Every week or so, we’ll highlight recent articles and columns about Vancouver. [Click on the green headline for the full article.]
Author Karrie Jacobs – the keynote speaker at mid-October’s Affordable Housing by Design conference – has some nice things to say after her tour of Portland, Seattle and Vancouver:
In these three Pacific Northwest cities, the progressive power of urban planning is taken very seriously, and concepts like livability and sustainability dominate the local civic culture to such an extent that to visit all three in rapid succession, as I did in October, is to drop in on another country. It’s not the United States or Canada, but a more highly evolved combination of the two.
In her Metropolis Magazine column – Revenge of the Small – she was impressed with how Vancouver came up with a “a new menu of housing variety,” potentially creating 20,000 additional units. Approved styles here and in Portland seem too traditional for her contemporary taste, but she recognizes the signficance of the move to smaller homes:
In an era when ever-bigger houses are the norm, Portland and Vancouver’s carefully vetted plans might help other North American cities and towns promote domestic downsizing. That would be no small accomplishment.
Architectural critic Trevor Boddy believes shame and guilt are needed to address Vancouver’s most urgent issue:
This Christmas season thus sees a re-mounting of a pantomime Vancouver has seen many times before: an annual joint production by our political left and political right that repeats the same sad plotline year after year: “Let’s park the poorest in a drugs slum.”
Stage right, the mavens of Point Grey and South Vancouver love it, as they do not have to provide social housing sites along their leafy lanes, even for their own senior citizens. Stage left, supposedly progressive community organizations can consolidate their power and funding streams by concentrating poverty into one area….
The secret here is shame: commit the city to providing this land plus the political wherewithal for re-zoning 19 affordable housing sites in every neighbourhood in the city.
With land and approvals on the table, and tax revenues never higher, the province should provide funding to build the blitz of new housing. This is the best public-private partnership going. With the 19 sites built, all of us can then shame the feds into a renewed national housing policy.
Check out this interview with Michael Kluckner by Charles Campbell in The Tyee.
Here’s a clip:
On density as an excuse for redevelopment:
“If the current [Vancouver] council collectively had a brain, they would realize that eco-density is an area like South Granville. These walk-up apartments — that to me is eco-density. There are 10 suites on a 66-foot lot. They’re affordable suites. If you tore that place down, and replaced it with a building that was in theory more environmentally friendly, it would take you about 40 years to pay back the energy that you used in building the new place. Plus you would lose affordability, which is another aspect of what I think of as eco-density. These are the people that walk, that tend to use transit, that are supporting the local businesses.
“We may come back in five years and find that the neighbourhood has changed because the buildings have been torn down and replaced by wildly ostentatious crap that people are building — the ‘limited collection of fine residences’ — and I think you’ll find that the net density will not really have gone up and affordability will be out the window. The place will work in a less environmentally friendly way, and you’ll lose heritage.”
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