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Old Posted Nov 22, 2019, 4:04 PM
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High-rise buildings a sign of progress, but some say they don't belong

https://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/high-ris...long-1.4697757

Oh dear... a new crop of NIMBYs has just been harvested by our local news media.
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Old Posted Nov 22, 2019, 5:28 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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Whether the news media 'harvested' them or not is debatable.

Regardless, I can see both sides of it. On one side we need to increase density on the peninsula and just around it - projects like these are a great way to get more people living closer to the population centre and will help to reduce overall traffic by providing people with shorter commutes.

On the other hand, and I've lived this, to be living in a relatively (still a lot of traffic in that area) quiet neighborhood of homes and suddenly have a huge building growing up in your backyard is quite jarring, and honestly does negatively impact the enjoyment of your property, that you've invested a lifetime of earnings into. Don't need to go into details (I have on this forum before), but it can really ruin your experience of living at home in many ways.

So, some people will love it, some people will hate it. Business as usual for any city in Canada. Struggles will happen, life goes on.
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Old Posted Nov 22, 2019, 5:48 PM
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Originally Posted by OldDartmouthMark View Post
On the other hand, and I've lived this, to be living in a relatively (still a lot of traffic in that area) quiet neighborhood of homes and suddenly have a huge building growing up in your backyard is quite jarring, and honestly does negatively impact the enjoyment of your property, that you've invested a lifetime of earnings into. Don't need to go into details (I have on this forum before), but it can really ruin your experience of living at home in many ways.
As I sit here typing, I'm by a window pointed toward a 25 storey building that's only tens of meters away from me. It's behind another 4 storey building and it's to the north of me so it has ~0 impact. Actually right now I am getting extra sun reflected from the building next door to the north. My view is brighter than it would have been with no building there.

What I don't like about these stories is that there is very little nuance and the reporters don't do the work to see what was studied as part of the development approval process, or even suggest that such study takes place. Traffic studies, shadow studies, and wind studies are done for all of these larger developments. The studies are more reliable predictors of effects than the conjecture of disgruntled residents, but we only hear the opinions of the disgruntled residents because that feeds the clickbait outrage machine.
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Old Posted Nov 22, 2019, 8:39 PM
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As I sit here typing, I'm by a window pointed toward a 25 storey building that's only tens of meters away from me. It's behind another 4 storey building and it's to the north of me so it has ~0 impact. Actually right now I am getting extra sun reflected from the building next door to the north. My view is brighter than it would have been with no building there.

What I don't like about these stories is that there is very little nuance and the reporters don't do the work to see what was studied as part of the development approval process, or even suggest that such study takes place. Traffic studies, shadow studies, and wind studies are done for all of these larger developments. The studies are more reliable predictors of effects than the conjecture of disgruntled residents, but we only hear the opinions of the disgruntled residents because that feeds the clickbait outrage machine.
Sounds like you have a great view!

I can't speak to their experience or this case in particular. But I do get tired of the same old NIMBY label that we place on people to allow ourselves to completely write them off as being unreasonable (cancel culture?). It seems more and more the 'outrage machine' is aimed at those whose views we don't agree with, rather than trying to take some sort of balanced view of things.

For example, this is a skyscraper forum, so of course I expect everybody to talk about 'those damn NIMBYs' holding up yet another one of our beloved buildings that still won't be tall enough to satisfy us. If this were a 'vintage mid-century house' enthusiast forum (if such a thing exists) then there would be outrage at those damn developers ruining everything for everbody. Outrage is everywhere to the point that we just turn it off (or at least I do) as being non-valuable information.

In my case it was about 40 years ago, and we lived in an old neighborhood with single family houses built in the 1910s-20s. Modest houses, not so big with relatively small lots with a small backyard. There was nothing ostentatious about it, just an old neighborhood that was reasonably quiet and private, where all the neighbors knew each other. We had a garden in the small backyard that got good sun, and our lot backed onto an old larger lot that had an old Victorian-era "mansion" on it (don't remember much about it, unfortunately, but its large lot was the main reason for our small lot... lol). Anyhow - long story short, an (ugly) 4-storey apt building was built up to about 5 ft from the lot line, taking much of the direct sun from the backyard, making the garden less productive, and basically switching our experience from being in a private yard to (for a relatively shy person, as many of us were back in the day) feeling like we were on display 24/7. No biggie, most people would think, but it was a time before phone cameras and social media - privacy was different than what is considered privacy today, and it was valued. Living with it 24/7, it gets old after awhile.

