Working closely with the development community to build the housing options our community needs.
Council should put forward a future vision of West Vancouver as a more resilient community; one where seniors can continue to live in the community as their housing needs change; and one when where we are able to attract and accommodate younger families and workers.
Because of an acute shortage of housing options ($750 000 to $1 500 000 units) for people downsizing or interested in moving to West Vancouver we are now seeing the “hollowing out” of our community. It is estimated that 1/3 (14 000 residents) of our community plans to leave West Vancouver in the next 5 years.
The clear majority would love to stay and continue to be part of our community but after selling their home they would need to borrow more money to buy a condo in any of the new developments. A large number of these residents are going to North Vancouver because it offers more appealing housing options for this sector. Young professionals and families are moving to North Vancouver too. It seems we have something to learn from our neighbouring community.
Since the early 1970’s West Vancouver has only seen 91 units of market rental units built. The 1960's boom in rental construction was due to incentives from the Federal Government. Perhaps we can find ways to make building rental units appealing again. As a district, I feel we need to provide more quality rental options to residents; this will also help mitigate the mass exodus and attract new residents.
Creating “Workforce Housing” that allows West Vancouver to attract qualified employees for both for the District and the business community.
West Vancouver is not only losing residents, but employees too. It is becoming near impossible to find staff that are willing to travel to West Vancouver to keep our community functioning. This year our School District lost a total of 50 teachers and support staff that found work closer to home. The majority of first responders and police do not live on the North Shore, and in the case of a disaster we would be left with whomever was on duty at the time. Many profitable businesses in West Vancouver are reducing hours or closing due to a lack of staff.
Our workforce issues are really no different from those of Whistler and traditional resort communities where service workers cannot live anywhere near the communities they work in due to prohibitive housing costs. In my opinion, we need to decide very quickly to either build suitable housing options for our “workforce” or watch a steady decline in services and businesses that we count on in our communities.
The District owns suitable lands to build a wide variety of below market, rental options for full time employees that work in our community. Long term financing for construction can be secured making this concept a revenue generator for the District and benefit the community by keeping our workers close to home.
Geoff Croll, President of British Pacific Properties, shared his version of this concept with me as his company is planning to include a similar concept in their future Cypress Village, so that their development can attract businesses to locate and invest in their commercial areas.
West Vancouver’s business areas will become increasingly less viable if the community cannot attract qualified workers, let alone aspire to attract new businesses.
If we build workforce housing, West Vancouver will have a distinct advantage over other communities in the Lower Mainland and will be better able to attract people to live, work and invest in our community.
Housing our workforce locally has a green benefit too, by reducing the number of workers that are commuting into and out of West Vancouver every day will help ease the transportation burden and air pollution.
Providing the necessary parking and transportation solutions that enable residents to access local businesses, services, parks and more, across West Vancouver.
While we are all trying to be more active and conscious of our environment – the reality is that West Vancouver is a very suburban community with predominantly low density single-family neighbourhoods. It’s great to aspire to riding a bus or bicycle, the reality is that most residents and visitors are still very automobile dependent.
West Vancouver is on the side of a mountain and is not flat like Amsterdam. The concept of everyone riding their bicycles to solve our parking challenges is a bit far fetched. We need to address the parking issue now.
Transit has changed little since my childhood in West Vancouver. For transit to work it needs to be efficient. If it takes 45 minutes to take the bus where a car will take 5, it is unlikely you will find many riders. A solution to making transit a good option needs to be worked out. I am confident this can be achieved.
Our residents are overwhelmed by the shortage of parking when visiting our business communities. Our parks fair slightly better. At the moment there are only plans to remove parking and no concrete plans to add any. Whether shopping for groceries, clothes or coffee, visiting a restaurant or doctor, we all need a place to park.
Developing strategies for our business communities that support our existing businesses and make West Vancouver an attractive place for new businesses to locate.
I feel that there has been a disconnect within our Council Chambers that the business community and residents are two different groups and that negative decisions that affect our business communities do not affect residents. Yes, residents, businesses and services are different groups, but they all depend on each other.
Residents and businesses are both served by our local government and conversely, they both pay property taxes to fund our District operations. Our District needs to understand, respect, and be accountable to both groups.
As an example, if the removal of parking from Ambleside allows an expansion of the park, the feeling at the moment is the business community will have to “take one for the team.” But residents would be happy they have more park space, right? Some might, but the vast majority of residents will not, as they miss their doctor’s appointment, restaurant reservations or are unable to find parking to shop or even go to the park.
By supporting our businesses and service providers- that is, by giving them the tools they need to be successful we make life better for residents at the same time, everybody wins.
1445 Bellevue Avenue, West Vancouver, BC V7T 1C3
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