Never mind “what’s the rush?” to develop, Jak King, your Grandview Woodlands ‘hood is flatlining


While Vancouver’s population grew 36 percent, Grandview grew only two percent over the last 40 years and actually shrank during the last 15.

Alleged smoking gun evidence that Vancouver will meet its regional growth goals 22 years early, released in a breathless and error-filled news release Sunday by Jak King, of the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods, worked the Internet into a frenzy over on Frances Bula’s site, where commenters presented duelling numbers for days.

Richard Campbell ably debunked the numbers here, and I summarize the errors below.

Not mentioned in the affray: the fact that Grandview Woodlands, where King is chair of the Grandview Woodlands Area Council, has not grown at all for the past 40 years. It’s flatlining, even shrinking.

“What’s the rush” to develop?, asks King, who is just plain wrong in his calculations that the city has added units for 43,000 people in the last two years. Or was it three years?

King stands by his numbers and wants to check back further to see how many years this alleged building boom has existed.

A better question for King, chair of the Grandview Woodlands Area Council is why his neighbourhood is dead in the water, growing only two percent — 555 people — in the last 40 years, while Vancouver grew by 36 percent, or nearly 200,000 people.

Those numbers are not in doubt: check out page 4 of this backgrounder on Grandview Woodlands produced for the current planning process.  In the last 15 years, King’s neighbourhood actually shrank by 2,000 people.

Is that because GW is already too dense? Not really. At 61 people per hectare, Grandview is in the middle of the pack, only slightly ahead of the city average of 54. It’s really Kitsilano East, with better coffee.

As for growth, it’s fair to assume King’s future Grandview neighbours will look for more affordable housing in multi-family dwellings. In fact, that’s what they told city planners. After all, more than half of the 28,380 residents counted in the current planning documents are tenants.

With Grandview seeing a big increase in the number of children in the neighhourhood, good transit connections, good schools . . . isn’t it reasonable to expect some development growth?

Yet in Grandview’s case, the question is not when development will stop, but when will it start? The same could be said for other Coalition-engaged neighbourhoods like Dunbar and Kerrisdale. That’s why the current planning process in Grandview is so important: it’s time for the community to decide how to help manage growth, not to pretend it’s already happened.

If the Coalition really wants, as it says, to to be a to be “a respected and influential part of the process,” it needs to bring factual analysis to the table.

Now, back to King’s errors:

  • King says “the planners anticipate that Vancouver will see an increase of 153,800 people in the thirty-five years from 2006 to 2041. ” Actually, the figures are a range of 163,800 to 186,800 over 35 years. A typo? Let’s hope so.
  • King says that ” since 2011, the city has already proposed or approved sufficient new housing to accommodate 43,000 people. In just two years, this planned housing satisfies 28% of the growth the city projects being required over the next 35 years.” No, city staff provided the coalition with numbers for for three years (2011 to 2013) totalling 11,282 units, an average of 3,706 a year, slightly above the 35-year projection for 3,100, but not 500 percent above.
  • But King was just warming up. To house 43,000 people, those units would average 3.8 residents each, on a par with Iran or Afghanistan.  The City of Vancouver uses 1.6 people per unit to estimate population. King may have added committed units to proposed units — which may be built in future or may never be built at all — then multiplied by about 2 people per unit to achieve his scary, but very wrong number.