Saturday, February 17, 2018

Opinion: It’s time to rethink how we enforce the rules of the road Mulling over bright lights, red lights, roundabouts and ICBC Vancouver Courier February 15, 2018

 
      Every once in a while my columns generate a lot of feedback. This is one of them. Check out some of the comments I have received following the column.
      Have you noticed vehicle headlights getting brighter?At first, I thought the problem was my advancing years. But having been recently blinded by a shiny new Mercedes driving down Blenheim Street, I pulled over and Googled “are car headlights too bright?” I was pleased to read I am not the only one concerned about the intensity of new headlights.
related
      From an online forum: “Is it my eyes or are some car headlights too bright?” And the LA Times: “It’s not your imagination, headlights are getting brighter.”
      From the UK Daily Mail: “Wondering why headlights are so painfully blinding?”
      From CBS in New York: “Drivers say bright headlights are creating a dangerous situation.”
      At a time when car accidents and insurance rates are in the news, I can’t help but believe blinding headlights may be causing some accidents.
      My wife and I both drive cars with bright new headlights. I know because occasionally drivers flash their high beams assuming I’m on high beams, when I am not.
      As we debate how best to reduce vehicle accidents and insurance costs, I hope ICBC will investigate whether blinding headlights are causing not only discomfort for motorists, but also accidents.
      Blinding headlights are not my only traffic concern.
      No doubt due to increasing traffic congestion and longer commutes, an increasing number of drivers are running red lights.
      At the same time, many motorists oppose installation of more red-light cameras, or 24-hour operation of the 140 cameras currently in place at the province’s most accident-prone intersections.
That’s right. Currently, many red-light cameras are only operated six hours a day since previous governments did not want to upset voters.
      Listening to a recent radio phone-in program, I was disturbed by how many listeners opposed red-light cameras, even at dangerous intersections. Presumably, they equate them with photo radar, which was often viewed as a cash cow, rather than accident prevention.
      Given the increasing number of traffic accidents and fatalities, and yes, increasing insurance costs, I think it is time to rethink our attitudes towards enforcing the rules of the road.
      Perhaps we should follow the lead of Scotland and implement a safety camera program that operates both speed and red-light cameras across the country. Scottish red-light cameras are programed to not only catch those running red lights, but also speeding drivers.
      This brings me to an alternative to intersections and red lights. Traffic roundabouts and circles.
Having lived in the U.K. and driven in many European countries, I am a fan of roundabouts. I even installed two at SFU’s UniverCity. However, every time I approach a small Vancouver traffic circle, which is essentially a glorified uncontrolled intersection, I worry whether oncoming drivers know who has the right-of-way.
      In case you are not sure, if two vehicles arrive at a traffic circle or roundabout at the same time, the vehicle on the right has the right to enter first. Cyclists should be treated like a vehicle.
The recent revelations about increased traffic accidents and major ICBC losses due to injury claims were very disturbing. They were also somewhat surprising.
      Since cars are increasingly designed with safety in mind, with multiple air bags, back-up cameras and side mirror warnings, I would have expected the number of injuries to be reduced.
However, I have also observed that many motorists do not appear to know how to drive properly. They stay in the passing lane and refuse to pull over to allow other motorists to pass. While they may not be in accidents, they cause accidents.
      Others take little notice of upcoming pedestrian crossings, refuse to stop before turning right on a red light, and seem to have forgotten the concept of “defensive driving.”
      One solution may be more regular road testing for drivers. My generation hasn’t been tested since the 1960s. Perhaps it should be mandatory for anyone deemed to have caused a serious accident to be re-tested before they can drive again.
      If Motor Vehicle Testing Stations do not have adequate capacity for more regular road tests, ICBC could set up independent accredited testers.
      While no doubt many will see this as just another cash grab, I see it as a way to make driving safer.
From David Faber, Vancouver (who advocates retesting every 5 years for those between 25 and 75 and annually for those under 25 and over 75)
Michael,
    I read with great interest your article in the lastest Vancouver Courier.
    I was hit by a car on my bicycle in the fall of 2015 a few  blocks from where I live. i was on a designated bike route(East45th Avenue) and the driver was going faster than the posted speed limit. Interesting  he had been in Canada for 6 years but was still driving with an out of country license.
     I contacted lots of people including municipal, provinicial and federal reps but got little response.
     I will forward you an email I sent Nicholas Simons back in 2013. In it is what I feel would be a great move to clear the streets of inexperienced and uneducated motor vehicle drivers. This could also be a good revenue generator for ICBC.
      To give you a bit of a history. I started driving in 1970 when I turned 16 in Alberta. Our family business was about distribution and as soon as I got my license I was behind the wheel. In my life I have put more than 1.75million km on the road in the 48 years of driving. Yes and been in accidents where some have been my fault and some not my fault.
       In 1981 I worked in Northern Alberta for Nova a pipeline company. They had a policy that if an employee got a motor vehicle into an accident be it car, truck, back-hoe, ski-doo etc, you had to go back to Calgary and take a two week safe drivers course and pass both the written and road test. It happened to me and when I went back in the class was labourers, skid operators, landscapers and office personnel including a couple of executives.
       We had to go out with the instructor for a pre-class road test and then were given our results. I was amazed at how many bad habits I had accumulated in the 10 years of driving. After taking the refresher course and passing the tests I have tried to keep my driving bad habits out of the picture.
        Yes, retesting should happen every 5 years for those between  the ages of 25 and 75 and annually for those under 25 and over 75.
    Talk soon. David F(devo) Faber
 
