Residents built our communities but now see a decline in quality of life due to disruption caused by endless rebuilding
By Corrie Kost
I feel like an end of an era in municipal governance is about to take place. In my opinion, and this is a change I’d welcome, many municipalities in the lower mainland will see a wholesale turn-over in their council makeup in response to the rapid, and often disruptive, growth in residential units.
The residential growth has been the primary reason for the number one problem – transportation congestion. Unlike previous generations which build infrastructure before (or at least in tune) with residential development, the last three municipal councils have embarked on increasing residential units without having the infrastructure in place.
I also sense a ground-swell of rebellion by the existing municipal neighbourhoods, whose residents largely built our communities, and now see a decline in their quality of life due to the disruption caused by the endless rebuilding around them.
Councils in the lower mainland, including ours, have served too many consecutive terms, and I think serving on the council should be a limited task for most
We all realize that change is inevitable – however we all want this change to be positive. For many of the existing residents change has not been a positive experience.
A primary reason for all this is that while the municipal OCP (Official Community Plans) were laudable, their implementations were not. The report produced by a council appointed oversight committee, indicating problems with the OCP implementation, was quietly shelved – a classic case of “see and hear no evil”. For example, while the District of North Vancouver OCP called for 10,000 new residential units over the span of the plan (2011-2030), we currently have well over 7,000 units “in the pipe” – when we are only 6 years into the plan. Too much construction, too quickly, too much traffic and congestion, too much noise.
In addition, the projected number of local jobs fell far short of expectation, exacerbating congestion on the two bridges across the Burrard inlet as more and more of our residents work off the North Shore. Our service industry has also been gutted due to the lack of affordable housing.
The pattern of densification was all too familiar. An area was identified for some densification. Modest proposal were put forward by the subject neighbourhood. These plans rapidly changed into wholesale redevelopment of the full neighbourhood. With limited supply of local workers to do this task, competition for the same construction labour pool by many municipalities, and with limited transportation access to the North Shore, the development costs skyrocketed.
Housing that was once relatively affordable was lost. The OCP plans have been far too slow to adopt the required affordable housing espoused by these plans. As well, the mandated 5 year review, as stated in the OCP, was ignored – which only exacerbated reported problems.
Traditionally there has been a healthy turnover of council member. However in recent years this has not been the case, and together with the term of office being extended to four years, stagnation and rigidity has set in. Having been thwarted by OCP implementation plans out of tune with expectations, by traffic congestion that cut into family time, by lack of affordable housing and good paying local jobs, citizens have only one recourse – replacing most members of council at the next election.
We need communities built by local hands, the communities that can instill pride and I don’t think bringing labour from other parts of the lower mainland won’t do this, and will only exacerbate our congestion.
In fact, we need a healthy turnover of council: Councils in the lower mainland, including ours, have served too many consecutive terms, and I think serving on the council should be a limited task for most.