Early reports of EcoDensity’s demise under the new Vision council might have been a tad hasty
I read Jeff Hodson’s cover story last week in Metro about how Vancouver was pressing forward on a couple of key EcoDensity initiatives related to laneway housing and condo mortgage helpers (suites within suites). I found it curious that despite the fact both initiatives were a direct result of EcoDensity, Metro (one of my daily reads on the SkyTrain/bus every day) chose not to mention to the "E" word.
Then much to my surprise a banner headline appeared in this morning’s Metro which read "Citizen Sam’s EcoDensity Lives On." The column was written by Derek Moscato, a thoughtful and well researched guy who writes on urban affairs, transportation and archicture issues for the paper.
Moscato writes not only about EcoDensity, but he talks about how the whole "density" file is catching on with other enviro-concious municipalities as well. In an interview with City of North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto, His Worship says he is considering taxing high density neighbhourhoods at a lower rate than that of single-family homes. Mussatto is a brave man indeed. I don’t think even Sullivan would have touched that thorny issue with a ten foot pole…okay, on second thought maybe he would have.
As for his take on EcoDensity, here’ what Moscato writes:
The Sam Sullivan years are but a strange and distant memory for most Vancouver voters. The former mayor, who was hastily dumped by his own party last year, never got a chance to make his case for a second term.
During his time in office, Citizen Sam was dogged by a handful of critics who were hell-bent on trashing him at every turn — from his handling of the municipal strike, to various misfires on the issues of crime, homelessness and the Downtown Eastside.
Let’s be honest, some of the criticism was well-deserved.
And yet, one of his most controversial pet projects — EcoDensity — continues to loom large over civic life in the Metro region.
EcoDensity was Sullivan’s take on urban planning for a green future. The thinking went that by putting population growth in compact areas well-served by transit, shopping and other amenities, the region could reduce its environmental footprint while improving the quality of life for residents.
He is right, of course.
Moscato concludes by stating:
By promoting EcoDensity, Sullivan managed to antagonize defenders of the status quo, as well as single-family homeowners consumed with fear and self-interest. For this, and other alleged failings, his career in municipal politics imploded.
As for his vision for a denser, greener West Coast metropolis? It lives.
I’m glad to see that on this one issue, Vancouver’s Mayor and his Vision caucus have apparently decided to press forward. Even though I’ve been told the new Mayor (a guy who claims to be eco-friendly) has yet to publicly utter the words "EcoDensity" with anywhere near the same enthusiasm as did the last.
For the sake of the environment, let’s hope at least once the Mayor and his council colleagues can put petty politics aside and continue to support this award winning initiative – regardless of who came up with it.