From a former Vancouver bus driver
Hello Michael,
     I retired as a trolley bus driver in Vancouver eight years ago, after almost 41 years behind the wheel. I worked evenings most of the time, and car headlights were starting to bother me a few years before I retired. When I started on the job in 1969, an oncoming car with high-beams on would dim their lights 9 times out of 10 when I gave a quick flash of my high-beams. Now it is reversed, and very few motorists will dim their lights. In fact, it is often hard to tell if it is high or low beam, because the LED lights are so intense. I drive a 1999 Subaru Forester with conventional lights, and I almost never have oncoming cars flash their high-beams at me.
     New cars now have head lights and running lights that don’t even look like a headlight. Some have designs in LED lights, and a particular model has front marker lights above the headlights that look like eyebrows, and angry ones at that. There is an animated film set to the music of Autobahn, by Kraftwerk, put out over forty years ago. There are cars that have angry faces, and I can’t help but think someone got the idea of these marker lights from that film. Cue the video at 5:30 and you’ll see what I mean:
     A new problem is that while stopped at a red traffic signal at night, the LED brake lights of the car in front can be so bright that I have to shield my eyes.
     I have driven in many cities on various trips, including Boston, Manhattan, Melbourne Australia, and New Zealand. Everyone says: "Oh, our drivers are the worst.” But it is all relative to each place. Seattleites complain that Vancouver drivers are “pushy”, among other things. But you just have to adapt to each place.
     Once a week on Mondays I drive Highway 1 to Chilliwack mid-day. So what is wrong with Highway 1, other than a few insta-merges, and a lack of guard rails? Not much really. But the drivers are anything but defensive. The right lane has traffic generally at about 100 km/hr, and the passing lane is more like 115 to 120. But with heavy volume, the cars are all travelling at those speeds one car length apart, or less. This includes trucks. Throw into this equation those motorists who are travelling at 160, 180 or more, changing lanes frequently, and the slightest miscalculation ends in smashups. I often smell the nitro charger fumes on these cars as they pass.
     Last October I spent six days with a friend from Toronto visiting cities in Ohio, and most of our   travel was on interstate freeways. The speed limit on most roads was 60 to 70 mph, and we  were amazed to see compliance. There just wasn’t anyone speeding the way we see here and on Highway 401 in Ontario. But Ohio has a Highway Patrol that I would not like to have to deal with. They were patrolling constantly, and at one point just north of Dayton there were eight police cars lined up together on the shoulder at right angles to the highway.
     Another thing that leads to accidents is the visitor, unfamiliar with the city and its oddities. Vancouver has some of the smallest road advisory signs I have seen. And some are posted too late to be of use.  Sincerely,  AM.
 
