Let's Fix Vancouver - Hector Bremner - Let’s Fix Housing

Let’s Fix Vancouver

For most people, our city has become a tough place to live. Everyone is on edge. It’s near impossible to find and afford rent or mortgages here. We see development and growth is not benefiting us. Taxes are going up and services declining.

We are right to be angry. However, we need to take that anger and come together as a city to solve our problems. We need to fight to make sure that our anger results in us working together on solutions and doesn’t divide us further. It’s our time to take a stand and refuse to build walls and isolate ourselves. Vancouver’s values are of being an open inclusive society, welcoming and proud to be a place where all have a fair shot prosperity for their families.

We refuse to be angry spectators, casting criticisms and judgements, instead, we choose to be doers who are eager to see investment as opportunity and eager to provide housing and safety to people as we grow. We can provide a safe and welcoming place to all those who need one, from the middle class to our own struggling populations to those coming here from around the world who are looking for a safe place to live.

Vancouver is a city to be proud of. We can do so much more. Cities that promote large houses with empty rooms and neighbourhoods, which require you to get in your car to buy a jug of milk, aren’t as livable or as sustainable as they should be.

We need to do everything we can to bring people closer to their work and social life.

We need to break down the barriers to building more affordable homes near amenities and transit so that people can more conveniently walk, bike and use car shares much more than they can now.

This is good for our human health. It’s good for our lifestyle. It’s good for our economy. And it’s good for our planet.

While the current government talks a lot about the environment, they focus on excessive regulation, making it more difficult to get green initiatives off the ground. We need more incentives and tax breaks to help make these initiatives happen.

We need to foster green innovation without the divisive rhetoric of the past ten years. The two biggest factors in green innovation are related to transit and housing.

And we can't talk about our housing crisis without talking about homelessness.

Addressing homelessness requires compassion and smart government.

Marginalized communities won’t improve their standard of living by being ghettoized. We need to unpack ghettoized neighbourhoods and build much more welfare rate and subsidized housing in an economically sustainable manner.

Our city can look at harm reduction as part of the solution not the problem. We need to provide a continuum of services and housing for those struggling with addiction and mental health issues. Above all we need to ensure we are turning nobody away from treatment or shelter. We need to come together to fight homelessness. We can look for ways to help marginalized people in our city every interaction we have with them by being good compassionate neighbours again.

Our city is at a crossroads. We can choose Donald Trump style walls and anger and turn in on ourselves or we can look outward and see the potential we have to fix our homelessness and housing crisis by becoming a truly open, free, welcoming and caring global city. The solutions are at our fingertips and they come from us all saying yes to the values that hold us together; fairness, diversity, sustainability, safety and caring for those in need.

Let’s fight to stick together and solve our problems rather than fight each other.

1.Let's Fix Housing

There are many things that aren’t working in our city. At the root of most of them is our housing crisis. Our communities are angry, and frankly, we have a right to be.

We can’t pay our rent or mortgages. We are worried about our parents and children being forced from our city. Even worse, we work in construction, and waste years waiting for permits from the city. All of these reasons validate our anger.

We have two options in front of us. We can keep pushing blindly forward like the current government has us, moving slow, blaming our issues on certain groups of people, and saying ‘no' when asked for help. Or, we can come together and face this crisis as a city, say ‘yes' to the challenge, and work to solve our housing crisis.

The reason I’m running for mayor is that this is a solvable problem.

We can start with:

  • Taking the lid off the city, with citywide pre-zoning.
  • Using incentives, 99 year leases and city-owned land to make a crisis level addition to middle class and affordable housing, where the market isn't providing it.
  • Getting housing more quickly to those who need it, by capping permit wait times.

Let’s get going and build some middle class housing. I believe that there is hope. I believe we can come together as a city to fix this.

Let’s fix housing.

2.Let’s Fix Division

I wanted to take a moment to address the growing unhappiness and division within our city.

Our city has become a tough place to live. As citizens, we are on edge. It’s impossible to afford our rent or mortgages here. The development and growth we see is not benefiting us. Taxes are going up, but our access to services isn't improving.

We are right to be angry. However, we need to channel our anger, and come together as a city to solve these problems. We need to fight to make sure that our anger results in positive progress towards solutions, not further division.

We need to take a stand now, and refuse to build barriers and isolate ourselves. We need to choose to think beyond our borders, and welcome all people to our great city. We should become global thought leaders, and show the rest of the world what it means to be a welcoming, sustainable, safe, and peaceful city.

Our city is at a crossroads. We can choose Donald Trump-style walls and hate, and close ourselves off, or we can look outward, and see the potential we have to fix our homelessness and housing crises, taking the path to becoming a truly open, free, welcoming, and caring global city. The solutions are at our fingertips, and they come from us all saying ‘yes' to the values that hold us together: fairness, diversity, sustainability, safety and caring for those in need.

Let’s fight to stick together and solve our problems, rather than fighting one another.

Let’s fix the division in our city.

3.Let’s Fix Taxes

It is unbelievable how poorly managed our cities finances are. We have $400 of debt per citizen, despite being a growing city where the world wants to live. Right next door in Burnaby, they are sitting on a surplus of $2,900 per citizen. The only difference is incompetent government.

We have had a 50% increase in taxes since Vision took power, with little to show for it. I will fight to restore the covenant that government should have with taxpayers, in which development should come with increased services.

A simple solution would be to add more homes, which would help solve our housing crisis, and reduce the share of taxes that each of us pays.

We also need to stop taxing small business out of our city.

It’s time to restore good management to our cities economy.

Let’s fix taxes.

4.Let’s Fix Transportation

Vancouver has never had a more car-friendly government than Vision Vancouver. With the lack of density and affordable housing close to where we work, they have forced our city on to highways, and into traffic.

There is no plan for building the housing people need close to where they work. That would be the first step for improving transportation.

They're planning a Broadway Skytrain line to UBC, yet they vote against building housing close to where people work or go to school.

They have a plan for mobility pricing, but that's just another tax on its way.

Let’s start being smart about transportation. We need to focus on getting people living closer to where they work, and flooding the market with options like car sharing and improved transit.

Let’s fix transportation.

5.Let’s Fix Politics

One of the things that saddens me most about where we are as a city is our broken political culture.

Our city is in a toxic state of inertia, due to political games and the ideological focus of our government.

We need to focus on how we can come together as a city, to quit playing politics, and stop using marginalized groups as political pawns.

We need to reshape our priorities, to emphasize treating each other well and getting things done, not playing politics.

Let’s take good ideas no matter where they come from. Let’s spend our time on solutions, not political games. Let’s return to a place where we can imagine what is possible for our city.

My hope is that we will look back in ten years at this year as a turning point in our city's politics. I want this moment to be where the games stopped and the hope returned.

Let’s fix politics.

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