Op-Ed: Treat Vancouver Election as a Referendum on Zoning Decisions
Elizabeth Murphy, a former property development officer for the City of Vancouver and for B.C. Housing, has penned an op-ed for the Vancouver Sun sounding an alarm about what she sees as a decade of the city forsaking Jane Jacobs in favor of Robert Moses.
The most recent example of Moses-like destruction of historic buildings in favor of new, dense development, is the city's recent rezoning to allow duplexes in 99 percent of the city.
There are a number of residential zones that allow new development with provisions that moderate demolitions and have demonstrated they keep this balance in check. These are called RT zones that are in parts of Kitsilano, Mt. Pleasant and Strathcona. These use incentives to retain and adaptively reuse existing character buildings, with disincentives to demolish, while allowing new development where appropriate.
These same principles can be used to create duplexes on a conditional basis rather than the outright duplexes that have just been approved citywide. The details of how a zone is crafted makes all the difference in terms of what the results would be.
The fact that the city chose not to use a more incremental approach, as suggested by Murphy, is called a "lost opportunity and a tragic mistake."
This discussion about recent zoning changes, along with additional discussion about the effects of the city's public transit projects, gives way to a call to action for citizens to vote according to their opinion of the Vancouver City Council's track record on matters of land use:
When deciding how to vote in the Oct. 20 civic election, look closely at how the current council has voted on the most recent citywide rezoning, as mentioned above, and vote accordingly. Greens and NPA voted against the rezoning, while Vision and Bremner (Yes Vancouver) voted for it.