More is not automatically better when it comes to housing


StatsCan reveals Tsawwassen’s population grew by a sum total of 149 souls between 2011 and 2016. Its liveability quotient has remained intact as a result, which is why our 21-year residency here remains the positive life choice we made in 1998. 

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Even with another 900+ units coming online soon at the Southlands, that’s possibly 2,500 new folks, max. That’s in an area (Boundary Bay, Spetifore farm, Beach Grove) when taken together boasts an eight-to-one greenspace to development ratio, the best anywhere in Metro Vancouver by a fat, fat margin. 

Meanwhile, as we contemplate Tsawwassen Town Centre Mall redevelopment, let’s go back to basics.  I have always thought the idea of a home as one’s primary “pension plan” a wholly misguided and discriminatory concept. E.g. that our Cliff Drive rancher here should have up-valued (sic) from a tax assessment of $808,000 in 2015 to $1.26 million in 2016 is obscene. Full-stop. 

Indeed, from pre-ALR times to now no “densifier” advocates have ever demonstrated where the simple math of more market product units has resulted in lower purchase prices Year A -vs- Year B for the same housing type and square footage. 

As well — with Southlands perhaps an exception — neither can these density champions point to how rampant growth improves “liveability” — parks; traffic mitigation; schools that are neighbourhood-oriented; human interconnectivity rather than serial isolationism. 

All of these deficits are magnified grotesquely when the mantra of developers is built on their lifelong myth and fable: land simply does not have a “highest and best use” inherently. That is pure and utter bollix.

At Cambie and Marine on the Canada Line? Easily an argument to be made there. But here at 56th Street and 12th Avenue? By no means is that any kind of given. 

Conclusion: no algorithm anyone has ever demonstrated has set out to my satisfaction how more is somehow automatically better. 

Let us proceed with our customary dogged caution in this debate, neighbours. 

Wm. Baird Blackstone


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