Last night, hundreds of people gathered outside Vancouver City Hall to protest the current neighbourhood re-zoning changes being proposed and passed by Vision Vancouver.
Many of the protesters are upset with the current Vision Council and their public consultation process. Marpole residents are upset with new towers popping up in their quaint neighbourhood, as are residents of Grandview-Woodlands (Commercial Drive) and let’s not forget the great Mount Pleasant Rize Tower debate.
This is a battle that will be taking place in other Vancouver neighbourhoods in the future as the city needs to densify outside of the downtown Vancouver peninsula and the Central Broadway corridor.
Does this anti-densification crowd represent the majority of Vancouverites? Probably not, but a vocal minority can have an impact on how decisions are made and such choices can have much wider regional impacts that opponents often ignore and do not see beyond their neighbourhood-centric views.
Density is Metro Vancouver’s number one tool to prevent the growth of urban sprawl in suburban communities and its negative effects region-wide. The region is also running out of land as it is a relatively small area that is tightly constrained by protected reservoirs and mountains to the north and east, the ocean to the west and the U.S.-Canada border to the south. Much of the region is also protected by park designations and the agricultural reserve.
In addition, density and the additional supply it brings to the market can be a tool to help drive down the highest real estate prices in the country. This is necessary not only for middle class families but also to prevent the ‘brain drain’ of our young and brightest.
Densification around the city’s main arterial roads and SkyTrain stations make much sense.
Ultimately, these rallies will most likely fall on deaf ears. The city’s population continues to grow at a rate of 6,000 to 8,000 people per year: Vision Vancouver or any other governing civic political party will face pressure to rezone traditionally single-family neighbourhoods to accommodate this growth and to maintain a healthy local economy. This is the reality of the situation, and the residents will have to come to terms with that sooner rather than later.
With the next municipal election in 14 months, more rallies will likely be organized.