Saturday, May 27, 2017

Branding the North Shore

You have to hand it to the City of North Vancouver - they've got their marketing on track, selling LoLo as the hip place to be, with condos, nightlife, and easy improved Seabus access to Vancouver.  In many ways the City has been pretty successful at reinventing itself.

So if Lower Lonsdale is the place for bearded, tattooed, flat white drinking  hipsters, who is the District aiming itself at?  Their web site doesn't really offer a clue, it's strictly nuts and bolts stuff.  The Official Community Plan talks about adding 40,000 more people to the North Shore, but doesn't spend a lot of time considering who those people will be.

Families? Townhouses in our strata have just passed the $1 million dollar mark, so a lot of small families will surely be priced out of Lynn Valley unless they have inherited wealth.  Seniors? A growing group all over the country, but they too are facing financial squeezes as pensions fail to keep up with rising living expenses.  Foreign investors and immigrants?  That seems to be where West Vancouver's real estate has been heading.

The question for the District of North Vancouver is probably pretty simple: do we keep trying to maintain whatever we are now (or believe that we have been in the recent past), or do we try to plan for a new type of community and population?  Do we keep believing that because the last few decades were about single family homes, that the next half century will be the same?

Or is it time for a laissez-faire approach, just hoping that everything will work itself out?

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don't much care where—" said Alice.
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.
"—so long as I get SOMEWHERE," Alice added as an explanation.
"Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."


Anonymous said...

"The Official Community Plan talks about adding 40,000 more people to the North Shore"

That's easy. Change the OCP to talk about NOT adding 40,000 more people to the North Shore.

Problem solved.

Barry Rueger said...

Uh huh... Guess you'll decide to build a YUGE wall to keep people out? The Donald would approve.

However, if we're NOT going to build a wall at the north end of both bridges, and people DO want to move to the North Shore, who do you want to have as your neighbours, and what do we need to do to get them here, and keep them here?

Anonymous said...

Haha.. ya maybe that will be in the revised OCP Barry.

However, no wall. It isn't necessary since FULL means no more living spaces, therefore no more population growth. No wall required, just stop doing all the things necessary to bring and house and keep 40000 more people in our neighbourhood. The word will get out that Coquitlam is the place to be or Surrey, not the north shore cuz as nice as it is, it's FULL.

Maybe the City of North Van will come to the rescue having already embarked on a deep densification scheme already. Maybe Surrey will provide the land to hold the 40000. Maybe people moving to the lower mainland will get smart and start searching outside this region for a good life.

Maybe we ought to have an OCP that reflects that 'Vision' rather than the one that forces neighbourhoods into densifying when the residents are deeply opposed. (Lynn Valley Town Centre for example).

Anonymous said...

The problem with this type of branding is that it is inherently discriminatory: We want this, therefore we don't want this. I remember when the community was having a discussion about how to create a vibrant core for Lynn Valley center, with cool boutique shops and higher end hip restaurants. One of the seniors asked where they fit in to this plan, they are long time residents, but are on a fixed income with in a subsidized facility one block from the center. All of the planners wanted to talk about young and vibrant and the current residents felt unappreciated.

Anonymous said...

Agree with the poster that doesn't want more development and to get the word out that we are FULL. Don't need more density, traffic, pressure on parks, shopping, hospital etc.

Disagree with Barry's idea of "what do we need to get them here?" We don't NEED to get them here at all. There is a big difference between what a few folks want and what we need.

Anonymous said...

As you become increasingly unaffordable to people (38% affordability drop this year alone You've got yours, the rest be damned, right?

Anonymous said...

Correction. I earned mine. I support the rest to earn theirs.

Anonymous said...

You're completely missing the point, aren't you? When did you buy? If you've been around long enough like me and bought more than ten or fifteen years ago at a franction of today's prices, you won the lottery and likely wouldn't be able to buy in at today's prices. So I repeat, you got yours and don't give a damned about the coming generations. Empathy goes a long way in solving the problem.

