Infrastructure first; then careful densification in Vancouver
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Vancouver is undergoing a concerted effort to densify. Reasons given include housing affordability, though condo construction offers no reduced pricing, and preparation for future growth, which may well be affected by housing affordability. The existing infrastructure is inadequate for the increased development occurring in the city. Roads are clogged, with existing lanes being turned into bike lanes and with construction by developers closing lanes in many downtown streets - even on weekends when no work is being done. The City is planning to build hi-rises in excess of 40 storeys along Alberni Street from Broughton Street to Denman Street, and 30-storey buildings along Robson and Davie from Broughton to Denman, with a projected population growth of thousands. Traffic is already at a virtual standstill every morning and evening along Georgia, Robson and the entire length of Denman with the existing population trying to get to the North Shore, and to other destinations for work. Buses are full by the time they reach Stanley Park to take commuters to the North Shore. The increased traffic delays and pollution resulting from them work against making Vancouver a desirable green city with an enviable life style. Proposed increased development in the already densest area in the city will make matters intolerable. People who live downtown need cars to leave downtown - either for work or for pleasure. Increased density in the entire Metro-Vancouver area make a mockery of official suggestions to live where you work. Throughout the region, in all neighbourhoods, infrastructure is not sufficient to carry added population while providing a standard of living that Canadians expect. The already dense downtown has a disproportionate amount of new development. Other areas of Vancouver, while being densified to some degree, have few hi-rises; some, like Kitsilano and the West Side, get away with next to no densification along major streets. People should not have to spend hours each day commuting to and from work in this country. Increased public transit, park space, adequate water supplies and services such as sewage and garbage disposal need to be put in place before densification occurs. Populations have doubled and tripled on the North Shore and in areas of Vancouver since existing bridges, roads and transit routes were established. This infrastructure can not continue to support huge increases in population. Take rapid transit to Denman on Georgia and to Denman and Davie for the increased downtown population. Take rapid transit to and from the North Shore over both bridges and increase Sea Bus capacity. Then, think about densification that will still allow sunshine to fall on streets and trees in the West End to preserve its unique nature. Leaving infrastructure catch-up until after developers have walked away with their profits puts the onus of infrastructure costs on tax payers, when they could, and should, be shared.
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