Vancouver Greens pledge to redefine affordable housing in election platform

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      A proposal for “people-centered” city planning and the adoption of a standard definition of housing affordability are some of the policies outlined in a full election platform released by the Green Party of Vancouver.

      At a news conference next to False Creek today (September 18), Green councillor Adriane Carr and the party’s slate of candidates for council, park board, and school board outlined their ideas for areas including housing and public consultation.

      “I think the most important issue facing the city is engaging people in planning so they don’t feel left out, and the way planning is done actually creates the city they want,” Carr told reporters.

      “Right now we have an absolute decline in trust in city government. So many people coming to city hall who say I don’t feel you’re listening to me, and I feel when I give my input, it’s never incorporated. That has to change. We have to revamp planning.”

      The Green platform proposes steps such as creating a new official community plan, and establishing and funding neighbourhood associations, similar to the Office of Neighbourhood Involvement model in Portland, Oregon.

      Carr described affordable housing as “probably the top-of-mind issue” for Vancouver residents.

      “We have to start in affordable housing by defining affordability in terms of what people can actually afford, and right now we don’t,” said Carr.

      “The actual definition of affordability starts at over $1,400 for a studio, which is simply not affordable for those who earn on average as renters $34,000 in this city.”

      The party says it will adopt the definition of affordability used by the provincial and federal governments, which is spending no more than 30 percent of gross income on housing.

      Their platform also outlines policies like putting an annual limit on apartment building demolitions, empowering the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency to build, own, and sell rental housing, establishing a community-based financing agency to offer low-interest loans for affordable housing construction, and working with the province and experts on ways to encourage full-time housing occupancy, including a potential “vacant” housing levy.

      “What’s jacking up the cost of housing in our city is the fact that we have upzoning or rezonings that are determining the value of land and speculation,” said Carr.

      “We need to be much more clear about the fact that we need a city plan. An actual city-wide plan, so that our planning isn’t done by spot rezoning, which is a terrible way to plan and a terrible way to redo your zoning map.”

      Transparency at city hall is another focus of the Green council platform, with proposals including public disclosure of lobbying activities, the establishment of an independent civic auditor and a city ombudsperson to investigate citizen complaints, detailed line-by-line operating budgets, faster responses to Freedom of Information requests, and holding public hearings in neighbourhoods, as well as evening council meetings.

      The party’s school board platform includes proposals to speed up seismic upgrades, and to ensure school cafeterias and meal programs are providing nutritious food.

      The park board platform calls for plans including expansion of park and recreational facilities that is proportional to population growth, and “community-driven planning”.

      Park board candidate Stuart Mackinnon acknowledged that the city's joint operating agreement with community centres needs to be updated.

      “But the current administration’s idea is to go in and bulldoze and tell them this is the way it’s going to be, or get out,” he charged.

      “We don’t believe in that. We believe in true consultation, we believe that the community centre associations are important in Vancouver. We believe that they know best what’s going on in their community and they should have a stake at the table. It shouldn’t be our way or the highway.”

      The Greens also released a series of policies related to poverty and homelessness, public transit, local economy, sustainability, and green energy.

      Proposals include supporting Vancouver becoming a “Sanctuary City” for refugees, adopting a living wage policy, adding more bus lanes, looking at shifting city construction to weekends and off-peak hours, and considering bike routes off arterials.

      Comments

      13 Comments

      John Trill

      Sep 18, 2014 at 4:00pm

      I was curious, sounds like a plan for the kind of city I believe in. Here's the link to the whole platform:
      http://vote.vangreens.ca/platform - I'm voting Green first and then will fill the rest of my ballot with other candidates standing up for an accountable and collaborative city

      Boris Moris

      Sep 18, 2014 at 4:20pm

      When will the Green Party pledge not to split the progressive vote anymore? When will they acknowledge that they have helped put right wing environment destroyers in power provincially and federally? When right wingers endorse Greens locally and pay for ads for Greens in provincial elections that should be a big clue that Greens are power hungry and venal opportunists.

