Vancouver Elections - Time to look beyond party labels

Hoping to take our city away from developer control, last October 2018 we elected progressive candidates, among them NDP- and Green Party-backed figures. Unfortunately, we have not seen a concerted push from the left on Council to counter the undue influence of real-estate speculators on city development.

To the contrary, our current city council has prezoned huge areas of the city. In addition, legislation has been introduced and policies have been adopted to allow developers to obtain permits faster and without the encumbrance of public hearings.

These coming municipal elections, we need to question union or political-party endorsements before following suit.

We need to work towards electing those individual candidates who are free and bold enough to orient the city away from the current free-market style of development.

We must make sure that before approving any rezoning application, City Council knows where the money comes from for the proposed development. This practice is essential to avert the landslide of illegal money that is plaguing Vancouver’s real estate market and increasing the price of housing.

Vancouver needs a rezoning process whereby the approval of rezoning proposals is not done by the City Planning Department or on its sole recommendation. The City Planning Department – an unelected body which under this Council has given special access to developers – should not be the decision-maker but a body that works under and for the councillors and for the community as a whole.

The City of Vancouver has been moving to reduce public input as much as possible. We need to reverse that. We need a city council that does not impose massive changes on neighbourhoods, but that, instead, considers them an essential participant on city development: from the formulation of neighbourhood plans or visions to the implementation of these plans.

Single family housing is not the problem (in fact, it creates affordable rentals). The problem is a development style that Is developer-driven – a style that has unfortunately been embraced by the solid right/left multi-party majority sitting currently on City Council.

And while Vancouver continues on its way to becoming an ultra-expensive cement city, with less green space, less access to amenities, and less beauty; the housing crisis continues.

This is because the ever-growing number of high rises and other multi-storey structures is not bringing down house prices. Middle-income Vancouverites are struggling to live in their city, and low-income earners continue to be forced into skid-row hotels, Temporary Modular Housing or homelessness.  

We must go beyond the creation of a few blocks of rental housing (much of it unaffordable to low-income earners) and beyond the spread of some substandard subsidized housing. What we need is a major overhaul; a complete change in direction.

We need to empower our neighbourhoods and regulate private development to create enough off-market housing and to curb money laundering.

We need to follow and surpass examples like that of London (England), where buildings of 10 storeys and up must earmark at least 35% of the units for affordable housing. Or like they do in Montreal, where condo developers must build 60% off-market units for every new residential tower they want to erect. 

We cannot have a repeat of Burnaby, where a union- and NDP-backed mayor was given 16 continuous years to renovict and demovict thousands of working-class folk in order to allow for the building of luxury condos.

Vote for us because the others are worse”? Wrong!

In city politics right now, either you move in a direction preferred by money launderers and real estate speculators, or you empower the community and reform the system. There is no middle ground.

It’s clear that we don’t want an NPA- or Vision-led city council, but we cannot reelect those who, despite the progressive rhetoric, have served the developers.

It’s time to look beyond party labels.

The NDP needs to be taught that it should stick to provincial electoral politics and leave the municipal scene for which it has no platform.

Union leadership siding with developers to get jobs for their members need to be taught a longer view of community. The Vancouver District and Labour Council should be criticized for endorsing candidates who push the developer model, impervious to the inability of most unionized workers to access decent housing.

The Green Party needs to revise its municipal politics or its representatives or both.

Let’s reverse this undemocratic pro-developer course, and campaign for the regulation of private development and the empowering of neighbourhoods.

If the poor of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside got a dollar for every lofty phrase uttered in their name, they could each own one of the city’s new overpriced condos.

“Increasing housing supply benefits the poor,” we are told, as trees are felled to erect high rises in North Vancouver, and as towers multiply in Vancouver, Burnaby, and the rest of the Lower Mainland.

Straight talk: Van community group calls for neighbourhood control

We need community-oriented growth that maintains and increases access to services, amenities, and green areas. We need quality affordable housing with gardens, courtyards, and sufficient parking spaces. We need safe uncongested roads and accessible public transit. Livability matters. We need to both end homelessness and increase the livability of our city. We need affordability and livability.

 

To achieve these goals, it should not be market forces, but our communities, that determine city development:

We must have neighbourhood control.

Profit-driven development is harming our environment and diminishing our quality of life

Development permits for towers and other multi-storey structures are being issued with no concern for the loss of green space and with no provision for the increased demand on community services and amenities and on roads.

What is worse is that development is resulting in the loss of rental and social housing, in the loss of many locally-owned businesses, and in the tearing down of perfectly good houses to make room for expensive condos.

We are becoming an overcrowded expensive concrete city, while neighbourhoods are left powerless to stop a City Council who has increasingly disrespected them.

The last show of this Council's autocratic behaviour is, of course, their plan to upzone close to 70,000 single family lots in various parts of Vancouver, one month away from our Oct 20th 2018 municipal elections.

