? With the Conference Board of Canada saying Vancouver housing prices may drop 40%, what are the implications of the massive rezoning and policy changes recommended by the Task Force?
Also, Councillor Raymond Louie said this at the Sept 19 Committee meeting (on the motion by Councillor Carr to get more information on City revenues and costs related to $1.1 billion in development permits): “If we were to build out all the existing capacity, allowed through policy in zoning, then it would essentially cover growth expectations generally within our city.” It appears he is saying that existing zoned capacity is enough to cover growth. In effect, is he saying that there is no dramatic need for rezonings for the City to grow?
TIDBITS AND THOUGHTS
- The Vision Vancouver office this week is reportedly making calls to poll people on support and ask for donations, testing the waters.
- The process of adopting the Task Force recommendations appears similar to the Short Term Incentives for Rentals program — Private discussions with development industry, lack of public consultation, adopting of policy that overrides existing zoning guidelines and enables spot rezonings, vagueness of language allowing maximum freedom for council to later ram decisions through. Bottom line is this Council is eroding public access to decision-making, while promoting profits for private interests. Generalities at the policy time get slipped through Council. Then the specifics result in major disruptions when rezoning and development proposals come through.
- Not even the Vancouver City Planning Commission (VCPC), the city’s advisory body on planning and development, had a chance to see and comment on the Final Report of the Task Force. The report was released on Sept 26, the same day as the last VCPC meeting before Council was expected to adopt the report (Oct 2).
APPEAL FOR ACTION: We call upon independent urban planners, academics, and analysts over the next couple days to review the report and share their thoughts online — in whatever forum you prefer. Modelers are asked to show graphically what the Task Force implications would be on map of Vancouver. For CityHallWatch you can add comments below, or e-mail us at citizenYVR [at] gmail.com.
Most media are simply repeating material from the task force report and Mayor’s press conference. Search news.google.com and use key words Vancouver Task Force Housing Affordability for examples. But some independent media and bloggers are beginning to analyze the report and its implications. A separate post on CityHallWatch summarizes previous media coverage.
- Baker on Vancouver (28-Sept-2012): “Vancouver does Affordability” Excerpt – Both local government parties in Vancouver are owned by the real estate industry…. The first recommendation of the City Manager is that Council should immediately implement the Committee’s action plan by spot zoning large chunks of the residential areas of the City.
- Rabble.ca and The Mainlander (28-Sept-2012): “Mayor Gregor Robertson uses Affordability Task Force to deregulate and privatize Vancouver housing”
- Official City page for Task Force: http://vancouver.ca/your-government/mayors-task-force-on-housing-affordability.aspx
- Task Force report: Mayor Task Force Housing Affordability Final Report 25-Sept-2012
- Task force terms of reference: HousingAffordability-CouncilMotion-2011-12 Terms of Reference
Mayor Gregor Robertson and Vision Vancouver, please remember this video below. Have you been completely co-opted by your political donors in the development industry? Look at what you said just days after being elected in 2008 on a campaign against EcoDensity and respect for communities and bottom-up planning. The recommendations of your politically-appointed Task Force of industry representative are actual Super-EcoDensity, cloaked in the language of “affordability.”
(Vote in The Province online poll: http://blogs.theprovince.com/2012/09/26/editorial-dense-and-denser-rule-at-vision-vancouvers-city-hall/)