Editorial: Passing the density buck

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As the last Vancouver municipal election wound down, the incumbent mayor issued an apology for moving too quickly on issues and not seeking sufficient public input. It likely spared his job.

As the mayor’s council winds down approaching the next municipal election, the incumbent Vision Vancouver majority last month defied that 2014 promise by moving much too quickly on a major issue and not seeking public input. It likely was the swan song of a fading party.

At the council’s behest, the city issued nearly 700 pages proposing significant reform on how land is to be developed. It did so without public consultation commensurate to the exercise.

In broad outline, it would rezone the city’s areas now dedicated to detached and duplex/infill housing to permit one giant multi-family mélange. The concept has its proponents, mostly those desperate for housing or those salivating to build it.

Who doesn’t want the right supply of housing? Who isn’t for a gentle, as opposed to brutish, densification of the community? But the trouble is in the process. Later this month we will get a bullish major report, and the mess will be dumped into the laps of the next council for implementation or walk-back.

There is good reason to believe the consequence of proceeding will be more abattoir than neurosurgery in the quest to build the right supply without further damaging the market, demolishing inappropriately or destroying the subtleties of our surroundings.

For years politicians have feared bringing the truth to our neighbourhoods about the need to add greater density, even mildly, to districts that are decamping or defying the imperative to accommodate growth.

Instead of levelling with the public some time ago and fostering an intelligent dialogue to develop the city we need, the mayor and his party’s council majority – only one of whom will be seeking re-election in October – are burning down the bridge as they flee the battleground.

The enormity of this initiative so close to an election indicates that the administration wishes the opposite of a deathbed repentance. It wishes to leave with cowardice and arrogance.

Process is important. Caution and dialogue are advised.