Letters to the Sun: Wednesday, January 10, 2024

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It was recently reported that a major line item in the City of Vancouver’s most recent capital projects budget is $122 million to acquire land for social and supportive housing.

I couldn’t help but think of the Thin Streets initiative introduced in the late 1990s, designated a top priority by a housing affordability task force in 2012, and then unfortunately abandoned halfway through a pilot project. failed on a problematic street with bad public process.

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Essentially, a “narrow street” would repurpose a small portion of the city’s extensive, expensive, unproductive and heavily subsidized car storage space (aka residential on-street parking). This aligns with the city’s recent commitment to devote 11 percent of the city’s pavement to other uses.

Removing auto storage from half of a 66-foot underutilized street would allow a corner lot, for example, to extend 33 feet into the existing street and still leave room for sidewalks, trees, a traffic lane and a travel lane. traffic. parking, or two lanes of traffic.

If the city bought select corner lots with abandoned houses, doubled their size by taking up some of the street space, and then sold them to nonprofits for cooperative, social, or supportive housing, they could reduce land costs to the half for housing developers.

The neighbors would benefit from a mini-park, a playground or whatever they wanted in the rest of the freed space. The city would gain a financial benefit by converting a cost center (pavement maintenance) into a source of revenue (city taxes).

Like legalized basements and street houses (both once considered politically impossible but now accepted as planning orthodoxy), Thin Streets are a fiscally prudent step toward affordability that is ripe for implementation.

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Peter Ladner, Vancouver

Water, water everywhere?

This weekend’s Letters to the Editor included great ideas about water conservation in our wonderful province, known (until recently) for so much abundant rain. Even with changing environments and climate, the volume of rain when it comes is surely too much.

What surprises this reader, who witnesses how many voices have been periodically spoken about how to contain and manage this wonderful resource during the increasing times of drought, are how few results are evident. How is it possible that so much wisdom of ideas is also being wasted, and that those in positions of influence do not seem to realize anything to begin to make real progress on the many suggestions that are being made in progress? These include, as the letters mention, broader water metering, runoff control, “sponge parks,” increased wetland protection, etc.

It seems like we’re still keeping our heads in the sand.

John de Couto, Burnaby

Subject: This Week in History, 1974: Home Oil gas barge explodes in Coal Harbor

This story brought back memories while I was there. He was working in a law firm on the 25th floor of Bentall Three. I heard the explosion and went to investigate. I discovered that most of the staff had gathered in the northwest corner of the building, where there was a panoramic view of the harbor.

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I saw that the Home Oil gas barge was on fire and the flames were shooting thirty meters high. The barge appeared to be moving towards the nearby Esso barge and the situation was very dangerous. Suddenly, we saw a Cates Harbor tug (presumably the Lawrence L) crossing the harbor at high speed. I didn’t know a tugboat could go that fast. They went straight toward the burning barge and were obviously trying to attach a cable to the barge. It seemed to take forever before they managed to do it.

I remember thinking that those men were true heroes. They were at extreme risk of being incinerated if another explosion occurred. Furthermore, they had no greater duty than anyone else to do what they were doing. Suddenly I realized that they had managed to secure the cable and were towing the barge away from danger, very slowly at first but gradually gaining speed. A cheer arose from the crowd that had gathered to watch.

Garth Evans, Vancouver

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