Model Image: West edge of the Broadway Plan at Vine Street, with Connaught Park on the left.
Model by Stephen Bolus, BLA.
Densification through gentrification’s Transit Oriented Development (TOD) is of real concern for those renters hoping to stay put in the few remaining Vancouver affordable homes. Particularly, TOD has always involved land-use change threatening purpose-built rental units, circa 1962, for example. With the approved Vancouver Broadway Plan, leading geographers such as Moos et al. (2018) and UBC Professor Emeritus David Ley (2022) have sounded the alarm that not only does mixed-use high density NOT create affordable rental housing but “hard” densification also creates extra trauma for renters. These renters are subjected to asset managers “circling the wagons” around newly created mixed-density rental units as just another commoditization profit tool, which particularly targets low-income renters.
The Broadway Plan
City of Vancouver. https://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/broadway-plan.aspx
Vancouver requires thoughtful long-term solutions of “soft” densification, Ley (2022) argues, which does not tear down perfectly well-maintained affordable rental units in older apartments, but uses “greyfield” [under-utilized] areas to prevent demolitions and homelessness. Additionally, it is a “pie-in-the-sky” fantasy that developers will, under the Broadway Plan, front those relocation renter housing costs once renters are evicted and wait in hotels until their newly built units are ready to move into. Developers will experience higher use-values on these TOD properties due to increased amenities and will always pass on to the “consumer” (the renter) those costs. The Broadway Plan is doomed to FAIL. The “second” downtown core will not only block views for those living behind the 485 blocks but will increase heat islands. Low-income people are always those most likely impacted by heat islands (Climate Atlas of Canada, 2022). The serious public debate on this critical issue during the worst inflation in 40 years must be promoted now by academics who care about Vancouver’s housing crisis. Lastly, Moos et al. (2018) found that mixed density only works well for those who have higher incomes and are able to pay for “affordable” housing once new units increase land-use values. Low-income persons living on pensions and government subsidies will not be able to afford these higher prices.
- Photo – Cambie Street underground subway station facing west on West Broadway
Climate Atlas of Canada. (2022). https://climateatlas.ca/map/canada/plus30_2030_85#
Jones, C., & Ley, D. (2016). Transit-oriented development and gentrification along Metro Vancouver’s low-income SkyTrain corridor. The Canadian Geographer, 60(1), 9–22. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/cag.12256
Ley, D. (2022, June 21). Massive densification will not solve our housing affordability problem. Densification has not yielded more affordable housing. In fact, the opposite is true. (Opinion Editorial). Vancouver Sun. https://vancouversun.com/opinion/david-ley-massive-densification-will-not-solve-our-housing-affordability-problem
Moos, M., Vinodrai, T., Revington, N., & Seasons, M. (2018). Planning for mixed use: Affordable for whom? Journal of the American Planning Association, 84(1), 7–20. https://doi.org/10.1080/01944363.2017.1406315