So, yeah, damn NIMBYs, wanting to block one of our glorious towers for their own selfish needs... but you need to consider that most people pay their mortgage for pretty much their entire working careers - it's a huge investment for most, and they didn't buy into 'skyscraper glory', they bought into a small neighborhood with traffic but little else. At least we owe them that understanding.

Regarding media sensationalism... are we surprised? Pretty much everything in the media is clickbait now - and scanned over in 30 seconds or less. Serious journalism is harder to find now, and even harder to earn a paycheque with. So, whatever, the outrage on either side is ringing hollow to me, but I still know how it feels to have your living situation changed for the negative and to have no control over it. It sucks for them.
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Old Posted Nov 22, 2019, 9:00 PM
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So, yeah, damn NIMBYs, wanting to block one of our glorious towers for their own selfish needs... but you need to consider that most people pay their mortgage for pretty much their entire working careers - it's a huge investment for most, and they didn't buy into 'skyscraper glory', they bought into a small neighborhood with traffic but little else. At least we owe them that understanding.
I feel for renters more than I feel for homeowners. Higher density tends to drive up land prices and homeowners benefit from that. In Halifax it is very easy to sell in one neighbourhood and buy somewhere cheaper a few km away.

There is no good way to guarantee everyone a stable urban neighbourhood from the time they move in to the time they feel like moving out. I understand why people like that but it's not how cities work. The closest you could get is to buy a large acreage out in the country so that you control the land you want to keep unchanged, and again this option is available in metro Halifax. Some people seem to want it both ways, and want to control property they don't own, and they want urban conveniences but not urban dynamism.
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Old Posted Nov 22, 2019, 9:44 PM
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I feel for renters more than I feel for homeowners. Higher density tends to drive up land prices and homeowners benefit from that. In Halifax it is very easy to sell in one neighbourhood and buy somewhere cheaper a few km away.

There is no good way to guarantee everyone a stable urban neighbourhood from the time they move in to the time they feel like moving out. I understand why people like that but it's not how cities work. The closest you could get is to buy a large acreage out in the country so that you control the land you want to keep unchanged, and again this option is available in metro Halifax. Some people seem to want it both ways, and want to control property they don't own, and they want urban conveniences but not urban dynamism.
Hey, I said I can see both sides of this. Just giving one side of things that is never covered here.

As far as density driving up home prices, I feel that having a large building built next to your place would decrease the value, but I don't have data, and I'm not a real estate agent. However, if I were a buyer, it would deter me, and I suspect others would feel the same.

Sure, you can be blasé over somebody who was intially happy where they live, then turned unhappy enough that they will go to the trouble and expense of moving - it's really easy to say it's no problem when it's somebody else's problem...

Obviously we can't have everything we want in life, and there's no guarantees... for anybody. But at least we can try to understand a little...
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Old Posted Nov 24, 2019, 7:00 AM
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Yeah, don't think about the 1.2% vacancy rate allowing the few units in the city be priced out of people's price range, we need to protect the people that already have homes. Let's go back to the good old days when the population shrank so low we could keep traffic down and avoided having to make major investments.

We've added 20,000 people over three years, if each of those families wanted a half acre lot that's 5000 acres never mind the cost of running services to the 50 new suburbs that would spring up overnight, we'll make those silly urban dwellers pay for that. We won't think about the next 20,000 people either, they don't exist yet.
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Old Posted Nov 24, 2019, 8:31 PM
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Yeah, don't think about the 1.2% vacancy rate allowing the few units in the city be priced out of people's price range, we need to protect the people that already have homes. Let's go back to the good old days when the population shrank so low we could keep traffic down and avoided having to make major investments.

We've added 20,000 people over three years, if each of those families wanted a half acre lot that's 5000 acres never mind the cost of running services to the 50 new suburbs that would spring up overnight, we'll make those silly urban dwellers pay for that. We won't think about the next 20,000 people either, they don't exist yet.
Your sarcasm isn’t appreciated, but I understand yours and someone123’s point.