From Bev, another Courier reader
Dear Michael;
      I wonder why you would blame vehicle crashes (not accidents since they are intentional), on bright lights when the truth is that drivers do what they do because they can. There is no enforcement against bad driving, the infrastructure favours drivers and the penalties are too low if they are even applied.
      You are right about ICBC. The good guys pay too much and the bad guys pay too little.
      The police can be six feet from a serious driver infraction and claim that they saw nothing. They, like the Mayor, say that walkers and cyclists should ask permission to cross the road by making eye contact. Peds. need to be sure to wear strobe lights as well.
      Drivers are increasingly aggressive and entitled. Lots of data supports that fact. Drivers think they should have exclusive use of the asphalt at all times and resent any other mode accessing “their” space. They rarely stop at an intersection without a light. They accelerate and honk if a person dares to cross in front of them. And they do it because they can.
      Driving is serious business. It is the driver’s job to pay attention to every thing at all times. Most Canadian drivers would not get a license in Europe or Great Britain.
      Drivers are at fault in conflicts with pedestrians 88% or the time, with motor cyclists 75%, and cyclists 70ish%.
      The Mayor et al brag that pedestrian deaths are down. They are down because of the health care system, not because of better driving. I bet lots of those who were saved would rather have died than be in the shape they are in now. An average of 600 walkers per year are hit. That number has not gone down.
      Engineers can fool around improving the infrastructure in the name of safety for drivers like wider turning radii, wider, smoother roads and left bays which in the end remove responsibility from the driver and let them go farther, faster more conveniently at the expense of walkers, cyclist and transit users.
      Enforcement and punishment are the only things that will change behaviour. They are great educators.
      I always enjoy your columns. Although sometimes I wonder about your density/planning points. We ghettoize the rich from the poor. Diverse housing stock would increase managed density and a diverse demographic across the city which in turn should produce better social and environmental outcomes.
      Yours truly,  Bev

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Living in the Past: Vancouver housing issues in 30-year old newspaper clippings

     For many years, my father (a former librarian) regularly cut out newspaper stories about housing in Vancouver, particularly when I was quoted. Over the years, I kept them in a scrapbook. While today Google Alerts have replaced newspaper clippings and scrapbooks, during the recent GVHBA Legends event, I mentioned to Joannah Connolly, editor of the Real Estate Weekly, that I had accumulated many newspaper clippings from Vancouver newspapers, including her paper. My favourite was one in which I urged people to start buying on the Eastside of Vancouver, since it was under priced compared to the Westside. She asked me to send them to her.
     Unfortunately, I couldn't find that one, but below are a few that I did send to her.(She subsequently asked me for others.)
     What you might find interesting is that back in the 1980s and early 90s there was already a concern about foreign buyers buying up residential units; we had a rental housing crisis not unlike today; the introduction of the GST on real estate was a big deal, and at one point, I had to argue (on behalf of UDI) that it apply to both new and resale homes, noting this would bring the GST down from 9% to 7%!
     Other major topics included housing for seniors, saving character and heritage homes, and the future of single family neighourhoods.
     In other words, there's not much new under the sun! If you want to see more clippings, just let me know. I have books full of them!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Greater Vancouver Homebuilders Association annual 'Legends of Housing' dinner January 31, 2018

   While few ever accuse me of being bashful or overly modest, I must say I was a bit embarrassed when I learned tonight's GVHBA event to which I agreed to participate many months ago is in fact its annual 'Legends of Housing' dinner. https://gvhba.org/event/legends-of-housing/
     And while I am proud of my 5 decades in the housing industry, dating back to days at CMHC in the early 1970s, my accomplishments pale in comparison with those of tonight's fellow Legends Eric Carlson (whose Anthem Properties last year purchased two of the most expensive development sites in Metro Vancouver) and Rob Macdonald whose business and financial successes are such that he could afford to donate almost $ one million to the NPA for a past election.
     Anyone who has attended a UDI event when the outspoken Carlson and Macdonald have participated knows they are both very clever, witty, and extremely outspoken guys. For once, I'll be the quiet one in the corner.
    The moderator is Kirk LaPointe, no wallflower himself, who many would like to see run for mayor on the NPA ticket; so tonight could be a very interesting and entertaining and potentially politically-charged event.
     For the occasion, I'll be wearing the brand new  CKNW socks which Lynda Steele gave me when I recently participated in an on-air housing debate with Tom Davidoff on her show.  And who knows, if Davidoff's proposal to transform Canada's income tax and property tax systems is every realized, maybe one day he'll be a GVHBA legend!
     Some information about this event can be found on the UDI website which also features a photo of a UDI panel that includes some real legends: Joe Segal, Bob Lee, and Joe Housain.  (Bob Rennie is too young to be a legend, but he will be one day!) http://udi.memberzone.com/events/details/gvhba-legends-of-housing-dinner-1348
     Thank you GVHBA for honouring me with this invitation. I'm very much looking forward to the evening.


