DNV sees 13% poverty increase since 2006

Poverty in the Lower Mainland? A lot of people might think it is all in the downtown eastside but today’s new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), the United Way and the Poverty Reduction Coalition shows a different picture and a surprising part of that picture is in the District of North Vancouver.

The CCPA report found that “In Metro Vancouver in 2012:

  • Just over half (54 per cent) of the working poor were married or living common law.
  • 42 per cent had dependent children (32 per cent were living in couple families with children and 9 per cent were single parents).
  • One in four (24 per cent) was between the ages of 18 and 29.
  • The majority (61 per cent) were between the ages of 30 and 54, or what economists consider prime working age.
  • 9 per cent received employment insurance (EI) benefits at some point during the year.

They found that “Worse still, working poverty has grown in most municipalities since 2006, with the largest increases occurring in suburban neighbourhoods in West Vancouver (15 per cent increase), Coquitlam (13 per cent), White Rock (15 per cent), Lions Bay (17 per cent) and District of North Vancouver (13 per cent). Even municipalities generally seen as wealthy have experienced increases in working poverty.”

In the DNV the increase in poverty is not equally divided. Surprisingly, it seems to be concentrated in the area west of Lonsdale and north of the highway including the Delbrook area as well as the south Capilano area (see URL below). This seems to suggest many people are house rich but income poor.

map3-ChangeInWorkingPovertyPercentagePoints-ccpa_0

The CCPA offers a list of solutions related to working wages and working conditions and government services. Access to safe, affordable housing is high on their list, a solution that will not be solved by selling a couple of acres of District land.

See the full CCPA report here.

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Reflections on the dialogue: Some thoughts on the Delbrook Lands consultation

I want to share my thoughts on the day long consultation on the Delbrook lands that took place on Saturday June 18th. Before I do that, however, I would like to invite you to share your thoughts as well by commenting on this post. Overall, my reaction was negative. Perhaps you have a different point of view.

In short, I was startled by some of the introductory comments, went through the discussion and then was offended by the final questionnaire people were asked to complete on their way out the door.

In the introduction to the process one of the Centre for Dialogue presenters told the group someone had attempted to obtain the phone numbers of all 100 participants and call them to persuade them about our point of view.

At that point I asked for the microphone to correct the comment telling participants that in fact one member of the Delbrook Community Association had simply called four of her neighbours to talk about the process and to share her thoughts. One of them was offended and apparently complained.

The presenter acknowledged the correction and explained to me later his remarks were not intended to criticize but simply to demonstrate the level of commitment to discussion of the Delbrook property. However, earlier in a call from the Centre for Dialogue to the president of the Delbrook Community Association we were told the Centre was concerned about Council feeling the process was being compromised and asked for any calling to stop. We were instructed to stop speaking to our neighbours.

I am sure the Centre would not have wanted to present incorrect information to the group but for me it was not a good start to the day.

We then did a short walking tour and spent the rest of the day discussing the pros and cons of the six options presented for the Delbrook site: minimal change; parks and outdoor recreation; community services, recreation and culture; non-market housing; market housing and commercial use.

The ideas generated by the 12 tables were then summarized in two minute presentations to the mayor and five of the six council members.

All well and good. But sometimes the questions that don’t get asked are as important as the questions that do get asked and some of the questions in the Dialogue Document somehow never made it to the discussion. Page 38 of the Dialogue Guide listed four questions that participants should take into account. These were:

  1. What principles should guide decision making for the Delbrook Lands?
  2. What are the greatest needs of the community?
  3. How will different community members be impacted by participant recommendations to District Council on future use of the Delbrook Lands?
  4. Are there any circumstances where the sale and private ownership of the Delbrook Lands is desirable, or is continued public ownership preferred?

These were foundational questions the group never had a chance to discuss. Would it have made a difference to the discussion? Perhaps.

Something else that wasn’t focused on? Perhaps the groups should have discussed the fact that that the DNV’s 2013 Public Assembly Lands Strategy has as part of its guiding principles:

Public Assembly lands were created to serve the social needs of the community, and Council supports retention of publicly used lands and buildings (where appropriate) for long-term community purposes to the greatest extent possible.

It would have been nice to have a focused discussion on the importance of pubic assembly lands in the future.

