Never Never Land: Where a boy never grows up and promises never come true

Vancouver’s annual two-day homeless count recently wrapped up, and it’s clear that Vision Vancouver’s promise of ending homelessness this year is something straight from Never Never Land.

Critics have missed the point when they say that Gregor Robertson was unrealistic or naïve when he made the promise in 2008, when he first campaigned for office, to end homelessness in 2015. Such criticism implies that when he made the promise, he believed it to be achievable and he was just naïve.

But I say that the mayor was absolutely aware of the fact that he would not achieve his goal because he knew then, as he does now, that the goal isn’t doable without requiring developers to do their fair share and address this crisis. Furthermore, he was not, is not, and never will be prepared to make developers do so.

Specifically, when a developer reaps the windfall of a rezoning that increases density — and such rezonings are windfalls because they turn dirt into gold — it would be very simple and the right thing to do to require the developer to set aside a certain percentage of the new units as social housing. That means the rental rates would be set at 30 percent of a person’s income.

But here’s the catch: Doing that means losing the support — donations — of developers, which Vision Vancouver heavily relies on for its election campaigns, now among the most expensive campaigns in all of Canada when measured on a per capita basis.

Still, there may be light at the end of the tunnel for our homeless fellow citizens. I am cautiously optimistic that the province is going to introduce legislation that will bar municipal political parties from accepting donations from corporations and unions, limiting donations to only those made by individual people.

If my crystal ball is correct, we’ll see a significant leveling of the playing field in the 2018 municipal elections. More importantly, with Vision’s unhealthy and corrupt dependence on developers’ donations done away with, maybe we’ll also finally see the day when a developer appears at a public hearing to address rezoning, we’ll know in advance they don’t have a free ride.

This entry was posted in affordable housing, homelessness, social justice, Vancouver, Vision Vancouver. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Never Never Land: Where a boy never grows up and promises never come true

  1. Peter Finch says:

    What role can developers play?

    Developers do what they are permitted to do. They are not especially evil in and of themselves, but the nature of their business is to exploit the loopholes they can, and pay for those they want. They buy politicians because it is expedient so to do.

    The one power a City Council really has is the ability toset the guidelines for development.
    When an elected official ( or a non-elected bureaucrat under the direction of an elected official) betrays the public trust and hands out favours leveraged by that elected office, they are committing an evil.

    Unscrupulous politicians enjoy it when the political Left raises hue and cry over a developer’s plans: they love it because the blame is really being misplaced. Developers don’t have to answer to the public–nobody is going to unseat them–so they take the heat, while the unscrupulous politician shrugs and makes excuses.

    It is a self-perpetuating environment of corruption. True to the Never Never Land theme, the Lost Boys of City Hall never have to morally grow up, and the Captain Hooks of the development world never need to become more sophisticated than a cartoon or a parody of social responsibility.

    Rather than an endless war among themselves, it is more of a love-in that is enabled by ignorant, hapless voters. As long as they don’t know they hold the real power, issues like homelessness will NEVER be solved because there is no profit to be had by doing so.

    This can all change–very swiftly and dramatically.

    If voters under 35 turned up at the civic polls, our city would instantly have a decidedly Left government. The success or failure of a Left City Council would hinge on what they did about solving our most urgent human needs.

    So far, the Left isn’t ready, because most are pointing the finger in the wrong direction. Demonizing developers misses the point, because THEY are the people who are going to build the social housing.

    How? Very simple. Change the rules. If the rules favour a particular kind of building, it will be done. There are no logical reasons for high rises in Yaletown–they were built because it was profitable. If it is profitable to build social housing, it WILL be done.

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