Op-Ed: Upzonings Hurting Affordability More Than Helping in Vancouver

Zoning for new housing supply isn't the answer to Vancouver's housing affordability crisis, according to an editorial in the Vancouver Sun. In fact, it might only be making the problem worse.

July 15, 2016, 11:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Vancouver Skyline

Mark Van Manen / Vancouver Skyline

"Vancouver’s housing affordability crisis is being driven by development speculation and the unchecked flow of foreign capital," according to an editorial by Elizabeth Murphy.

The big argument of the editorial is in the headline: for Vancouver to improve its affordability crisis "More of the same is not the solution." But this isn't a YIMBY argument. Instead, Murphy argues that the city has plenty of housing supply potential as the result of rezonings in recent years. "In fact, Murphy argues, "rezonings for increased density inflates land values, which is a big part of the problem."

Murphy provides data to back up the claims about the increased building envelope in Vancouver, including data about the entire city as well as specific planning examples. Murphy argues that all that new zoned capacity hasn't stopped housing prices from skyrocketing. Murphy claims, then, that the actual solution to the housing affordability is much more complex: "It needs to deal with foreign capital flows and speculation."

The only detail in the article, however, describes the city's zoning situation, and not any policy recommendations to address the foreign investments identified by Murphy.

Friday, July 8, 2016 in Vancouver Sun

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