One can see Ted McLean wringing his hands in despair, as he asks the rhetorical question, "if you don't want to
build on farmland, you have to think where the growth will go?"
One can see him ringing the cash register when he replies, "the answer, is, it should go where it already is, through increasing densities."
McLean, who was interviewing himself in the presence of our intrepid reorter for a story in the Review, August 5, is president of Quadrant Development, and a spokesman for the Urban Development Institute, a group made up of developers and real estate firms. He was commenting on a UDI brief submitted to the provincial cabinet.
The brief suggests that each municipality now assumes the other municipalities will provide ample room, through rezoning to higher densities or other means, to house the estimated regional population growth. To cure this let-Surrey-do-it attitude, the brief recommends each niunicipality be allocated a portion of the estimated growth and be required to provide a minimum five-year supply for growth. The brief notes there is no legislation to require municipalities to assume their share of the regional growth, but the provincial government has the authority "to make the program effective".
Roughly translated, the UDI is asking Victoria to legislate the placement of population growth and land supply
quotas on municipalities, effectively taking away a municipality's right to control its growth.
The brief wryly states this may unpopular, knowing the Socred penchant for doing the unpopular.
Such legislation would be popular with developers, of course.
It would ensure a local supply of land, so the developers would not trample each other as they rush around the Lower Mainland buying up whatever is available.
It would relieve them of lobbying council for rezoning bylaws, meeting with residents who might resist their plans, and hassling with local officials who might have their own ideas on how the municipality should grow.
It would also relieve them of having to engage in the drudgery of land-assembly, more affectionately known as "block-busting".
The best example of block busting in Richomd is south of Granvllle Avenue.
"A marvelous example in Richmond is south of Granville, where they tore some houses down, and put in apartments. That is a much better use of the land," McLean said, praising Richmond for making denser zone
Since council is caught between the developers and the farmland freeze, it must move towards rezoning for higher density. This can be politically unpopular, and council would welcome the legislation. It would take off the local heat if the Socreds were making the denser zoning decisions council.
Every once in a while, Victoria would bark, "Rezone!", and council would merely ask "how high?"
Relieved of such petty details as running the municipality and determining its growth, council could tackle the big questions: How much should we raise taxes to provide services for all these new people? What should we do with Garry Point? Who Is Olaf Baumgartner? What airport?
Even the federal government is lending a hand to the trend to high density housing. It sponsors the ludicrously high interest rates that are collapsing the single-family bousing market, and has revived the multiple unit residential building tax-shelter incentive program, creating both demand for, and supply of, higher density housing.
All levels of government may soon assist the developers in their pursuit of apartments, money, and happiness.
One can see McLean squirming in his UDI briefs and unbuttoning his vested interest in excitement.
Scanned from original newsprint or photocopies using OCR, Epson Perfection 2450 Photo scanner. © GE
Last updated: Sunday, 15-Feb-2009 02:21:32 EST