Important Survey Closes this Weekend (March 22nd)
Planners are asking residents for their thoughts on housing, displacement and exclusion in the City's neighbourhoods. You can take the survey at this link, or read more on the ShapeYourCity page for Vancouver Plan - Housing.
Some thoughts on key questions:
Question 2 is about the definition of residential displacement, the types of which are defined as:
Physical (direct) displacement - i.e. having to leave your home because it is being renovated or redeveloped, is in an unlivable condition, or you have been evicted;
Economic (indirect) displacement - i.e. having to leave your home because you can no longer afford rent or you can no longer afford or access your daily needs such as a grocery store; and
- Cultural displacement - i.e. leaving your neighbourhood because you can no longer afford or access your cultural needs such as culturally appropriate stores, spaces or services.
I partly disagree: The working definition basically assumes that people will live their entire lives in the exact same home. If someone has to leave their preferred neighbourhood because their housing needs change and no suitable housing is available that is affordable to them, that is still displacement. The definition could be extended to people who would prefer to live in a given area, say near their work, but cannot afford to move there in the first place, as the only difference between this and the proposed definition is incumbency. Additionally, if someone can afford to move into a suitable nearby home when they are "physically" displaced from their current home, then they are not really being displaced.
Question 6 covers multiple topics. The first two, "Allow more height and density (units) for new social and rental housing buildings to make them financially viable" and Adding housing diversity (i.e. rental apartment buildings) in areas with low housing choice (i.e. single family neighbourhoods) are, in my opinion, Very Important.
Question 8 is should it be a priority as part of Vancouver Plan to make neighbourhoods with housing too expensive for most Vancouver residents more inclusive to low to moderate income households (with annual incomes under $80,000)?
My thoughts: Strongly Agree. It does not make any sense for the City to prevent people from living in apartments in any residential area. Single-family detached and duplex zoning is socialism for the rich and is economically and socially damaging for the city at large. Even if the City cannot immediately make every area generally affordable to those making under $80k, making the most exclusive areas affordable to people more people would still be a big improvement, very easy, and would have knock-on affordability and anti-displacement benefits throughout the city.
Question 9 is Vancouver is a growing city that is expected to continue to experience population growth over the long-term. What approaches to this growth should we take to make the City more inclusive (e.g. more social housing, more secure options for renters)?
My thoughts: Social housing and secure rental are both important and should be prioritized and fast-tracked. The City should also remember that the market is made up of the wants and needs of real people, and mostly try to accommodate market demands and not get in the way with restrictive zoning or long/expensive/complex permitting processes.
The City should also eliminate DCLs and other permitting fees, and 'pay for growth' out of general revenue instead; it is not fair to charge newcomers an ever-escalating entry fee to live here, especially when newcomers provide so many important services that we all need and the assumed costs bear little resemblance to any actual cost imposed on the City.
Question 12 is Given increasing homelessness and the need for a variety of housing types and affordability levels to meet the needs of our diverse City, do you agree or disagree that all neighbourhoods should have...
Social services (e.g. temporary shelters, warming centres, meal services, mental health and addiction services) available
All types of housing (e.g. supportive, social, purpose-built rental housing apartments, condos, houses
My thoughts: Strongly agree to both. First, it is generally better to let everyone from condo owners to rental operators to social services providers go wherever in the City they themselves determine best meets their goals & needs; zoning does not need to impede this. Second, I believe mixed income neighbourhoods will help create more resilient communities and foster understanding and community between diverse groups. Furthermore, having services available in all neighbourhoods will help residents to access supports when they first need them instead of once they have already 'fallen through the cracks' in these services.
Question 13 is Do you have any other comments about housing, displacement and exclusion in Vancouver?
I could say a lot here! Some thoughts:
- In general, permitting a lot more apartments (below market and market-rate) in Vancouver will improve affordability and housing options for residents, and prevent displacement by taking demand away from existing apartments.
- Building lots of apartments will also support our climate action targets by providing more customers for local shopping in walk-able/roll-able neighbourhoods, and more customers for public transit. Right now, most houses in Vancouver get replaced with new bigger houses, and most of the metro's population growth is in car-oriented suburbs rather than in transit-friendly Vancouver.
- New housing should be focused in the least dense areas with the lowest concentration of renters, to prevent displacement. This will also make better renter protections and compensation viable.
- "Neighbourhood character" is an aesthetic fetish invented for exclusion and should not be a serious consideration for the city government.
Other questions are of course important too, but require less commentary. We 'Strongly Agree' with more homes for everybody, everywhere! Good luck on the survey (link)