Thin streets have Vancouver corner lot owners worriedVancouver councillors and homeowners grilled deputy city manager David McLellan Tuesday about the affordable housing task force’s proposed thin streets concept.
The 17-member task force recommended six priority actions and nine additional actions in its final report released last week, which was the result of 10 months of study and public consultations.
But not everyone is happy with its recommendation that the city immediately begin pilot projects to create parcels of land for more ground-oriented housing by thinning certain residential streets. Kitsilano homeowner David Grigg said he and his wife bought a unit in a raised bungalow 20 years ago precisely because of its location.
“All of us are petrified at losing our light,” he said, addressing McLellan directly outside council chambers. “If a thin street were put in place, some of the treescape would disappear. It has to.”
McLellan did his best to assure Grigg that no one would be forced into anything if the task force’s recommendations were to go ahead, and all standard rezoning procedures, including hearings, would still apply.
“There would be a public process around any of these sorts of things, and the neighbourhood impact is a very important consideration for council,” he said.
NPA Coun. Elizabeth Ball questioned McLellan about how corner lot property values would be affected by thin streets — a concern she said she has heard repeatedly from constituents.
McLellan referred her to two solutions put forward by Vancouver housing and development expert and one-time NPA candidate Michael Geller.
Geller has suggested corner lot owners who agree to let new homes be built beside them could be rewarded with the opportunity to rezone their own lots for up to three units, allowing them to unlock some of the equity in their land while creating even more housing stock.
Otherwise, Geller said corner lot owners should be given an easy out:
“If the people on the corner lot said, ‘hell no, we don’t want to be here,’ perhaps the city could acquire or facilitate a developer acquiring their lot and then the city could combine the two lots into one, and that would be big enough to put townhouses on.”
While Geller said he thinks the thin streets concept is a good idea, he added he is skeptical it will take off on a wide scale because of problems with rerouting underground sewage and water lines.
There are 16 speakers registered to address city council and staff Wednesday before council votes on whether to adopt the task force’s 15 recommendations. Anyone who wishes to speak can register up until 10 minutes before the agenda resumes at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.