Anonymous said...

Actually, you're missing the point. I care very much about the coming generations on the Shore. That is why I view densification as the direct driver of destruction of the quality of life for ALL residents and being empathetic to supporting that destruction IS the problem. Those that support spiraling density don't give a damn about the coming generations.

Anonymous said...

How will maintaining the status quo make it so future generations can afford to live here? Aside from inheriting, of course? Salaries haven't kept up with housing costs. Do realize how much a person has to earn to afford the mortgage on a median priced home in the DNV? How is this sustainable?

Anonymous said...

How will maintaining the status quo make it so future generations can afford to live here?
It is entirely possible that not all of a future generation will be able or should be able to live 'here'. That's what happens when you grow your population, but you are FULL.
And what you imply is that this is a bad bad thing. It isn't. The next generation have actually hit the jackpot in that they are growing up in a free and empty country. There is plenty of room in Canada and indeed in BC for anyone willing to access it.

Also, we boomers are numerous and we are reaching our expiry date. Perhaps my children will inherit the means to live here if they so choose. But you have to realize what you mean when you say, for example, that they might choose to live 'here'. The 'here' we are talking about will be long gone if we allow the sustainable development planners free reign. 'Here' will be Metrotown North with a few bike lanes scattered about. I don't want to preside over that transformation.

It's time to sprawl, for the country is empty.

And I have one question for you 10:41. Once the 'future generations' move into their tower cells, per your plan, and immigration continues to overfill the only place in Canada that isn't frozen half the year, will some future wit be asking "How will maintaining the status quo make it so future generations can afford to live here?" ?

Maybe the answer to that then will be the same as now . "By encouraging the opening up of our empty land to immigrants and native born alike. Not by cramming more and more people into a continuously degrading space, long filled to overflowing."

Anonymous said...

Who said anything about towers? Duplexes, row houses and townhouses are plenty. People go where the jobs are. Nobody is going to move to rural Canada for a cheap place to live if there's no work to support the family. By going with your glib "we're full" motif all you will do is raise the price of real estate even higher. It will become even more of a commodity than it already is. All those boomers who bought in the 60's, 70's and 80's have won the real estate earnings lottery and would never be able to enter the market had they been faced with today's scenario. Time for all levels of government to take the issue seriously and change zoning to allow for more housing options. The single family home on large lots is unsustainable.

Anonymous said...

By your own admission you tell us that additional units (densification) must be constructed to service additional population. You tell us that it is insanely expensive to live here now. Are there swaths of deserted N. Van neighbourhoods abandoned because they are unaffordable? No.

As expensive as it is our homes are fully subscribed and they will continue to be just as they are in Point Grey, West Van and other expensive real estate. So, regardless of salaries, there is no shortage of folks that can purchase N. Shore properties and there will continue to be.

I am not prepared to accept destruction of our unique, beautiful and fragile N. Shore to fill it up in highrise and multi-family dwellings in a hopeless attempt to mitigate the cost of living here. Vancouver real estate is a world commodity. Did building the hundreds of apartment towers in Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond curb the cost of housing in those communities? No.

Here is a hard pill. The idea that tearing down single family residences and low-rises and building high density dwellings will make our housing more generally affordable is a unicorn. It is a myth put forward to the sheeple by the unholy triad of developers, real estate agents and politicians (see NV City). Has the unbridled construction of hundreds of multi-family units in NV City over the last 20 years reduced the cost of housing (aka "affordable housing" in sheeple-speak)? No.

Rampant densification only serves to place more pressure on our roads, hospitals and amenities and adversely impact our natural areas.

Can the N. Shore hold back the tidal wave of international purchasers looking for a quality place to live by building more apartments. No. They will be purchased at market cost. Can a few publicly subsidized co-ops or low rent complexes make the N. Shore "affordable?"

