Here’s an idea that won’t make many friends in Vancouver. We’re pretty entrenched in the idea of preserving the view envelope and opposing anything over 10 stories tall. Vancouver has very few examples of economically viable density projects. Yaletown and the Concord Pacific lands are an example where increased density also helped to pay for a huge investment in amenities in the area. Look at all the parks on the Concord Pacific lands and the Roundhouse Community Centre. Collingwood Village around Joyce Station is home to 3 city parks, neighbourhood house, health unit, and community school in an area that is roughly 15 city blocks.
Obviously, as there is a housing crunch for low income folk, we do need to search out creative solutions. Traditional federal and provincial funding has been severely lacking. So the city does need something totally different. A market-driven method could rely on increased density.
However, I don’t see many Vancouverites jumping on that bandwagon. If there were a bandwagon to jump on, it would be the antithetical bandwagon against density. Norquay Village (a newly-named area from Earles St to Gladstone St along Kingsway) could be revitalized with some key developments. There is already a tower planned to replace the El Dorado Hotel on Kingsway and Nanaimo. However, there is a lot of opposition to fairly low-key densification options like duplexes, rowhouses, and townhouses. From the sounds of these voices, you think the world would end if townhouses were to dominate the landscape.
Density opponents do have some valid concerns about increased traffic and the increased number of cars on the roads. However, density can bring about neighbourhoods that we want to live in, to shop in, and to work in. Without the proper density, we’ll continue to drive from our single detached homes to our offices in commercial districts and then to the big box shopping stores along some stretch of highway. Density is the only way to create economically viable and desirable places to live, work, and play.