LETTER: No task force alone can solve North Shore housing woes

Dear editor:

A few weeks ago I referred to District of North Vancouver council’s establishment of an Affordable Housing Task Force as a “joke” [on Facebook in response to a North Shore News post].

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Since then I have received a significant number of responses to the post. Foremost among them was one from Coun. Lisa Muri with whom I had the privilege of serving on council for 12 years. Coun. Muri, quite rightly, took exception to my characterization of the task force as a joke and went on to state that the last four years on council had been a joke – a really “difficult term.”

I can only assume that it was a “difficult term” for her partly due to the unprecedented number of development permits that were issued and the resultant densification of her beloved community.

She now finds herself as the “senior” councillor in terms of length of tenure and must, understandably, be extremely frustrated at the inability of the District of North Vancouver to achieve any measure of development that meets the needs of “ordinary” working-class individuals and families that may wish to call the district home.

The sad reality is that without significant investment by all three levels of government and an ongoing commitment to fund non-market housing development or the development of a broad range of tax incentives and credits, there will not be any “affordable housing” developed in the District of North Vancouver in the foreseeable future.

No task force, regardless of the brainpower assembled and the best intentions, will somehow come up with “magic bullets” to alter the geographic proximity of the DNV to the major, cosmopolitan, world-class City of Vancouver, just 15-20 minutes across the inlet.

This immutable fact results in bare land prices approaching $270 per square foot for a single-family lot and upwards of $700 per square foot for multi-family assemblies. These valuations, quite simply, render any project non-viable at market, or non-market, rates less than $500,000 for a one-bedroom one-bath 700-square-foot apartment.

The only immediately available solution to this dilemma is to reduce the land cost to $0.00. The only way this can occur is for district taxpayers to forego any present or future revenue opportunity for the lands currently owned by the District of North Vancouver.

It was recently proven by council’s rejection of the Delbrook non-market housing proposal that most of the current council does not believe the district taxpayers are prepared to contribute to alleviating the current crisis.

As a relatively new councilor in 2004 I made a comment that drew the ire of many followers of council proceedings. I stated then that it was an unfortunate reality that “not everyone would be able to afford to live in the District of North Vancouver.”

In 2019 that reality still exists, even more so! Other than those people who have lived in the district for years and years, only a very few fortunate souls will ever be able to live, or aspire to live, in this beautiful part of Metro Vancouver … unless the District of North Vancouver contributes the land, the province of British Columbia provides some rental subsidies and federal government adopts some quick tax Incentives or accelerated capital cost write-off policies.

ALL will have to be in play.

No task force has the power to initiative these policies.

Alan Nixon
Nanaimo, B.C.

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