For me the last straw was the exit survey. As people were packing up their papers they were asked to fill out a seven-page questionnaire. On page three participants were asked to place a check mark beside up to three of ten possible uses for the property. Nine of the ten choices included housing as one of the uses. When people are asked to provide up to three choices they usually provide three choices. And in this question putting down more than one X meant you supported using housing for the site. How many people, at the end of the day, with a seven-page questionnaire, thought about this when they were asked to provide three choices.

delbrook q p3 edit

 

And then there is simply the makeup of the people chosen for input on this process. More than half came from outside the Delbrook area. I can’t wait for the day I see a giant sign on a nearby street asking for my participation in some District project miles away in another neighbourhood. Call me cynical but I think I will be waiting a long time.

Did it make a difference that slightly more than half of the people at the consultation lived outside of the Delbrook area of the DNV? Perhaps.

At the earlier January consultation 70% of the people at the assembly lived in the Delbrook area of the DNV. Roughly 1,100 ideas were put forward. Of these seven, less than one per cent talked about market housing. A relatively small group talked about non market housing. A much larger group talked about community programming facilities and structures.

In contrast, the June consultation saw a third of the 12 tables reporting call for market housing (although one woman got up to say that at her table only four of the seven participants had supported market housing. Speakers from eight of the 12 tables supported some sort of “non-market” housing, though the concept of non-market housing was never defined.

I suspect this change in reaction came from two things – the large group of people from outside of the area and the fact that in the weeks before the consultation the District conducted two surveys with leading questions encouraging a “housing” response.

This is not to argue the District does not need both market and affordable housing. But slapping up a few homes on the Delbrook lands is a solution that is even less than cosmetic. It sells off the District’s family silverware to give the impression of action while making little of no real change. It reduces the amount of land owned by the District for the use of its citizens and we will never be able to afford to buy this back.

So what should we expect? The Centre for Dialogue will make its report in September. I wish I could be more optimistic about that report. Then Council will make its decisions. I wish I could be more optimistic about that too. Councilors are legally required to keep an open mind about these issues, but we know some of them are committed to getting cash for the Delbrook lands.

Who in 30 years will remember a Council in 2016 got a few dollars for a property that could have served us for generations.

 

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The Delbrook lands strategy laid bare

Perhaps I am a little too suspicious.  Perhaps the District is not so strategic.  Perhaps we should recognize that the District is merely playing a part in a national conversation.

But doesn’t it seem a little more than coincidental that exactly one month before the Delbrook Lands workshop, the District released a survey on affordable housing?  Could this be designed to raise the question of affordability to the top of our consciousness?

Asking if you would like to see more affordable housing in the District is akin to asking if we should keep drunk drivers off the road.  Of course we want more affordable housing!  We want places where young families can afford to raise our grandkids; we want homes so our senior friends can continue to live in our community; we don’t want to lose our neighbours to Langley just because they got a divorce.

The Delbrook Lands questionnaire is bullish on non-market housing, and I expect the facilitators will be too.

The most important factor to consider when evaluating this idea is:

Affordable non-market housing is identified as an important community need in the Official Community Plan

It would provide up to 40 units of lowrise apartments for low- to moderate-income households

The project could not happen without the District contributing land

The site is within walking distance of schools, parks, recreation facilities, and shops, and is located on a public transit corridor

The Province wants to partner with municipalities on affordable housing projects

A rezoning and Official Community Plan amendment would be needed, as the site is not zoned for residential and is not in a town centre

It could not proceed without external funding for capital and operating costs, which is not guaranteed

So there is a real danger that the workshop on Saturday is going to be designed to ride this wave of affordable housing, and the result will be a recommendation for some of the site to be set aside for this use, even though it will not solve the problem at all.

Of course, the only negative factor in the question about affordable housing lays out the next step: we can proceed with non-market housing only if we find capital and operating funds to pay for it.  So, if you want to use a portion of the site for non-market housing, then you will also sign up to develop the rest of the site for market housing.  The sale of the asset will pay the capital cost of construction, and the tax revenue will pay for the operations.

At the end of the day, if the District and developers have their way, we will get half-a-dozen non-market bachelor suites in the basement of a monstrous complex of foreign-owned empty mini-palaces.

I’m sorry, but I had really hoped for more.

The Delbrook Lands – the jewel of our community

As we approach the meeting this Saturday to discuss the future of the Delbrook Lands, the latest issue of the Delbrook Digest has been published.

It has been mailed to every home in Delbrook but you can see it (in colour!) by clicking on the URL below.

