Day – 212 – The Myth of Affordable Housing Revealed

by Mike Andruff

Affordable Housing Poll

 

Other

Acknowledgement:

This was an ill conceived poll (started on March 14th), probably born of frustration caused by observing the impact of change in a community that was so much more, in my view, than what we have today (also this is the problem of not being a social scientist).

Critical evaluation by others suggested the framing of the questions were biased in favor of option two (Aiming policy …). While my interest was more so in option three, “Other”. We didn’t have the discussion on affordable housing. So much for amateur hour.

Affordable Housing

This post examines those who need affordable housing. We house individuals, couples, single families, extended families, and those with special needs. Regrettably, in much of the discussion, a one size fits all mentality is offered in the solving of affordable housing puzzle. If the only solution is volume, the number of condominiums we can produce, we are missing the boat.

Take for instance, the plight of many families,  in  Vancouver. Their preference is a single detached home, either owned or rented. Where they were rented (at an earlier time this was 50% of the stock), the new construction process has actually reduced affordable housing for this type of end user, due to the destruction of old houses, for newer, more expensive homes that are only sometimes occupied. So much for the city’s over worked word usage “sustainable”.

Another type of displacement is also found for low income singles and couples. For example, in the Norquay Village area (Nanaimo and 29th), sensible homes with basement suites are slated for demolition. The resultant new construction will be unaffordable to current tenants.

Where do the displaced go for affordable housing?

I submit that there is very little affordable housing in Vancouver (that which can be paid for with the Canadian standard of 30-32% of your after tax income). We should stop talking about the myth that it can be created. Vancouver is unaffordable for families, singles and couples displaced by re-development!

The mayor of this city should stand on the steps of the city hall, in front of the cameras rolling, and he should level with citizens and declare, “I have the solution for affordable housing!” And pointing east, he should correctly say, “It exists up the Fraser Valley.”

The proverbial horse has bolted through the barn door. We, as a society, have been asleep at the switch, while the transition of our neighborhoods has taken place. No one wants to talk about the “elephant in the room” – the immigrant investor. We, as Canadians, are either too polite to speak up, or are sorry for the existing circumstance. However, what is happening around us does not seem fair. Fairness, is another good Canadian trait for which we are known.

So, polls aside, I ask you dear reader, what can be done to slow, or improve the current trend of destroying affordable housing in Vancouver? Did the Mayor’s Task Force on Affordable Housing really address the problem of affordable housing, or was it mere obfuscation of our reality? I submit the City Hall, and the federal government have failed us in the management of housing stock in the country’s urban areas.

In the next civic election, look at the housing policy positions of the various parties, and learn what candidates have to say about topics like housing. Find those which you gauge most practical, and on November 15th  do the one thing most of us (see Fair Elections Act) are entitled to do - VOTE!

 

 

Day -217 – Are you mad?

by Mike Andruff

Are you like me? Do you get a little nauseous reading the paper these days?

Politicians seem to be testing our limits of decency. From the feds, and Minister of State for Democratic Reform Pierre Poilievre’s Fair Election Act designed to help the politicians more than it does voters, to NDP MLA Jenny Kwan visiting tourist locations on funds provided for caring for those who can not care for themselves, to Councillor Tim Stevenson providing  advice to Olympic officials in Sochi funded by the taxpayers of Vancouver, politicians are making us mad as hell!

Enter stage right, Mr. Beale:

We live in our silos with our toasters, our TV’s, and those steel belted radials. We need those steel belted radials (or two wheelers) to get us out there. We need to learn how to make change in this society (here’s a thought: what if we were to simply turn out in larger numbers to vote?). Otherwise, leaving things to the politicians, means more of what we have now – more horror stories in the media.

November 15th, the date of our next civic election, is a good time to start. Circle that date on your calendar, between now and then, learn about the candidates and their issues, and then, most importantly,  for the those people and matters that reflect your values, go to the polls and provide them your VOTE!

Day -224 – #engageMeMe – Final Report

by Mike Andruff

(Click on Title Page to view Final Report)

(Click on Title Page to view Final Report)

I must say I was delightfully surprised that the Mayor’s Task Force was able to move past changing zoning signage colors and having long tables in restaurants, to voting initiatives. The task force is a hard working group of 22 people who listened to people.  I say good on them!

