Letters to The Sun, July 5, 2022: The Affordability Puzzle

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Much has been written about housing in Vancouver, and especially the issue of affordability. To its credit, The Sun sponsored a panel with some of the key players in Vancouver housing, including Housing Minister David Eby from the government and Bob Rennie from the development industry.

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Unfortunately, no real ideas were put forth to improve affordability other than the conventional wisdom of “build, build, build.”

It is hard to see how the continuation of new rental construction is going to address the affordability issue. Certainly more rentals should help increase availability. But at around $4 per square foot (the going rate for new construction rentals in Fairview), this won’t help affordability. This rate means that a 500-sq.-ft. studio will cost $2,000 per month. If we assume that one-third of the income must go to housing, then the renter of this small unit will have to earn more than $70,000 per year.

However, there are other ideas “out there” that don’t seem to be discussed by the government, the city, or the mainstream media.

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An example is the “UBC model” in which the owner provides the land (in this case, the UBC, but both the city and the province own the land) on a 99-year lease, but the The lease is structured in such a way that during the initial period the rental cost reflects the cost of the building, not the land. After the mortgage is paid off, say 25 years, the remaining years of payments go toward paying off the land. This appears to reduce the cost of rent by about 20 percent.

Other ideas, promoted by the likes of UBC’s Patrick Condon, look at zoning for affordability (this is being tested in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Berkeley, California) and studies by some of his students indicate profitable rentals can be developed. in low-rise wood frame buildings in the Broadway Plan area.

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We desperately need a discussion about alternatives to “build, build, build”.

One approach would be another “affordability puzzle” panel discussion, but this time with a mix of academics (like Patrick Condon, Andy Yan), planners (like David Ley, Larry Beasley), and someone from the development industry. to keep the discussion grounded in current reality (perhaps Bob Rennie).

Such a seminar would provide much value to the discussion on how to make Vancouver affordable again.

Jack Habart, Vancouver

Rebuild Lytton properly

Re: Many houses and infrastructure in Lytton to be rebuilt by next summer: Minister

This report on Lytton’s glacially slow restoration reported that “debris removal is underway, possibly allowing rebuilding to begin in September so water and sewer systems can be installed.”

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How did the wildfire destroy the underground water and sewage systems? Is the province initiating a long-awaited upgrade of the water and sewer systems under the guise of disaster recovery? If so, will displaced residents be compensated for long-term temporary housing costs?

Additionally, the Canadian Press article noted that Lytton will be rebuilt as “a fire-resistant, energy-efficient community.”

I’m all for making Lytton resilient against a future wildfire, but what good is putting solar panels on roofs and wind turbines in yards when the province is in the midst of building a $20,000 hydroelectric plant? millions?

I would applaud the new Lytton homes emitting zero greenhouse gases with electric heat pumps (to heat and cool spaces), kitchen stoves, and water heaters (and level 2 chargers in every garage).

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Derek Wilson, Port Moody

Weather, detectives and phone calls.

Ten years ago, I moved to a city of just over 10,000 people. The change in everything was spectacular in a positive sense. Sneaking into that scenario were changes that were subtle at first. The winters I enjoy saw more rain. My garden began to suffer from a more variable growing season. The frequency and scale of wildfires made the news regularly, along with flooding that affected transportation corridors and regional food production.

In a broader context, we are told that the number of extreme weather events has not changed much, but their intensity certainly has. Like detectives, the related sciences have searched for possible explanations for this apparent global change in climate dynamics and, like meticulous detectives, concluded that the rise in average global temperature was a major factor. The case does not end there. The real culprit for that warming was found to be our growing GHG emissions. Interestingly, it is often the victims of these changes who are slow to admit that they have been weather-assaulted or that there is even a culprit.

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Without consequences for these attacks, the culprit is more likely to reoffend. Is there a “climate 911”? I called the Conference of the Parties 26 times, but only got the same recording: “Please stay on the line, COP 27 will take place soon and your call will be answered then”. Well, should I stay on the line?

Ron Robinson, Nelson


Letters to the editor should be sent to [email protected].


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