I don’t look at this as a battle between single home dwellers and apartment dwellers for the most advantageous locations but I realize that this is the flavour of the day, so have fun with it.
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Old Posted Nov 24, 2019, 8:55 PM
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I feel for renters more than I feel for homeowners. Higher density tends to drive up land prices and homeowners benefit from that. In Halifax it is very easy to sell in one neighbourhood and buy somewhere cheaper a few km away.

There is no good way to guarantee everyone a stable urban neighbourhood from the time they move in to the time they feel like moving out. I understand why people like that but it's not how cities work. The closest you could get is to buy a large acreage out in the country so that you control the land you want to keep unchanged, and again this option is available in metro Halifax. Some people seem to want it both ways, and want to control property they don't own, and they want urban conveniences but not urban dynamism.
This is well put, and is something that isn't said enough. The bottom line is that no one is guaranteed to live in a neighbourhood that is static but a lot of people have this absurd expectation. It's one thing to not personally want to have a large apartment building constructed behind your backyard but quite another to actively campaign against it, usually with arguments of dubious merit.

If your neighbourhood changes and you don't like the outcome, then move. Simple as that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldDartmouthMark
As far as density driving up home prices, I feel that having a large building built next to your place would decrease the value, but I don't have data, and I'm not a real estate agent. However, if I were a buyer, it would deter me, and I suspect others would feel the same.
In the short term there may be a dip in the value, sure. But in the long term it's doubtful. If the neighbourhood is generally densifying, that typically means the level of services in the neighbourhood is also increasing. People are willing to compromise to live in a walkable neighbourhood near parks, schools, shops, bars, restaurants, access to public transit, etc. Sometimes that compromise means your single family home is adjacent to large apartment buildings.

I'm currently shopping for a single family home in downtown Fredericton. For my budget I could easily buy a brand new house in a suburb with a huge kitchen, ensuite, two car garage, etc. Instead I'm likely to buy a house without those features. That's the compromise I need to make in order to walk to work, have one car instead of two, etc. It's the same kind of thing.
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Old Posted Nov 24, 2019, 9:24 PM
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To me a big part of the problem is that it's so common for large parts of a city to be zoned exclusively for single family homes to the point that the only way to satisfy demand for new housing is either greenfield sprawl on the outskirts or highrise projects on the limited sites where they're permitted. I honestly don't believe that the type of zoning which excludes anything but low density housing should even be permitted. I don't have a problem with hight limits in certain neighbourhoods, but it should be possible to at least build lowrise apartment and condo buildings in any residential area if there's demand for them. If that were possible (and had been possible for awhile) then it would be less necessary to even have larger residential highrises in a setting such as HRM.

The fact that such exclusionary zoning exists is something I honestly consider to be a form of corruption. City officials are likely to know and have connections with these established residents and perhaps be among them themselves. It isn't about renter vs owner necessarily, but rather about the influence of entrenched, established interests vs those who are still struggling to get a foothold. Showing that type of deference to the former is not the way that government power should be used in a democracy. The government should be considering everyone, and should certainly give greater consideration to those who are in need of housing. There's no legitimate reason that the government should be using its power to shield the established from being affected by a city's growth or allow established neighbourhoods to shirk their responsibility to host their fair share of new residents force smaller areas such as major streets and downtowns to absorb disproportionately disruptive changes. If we were to really be fair, areas with the lowest density such as those dominated by SFHs would be absorbing the most growth since they're the ones with the lowest density and can therefore handle more.

Yes I understand that people don't like changes and I sympathize with their feelings. As long as they're reasonable and know better than to use their emotional reactions as an excuse to act out in ways that harm the rest of the community.
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Old Posted Nov 24, 2019, 9:27 PM
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This is well put, and is something that isn't said enough. The bottom line is that no one is guaranteed to live in a neighbourhood that is static but a lot of people have this absurd expectation. It's one thing to not personally want to have a large apartment building constructed behind your backyard but quite another to actively campaign against it, usually with arguments of dubious merit.

If your neighbourhood changes and you don't like the outcome, then move. Simple as that.



In the short term there may be a dip in the value, sure. But in the long term it's doubtful. If the neighbourhood is generally densifying, that typically means the level of services in the neighbourhood is also increasing. People are willing to compromise to live in a walkable neighbourhood near parks, schools, shops, bars, restaurants, access to public transit, etc. Sometimes that compromise means your single family home is adjacent to large apartment buildings.

