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Editorial: We must act fast to accommodate a growing population

It’s no longer about whether we should grow or not but how we accomodate the growth we know is coming
Construction crews work on a new housing and commercial development in Victoria. | Adrian Lam / Times Colonist

Whether we like it or not, the population is growing – nationally, provincially and locally.

British Columbia’s population is projected to reach 7.9 million by 2046, up 44 per cent compared to today.

The province understands the implications of this, which underscores the transformative changes in housing rules coming online – minimum densities, housing targets, fourplexs on single-family lots, etc.

For generations, there has been an assumption at the municipal level that population growth was something to be controlled by locals councils via their decisions on zoning. Along with senior levels of government abandoning the provision of new affordable and rental housing in the 1980s and ‘90s, it explains much of the housing crisis we live in today.

But our local council members are right to have angst about the impacts on infrastructure, whether it’s community centres, sewer lines, or transportation.

That goes especially so on the North Shore. With its sprawling nature, ours is one of the most car-dependent communities in Metro Vancouver. And while the new rules mandate new housing close to transit, we know that our transit system to the North Shore isn’t fast enough or frequent enough to make the bus a more attractive option than the personal auto for commuters.

That means senior levels of government, which collect almost all of the tax money in Canada, have an obligation to show up with infrastructure cash, and lots of it.

The better we focus on accommodating growth now, the higher our quality of life will be in the years ahead.

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