      John Trill

      Sep 18, 2014 at 4:30pm

      Boris -- how is it vote splitting when you get to pick 10 City Councillors (Greens are running 3), 7 Park Board (Greens are running 2), 9 School Board (Greens running 2) ---- seems like the Greens are providing an opportunity for another voice at the table and willing to work with other parties.... instead of your power hungry, ram-it-down-the-community's throats party you love to troll for

      SeverinK

      Sep 18, 2014 at 4:31pm

      "Carr described affordable housing as “probably the top-of-mind issue” for Vancouver residents". Nice to see a party acknowledge that (instead of subways and bike lanes). Vision has completely dropped the ball on this issue and even made it worse. I can't see the NPA doing any better. Some more Greens elected would be a great thing for the city!

      Boris2

      Sep 18, 2014 at 4:44pm

      @Boris, you continue to shill for the flailing Vision party and make a ridiculous, untenable and anti-democratic argument. Everyone has a right to vote as they actually wish and see where the chips may fall. I'm sure if we followed your negative prescription no federal NDP members would have been elected in Quebec during the last election. Your party is running scared now that COPE has come to realize Vision is a sham and a sellout to developers and is not the progressive voice it purported to be. Your pact with the devil will be your undoing and your scare tactics are lame and ridiculous. A vote for Vision might as well be a vote for the NPA. I'd vote Green if I truly wanted a progressive voice in city governance.

      dsds

      Sep 18, 2014 at 6:33pm

      i believe that the green party will be able to address the issued of afforadbility in a pragmatic that cope will not be able to. vision has failed miserably at addressing this, likely because it is not part of the developers who fund their party's best interest.

      john

      Sep 18, 2014 at 6:42pm

      Totally agree with the views expressed here on the current council, which consists of gregor and penny and a bunch of like-minded rubber stamps. I don't believe for even a moment that Ms. Carr's lofty goals are attainable in this city, and affordable housing will never happen. That viscous circle of supply and demand will just never do away. Unless of course, we build walls around the city and not let in people from elsewhere who would love to live in Vancouver AND have cheaper housing.
      I don't like casting a ballot for 'anybody else' just to get rid of the incumbent, though I would do it anyway, since there's no way in hell that I'd vote for those sitting now. But regardless of how I may feel that some of Ms. Carr's aims may be unreachable, it's a guarantee that they'll never be attained if at least an honest and hard attempt isn't made, and though I've never voted Green before, I think that I'm about to change my tune. Now maybe I feel like I don't have to vote for the other guy to get rid of this guy, when that other guy could well just feel too beholding to a small but significant behind-the-scenes group with nothing but their own interests 'guiding' the way. This time, I can at least fell somewhat comfortable with casting my ballot as a positive, rather than a negative.
      At least, if Ms. Carr can come up with somebody behind the scene that keeps a modicum of control over both city expenses AND capital expenditures. No point in having homes that cost less if in return our taxes have to climb through the roof to pay for it. Some of her platform involves changes in the politics of running a city. Big plus on this one. Other parts, if she went for the whole shebang, WILL be expensive. Hopeful, rational minds won't turn to mush, with any thoughts of the taxpayers taking a back seat to cost be damned, full speed ahead. I, with a capital i, can't afford it. And it's my city, too.

      James Blatchford

      Sep 18, 2014 at 7:33pm

      Something about Adriane Carr makes my rhetoric detector spin wildly...these pronouncements not helping.

      PeterL

      Sep 18, 2014 at 8:39pm

      Adriane Carr has the right idea about city planning when she says spot zoning must end. Spot zoning leads to the highest bidder to city coffers defining zoning rather than the people that live in the city defining zoning.
      Vote Green and only green. You don't have to fill in all the spaces on your ballot. If you only vote for the candidates you believe in your votes become more powerful because you don't dilute them.

      Boris Moris

      Sep 18, 2014 at 10:16pm

      Very telling that Greens always avoid discussing their long history of being the best electoral friend that Gordon Campbell, Steven Harper and Christy Clark ever had.

      When NPA stalwart, Bill McCreery, publicly endorses the Greens and the BC Liberals take out ads endorsing Green candidates you know the Green Party leadership and candidates are nothing but power hungry pricks touting empty promises.