West Vancouver council has given its approval to a mixed strata/affordable rental project and seniors day facility at 2195 Gordon Ave. For this, we have nothing but praise. Almost nothing. The district has owned the land with plans to provide affordable housing on the site since 2014. It’s taken far too long to get to this point, and construction hasn’t even begun yet.
Financially, the municipality is making a tidy sum, but some suggested the land should be sold for full market value with the benefits flowing back to West Vancouver’s coffers. More than welching on their affordable housing plans, flipping the property for profit would have made the District of West Vancouver into nothing more than an absentee real estate speculator.
Others wanted to see different models of affordable housing for the site like co-ops, rent-geared-to-income or rent-to-own. The good news is West Vancouver can try those at other district-owned sites, which they should get on with immediately and not let them wait eight years for approval.
The Gordon Avenue housing will make a major difference in the lives of the people who live there, but it’s still a drop in the bucket compared to what West Van truly needs.
Thanks to COVID-19’s disruptions in the labour market, it’s tough hiring and keeping employees all over. But this is going to be acutely felt in West Vancouver, where years of decisions by successive councils have made the municipality inhospitable to those earning low to moderate incomes – people that a functioning municipality still needs to teach kids, cut hair, and serve lunch.
It is clear now that workforce housing must be the next strategy in our ongoing unaffordability crisis.