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Letter: ‘I have watched my children squeezed out' of West Van

A longtime West Vancouver resident writes that the Cypress Village community is our best hope of creating a realistic option for our grandchildren, while providing varied options for downsizing.
WVTrestleBridge
A trestle bridge that opened in December is part of a larger trail network linking Cypress Village and Chippendale Road.

Dear Editor:

Re: Census Offers Window into “Stagnation” of West Vancouver (May 4 front-page story) and followup editorial viewpoint, Stagnation Equation, referring to how West Vancouver’s change in demographics, due to policy decisions, has led to “stagnation” of community through the deferral of “change.”

I agree, and my family has been directly impacted by this trend and outcome.

It is my hope that our grandchildren will have an opportunity to come back to the community where their parents grew up, and that people my age will be able to find modern, varied accommodation that allows them to downsize and stay in the community where they raised their families.

I am a long-term resident of West Vancouver, having graduated from West Van Secondary and UBC, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and returned here to raise our family. My wife Carina and I were active volunteers at West Bay Elementary, West Vancouver Secondary PAC, the Girl Guides, Cubs, soccer and baseball – all that to say not much different from all our other middle-class friends. 

My background in finance and investments gave me an entry point to join the District of West Vancouver finance committee as co-chair, where I served for several years under two mayors – Pamela Goldsmith-Jones and Michael Smith. It became evident as time progressed that with a stagnant-to-declining population, no industrial base and the vast majority of our costs, salaries and benefits, over which we had no control, were bumping up against a stagnant revenue stream of taxes. The result – taxes had to go up or services cut just to stay even.

Over this period, from 2000 onward, middle-class housing stock shrank and became more concentrated in ever-larger single-family homes and no diversity. Now I am looking to downsize and have limited options in a reasonable price range, primarily 40-year-old housing, townhome and apartment stock, in need of renovation. I have watched our children squeezed out of my community despite good incomes because of lack of affordability due to lack of diversity.
For these reasons, I have been a strong and active supporter of the proposed Cypress Village community proposed by British Pacific Properties going back to the time I ran for council in the 2016 byelection.

Cypress Village is a complete, sustainable urban community with a long-term time horizon. It will provide a growing, diversified tax base, allowing us to finance and rejuvenate our community, all the while preserving large areas of the Eagleridge Bluffs. This is an area which, when combined with the land the municipality owns, will give us the potential for a significant recreational area the size of Stanley Park. This project will also bring a choice of housing styles across a wide range of prices and appealing to a wide age group.

The Cypress Village community is our best hope of creating a realistic option for our grandchildren, while providing varied options for downsizing.
In my retirement, I am lucky enough to be involved with many organizations at a board and committee level, such as the Kay Meek, Hollyburn Community Services Society, Capilano University and Foundation, Lions Gate Hospital Foundation and the BC College of Nurses and Midwives. However, as our community gets older and the “active middle “shrinks, where does West Vancouver get its volunteers, those individuals who keep our community running, vibrant and connected?

We need controlled long-term growth, we need tax revenue growth and diversification, and more than ever we need a middle class. Cypress Village is our best chance for this, and its time is now, not the next census.

David Ayriss 
West Vancouver

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