Wednesday, April 23, 2008

EcoDensity That I Would Vote For



I'm not thinking about what is happening on SE False Creek, what with it's well 'planned' $3000 sq/foot condo units, or the travesty of what is supposed to happen at Little Mountain/Main where the affordable housing component could, potentially, go from 100 to something like 11%.

Instead, I'm thinking about what Cameron Gray had to say to Vancouver City Council recently (saved for posterity by the ever diligent AB FABula).

This is my favorite of many very good and thoughtful passages:

EcoDensity is not the first initiative undertaken by the City to address the need for new forms of housing. The new neighbourhoods pioneered by the City in the 1970s on the south shore of False Creek and in Champlain Heights were a response to rising housing costs, and the fact that young families with children would not afford to live in Vancouver.

The City pioneered higher density forms of housing such as stacked townhouses, clustered and courtyard housing that would be more affordable than single family housing. And that housing remains more affordable than single family homes today.

The fact is, as a former colleague put it, “not all dense housing is affordable, but all affordable housing is dense”. And yes in part the affordability is achieved because the units are smaller, as they are, relative to single family houses, on the south shore of False Creek and in Champlain Heights. And in part because of lower land costs, less exterior wall, shared roofs, less parking, etc.

I mention False Creek South Shore and Champlain Heights for another reason. And that is to make the point that EcoDensity or any other kind of density will not, alone, ensure affordability for households of incomes. The only way to do that is to ensure that tenures are available that are inherently more affordable, such as market rental, affordable homeownership, and especially social housing funded and subsidized by senior government housing programs, all of which were developed in those communities.

Imagine that!


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