Out of Control Policy Blog

More Planning Failures

It seems Vancouver, Canada is not immune to the failings of planning seen in the US. This article explains how Vancouver is becoming condos only at the expense of solid economic development. As I explained in my piece about economic development a few months ago, street culture and vibrancy should not be confused with economic development. Vancouver appears to be thriving when tourists visit and wander around downtown, but it turns out appearances can be deceving according to the author.

Paradise, yes, but because of short-sighted urban planning, downtown Vancouver may be becoming a fool's paradise. This is because people are coming to live and play here, but not to work. Director of central area planning Larry Beasley confirmed in a recent interview that no new office tower has started construction or even been proposed by developers for our downtown core in the new century.

It seems by legislating land uses through zoning, Vancouver is now complaining they have no office space downtown and are losing a lot of tax base. Where are the office space and tenants headed? The suburbs, ironically. The author states:

Why has our land-use policy which, by definition, plans for future needs as well as current demand, not left more dedicated office tower sites in reserve where business actually wants them – west of Granville? There is only one phrase to describe the extent of the 1991 re-zonings, and the way they have been managed since – bad urban planning.

Why is the solution to failed government intervention always more government intervention? Is there really a "good" urban planning? Actually, yes, it's called the land market which would have likely mixed in office towers amidst residential condos downtown.


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