I do have a problem however, with the City directing staff to look into the various aspects of the City handling this initiative, particularly in an era of a highly partisan civic bureaucracy. The report lauds the City of Regina for its savvy social media campaign to successfully improve voter turnout (hasn’t this blog been on to this since last year?).  Does this mean the City would call upon its all-star tenant HootSuite.com to serve its needs? This would keep it “all in the family”. But, a recent law suit filed against Mayor Robertson, implies the City might not be acting at arm’s length, if they were involved.

It is good that the report correctly identified the need to engage voters,  but having the proverbial fox in the hen house is not fair play. Nor is Vision Vancouver accepting the largess of magnanimous, Bob Rennie’s $25K Lunch,  while the report calls for taking action on campaign finance reform. A touch of hypocrisy? What is being said, and what appears to be taking place, are two different things.

Engaging the people is one thing, leading them like sheep is another.

Eligible voters don’t need the City to tell them to make a date with their polling station, to learn who best suits their political persuasion, nor, on November 15th, to VOTE!

 

Day -231 – Wanted: #25KLUNCH for Democracy

by Mike Andruff

#25KLUNCH

 

The creator of this meme (a finalist in Melissa Fong’s Twitter contest to spoof Bob Rennie’s #25KLUNCH) caught that look of skepticism just right. Would companies give unconditionally, or as the meme above suggests, do they always have strings attached?

Perhaps this might be the time to ask, “Would you pay for a #25KLUNCH to promote your democracy?” How much is democracy worth? Can the Bob Rennies of the world also host a $25K luncheon for the VancouverDecides2014.org Voting Initiative? (Let us not forget the real price paid for our freedom today. Remember those lying in Fields of Honor. Having less than one in five civic voters elect their officials, besmirches the notion that we take our hard fought freedom seriously.)

How shall we achieve our objective of 209,440 voters (50% plus 1) participating in the next Vancouver election? We need to raise the consciousness of the electorate and change its behavior, and to do that we need a campaign. In time, this blog will have a PayPal module (we are going through the appropriate regulatory bodies at present) for online donations. If you are ready to pay it forward, contact us by email (go to the “About” button to find it), and we will make the arrangements to handle your donation.

As I dream on, I’ll remind you to book a time on the 15th with your ballot box, to learn about the candidates and the issues, and most importantly to VOTE!

 

Day -236 – #voter, where art thou??

by Mike Andruff

On a Sunday, it is fitting that the snappy title to this post has a biblical tone. And prayer alone, does not appear sufficient to bring voters to the ballot boxes.

An article written some 11 years ago examined all the reasons why people did not show up to vote. Sadly while time has past, the nature of the voter/non-voter commitment to democracy  does not appear to have improved. Here is a table from the article that describes the reasons for not voting, by age category (click on table to magnify):

Reasons

The young voters disinterest is understandable. What indeed is in it for them? Few of the issues will be of any consequence to them, so why both? Where do the answers lie?

Interestingly, solutions are identified as more educational experiences both within the school system, and in the public domain. When the issues are addressed in a manner that helps all voters more clearly understand the candidates and the issues, voter buy in, is more likely. What forums do we need to facilitate to make this happen? Town hall meetings, party websites, newspaper articles, radio and television are all possibilities. Another is a Voter’s Pamphlet similar to that used in other jurisdictions. Moving beyond the present circumstance, significant electoral reform will be necessary, if the slide in voter turnout is to be stopped. Let’s pray this happens before the dictators arrive!

On November 15, remember … VOTE!

Day -240 – #vanpoli – The Affordable Housing Poll

by Mike Andruff

Affordable Housing

Updated material – March 23, 2014 (see notes below)

The current policy in Vancouver toward creating affordable housing* is to ask the development industry to produce as many condos as possible. The idea is that  prices will decline (in the classic supply and demand graph parlance – as the supply line initially shifts more than demand line, prices decline), condo living in Vancouver becomes affordable, you get a roof over your head, and Vancouver accommodates its expected growth. The downside is that condo owners of pre-existing stock also feel the impact of price declines, and, in fact, may lose equity in the short term, as Vancouver goes vertical. Additionally, this policy is not very appropriate for non-condo living young families, as they are displaced farther from their former neighborhoods, to those areas less affected, and  less pricey.

