Motion to allow development of attainable and affordable housing in a neighbourhood with an average home price of over $8 million
VANCOUVER (Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Territories) - Councillor Christine Boyle today announced the tabling of a motion to revitalize the city’s most exclusive, least dense neighbourhood - Unlocking Shaughnessy: Building Affordable Housing Options for All of Us.
Under the status quo, Shaughnessy is a wealthy neighbourhood of mansions, wide boulevards and leafy trees, whose exclusionary character is protected by municipal land-use policy. The motion, if passed, would end this exclusion, directing staff to create a plan to add badly-needed housing, as well as shops and services, amid a housing crisis, to bring the neighbourhood’s density up to the city’s average by 2050.
It would additionally direct staff to ensure that there is a specific focus on rental housing and family-sized housing, with additional density available to ensure viable non-profit, co-op, co-housing and mixed-income rental.
“Vancouver is the front line of Canada’s housing crisis, and in Shaughnessy, we have the opportunity to add badly-needed housing while displacing no one,” says Christine Boyle, City Councillor, OneCity Vancouver. “Over my lifetime, the population of the City of Vancouver has grown by nearly 60%, while the population of Shaughnessy has shrunk. It’s not good for the health of a centrally located neighbourhood, and it’s not fair to every other neighbourhood across Vancouver.”
Vancouver’s recent efforts to add badly-needed housing, such as the passage of the Broadway Plan, have often focused on intensifying neighbourhoods that are already home to a significant amount of rental housing - much of it affordable to those with low or moderate incomes. This means existing tenants bear the brunt of the burden, having their lives disrupted in order to ease the housing shortage that affects us all.
In contrast, adding housing to Shaughnessy minimizes displacement, creating a win-win for everyone in Vancouver. It allows for the construction of badly-needed housing, close to the core of the city, with excellent transit access - and at the same time, breathes life to a neighbourhood that has seen its population decline for decades.
“Adding new homes in Shaughnessy for people of all incomes means more people can live close to Vancouver’s major job hubs,” continued Boyle. “This will reduce carbon emissions, and more residents can benefit from the heritage and the tree canopy in this beautiful place.”
Despite extraordinary demand to live in Vancouver’s central neighbourhoods, reflected in sky-high rents and home prices, Shaughnessy’s population has seen a steady decrease over the last 50 years. Since 1971, its population fell by roughly 21%, where the City of Vancouver grew by 55%, and Metro Vancouver grew by 157%. Maintaining Shaughnessy’s exclusionary land use is not only an endorsement of our city’s profound inequality, it is also self-defeating, as a declining population leads to suffering local businesses, and under-used local green spaces and amenities. And it is happening right next to neighbourhoods where local amenities are bursting at the seams.
Many of the mansions in Shaughnessy have heritage status. Recognizing that future generations of Vancouverites deserve to have their heritage preserved, the motion directs staff to balance existing heritage protections with efforts to meet the City’s housing, climate and equity objectives. And it recognizes the need to improve local utility infrastructure like separated sewers to meet the needs of current and future residents.
By adding housing to Shaughnessy, more Vancouverites will be able to experience this beautiful, historic area - and call a new, vibrant, bustling mixed-income neighbourhood home.
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OneCity Vancouver Communications Committee