Grandview-Woodland Area Council Responds to Citizens Assembly Recommendations
The Grandview-Woodland Area Council (GWAC) is not convinced that the area needs any more density. Recently rapid densification has made other parts of the city more expensive to live in. Larry Beasley, Vancouver’s former Co-Director of Planning suggests in his new book that 40 housing units per hectare makes for a livable, sustainable community. Grandview-Woodland is at or around that threshold now.
“The CA recommends up-zoning for towers in some parts of the neighbourhood,” said GWAC board member Jim Fraser, “but the City’s own report shows that Vancouver already has enough room within existing zoning for 20 years of growth. Yet the report was not made available to the CA.”
Some CA recommendations will lead to the demolition of affordable, three-story walk-up apartment buildings that are common throughout Grandview-Woodland. GWAC would like to see them kept standing, except where occupants’ health and safety are imperiled.
“This neighbourhood was created by and for lower income people,” said Garth Mullins, GWAC board member. “That’s part of what makes it so great. And we like it that way.”
GWAC president Dorothy Barkley added that “some infill, lock off suites and laneway housing could create affordable options. But expensive towers won’t.”
Before the City permits more development, over-stressed infrastructure must catch up with the existing demand. Grandview-Woodland is underserved in parks, daycare, transportation and other amenities.
GWAC calls on all levels of government to fully fund social goods. But the City is getting big developers to pay for everything from parks to social housing through Community Amenity Contributions (CACs). That’s one reason why the CA recommends more development. Under the CAC system, a developer negotiates a payment to the city for funding public amenities. In exchange, zoned height and density can be changed – behind closed doors. If the price is right, any community plan can be circumvented, even the CA’s Final Report.
“CACs undermine planning, create uncertainty and empower developers at the expense of communities,” said Mullins. “They open the door for corruption.”
GWAC calls for a return to public funding. But if CACs are to remain an important revenue source for a cash-strapped city, the community must be part of negotiating them. GWAC board member Eileen Mosca said “GWAC and other community groups must be part of the City’s negotiation of CACs in their communities.”
The CA has made many positive recommendations which GWAC supports. However, GWAC wants to be a part of any next steps and the implementation of the CA’s report. The City must consult the community on the Report.
Finally, GWAC would like to recognize the 48 members of the Citizens’ Assembly for the time and passion they put into the project. We may not all agree all the time, but we respect the commitment and contributions all CA members have made to our community.
The Grandview-Woodland Area Council (GWAC.ca) strives to represent the interests of Grandview-Woodland, to inform and activate its residents and to advocate for the protection and enrichment of our community
Contact: Garth Mullins
Contact: Jim Fraser