I'm currently shopping for a single family home in downtown Fredericton. For my budget I could easily buy a brand new house in a suburb with a huge kitchen, ensuite, two car garage, etc. Instead I'm likely to buy a house without those features. That's the compromise I need to make in order to walk to work, have one car instead of two, etc. It's the same kind of thing.
Fine points and well said. To be clear, the sentiment behind my previous posts was simply this: you invest your life’s earnings into your house, and thus it should be understandable for people to be upset when something happens that decreases your enjoyment of your dwelling, in much the same way as having an inconsiderate neighbor in an apartment next to you, or somebody building a condo in front of yours, blocking the view. Instead it gets turned into some kind of argument that they should suck it up for the greater good... which is really just saying that you shouldn’t be upset because it doesn’t affect me at all...

I agree that I wouldn’t protest it, but that people do is their right in a democratic society. They won’t win anyhow, they never do...
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Old Posted Nov 24, 2019, 9:31 PM
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To me a big part of the problem is that it's so common for large parts of a city to be zoned exclusively for single family homes to the point that the only way to satisfy demand for new housing is either greenfield sprawl on the outskirts or highrise projects on the limited sites where they're permitted. I honestly don't believe that the type of zoning which excludes anything but low density housing should even be permitted. I don't have a problem with hight limits in certain neighbourhoods, but it should be possible to at least build lowrise apartment and condo buildings in any residential area if there's demand for them. If that were possible (and had been possible for awhile) then it would be less necessary to even have larger residential highrises in a setting such as HRM.

The fact that such exclusionary zoning exists is something I honestly consider to be a form of corruption. City officials are likely to know and have connections with these established residents and perhaps be among them themselves. It isn't about renter vs owner necessarily, but rather about the influence of entrenched, established interests vs those who are still struggling to get a foothold. Showing that type of deference to the former is not the way that government power should be used in a democracy. The government should be considering everyone, and should certainly give greater consideration to those who are in need of housing. There's no legitimate reason that the government should be using its power to shield the established from being affected by a city's growth or allow established neighbourhoods to shirk their responsibility to host their fair share of new residents force smaller areas such as major streets and downtowns to absorb disproportionately disruptive changes. If we were to really be fair, areas with the lowest density such as those dominated by SFHs would be absorbing the most growth since they're the ones with the lowest density and can therefore handle more.

Yes I understand that people don't like changes and I sympathize with their feelings. As long as they're reasonable and know better than to use their emotional reactions as an excuse to act out in ways that harm the rest of the community.
Well stated.
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Old Posted Nov 24, 2019, 11:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Nouvellecosse View Post
To me a big part of the problem is that it's so common for large parts of a city to be zoned exclusively for single family homes to the point that the only way to satisfy demand for new housing is either greenfield sprawl on the outskirts or highrise projects on the limited sites where they're permitted. I honestly don't believe that the type of zoning which excludes anything but low density housing should even be permitted. I don't have a problem with hight limits in certain neighbourhoods, but it should be possible to at least build lowrise apartment and condo buildings in any residential area if there's demand for them. If that were possible (and had been possible for awhile) then it would be less necessary to even have larger residential highrises in a setting such as HRM.
I agree with this but I don't actually think lowrise infill is that desirable in a city like Halifax.

Highrises get vilified but if you want to add 200 units to a neighbourhood you can do that in one narrow point tower or you can do it by demolishing 25 different houses and turning them into small apartment buildings. The lowrises are actually more disruptive for a given density level.

People tend not to think of it that way, probably because they are coming from the perspective of opposing construction, not trying to figure out how to accommodate growth. The question of how to accommodate growth is the important one for the city.

It has an impact on housing affordability too. Here in Vancouver it's a big issue. The city might approve a 40 unit building on a $10M lot, so that's $250,000 in land costs per unit before you've even demolished the old structures. The numbers just don't work out and so we have a humanitarian crisis with people living in tents while some homeowners are happy they got a boutique 4 storey affordable housing project next to their house instead of a tower. Halifax land prices are less extreme but I'm sure the costs could still work out to the tens of thousands or low 100,000's per unit depending on how low the density goes.
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Old Posted Nov 25, 2019, 12:15 AM
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I agree with this but I don't actually think lowrise infill is that desirable in a city like Halifax.

Highrises get vilified but if you want to add 200 units to a neighbourhood you can do that in one narrow point tower or you can do it by demolishing 25 different houses and turning them into small apartment buildings. The lowrises are actually more disruptive for a given density level.

