Panelists for the 2016 Planning and Development Milestone Event: Stephen Quinn (moderator), Mike Harcourt, Andy Yan, Jen St. Denis and myself
On Valentine'd Day, let's look at the love story that 2016 had with Vancouver, Shall we?
Just as a lover leaves imprints on one's heart, so can a year and its milestones leave an imprint on a City.
I recently was invited to participate in such a panel discussion focused on the major planning and development decisions, actions and events of 2016 that could be transformative in Vancouver’s evolution. This was part of the 2016 Milestones Chronology that brought key urban thinkers together to determine what those legacy "imprints" from past year were.
The list of milestones that the @VCPCbc has contemplated were interesting indeed, but our panel did not concur that these were necessarily all legacy inducing for the City. There was an interesting diversity of perspectives among the panelists including Mike Harcourt, former Mayor and Premier of BC, Jen St. Denis Urban Affairs Journalist with Vancouver Metro, Andy Yan Director of SFU City Program, and myself with a real estate development and planning lens.
I believe 2016 was a significant lover who imprinted on the heart of the City of Vancouver. But not like Glen Close from Fatal Attraction, or Channing Tatum from the Notebook, but more like Claire Underwood from the House of Cards. A year that stood by the City of Vancouver's progress, but also a year that both pointed out its weaknesses, and demanded new opportunity and change of the City. I leave you to ponder this as I outline below the milestones that I spoke about at this event as the most significant for 2016.
So here are My Top Planning and Development Milestones for 2016:
Big Bold Moves for First Nations in Land Development
Given the scarcity of land in the Region and First Nations as significant land owners, First Nations are becoming significant players in land development. Increasingly partnerships are sought by governments and private sector developers which are unprecedented for all players involved- the First Nations themselves, governments and private sector developers.
2016 saw one the the most historic partnerships initiated with the JV partnership between Canada Lands, Tsleil- Waututh, Squamish and Musquem Nations on the Jericho and Heather Street lands. Similarly, the three local nations moved ahead with creating the MST Corporation to manage the major land developments underway through their historic partnership and brought David Negrin over to lead this organization from the Aquillini Group. Would this have occurred prior to 2016? Possibly, but I don't believe that looking back 5 or 7 ears there would have been the inclination for these type of historic partnerships or major decisions to move forward as they currently are.
The exciting part of this is to see First Nations evolving in a more active role in the development of their land as a way of continuing to develop capacity as land developers, new strategies for economic development, and move towards the self-reliance that is being sought.
It will be interesting to watch how these developments unfold, and whether they will be more typical as other private sector developers have delivered, or will they achieve the economic development desired and also achieve something unique to the nations, and hold a cultural legacy?
2. Governments Intervene to Cool Housing Demand
Despite saying they never would, the three levels of government ALL intervened to cool housing demand in 2016. On the heels of heated activity, in the middle of summer which is typically our slower sales season, the Provincial Government intervened with the new “foreign buyer tax". As this new policy was still being digested, the market was given two additional government interventions – new mortgage qualification rules and an empty home tax from the City of Vancouver. Although these interventions certainly have presented an impact in the single family market, the multi-family market did not slow down at all which is where new buyers enter the market.
So the question remains about whether these these interventions achieved the intended result?
3. Unprecedented Supply and Sales in Multi-Family Homes
You will recall last year’s total was a surprising 16,000+ new multi-family homes sold. With the accelerated start to 2016, combined with a lack of supply, the first half of the year recorded sales of approximately 13,000 units. This figure was higher than a number of recent previous years’ annual totals.
4. City of Vancouver First North American City to Adopt a New Zero Energy Policy
Although this hasn't yet fully come into play, the intent is that by 2030 all new buildings will be Net Zero Energy. A bold and progressive move by the City of Vancouver and now other cities are follow-ing suit. However, the real estate and construction industry is underprepared for the major transformation in designing, development, and construction impacts that this policy is going to have. Definitely a game changer, as we focus on reducing the impacts of the building industry on climate change.
What do you think of these ?
What do you think were the defining planning and development decisions, actions and events of 2016 that be transformative in Vancouver’s evolution?