Elizabeth Murphy was formerly a Property Development Officer for the City of Vancouer:  Her article ‘Housing Affordability  Rush to Zone’ appears in the July/August, 2016 edition of ‘Common Ground.’https://elizabethmurphyblog.wordpress.com

Some of our neighbourhood received the post-card from City Hall today, announcing a new date for 2090 Oakridge to go to a Public Hearing.  Anyone can bring forward an application for re-zoning, but Council is not compelled to move it to a Hearing.

As I have written before, this rush to yank our Land Use Contract away need not happen.  Let our unique place prepare mentally and financially for that inevitable time, when by 2024 the Province ends all LUCs.  But the sudden move eight years early lacks consideration or respect for all of us, who bought and cared for our properties and put down roots here.  One owner recently spent a lot of money getting all the City’s permits and brought in a brand new mobile.  No one at the City gave her a hint that the City was planning  major changes that let mobiles be pulled out and replaced by large houses and secondary suites.

Who most benefits by this strange rush to collapse eight years down to NOW, to IMMINENT?  Clearly the speculators waiting in the wings will be enriched. Judging from the number of politicians who own a rather impressive list of properties, …. I’m guessing those landlords may have been more in the loop than those of us who just live here.

The promise of higher land values comes with ominous questions about municipal taxes also rising. For people who don’t have much money left at month end, a significant tax increase will deprive them of their homes.  No sweat, …..they can RENT from landlords who replaced these mobiles with large houses and rental suites.

 The staff at City Hall have been quality in their dealings with the neighbours here.  But as we compare notes with one another, there is a lack of consistency or clarity in the answers people get to their questions.  So no matter how you want to see this all settle out, it’s important to get answers in print form, as well as verbal.

One woman asked a staffer how they would feel if suddenly their land were re-zoned, and the staffer in all earnestness replied, “Why I would take the extra money and run.”  Yes, the value of our land would likely rise, but this city employee, like our Mayor and Councillors seem to assume mobile home dwellers are just waiting to move up in life,…..to a REAL house.  Another staffer told a neighbour that they were SURPRISED at how lovely our community really is,…..once you slow down and look.

People here bought with their eyes wide open, knowing we were covered by a LUC that trumps the underlying RS3 zoning. We put down roots here, fixed our homes and planted gardens, not in anticipation of a different zoning that will raise our selling price.  We’ve got a treasure here, and it need not be snatched away with such haste to gift land speculators.

Elizabeth Murphy was formerly a Property Development Officer for the City of Vancouer:  Her article ‘Housing Affordability  Rush to Zone’ appears in the July/August, 2016 edition of ‘Common Ground.’

Here’s some of Murphy’s article in the Sun, though the Common Ground version is longer.  She quotes Michael Kluckner, “You don’t build affordable housing, you retain it.”  This is an important principle that should be applied across the city.”

That is exactly the same thing our Mayor and Council said they believe too in: https://www.abbotsford.ca/Assets/2014+Abbotsford/Communications/Master+Plans+and+Strategies/2011+Affordable+Housing+Strategy.pdf

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See photo of section titled ‘Objectives‘ in which City Hall expressly has as it’s FIRST POINT……..Preserve existing affordable housing units.

Back to Elisabeth Murphy’s article:  “So the key to housing affordability is to slow down the industry’s expectations that everything is up for rezoning and development. Spot rezoning has become the new normal. This has to change.

Then perhaps staff will have more time to process the backlog of permits that currently is taking so long to get through an overburdened city hall. It should not take many months, sometimes over a year, to get a simple interior renovation approved like many applicants are currently experiencing.

It also increases cynicism in the electoral process when people can see that the big money going into political parties is coming from the same people who get large rezoning approvals.

Worse yet is that at the civic level there is no requirement even for reporting donations between election years. So with a four-year term, three years of donations go unreported unless reported voluntarily.

Although provincial parties must report donations on an ongoing basis, there are no donation limits on amounts or bans on corporate or union donations. Civic campaign finance legislation is under the control of the province that is reluctant to make changes that would require provincial campaign finance changes as well.

So campaign finance reform, at both the civic and provincial levels, is essential to creating checks and balances that help to moderate housing prices by reducing the enormous political influence of vested interests on land use policy.

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