Vancouver City Councillor

Category — Housing

Metro Vancouver Alliance promises to be new, strong force for social justice uniting labour, community, faith groups

Last week’s founding gathering of the Metro Vancouver Alliance at a packed Maritime Labour Centre auditorium, resounding with singing and speech-making, signalled the arrival of a significant new force for social justice on the city’s political scene.

Keynote speakers included the local leaders of the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches, as well as labour council officials and a wide range of community activists. (I was invited to respond to the MVA goals on behalf of city councillors.)

Although resolutely non-partisan, the MVS unites unions, community organizations and the Lower Mainland’s largest Christian faith communities in a new organization dedicated to campaigning against poverty and for improvements in housing, transit and civic engagement — non-partisan, maybe, but not apolitical.

March 26, 2014

Urban Futures survey shows massive and growing support for public transit investment to tackle congestion

Do Metro mayors face a tough sell on the upcoming transit referendum, as Ken Cameron suggests in this Tyee review of the new Urban Futures survey? Or is public opinion waiting for elected officials to catch up?

In fact, as Cameron notes in his analysis, this massive 2012 review of Metro public opinion found support for transit investment growing very significantly since the last survey was conducted in 1990. The relevant chart is on page 46 here.

Not so reassuring: the declining anxiety about the housing supply.

March 26, 2014

Why the solution to unaffordable housing requires building much more housing

Once you get past his job title, “planetary futurist in residence” Alex Steffen, of the design and innovation firm Ideo, makes a simple point in this Guardian essay that is too often missed in the debates about housing affordability: if you want social justice, “build a lot more housing.”

Steffen, a native of San Francisco and its insane housing market, argues that to make housing affordable again, “‘we need to catch up to decades worth of unmet demand.” To achieve that goal, we’ll have to change how we build cities.

Who wins? Steffen sees a growing constituency for this approach among the young. “Young people tend to understand that new housing, well-built, can be a tremendous force for positive transformation.”

Add in good design, and new housing can not only hold down housing costs, it can “help grow new, people-centred streets, incares use of bikes and transit and promote healthier and more active lives.”

Now about that “planetary futurist” job – where do I apply?

February 16, 2014

Agreement between Vancouver Coastal Health, disabilities advocates opens door to new Pearson lands policy

A new agreement worked out in several days of hectic talks between Vancouver Coastal Health and disabilities advocates, including the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities, may have opened the door to council approval of a new development policy for the Pearson lands.

The new language has also been endorsed the city’s Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities, according to committee chair Jill Weiss.

Just two weeks ago, council was rivetted by the submissions of a score of disabilities advocates who were determined to insure that no institutional facilities were included in housing options on the redeveloped Pearson site at 57th and Cambie. Council unanimously voted to send the report back to staff for further talks with Vancouver Coastal Health.

A new agreement was achieved, says Brian Jackson, general manager of planning and development services, and will be put before council this week. If passed by council, the new policy statement will mark a significant victory for disabilities advocates.

February 3, 2014