Neighbourhood control is the only way to empower communities

Websites have been created, newsletters written, forums organized...  Residents from all neighbourhoods have made time to come out clearly against many of the City's proposals. Nonetheless, City Council has acted against the wishes and interests of our communities. A good number of these decisions have passed unanimously. 

If neighbourhoods are going to have a say on what gets built in their midst, neighbourhood residents have to be given the right to vote on City proposals. RCCCD proposes a two pronged approach:

 

(1) a City-Wide Plan, and

(2) neighbourhood control over the specifics of the implementation of that City-Wide Plan.

Vote smart! Don't send developer backers to Council - Rally support for neighbourhood control !

On Oct 20th we may want to vote for those candidates whose track record shows that they understand that our standard of living is inextricably linked to the city where we live -- that they are for affordability and livability. We may want to vote for those who make a commitment to lobby for neighbourhood control.

But what is most important is that we get as many of our neighbours and friends as possible to explore the idea of neighbourhood control.  We can              

  • Get in touch

  • Tell our friends about this website

  • Pass around the RCCCD flyer

  • Get our committee or association to pass a motion in support of neighbourhood control

  • Attend RCCCD's Wed Sep 19th 2018, 7 to 9 pm, ALL CANDIDATES MEETING at Shamrock Hall, 2881 Main St Vancouver, and

  • On Sat Oct 20th 2018, vote.

From tiny expensive condos to luxury residences, developers and construction corporations build what is profitable, and rental and co-op housing are not. This is why the enormous supply of the last few years, and the corresponding densification, has made housing not more but less affordable for the many that are not well off. It has meant people of above-average means coming in, and residents on a fixed income, leaving.

“Housing has been financialized and turned into an investment vehicle, which has caused an oversupply of luxury housing and a lack of affordable housing in many cities across the world,” says urbanist Richard Florida, quoted by Geoff Dembicki in The Tyee [Click on the image to get to the article]. The answer is not an unchecked free market.

What good is an unlivable city?

Living in Vancouver doesn’t mean anything if in the process of growing our city, we end up destroying it.  What does it mean moving to Vancouver if once we’re here we realize that everything special about living here has disappeared? How is the city going to look if most of its single family housing disappears and with them disappear their gardens and backyards? Did we move to Vancouver to walk amidst wall to wall concrete buildings?

 

The eco-cloak and more bamboozling

Rezoning and densification have not resulted in more affordable housing but in handsome profits for developers, construction corporations, and real estate speculators. Yet we are told that the reason our downtown area and increasingly other neighbourhoods are being filled with towers is to protect the ecology and end homelessness. We need to expose this.

Neighbourhoods are showing us that they want to be heard, if Council only listened

City Council has been remiss in its duty to listen, and has acted in a top-down fashion. However, well organized massive campaigns of opposition have born fruit. Examples of these struggles are the successful campaign waged by local businesses and concerned residents on Commercial Drive and the Trout Lake neighbours who successfully mobilized to stop the paving of a community garden/park in order to stack rows of substandard temporary housing the City is trying to pass as "affordable housing." 

 

RCCCD's September 9th fun evening celebration showed that neighbourhood activists are eager to meet and work together. 

Developers back Vision Vancouver & BC Liberals

There seem to be powerful people who back both the BC Liberals and Vision Vancouver. On March 7, 2014 The Mainlander reported about a private roundtable lunch organized by real-estate tycoon Bob Rennie [Click on image to see article]. Developers and their friends paid $25,000 a ticket to attend. In his role as real-estate coordinator, The Mainlander says, Rennie has been key to the creation of both the Vision Vancouver and BC Liberal political dynasties. Rennie backed Christy Clark’s leadership bid and was appointed to the board of BC Housing.

Who are we?

Residents for Community Control on City Development (RCCCD) is a non-partisan organization. 

 

We believe that our neighbourhoods should have control over what happens in our respective communities and in our city.

 

We are aware that it will take a prolonged collective effort to elect honest and responsible people to City Council. But even after we elect the people we want, we believe that neighbourhoods will need to keep up the pressure to make sure that our city council comes through for our communities.

Please check this website frequently, follow us on facebook, and on twitter. Contact any member of our Board, or simply write to us.

We need you! We'd like to know your experience, your opinions, and, of course, your favourite slogans... Contact us.  

Contributed articles

This section showcases stimulating letters and articles of note that explore various important topics relevant to life in our city. Opinions expressed here by our contributors are their own.

To begin with, Bill McCreery makes thought-provoking recommendations in his article, "Council should work with communities as partners"

LINKS to other community organizations

Hundreds of members of our communities have devoted precious time to defending our city. From letters to the editor to petitions to City Council to research, forums and rallies, neighbourhood activity has been constant. Each website offers us a window to these activities.

Please reload