You could help Translink Mayors’ Council plan the region’s future funding system

Are you someone with community experience concerned about how Metro Vancouver will fund its transportation needs for the next generation?

If so, you may want to offer your time to serve on the upcoming independent review of “mobility pricing” options that could be used to fund future transportation investments — roads, buses and rapid transit.

The call for interested candidates has just gone out and will continue until the positions on this large commission are filled.

It will be a fascinating experience, working on one of the biggest challenges our region faces. You don’t have to be an engineer or an accountant – people from all walks of life are needed and urged to apply.

Here’s the link again:


Affordability will be part of every development with new city housing strategy

Every new development, regardless of size or type, will have to contribute to housing affordability, says chief city planner Gil Kelley, a measure of how significant the city’s emerging new policies are.

Under Housing Vancouver “emerging directions” approved by council today, the city will shift its housing targets to deliver units directly to meet the needs of all city residents by income group.

Until now, the city could deliver a few units — depending on provincial support — to social housing, but far fewer than required. Incentives to generate market rental are producing more than 1,000 units a year for households earning over $50,000 a year. (See the staff presentation here.)

But the “missing middle” earning below that number, or even more, are not getting relief despite the large number of new units being built each year.

Business as usual would produce a dramatic oversupply of 10,000 market condominiums, but leave unmet demand equally large for affordable rental. We have plenty of supply — but not the right supply.

The “housing reset,” as it has become known, is intended to change that.

When final policy options come to council in July, Kelley and the rest of the city team will be proposing important new initiatives to require affordability across the housing spectrum.

In this crisis, no one can sit on the sidelines. The new approach is designed to make sure that practice ends.

Fassbender’s “transit-supporting levy:” a new way to make municipalities pay?

Transportation minister Peter Fassbender’s latest musings about a new “transit-supporting levy” imposed on transit-oriented development sound like a complex new way for Victoria to impose the entire cost of transportation investment on municipalities.

Says Fassbender: “If you build transit corridors and you invest billions of dollars in transportation, there is a benefit to densification as a result of that, and should a portion of that benefit accrue to the very transportation corridors that have helped to build that?”

Translation: if developers densify along transit corridors, shouldn’t Victoria get a chunk of that added value to pay for transit investment? As it stands, all of that lift accrues to municipalities. In Vancouver’s case, it’s used for affordable housing, parks, heritage protection and other benefits.

The Translink Mayor’s Council has already asked for legislative power to impose development cost charges for transit development. Those would be applied either regionally or along corridors to pay for the region’s share of transit investment. They are collected on all development, with or without rezoning.

Fassbender seems to be heading into new territory, contemplating some kind of density levy from the increased value of the land after rezoning. But that payment comes only when development occurs, not when transit investment occurs. The delay can be years or even decades long. And the money would be diverted from other municipal needs, forcing a reduction in amenities or an increase in taxes.

We’re a long way from the 1990s, when the NDP government paid 100 percent of the capital cost of the Millennium Line, from which several municipalities are now reaping development benefits.

Recently, NDP leader John Horgan promised to increase the provincial contribution to 40 percent, if he’s elected Premier, up from the hard cap of 33 percent imposed by the BC Liberals.

But Fassbender’s musings suggest a much bleaker scenario: a new province-directed levy that diverts scarce municipal dollars to make up a further reduction in provincial investment. After all, the minister says, ” we can’t just find money all over the place.”

New park in the heart of the city at the centre of Park Board consultation on Northeast False Creek

Removal and replacement of the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts with an at-grade road system will result in a much larger future park on the north side of False Creek than is possible if the Viaducts remain. The Vancouver Park Board is working now with a major design team to see what such a park would look like.

It’s all part of the final stage of the development of the Concord Pacific lands on False Creek with a decision on the removal of the Viaducts expected by the end of the year.

One of the benefits: a much larger park than possible if the Viaducts remain, with about 50 percent more of the park on the water.

Consultations on the plan for the new park are now under way as this video spells out — make your views known.