Letters to the Sun: Tuesday, May 7, 2014

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Re: This is what Vancouver’s Broadway corridor could look like with 7,200 new rental homes

The entire rationale of the Broadway Plan—that higher densities will lead to more housing affordability—was flawed. Older affordable rental buildings will be demolished and replaced with new towers with the highest market rents in Canada, without increasing our affordable rental stock. This is a serious social problem amid the worst housing affordability crisis in a generation. The current urban planning requirement of only 20 per cent “below market” affordable housing is simply not enough to provide enough housing that is affordable for the middle-income Vancouverites who make this city run: the teachers, the police, nurses, shopkeepers and shopkeepers who I can’t afford to live here.

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Of course, any housing offer is good, especially close to subway stations to support public transportation use and meet the demand of Vancouver’s growing population. But if you pretend it’s affordable, it’s not.

That 20 percent “inclusionary zoning” affordability planning tool in exchange for huge density bonuses given to builders at the stroke of a pen will simply replace what has been lost, without offering more affordability. New towers placed randomly on side streets away from the subway will “block” existing affordable neighborhoods. What is the planning purpose of this, other than to encourage land speculation and provide landowners with windfall profits?

Jessica Hayes, Metro Vancouver’s Director of Housing, agrees that “there is an opportunity to expand this tool and offer even more (affordable) units.” If the city is serious about affordability, that land windfall can be leveraged to achieve a 50 percent affordability requirement that is more in line with current housing needs. For a project to be financially viable, further incentives will be needed for builders, such as a GST/PST cut on rental construction, zero council rates and taxes in return for 50 per cent affordability and fast Council approvals. Without more proactive housing policy, our affordability crisis will worsen.

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Arny Wise, Vancouver

The old trees at Pacific Spirit Park are inspiring

Re: ‘Silent trails’ coming to Metro Vancouver parks in pilot project

Thank you very much for the article “Silent Trails”, which I really relate to. I love exploring the trails at Pacific Spirit Park in my neck of the woods.

When we were refugees from Estonia in Sweden, we lived in the forest before I went to school. The only job my parents could do without speaking Swedish was cutting trees. Trees were my friends too. When my dad gave me a mandolin for my 10th birthday, I had a lesson, which was enough to play some of the songs I learned at school. Since some of the Swedish children were not allowed to play with us refugees at that time, I found friends in the trees who listened to me play my mandolin on a hill. I loved the smell and silence of the forest, especially in the fall, on the way home from school in Sweden.

Now, here in Vancouver, I am lucky to live near Pacific Spirit Park, where I walk with friends, inspired by the old trees supporting new growth, embodying them as if they were people. I love painting them in watercolor, using any method possible to create the texture in the bark. They talk to me. They talk to each other.

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Enda Bardell, Kitsilano

Vomiting and hate speech should never be allowed.

Subject: Speech at pro-Palestine protest in Vancouver investigated as hate crime, woman arrested

How is it possible that this woman, Charlotte Kates, is free to vomit and incite hatred on the streets of a Canadian city? Why aren’t politicians, the RCMP and Canadians doing something to get this woman out of our country? She openly supports terrorism and for this reason she was expelled from Europe. She now freely spews her hatred on the streets of Vancouver.

What has happened to our country to make this acceptable?

Irene Daigle, Cumberland

Issue: Vancouver park board seeks one-time budget increase to control alcohol on beaches

Does the city need almost a million dollars to control alcohol consumption on its beaches? I am 79 years old, born and raised in Vancouver. There has always been alcohol on our beaches. People can use their cell phones to call for help if necessary. If you insist on moving forward with the city’s proposal, use carbon tax money. For a change, let’s give taxpayers a break.

William Shayler, Vancouver

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