Here’s the Green Party’s housing platform. Here are three points from it:
- Implement a simple menu of repeatable building forms, from tiny homes to multifamily buildings, to fast-track permits and reduce costs and building times.
- Streamline re-zoning and development permits by making them happen at the same time for the housing we need.
- Ramp up the development of City-owned housing: acquire more land for housing using right-of-first-refusal and co-locate affordable housing in new public buildings such as libraries, fire halls and community facilities, but excluding park lands.
We’ve been there. And it worked. Here’s the Toronto version:
St. James Town
Our versions can be found in the Fraserview bungalow, the Vancouver Special, the West End slab tower and the few public housing projects that got built in places like Strathcona.
The 1950s and ’60s produced enough ‘affordable’ owned and rental housing for the demand at that time – albeit in such a way that it triggered a reaction against soulless suburbs and concrete jungles. Most of it, notably, was market driven and produced because land was abundant enough (thank you, Motordom) to avoid scarcity and a relentless increase in costs.
Underlying the housing platform like the Greens assumes a replacement of that market by government so that it effectively regulates the cost of land and eliminates ‘market price’ as a determinate of value, replacing it with price determined by income, which in turn would be determined by in-migration and birth rates. In other words, whoever shows up. And all done within the boundaries of a 44-square-mile city.
Not said at all is the expectation that in order to achieve a supply at that scale and cost, high-quality custom design of architecture and urban design (associated with the rising costs and scarcity in the time of Vancouverism) will be abandoned in the name streamlining, to be replaced with modular, repeatable forms that express equality. Very much the intent of the early modernists, particularly in those Corbusian machines for living:
The Greens will object. ‘We will not accept poor design standards,’ they’ll say. But they will certainly have to accept bland.