Another point of view, or policy alternative to managing affordability, is that the lack of federal residency requirements for international buyers of single detached houses, has caused a land banking characteristic, and price inflation, with current single detached housing stock, in some areas of Canada, but notably, Vancouver’s Westside. Canada, unlike other countries, applies few fetters to international buyers. Land banking allows capital movements that may or may not be taxed. There are concerns of the fairness of international buyers parking capital and family, while using social services that may or may not be paid for based on the owner’s residency, and where he/she pays tax. Canada being one of the easiest/safest havens to park international capital, means we are causing a single detached home affordability crisis for our next generation of home owners. Could this be the price for not controlling residency requirements?

What is your choice of policy?

 

In the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver March 21, 2014 “The Open House” publication, it cites an online poll conducted by Insights West that found in the City of Vancouver residents identify affordable housing as the number one issue in their city. Details: http://www.insightswest.com and select Housing is Biggest Issue in Vancouver.

Click on graph to magnify it.

City Issues

 

Share this poll with others to create a meaningful discussion on affordable housing from the “bottom up”. Results will be revealed with additional dialogue in April. Please join the discussion.

 

Day -245 iPad, iPhone and now, iVote!

by Mike Andruff

iVote

The popularity of the VanDec2014 Voting Initiative increases daily. On the David Berner Show, David suggested we give out buttons. At a recent function, Frances Bula passed a comment that we should give out lawn signs.

To make this work we need support. Who do you know who could spruce up the logo above? This website also needs a commercial element added. We need to collect funds for signs, buttons, and donations. Who out there can advise on setting up a PayPal widget?

With 245 days ’til the next election, you need to book your appointment with the ballot box, learn the issues and candidates, and hey, why not advertise for the initiative. But most of all, on November 15th, VOTE!

Day -252 – @davidbernertv promotes the voting initiative

by Mike Andruff

First followers have courage. The VanDec2014 Voting Initiative was given a big leg up this week with a  David Berner interview. The voting initiative, described on the panel right, and in the About tab, describes the stated objective, and the vital behaviours necessary for us all to create social change. Perhaps you have an organization that can do the envelope campaign, or maybe you have a cement truck that can advertise voting. Please join the movement, like the Dancing Guy’s, and help attain a strong voter turn out in municipal elections this fall. It’s simple and benefits us all.

November 15th is election day. Book an appointment with your ballot box, learn the issues and the candidates, and then VOTE!

Day -258 – mis-JUDGEMENT DAY(s)

by Mike Andruff

Poll - Pt Grey Rd. Closure

Is the current council, with its thinly mandated Vision electoral support, allowing its ideology to cloud its judgement?

Point Grey Road Closure

The evidence on this topic, which continues to be debated in newspaper articles, blogs, and letters to the editor, suggests it is a hotly contested issue. A poll in this blog (This was an unscientific poll. It was open for one month and had 263 respondents.) indicated a majority of respondents opposed the closure. With this being the case, should council have rushed to close this public road?

Community Centres

It took a court injunction to stop the City’s plan to centralize business and administrative operations. Had council properly considered the impact of centralization on select community groups before it directed the Parks Board Manager to launch his assault on the community centres?

West End Rental Construction 

Another court injunction was granted to a group of citizens to stop the City in its approach to dealing with rental construction.

Hadden Park

Citizens who opposed the City’s plan to put a strip of black top through Haddon Park were granted a court injunction to stop it.

The Sochi Trip

Controversial from the announcement of Councillor Stevenson’s planned trip to Sochi, there is overwhelming disenchantment with the use of taxpayers money for this purpose. There are ample spending alternatives which could yield more benefit to the taxpayers of Vancouver.

Yes, governments are elected to do things, but isn’t a modicum of common sense, and sound judgement also part of the bargain? It can’t be a healthy term of office when the public has to repeatedly rely on the courts to correct the questionable judgement of elected officials. And aren’t we lucky, as a society, to have a justice system? (The Ukraine springs to mind at the moment.) Another good reason we must all value our opportunity to vote.

We have our own JUDGEMENT DAY on November 15th. On that day, we can pass judgement on our civic officials. In the spirit of the Voting Initiative of this blog (See About Section), I encourage all eligible voters to book an appointment with their ballot box, to study the issues that concerns you, and on election day, VOTE!