PB_Delbrook Newsletter_8_LR

In this edition: The Jewel of Delbrook – Up for Grabs?   Also a discussion of whether the lands really need to be sold to pay for the new Griffin Recreation complex. Wonder what the lands would look like if they were focused on the needs of the community? Page one has an artists concept.

 

DCA calls for foot bridge repair

The Delbrook Community Association (DCA) has requested the District of North Vancouver to take action on a deteriorating foot bridge between Queens and Windsor Road that connects Delbrook to the Delbrook Recreation Centre.

Delbrook Bridge

In mid-May the President of the DCA wrote to the District requesting them to repair the bridge, marked as dangerous by a sign, which so far is only partially blocked off.

The DCA President said, “We do not believe these measures are sufficient to prevent curious and adventurous children from going on to the structure, especially as summer approaches. In fact, we are concerned that the current measures will only act as an attraction.”

He continued, “We are well aware that a planning exercise is currently being carried out for the site but do not believe this issue can be put off to the future when this exercise is completed. All of this being said, we believe the footbridge served a useful function as shortcut from Delbrook, the bus stop and the soccer fields. On behalf of the DCA executive I request the District to repair the bridge so that it can once more be safely used.”

As yet the District has not responded.

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Delbrook survey: Your chance to weigh in

As part of the process to determine what will happen with the current Delbrook Recreation Centre property, the SFU Centre for Dialogue has created a survey. The survey is based on the Dialogue document that will be used as part of the June 18 Discussion. You can find the whole discussion guide here:

https://www.dnv.org/sites/default/files/edocs/Delbrook-discussion-guide.pdf

Like the Dialogue document, the survey looks at the six major ideas that are being floated varying between little change and a 300 unit housing development using up the entire site. One of the ideas being floated is a curling rink. There is no indication where that idea came from.

In the survey each of the six ideas are followed by a number of statements and respondents are asked to make a single forced choice as to which is the most important of the statements.

dl survey

Interestingly, the survey does not ask the four key questions that are included in the Dialogue Guide which are:

  1. What principles should guide decision making for the Delbrook Lands?
  2. What are the greatest needs of the community?
  3. How will different community members be impacted by participant recommendations to District Council on the future use of the Delbrook Lands?
  4. Are there any circumstances where the sale and private ownership of the Delbrook Lands is desirable, or is continued public owner-ship preferred?

If you would like to take the survey, you can find it here:

https://www.dnv.org/recreation-leisure/share-your-thoughts-delbrook-lands-site-ideas

The survey starts at the bottom of the page.

If you want to see the whole survey to get a better sense of it before you start to fill it in, we have included a PDF of the survey here:

Share your thoughts on the Delbrook Lands site ideas

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Delbrook Dialogue guide published to guide June 18 workshop. Thoughts?

The next phase in the discussion of what to do with the Delbrook Lands has now taken place. The SFU Centre for Dialogue, the consultation consultant working for the District, has published the Dialogue Document that will be used at the June 18 workshop to be held for the 100 people able to attend.

The documents purpose was earlier described as “expert knowledge to ground the exercise in real world technology and financial constraints.” Any ideas not now identified as a District priority “would likely require external funding sources. Examples of additional funding include selling or leasing a portion of the Delbrook lands, development proceeds, requesting funding from other levels of government, or partnering with other organizations.”

The Document may be found here:

https://www.dnv.org/sites/default/files/edocs/Delbrook-discussion-guide.pdf

dialogue document

The report’s acknowledgements state, “This report was independently prepared by Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue under the sponsorship of the District of North Vancouver.” However, “This publication does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue or the District of North Vancouver.”

The document contains a lot of factual information about the District and offers six options ranging among minimal change all the way up to selling the land 300 units of apartments renting for “market” rates.

The following questions are included in the document:

  1. What principles should guide decision making for the Delbrook Lands?
  2. What are the greatest needs of the community?
  3. How will different community members be impacted by participant recommendations to District Council on the future use of the Delbrook Lands?
  4. Are there any circumstances where the sale and private ownership of the Delbrook Lands is desirable, or is continued public owner-ship preferred?

We will be looking at this report in more detail in a future post. For now, however, we would be very interested in hearing the thoughts of Delbrook residents and business owners about this document. It has been e-mailed to the 100 people invited to the workshop but it would be useful to have people who will not be attending weigh in.

 

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