People tend not to think of it that way, probably because they are coming from the perspective of opposing construction, not trying to figure out how to accommodate growth. The question of how to accommodate growth is the important one for the city.

It has an impact on housing affordability too. Here in Vancouver it's a big issue. The city might approve a 40 unit building on a $10M lot, so that's $250,000 in land costs per unit before you've even demolished the old structures. The numbers just don't work out and so we have a humanitarian crisis with people living in tents while some homeowners are happy they got a boutique 4 storey affordable housing project next to their house instead of a tower. Halifax land prices are less extreme but I'm sure the costs could still work out to the tens of thousands or low 100,000's per unit depending on how low the density goes.
Yes, at this point we're really forced to use highrises since the need has become so acute. I admit my reception to that fact is partially biased because I'm not a fan of lumpy urbanism, meaning extremes in density with nodes or corridors of density much higher than surrounding areas. For me that just isn't characteristic of an attractive city.

Btw, what did you think of this?

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Old Posted Nov 25, 2019, 6:54 PM
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OK, so I went back and re-read the article, and here's my takeaway from it:

1) They only quote 1 'disgruntled neighbor', and his main concern seems to be traffic - which makes no sense to me because (a) it's a main traffic route, always has been, and (b) it's right next to a major shopping area, and has been for decades. So, his concern seems to be unfounded and unreasonable - it's not like people will constantly be driving to and from this building, and it would be nowhere near the volume of traffic from other sources.

2) When looking at the satellite view of Google Maps, you can see that (a) the properties adjacent to the building lot already back onto a strip mall, which isn't the most attractive thing to see out of your back yard (a new building will be more attractive), not to mention the cars coming and going to the shops, and (b) just across the street are a numerous more apartment buildings... so why should they be so upset that just one more building will be built? This new building will be in keeping with what is already a significant part of the neigbhourhood.

This is not like the case my family experienced in the seventies - and it was the seventies... when things were being torn down and not replaced. But I still stand by our experience. We were not a well-off family, my parents started off renting the place and when the landlord gave them an offer to buy it, they accepted and spent the rest of their adult lives paying it off. It was not utopia by any means, but just our little piece of the planet to get some refuge from the world outside, and then it just became a little less pleasant for us. We didn't complain, we didn't protest (not that anybody would have cared if we did), our family stayed there as the kids moved out and then one parent passed away, then finally it was sold once the other parent could no longer live there due to a drastic change in health. That's our story, not that it matters to anybody here, and not that I care if anybody doesn't like what I have to say about it (yeah... it's a little personal, but I put it out there, so I accept that it's open to comments and opinions)...

Other notes:
- From the article:
Quote:
In an email, Dexel Developments said the project was approved in 2016, but the construction permit was only approved this year -- just a few months before the city’s Centre Plan was passed, which would have restricted the development to six stories.
So is the Centre Plan supposed to be progressive? Going from rules which allowed a 22-storey building to rules which would specify a 6-storey building does not seem progressive to me... it sounds like it's going to encourage sprawl as our city grows, which seems counterintuitive for a city that's pushing things like bike lanes in order to be progressive... there seems to be a disconnect there.

- I read an interesting article on the CBC website this morning giving a correlation to the city's 1.6% vacancy rate and the availability of low-cost housing. It makes sense, but I did not know it worked this way as I thought low-cost housing was mostly purpose-built at this point in time. My bad... thankfully I have been fortunate enough in life to not have to take advantage of affordable housing, but I feel for those who need to but can't find availability.

Quote:
But affordable housing service providers say changes in the housing market in Halifax have meant that a provincial rent supplement program, a tool that helps provide affordable housing, is losing its effectiveness.

They say that's contributing to an especially difficult situation for low-income renters.

"In the past, we've had agreements with larger property management companies when the vacancy rate was on our side to say, you know, you can't rent these units. How about we take on those units?," said Leigh MacLean, a housing support worker with Halifax Housing Help.

