Francis Wong: Making affordability a priority for Vancouver city council

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      When I first moved to Vancouver with my family 15 years ago, there was a lot to like about the city. Those feelings become stronger as each year passes. Like many residents who now call Vancouver “home”, we are all attracted by the genuine tolerance of cultures and lifestyles. Recently, as I walk through and interact with people in each neighbourhood, I still sense a civic pride—of community. At the same time, I hear a lot of what is needed in the city and what things are no longer available to us.

      The message that speaks loudly to me is that of affordability. It has become more and more increasingly difficult for Vancouverites to have a chance of being able to stay and live in the community that they identify with most strongly. This change has gone beyond growing pains or simply the by-product of urbanization.

      It is important to help bring affordability back to Vancouver so that our people can live and work in the community that they have grown so attached to. If businesses can once again see the city as an attractive place to operate, this will bring employment and investment dollars that have a direct impact on the local economy.

      I will have a fresh look on how taxpayer revenues are spent. While property taxes have increased beyond the rate of inflation, community centres and parks have lacked basic maintenance, let alone planned improvements. By increasing council transparency, citizens will see the rationale behind decisions and understand the use of contingency funds.

      Simply put, does a proposed project result in an improved standard of living for Vancouver inhabitants now or in the future? Politics aside, any investment should result in an increase of usable green space, school standards, or affordability—all leading quality of living indicators.

      We are all investors in the City of Vancouver. If you have roots here and wish to live in an affordable city, I urge you to speak your mind and share your thoughts with your neighbours. But most importantly, I urge you to vote on November 19. As an elected council member for the City of Vancouver, I will remain someone that you can relate to, who shares the same concerns that you do.

      Francis Wong is a Non-Partisan Association candidate for Vancouver city council.