Before the election campaign started, I already knew that the housing situation in Vancouver was getting dire. I mean, it’s obvious to anyone who lives here, unless they have a six-figure salary and don’t get out much. High rents, renovictions, demolitions, low wages, and a hollowing-out economy with low wages and increasingly precarious work situations — all of these things are bad enough, and demand serious action. And COPE is prepared to take action on housing.
But I wasn’t prepared for what I was going to learn during the campaign. It turns out that things are worse, much worse, than I thought they were. This election is no longer about a competition of ideas, but instead it is our last chance to avert disaster.
I’ll forgive you if you’re skeptical. This is an election campaign after all. But here’s how it stacks up:
- Vision has been selling off city land that could be used to build housing. They are stripping the city of its assets at an alarming rate. In another few years, there may be very little left.
- “Transit oriented development” means money that used to be available for building public housing and amenities will no longer be available for that. Did you know that the possible Translink funding for the proposed Broadway subway (itself a huge mistake) only pays for part of the cost? Most of the rest is meant to come from developer charges on clusters of new towers along the line. And this is going to be where that money goes in the future: away from public housing, and in to politicians’ pet megaprojects.
- Vision’s political interference in planning means developers rule the city, more than ever. Take a look at this open letter from urbanist Ned Jacobs regarding the Grandview-Woodlands planning fiasco — he explains it very clearly. Whatever the citizens, and even the planners at City Hall, have to say, secret manoeuvres by developer-funded politicians give us plans and buildings that are bad for citizens, but good for big money.
So this is it. The coming election is for a four-year term, instead of three years. If Vision and their backers get what they want, you definitely won’t recognize the city in four years, and you definitely won’t be able to afford to live here. And if they sell off city land, take money for housing and channel it into impractical megaprojects, and continue to pervert neighbourhood planning, they will make it pretty much impossible for anyone to build public housing when they are done.
On our housing disaster clock, we’re five minutes away from midnight, and only ten days away from the election that can prevent this looming disaster. We need a progressive majority on Vancouver City Council — no more domination by developer parties. COPE is the only non-developer party that is running a majority slate for Council. The choice is clear — vote COPE. Whatever you do, don’t let Vancouver have another four years of developer-dominated government.