"Now, a number of the larger property management companies refuse to take the subsidies."
Now I understand a little better (hey... this forum should at least be partially about learning). Thanks to those who contributed positive and informative comments.
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Old Posted Nov 27, 2019, 6:48 PM
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Btw, what did you think of this?
Unfortunately I don't think the plan will make much of a difference. I think it is too timid. Andy Yan, who spoke near the end, is one of the best commentators about Vancouver real estate and keeps it real with his discussion of incomes and prices. Hilariously he's been accused of being anti-Asian since he sounded the alarm bells on real estate speculation back when the previous mayor didn't even admit it was a problem (it's not a race issue anyway, it's a money issue; doesn't matter if buyers are coming from Hong Kong or Shanghai or Kinshasa or Manchester, all Canadians and Vancouverites of all ethnic backgrounds need to be able to afford a place to live).

You can see how much airtime is given to "quality of life" concerns for the incredibly entitled multimillionaire windfall folks who live in inner city parts of Vancouver like Kitsilano, areas that would be far more densely built up if they were allowed to grow naturally. In Vancouver, you can find major transit hubs surrounded by strip malls and single family housing and you can walk from wall-to-wall 30-40 storey highrises to low density neighbourhoods. This is all because of zoning, not demand. The 50-somethings with a net worth in the millions of dollars are worried about changes on their street. Meanwhile even young professionals are living in precarious rentals in a lot of cases, and there is nothing on the horizon to enable them to even remotely have the same kind of life in the future even if they work much harder than the previous generation.

The lowrise apartments on sidestreets will do almost nothing for affordability because the math does not work out on cost. These will still be $700,000+ units, and they need to be $300,000 or $400,000 units, or $200,000 units in the cheap part of town. For that to happen we need to look at either highrise in the inner city or large midrises (which can be wood frame) in the outer areas.
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Old Posted Nov 27, 2019, 7:26 PM
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Originally Posted by someone123 View Post
Unfortunately I don't think the plan will make much of a difference. I think it is too timid. Andy Yan, who spoke near the end, is one of the best commentators about Vancouver real estate and keeps it real with his discussion of incomes and prices. Hilariously he's been accused of being anti-Asian since he sounded the alarm bells on real estate speculation back when the previous mayor didn't even admit it was a problem (it's not a race issue anyway, it's a money issue; doesn't matter if buyers are coming from Hong Kong or Shanghai or Kinshasa or Manchester, all Canadians and Vancouverites of all ethnic backgrounds need to be able to afford a place to live).

You can see how much airtime is given to "quality of life" concerns for the incredibly entitled multimillionaire windfall folks who live in inner city parts of Vancouver like Kitsilano, areas that would be far more densely built up if they were allowed to grow naturally. In Vancouver, you can find major transit hubs surrounded by strip malls and single family housing and you can walk from wall-to-wall 30-40 storey highrises to low density neighbourhoods. This is all because of zoning, not demand. The 50-somethings with a net worth in the millions of dollars are worried about changes on their street. Meanwhile even young professionals are living in precarious rentals in a lot of cases, and there is nothing on the horizon to enable them to even remotely have the same kind of life in the future even if they work much harder than the previous generation.

The lowrise apartments on sidestreets will do almost nothing for affordability because the math does not work out on cost. These will still be $700,000+ units, and they need to be $300,000 or $400,000 units, or $200,000 units in the cheap part of town. For that to happen we need to look at either highrise in the inner city or large midrises (which can be wood frame) in the outer areas.
Interesting analysis. IMHO, if Vancouver were a computer it would be time for a reboot and a software upgrade. There is so much wrong there it will take decades to sort out (if it ever does get sorted out), and sadly it will be too late for many of the current younger people trying to get a start.

Very sad, and hopefully the lessons learned will help prevent this from happening elsewhere in Canada, but even that is not a sure thing...
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Old Posted Nov 27, 2019, 7:38 PM
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Originally Posted by OldDartmouthMark View Post
Interesting analysis. IMHO, if Vancouver were a computer it would be time for a reboot and a software upgrade. There is so much wrong there it will take decades to sort out (if it ever does get sorted out), and sadly it will be too late for many of the current younger people trying to get a start.