We are full. We don't need more density. If you build it they will come and, just like every other neighbouring municipality with lots of highrises, the prices will not magically become "affordable."

King Canute couldn't hold back the tide. You can't either no matter how passionately (or empathetically) you believe that you can.

Anonymous said...

As rents and property values soar, everyone working service jobs are forced out of the community. As the prices rise in the communities surrounding Vancouver, those people are forced to move even further out for affordable housing. Who's going to work in the local schools, restaurants, shops if the commute is no longer worth the salary? Will your precious community turn into a ghetto for the rich with nobody willing to staff the service industries?

You can't decide you're full. The market will decide. Existing properties will become commodities that only the very rich can afford. Is that the sort of place you want to live? Might be time for government to take over and remove the option for private land ownership for sections of the communities and start building true social housing geared to all socio-economic levels.

Anonymous said...

I generally support your comments 10:13, but I do think we need a better mix of housing so people can move up and down through the housing market without having to leave. I am willing to accept a low growth rate where strategic growth is designed to meet our needs, not some hyper responsible notion that we owe it to the region. I would support adding seniors only housing in Seymour, Norgate, and middle Lynn (highway to village). Where we are letting down OUR young couples is by making them directly compete with cash rich seniors. Build a better seniors only option and you give some relief.

Anonymous said...

Anon 15:00. I agree with you on housing for low income local seniors. I would add similar amenities for the local special needs population. Where we differ is that our young couples are not solely completing with cash rich seniors for real estate. They are competing with the cash rich world. Our real estate market is global. So building housing for seniors thinking that is going to make other properties less expensive is illusory.

Anon 13:00. Where do the workers live in Singapore, London, Dubai and other ultra rich cities? The old chestnut that we won't have any workers in an expensive area is a tired gambit that is belied by those other areas that have already crossed that bridge and the sky didn't fall. They all have teachers, restaurants and shops with willing workers and so will we.

No fit and able person has a "right" to live in a community at public cost. If that was the case then where is the sign-up list for the "right" to live on West Van waterfront?

Sure, you can get a government to appropriate great tracts of private property for public use as you suggest. It's called communism. Hasn't worked well so far but you never know.

You are right about one thing. Yes, the world real estate market will decide. Until the day comes that off-shore property investment is limited by government there is not a darn thing that you or I can do about it. But one thing is for sure. If the developer/real estate industry/politician triad keeps increasing density we won't want to live here as much as we do now.

We are full.

Anonymous said...

You're not full. 75 and 100 foot lots can be subdivided to accommodate two or more single family homes with suites or carriage houses without impacting the character of your supposed village. Government owned housing isn't communism. And regulating or banning foreign ownership isn't out of the question. The commoditization of housing is the outcome of not only the evil triad you keep referring to but the greed of residents who are only too willing to benefit from their policies and activity. There are no innocents in this.

Anonymous said...

"Who's going to work in the local schools, restaurants, shops if the commute is no longer worth the salary?"

Nobody. So the schools will close, the restaurants will fold, the shops will shutter ... unless.... the salaries will rise due to demand and scarcity.
It could be an awesome time to be a waiter.

There is nothing new in this. In the days when it was hard to recruit, teachers willing to go north received a 'northern allowance' and the accommodation was subsidized. Sounds a lot like a raise to me. Even to this day, if you'll go to the Yukon or NWT there is higher pay due to higher costs. The market will adapt.

Anonymous said...

Well, there you have it folks.

In this corner we have the developer surrogate eager to tear down existing low density structures and rebuild in higher densities attracting more people, traffic and pressure on public and private amenities.

In the other corner we have the long time resident who states that our density is already too high and it is time to put a lid on unbridled densification so strongly supported by our developer/real estate agent/politician cabal and their surrogates.

Let the people decide at the voting booth.

I will be voting for the latter.

Hazen Colbert said...

Why do we have to brand anything?