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Opinion: Vancouver’s well-intentioned but flawed Empty Home Tax won’t help Vancouver Courier January 30, 2018

      Attention Vancouver property owners!
      Friday, Feb. 2 is the deadline by which you must submit a property status declaration so that city officials can determine if your property is subject to the Empty Homes Tax. Failure to declare will result in your property being deemed vacant and subject to a tax of one per cent of its assessed taxable value. For most West Side single-family properties, that’s $30,000 or more. Every year.
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       Every Vancouver homeowner must make a declaration, even those who have lived in their homes for decades and assumed the tax only applied to the vacant house down the street or empty apartment next door.
       While the city’s desire to transform what it claims are 25,495 empty or “under-utilized” dwellings into new rental units was well-intentioned, as regular readers of this column know, I have long opposed how the city has introduced this tax bylaw.
       From the onset, city lawyers knew from the experience in London and other global jurisdictions that it is extremely difficult and expensive to enforce a tax on vacant dwellings.
Consequently, Vancouver’s legal department drafted what many regarded to be a very heavy-handed bylaw, which not only taxed owners of truly empty dwellings, but also the owners of most second homes.
      When a few of these second home owners, including a former Vancouver doctor who had moved to Bowen Island but came into the city to work part-time, complained about the impact of this tax, they were told by city staff they had a choice. They could rent their homes or sell.
      Since any intelligent person could appreciate these second homes could not be rented out for a minimum 30 days at a time, this response prompted me and others to suggest that, in effect, the tax was like a jealousy tax, to appease voters who could not afford one home, let alone two.
      Nonetheless, the city refused to amend the bylaw. As a result, many of these homeowners, including a former MLA and B.C. mayor, have offered their properties for sale since they are not prepared to pay such a punitive tax.
      These homes will not suddenly become rental properties, and I am willing to bet my house that this tax will not result in anywhere near the tens of thousands of rental properties that the mayor, and other misguided souls, predict will come onto the market.
      The unreasonableness of this tax was recently illustrated by the case of a vacant lot owner who was told she too would have to pay the tax. This despite the fact the lot had always been vacant.
When she complained to city staff, she was told to apply for a permit and build a house on the property. Who knew it was also an empty lot tax?
      As this column was about to go to press, the mayor held a press conference to provide an update on the tax. At the conference, media were told that 11 per cent or 21,000 Vancouver homeowners have not yet submitted their declarations.
      When the mayor and city chief financial officer were asked how many of the 89 per cent of homeowners who had responded said their properties were vacant, we were somewhat amused when the CFO claimed the city did not yet have this information. Really?
      While I remain opposed to aspects of the Empty Home Tax, especially its application to second homes, I decided to offer two suggestions to help the city recoup some of the $7.4 million it says the program is now estimated to cost to administer.
      Since I suspect many owners of truly vacant properties are going to lie about their status, I suggested the city implement something akin to the Crime Stoppers program to encourage the public to anonymously provide tips about vacant properties, especially those that could serve as rental housing.
      I subsequently learned there already is a smartphone app to report vacant dwellings.
      I also suggested city staff liaise with the garbage collection department since if anyone knows which single-family houses are empty, it’s the waste collectors.
      The CFO acknowledged they hadn’t thought of this, but agreed it was a good idea.
      I am pleased to help.

Resort Living Napa style: Silverado!