Very sad, and hopefully the lessons learned will help prevent this from happening elsewhere in Canada, but even that is not a sure thing...
HRM's planning regimes would enable the same thing to happen on the peninsula here if we were hit with a similar growth/speculation phenomenon. The limits on height and the desire to maintain single-family neighborhoods that are enshrined in things like HRMxD and the Centre Plan are exactly what led Vancouver to their current mess.
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Old Posted Nov 29, 2019, 2:53 AM
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Originally Posted by someone123 View Post
Unfortunately I don't think the plan will make much of a difference. I think it is too timid. Andy Yan, who spoke near the end, is one of the best commentators about Vancouver real estate and keeps it real with his discussion of incomes and prices. Hilariously he's been accused of being anti-Asian since he sounded the alarm bells on real estate speculation back when the previous mayor didn't even admit it was a problem (it's not a race issue anyway, it's a money issue; doesn't matter if buyers are coming from Hong Kong or Shanghai or Kinshasa or Manchester, all Canadians and Vancouverites of all ethnic backgrounds need to be able to afford a place to live).

You can see how much airtime is given to "quality of life" concerns for the incredibly entitled multimillionaire windfall folks who live in inner city parts of Vancouver like Kitsilano, areas that would be far more densely built up if they were allowed to grow naturally. In Vancouver, you can find major transit hubs surrounded by strip malls and single family housing and you can walk from wall-to-wall 30-40 storey highrises to low density neighbourhoods. This is all because of zoning, not demand. The 50-somethings with a net worth in the millions of dollars are worried about changes on their street. Meanwhile even young professionals are living in precarious rentals in a lot of cases, and there is nothing on the horizon to enable them to even remotely have the same kind of life in the future even if they work much harder than the previous generation.

The lowrise apartments on sidestreets will do almost nothing for affordability because the math does not work out on cost. These will still be $700,000+ units, and they need to be $300,000 or $400,000 units, or $200,000 units in the cheap part of town. For that to happen we need to look at either highrise in the inner city or large midrises (which can be wood frame) in the outer areas.
Yes I'm not an expert of Vancouver but I'd say that's probably true. While it might be helpful to use a certain amount of incrementalism in the sense of getting people to accept small innocuous apartment and condo buildings in places previously reserved for detaches houses and only building larger buildings once the area has partly transitioned to avoid a severe contrast. But when you wait until the problem becomes acute, there's no time for that stuff.

Urban planning has actually driven me more toward libertarianism and free market thinking than any other aspect of life because I feel like so many of the problems are actually created by stupid regulations. The conversation just seems to consist of, "We just need to find the right regulations" or "Well that didn't work but we just need to tweak or rejig a few things and then we'll be all set!" when I just feel like there haven't been many examples of this actually working. Suburbanization and car dependence can be connected to various government actions and policies.

Governments and planners talk a lot about sprawl, walkability and affordability, but how big an issue would these even be without government facilitation? In this case it might be zoning restrictions such as height/density limits (often as lot occupancy maximums) and minimum setbacks requirements, but it can also include things such as minimum street widths, suburban subdivision design, parking minimums, highway construction, road funding, land expropriation decisions and even anti-jay walking laws. And when the market actually tries to respond by offering other options such as tiny homes, granny suites, etc. the government acts as a barrier due to zoning restrictions. I doubt I'd ever move to a complete "hands off" approach, but perhaps a "minimal hands" policy would be helpful.
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  #20  
Old Posted Nov 29, 2019, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Nouvellecosse View Post
Urban planning has actually driven me more toward libertarianism and free market thinking than any other aspect of life because I feel like so many of the problems are actually created by stupid regulations. The conversation just seems to consist of, "We just need to find the right regulations" or "Well that didn't work but we just need to tweak or rejig a few things and then we'll be all set!" when I just feel like there haven't been many examples of this actually working. Suburbanization and car dependence can be connected to various government actions and policies.

Governments and planners talk a lot about sprawl, walkability and affordability, but how big an issue would these even be without government facilitation? In this case it might be zoning restrictions such as height/density limits (often as lot occupancy maximums) and minimum setbacks requirements, but it can also include things such as minimum street widths, suburban subdivision design, parking minimums, highway construction, road funding, land expropriation decisions and even anti-jay walking laws. And when the market actually tries to respond by offering other options such as tiny homes, granny suites, etc. the government acts as a barrier due to zoning restrictions. I doubt I'd ever move to a complete "hands off" approach, but perhaps a "minimal hands" policy would be helpful.
The less govt intervention in all aspects of life, the better and more prosperous we would all be. However the majority in Canada seem to think that govt can solve all problems, and demand more and more govt intrusion into our lives. 1984 is a bit later in coming than Orwell projected, but it is coming nonetheless.
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