Dear Mayor and Councillors,
As immigrants who long ago chose Vancouver as the best place in the world to live, and who have invested in housing as we have worked our way up the property ladder, it is overwhelmingly disappointing, in our retirement, to witness the manner in which this municipal government is moving to desecrate the city.
Using the Eco-Density Charter as a subterfuge, council has dishonestly characterised the laneway housing initiative to deceive residents into not massively opposing the 2009 approval by council. Such a cynical and devious approach might be expected in Moscow or Caracas where there is little pretence of a democratic process, but to see this happening in this great little Canadian city is a bitter pill to swallow. To read the current one-family zoning descriptions with the addition of the laneway housing and other densification allowances on the website, and to observe, in contrast, what is being built, is to understand the extent of the deception still being wrought on Vancouver residents with every relevant building permit that is issued.
Perhaps the most invidious and cynical features are the promises to consult the community. In fact there is no effective consultation process, and residents in any of the overwhelming majority of the city that allows laneway housing are powerless to influence any development in their neighbourhoods or even next door to them. Even were there to be an effective consultation process it would likely be window dressing by council, as so startlingly illustrated by the last hearings on bicycle lanes, when construction of the lanes was fully organized and procured for a well-prepared start the very morning after the last “hearing”. That was dishonest and cynical behaviour. The laneway housing issue is far more important and council is even more devious on the issue.
As laneway housing is currently being practiced, large parts of the City of Vancouver will eventually deteriorate into areas teeming with people and vehicles as opposed to desirable peaceful law-abiding residential neighbourhoods. Those who have invested in good homes in good neighbourhoods over long periods will have their property values decimated. Additional costs for the city associated with this densification will probably offset potential tax-based benefits and so will achieve nothing more than the despoiling of a great city. Council under Mayor Robertson will go down in history as the architect of the decline of the city they serve.
Nearly all property owners in Vancouver will now have four choices. The first to tolerate the uncertainty and losses associated with laneway houses being built adjacent to them or in their neighbourhoods, the second and third to build laneway houses on their own property then stay or sell, the fourth and most likely to simply sell up and move out of the city before laneway housing and its effects do too much damage. And all this in the name of Ecology.
This Laneway Housing Program should be cancelled immediately.
John and Susan Willson