     Last week I left my office for a few days with Claire and Sally to join my other daughter Georgia in Napa Valley. She had been in San Francisco for a conference and suggested a family vacation away from the Vancouver rain. It was an excellent idea.
      On Georgia's suggestion we booked into the Silverado Resort .https://www.silveradoresort.com/  She suggested it since it is close to Napa and has two golf courses. One is used each year for the PGA Safeway Open event.
While we were not aware of this when we booked, the property was damaged in last year's fires. we were told that ever since, reservations have been down
      While there are much fancier resorts in the area, this one was very comfortable and good value. We had a two bedroom 'cottage' which was really the lower level of a two level townhouse. Parking was right in front. Somewhat surprisingly, we had to drive from the main building to our unit since Silverado is a very, very large property.
At first I thought these turkeys on the grounds were public art, until they started to move!
I think this local resident was a bit embarrassed when she say me start to take a photo of her walking the dog....in a golf cart
    Located just an hour north of San Francisco, in addition to the golf courses it offers a spa, 13 lighted tennis courts, and biking and hiking trails. It's also close to more than 400 wineries, but don't expect a lot of good cheap wine. For that you have to go to Europe!.
This was the Duty Free price!
  When my daughter offered to get me a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from the general store, she returned to the car after 5 minutes to see if a Merlot would be ok, since the least expensive Cab in the shop was over $40 US! 
We were delighted to discover Quixote Winery designed by Hundertwasser
    A glass of Educated Guess in the restaurant was $14, much more than one pays in Vancouver restaurants, but I must say it was very good. However when we visited the winery to buy a bottle, they didn't have the same vintage, and even I could tell the difference!
     If you haven't been to Napa, it can be a wonderful experience. While it's fabulous in the summer, I can also recommend an off-season January or February trip, since it's not so busy and you can take your time in the wineries. 
    We discovered to our delight that we arrived just as they were celebrating the equivalent of a 'dine-out Vancouver' festival, which allowed us to enjoy some very good 3-course dinners for $46 and an exceptional 2-course lunch at the Michelin Star Auberge du Soleil https://aubergedusoleil.aubergeresorts.com/dining/ for....are you ready? $20!
    While we were subsequently told that it was impossible for mere mortals to get a reservation for this experience, Georgia figured out how to do it!
     For what it's worth..."The Restaurant at Auberge du Soleil offers a fine dining experience from one of the best vantage points in the valley. With 11 consecutive Michelin Stars, Executive Chef Robert Curry’s Mediterranean-inspired cuisine reflects the natural diversity and rich seasonal produce available in the Napa Valley. Ingredients are sourced largely from local and regional purveyors and featured on inspiring menus complemented by one of most extensive wine cellars in the valley, boasting more than 15,000 bottles of domestic and international wines hand-selected by our Director of Wine."
One of the many public art installations in Yountville
We didn't eat in the 3-star Michelin restaurant French Laundry which has its own farm across the street and a kitchen in a converted container
    Other restaurants that we enjoyed and which we can recommend included Torc http://www.torcnapa.com/ where you could enjoy a 2 oz glass of Chateau d'Yquem for $53 (although I was disappointed that the wines accompanying the dine out menu included Austrian and French selections, not local) and Angele http://www.angelerestaurant.com/ where we had a very good French meal with particularly good service. While we passed on our friends Jim and Doria Moodie's suggestion to go to Morimoto Napa, we did also enjoy Basalt http://www.basaltnapa.com/
When I asked whether this brochure was in Japanese or Chinese, I was told it was Mongolian. Mongolian? I asked. Is the owner Mongolian? No she said, but we get a lot of people from China. Oh, I said. I think you mean Mandarin. Yes she said!
We are in California, after all!
It's not as old as it looks!
What's a castle without a moat?
   One final suggestion. if you do decide to celebrate 'winter in the wineries' buy a Calistoga Wines Passport. It costs $60 but offers access to a considerable number of tastings (some of which are $25 to $35 on their own)  including Sterling Vineyard where you take aerial  tram from the parking lot to the very impressive winery, and Castello di Amorosa, a 136,000 sq.ft. 13th-century Tuscan-styled castle, 
This is a must see destination.
and the 1882 Chateau Montelena Winery whose chardonnay won the famous 1976 Paris tasting, which many believe put Californian wines on the world map. (A Stag's Leap Cabernet also won a medal that year).
     One of the reasons I was happy to do this trip and experience resort living was to prepare for a design workshop at Furry Creek the following weekend. That is now over, and I'll report on it in due course. But the fact is, many of the lifestyle experiences that made California so famous will soon be available in British Columbia. And if climate change happens the way many predict, our wines will also beat the French wines in blind tastings in years to come.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

A poem for Robbie Burns Day (from Monty Python)



Much to his dad and mum's dismay 
Horace ate himself one day 
He didn't stop to say his grace 
He just sat down and ate his face 
"We can't have this!" his dad declared 
"If that lad's ate he should be shared" 
But even as he spoke they saw 
Horace eating more and more: 
First his legs and then his thighs, 
His arms, his nose, his hair, his eyes 
"Stop him someone!" Mother cried 
"Those eyeballs would be better fried!" 
But all too late for they were gone, 
And he had started on his dong... 
"Oh foolish child!" the father mourned 
"You could have deep-fried those with prawns, 
Some parsely and some tartar sauce..." 
But H was on his second course; 
His liver and his lights and lung, 
His ears, his neck, his chin, his tongue 
"To think I raised himn from the cot 
And now he's gone to scoff the lot!" 
His mother cried what shall we do? 
What's left won't even make a stew..." 
And as she wept her son was seen 
To eat his head his heart his spleen 
And there he lay, a boy no more 
Just a stomach on the floor... 
None the less since it was his 
They ate it - and that's what haggis is 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Opinion: Housing affordability? It’s time for province to offer both long-term promises and short-term solutions Vancouver Sun January 17, 2018

