by Mike Andruff
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.
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!