Elizabeth Murphy, quoted in a Daily Durning post on population growth in Metro, responded in the comments to the post. It’s worth bringing to the foreground:
Thank you for the opportunity to respond to Tom Durning’s newsletter.
I would agree with him that affordability is a huge concern, especially in the City of Vancouver. However, the solution to this problem is not clear cut. Unfortunately many of the well meaning actions taken by the city in the name of affordability are in fact having the opposite effect.
The most affordable housing, both for renters and owners, is the older building stock. If this stock is demolished and replaced with new more expensive housing, it displaces people. This is having a role in the increase of homelessness even though so much new supply has been created.
It is critical to not just increase supply, but to do so strategically and carefully.
That is why having accurate growth projections and zoned capacity numbers are such important information in order to plan strategically.
There is plenty of information in the standard census form that can be used for doing accurate growth projections. More information is always helpful, but not essential. The information available is adequate, but is not being properly applied. That was the message in my article.
“Based on the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) approved in July 2011, Metro Vancouver has established growth projections. The projection of a million more people is for the whole region from 2006 to 2041. Only a portion of this growth is expected to happen in the City of Vancouver. Part of this growth has already happened since 2006.
The RGS used the 2006 census numbers for population and number of housing units, and estimated how much both would increase over 35 years to 2041. For the City of Vancouver this was an increase of about 140,000 people and 75,000 units.
In July 2013, the City of Vancouver raised the estimate to 164,000 people and 97,500 units. As a footnote under a high growth scenario, this was further increased to over 180,000 people and 108,500 units.
But there has never been any publicly transparent analysis to show how this increased estimate was determined.
Looking at the census, the actual population growth from 2006 to the most recent census in 2011 was about 25,000 people and 13,000 units.
Those figures should be subtracted from the 35-year projection to estimate future needs. The adjusted estimate of increased population between the most recent 2011 census and 2041 should be only 115,000 more people and 62,000 more units. The city seems to have added 24,000 instead of subtracting 25,000 people.”
Once the true amount of projected growth is established, then we can look at where that would go.
In my article I also explained how that would be done.
“… the true number of overall housing units that should be rezoned for as of 2015 would be reduced by the huge amount of zoning capacity that has been approved to date but not yet built.
This includes major projects that were rezoned (e.g. Cambie Corridor, Marine and Cambie, Oakridge, Telus Gardens, Arbutus Mall, False Creek North and South, Shannon Mews, the Rize, etc.) on top of the development capacity under current outright zoning and recently approved community plans in Marpole, the West End, Chinatown, Hastings Corridor and the Downtown Eastside.
The city is actually overbuilding by approximately 2,000 units in each five-year census period. This has increased the unoccupied units to a total of 22,000 as of 2011.”
The City knows how many new units have been built since 2011 to date in 2015. They also know how much zoning capacity has been increased but not yet built as per above. They also know how much zoning capacity exists in long standing zoning schedules and how much of that is likely to be built over the next decades to 2041.
Simple math will show that the difference, between true 2006 – 2041 projections and the amount both built or already zoned, is how much further rezoning is required to meet that growth.
It will likely show that we do not need towers outside of the downtown core to accommodate this growth, and most of the existing older more affordable housing could be adaptively reused as well.
Regarding growth in the outer suburbs, the majority are likely not from across Canada. They are mostly people from Vancouver and the inner suburbs who have been priced out of a house and don’t want to live in a tiny expensive box in the sky. Building more towers in Vancouver will not change this.
Allowing some development in Vancouver while protecting the majority of the older stock will help to curb development pressure that leads to land value inflation. A fine balance is needed.
Protecting the green zones and agricultural land is critical to addressing climate change. Avoiding urban sprawl requires careful planning in the suburbs that is consistent with land grid patterns in older cities that were designed for streetcars before the automobile such as Vancouver. Small lots, short blocks, walking distances to arterials, and transit that is electrified, affordable, and covers the whole system rather than a few expensive corridors.