This summer, while you are trying to have a much deserved rest with your family, all over Greater Vancouver trees will fall and heritage buildings will be razed.
In September, taking your kids to school, you will wonder, ‘what’s changed here’, until it sinks in that another irreplaceable neighbourhood treasure has been ‘removed’ while we were gone for a few short weeks.
In my City of Surrey, whole neighbourhoods and forests of mature trees may disappear, as Surrey always ‘thinks big’ and doesn’t like to sweat the details. In fact, Surrey council’s latest idea is to fast track development with a ‘Nexus-style’ free pass to some developers – no oversight needed at all.
Is this good government? When citizens question policies that clearly contribute to an increasingly destabilizing rate of growth and price inflation, and that obviously lead to more conflict between old and newcomers, government and citizens, developers and residents – cities say they can do nothing and blame the province, and the province blames the federal government. But nobody does anything to defuse this growing dissatisfaction in our once joyous and flourishing multicultural mecca.
It is true that there is more than one driver of this insane building pace than wealthy offshore investors – virtually interest-free housing loans being of at least equal importance – but is that any excuse for not tackling the hard questions?
Does anybody really think this won’t end badly?
The glitter of an utterly deregulated economy is getting pretty tarnished as the free-for-all degenerates into ugliness and mayhem. We either agree to reasonable limits on how much of our precious Canada we can flog to the highest bidder, or we Canadians – of any origin – and all our kids, must live with the consequences.
May I suggest each of us video our immediate neighbourhood as we begin our summer holiday? In September, send a photo of whatever has ‘disappeared’ without genuine consultation, or been built without necessary services and amenities in place, to each of your local city, provincial and federal government representatives with your comments.
Then, perhaps, they’ll start to work together on solutions before it’s gone.
Alisa Wilson, Surrey