West Vancouver is going through significant changes. Residents are concerned. They fear the community they love is disappearing. Emotions are high. People are angry. Many are looking for answers and many seek someone to blame.
In reality, the changes we see are largely driven by regional, national and international forces. International and inter-provincial migration will require Metro Vancouver to accommodate 1.2 million more people by 2041. Surrounding municipalities continue to grow and bring cars to our streets. Global capital flows and property speculation has distorted our housing market. Federal and provincial policies haven’t always helped.
The impact on our community is profound. Neighbourhood character is eroding. Appropriate housing is unaffordable or unavailable. Traffic congestion seems to increase daily. We see the issues but we struggle to find solutions.
In times of instability and uncertainty, a natural, human impulse is often to hunker down and resist the new and unfamiliar. However, continuing to do things the way we have in the past isn’t going to solve our present problems. Circumstances have changed. In the words of Yogi Berra, “the future ain’t what it used to be.” Adapting to these changes in a measured and thoughtful way is imperative.
The challenges facing us are complex and will be difficult to resolve. Housing won’t ever be as affordable as it once was. Traffic will never return to what it was when Vancouver was a small, sleepy backwater. Local governments have limited powers and resources. The only way forward, as I see it, is through incremental efforts on various fronts. And yes, making some difficult decisions with the future in mind. We must strike a careful balance and do our best to preserve a healthy, happy, and complete community.
In this column over the next few months, I plan to share how I approach these hot topics. While I know I don’t have all the answers, I bring the perspective of someone who has spent years listening, learning and thinking about the future of West Vancouver.
In return, I’ll be seeking your ideas on how best to deal with housing affordability, traffic congestion, economic vitality, environmental responsibility, and community health. Whether or not you agree with me, we are all better off with thoughtful dialogue and an engaged community.