     What should the B.C. government be doing to create more affordable housing in Vancouver? This is a question I, and many other so-called housing experts, are being asked daily as we await next month’s provincial budget.
     Given that the Liberal government lost the last election because it paid insufficient attention to housing affordability, British Columbians are hoping for many housing announcements in the budget. But really, what can, or should the B.C. government, be doing to make housing more affordable for residents throughout the Vancouver region, and elsewhere in the province?
     During the election campaign, the NDP promised to introduce an annual, two-per-cent tax on foreigners who buy B.C. property but don’t pay tax here. They estimated this would generate $200 million a year to fund affordable housing. While I don’t disagree with the proposal, here are two other ways to free-up more funds for affordable housing: Overhaul the Homeowner Grant and Property Tax Deferral programs.
     While I’m told it’s political suicide to end grants to 92 per cent of B.C. homeowners, I think it’s time to phase out the Homeowner Grant Program and redirect the money to those in greater need. To begin, why not establish different price thresholds for regions around the province? Surely it makes sense to differentiate between Kerrisdale and Castlegar, where $1.65 million buys one of the nicest houses in town.
     Secondly, why is this program not means-tested? This could be accomplished in part by making the grant a taxable benefit, rather than tax-free.
     While the Property Tax Deferral Program may be necessary for low-income seniors wanting to stay in their homes, it too should become income-tested. Far too many, who can afford to pay property taxes, take advantage of cheap provincial loans, currently at less than one per cent.
     While directing funds saved from these programs into rent subsidies for the needy, and low-interest loans for non-profit housing would be beneficial, there is much more the province can do.
     Ten years ago, during Vancouver’s municipal election campaign, I first promoted the idea of setting up temporary modular housing for the homeless on public and privately owned vacant land. Thankfully, the government is now promoting this idea through a provincewide program. However, relocatable modular housing could accommodate a much broader range of households seeking affordable homes.
     The province could encourage this housing by offering property-tax relief to owners of vacant lots, just as it now does for those creating community gardens. Instead of growing expensive tomatoes, these properties could accommodate one-, two- and three-bedroom homes for millennials who might otherwise leave the province.
     We often hear that one way to create more affordable housing is to increase supply. While I agree with those who argue we also need the right supply, a major challenge facing private and non-profit developers is obtaining zoning, development and building-permit approvals. They really do take too long, and cost too much.
     While the responsibility for approvals generally rests with municipal government, except for the City of Vancouver, municipalities are legislated by the Municipal Act. Why should it often take a year or more to approve a single-family house or three years to approve rental apartments?
     To speed up approvals, there is an urgent need to review and overhaul our current planning and approval procedures through Municipal Act amendments, wherever necessary.
     One way to accelerate approvals would be for the province to encourage a greater role for Independent Certified Professionals in the issuance of development and building permits. Regular audits could be carried out to ensure zoning bylaws and codes are being met.
     Another factor contributing to the high cost of new housing is the Community Amenity Contributions (CACs), which are usually charged by municipalities whenever a property is rezoned.
Four years ago, the provincial Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, in consultation with local governments, the development and building sectors, and legal and academic communities, prepared a document titled, Community Amenity Contributions: Balancing Community Planning, Public Benefits and Housing Affordability. It was well-researched and thoughtful, and put forward many sound recommendations. Sadly, it appears to have been all but ignored or forgotten.
     As CACs, combined with other municipal fees and charges often exceed the cost of land, it’s time for the province to play a role in insisting that municipalities abide by the recommendations set out in this document.
     Sadly, even if all these suggestions were implemented, the cost of renting or buying a home in B.C. will continue to be out reach for too many. However, by combining long-term promises with practical, short-term solutions, B.C. can play an important role in increasing affordable housing in years to come.
Michael Geller is a Vancouver-based architect planner, property consultant and developer with five decades of experience in the public and private sectors. He also serves on the adjunct faculty at SFU. His blog is found at gellersworldtravel.blogspot.ca and he can be reached at geller@sfu.ca.