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Vancouver council rejects move to densify Point Grey mansion zone

Instead of $70 million mansions, councillor wanted to see rental housing for students and seniors

Daniel Oleksuik of the group Abundant Housing Vancouver led a walking tour in Point Grey this September to highlight what bad zoning can do for housing affordability.

Jennifer Gauthier / For Metro

Daniel Oleksuik of the group Abundant Housing Vancouver led a walking tour in Point Grey this September to highlight what bad zoning can do for housing affordability.

Vancouver city council’s decision to “punt” a motion to densify anenclave of mansions is a lost opportunity, according to one local housing expert.
 
“It would be a nice message to send,” said Tom Davidoff, an economist at the University of British Columbia.
 
“(It would show) it’s not important to us to protect extremely rich people, that’s not a priority for us, affordability is a priority.”
 
Hector Bremner, a city councillor with the Non-Partisan Association, brought forward a motion today to allow six-storey rental buildings in West Point Grey, an area near UBC that is currently filled with multi-million houses on very large lots.
 
Most of the homes in West Point Grey are worth between $20 million and $70 million. Some are dilapidated, Bremner said, and he argued his plan would give more options for seniors who have lived in the neighbourhood for a long time and would like to downsize as well as for UBC students who have to commute long distances to get to university.

Bremner said he was inspired to make the motion after joining a walking tour hosted by the group Abundant Housing Vancouver in September  

Vision and Green councillors chastised Bremner for not voting for the city’s recently passed housing strategy, which includes looking at densification options for all neighbourhoods where single-family homes are currently the only form of housing allowed.
 
They voted to refer Bremner’s motion to staff to be folded into that larger strategy.
 
That’s a shame, Davidoff said, because West Point Grey is a potent example of how city zoning rules that only allow large single-family homes can exclude all but the very wealthy from a neighbourhood.
 
“The optics of defending mansion zoning are terrible,” Davidoff said, calling West Point Grey an "outlier" that nevertheless is a potent symbol of poor land use.
 
“I can see the value of not being ad-hoc, but seeing is believing. There’s no reason not to upzone that neighbourhood, but then there’s been no reason to upzone the entire Westside for many, many years.”

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