Editorial: Talking About Great Ideas for Affordable Housing

Joannah Connolly
April 13, 2016

Last week, I was lucky enough to get a seat in this year’s packed-out talk by Michael Geller on his ideas to help ease the problem of affordable homes in Vancouver, following last year’s initial talk on the topic, which yielded his first set of solutions.

Geller, who is a well-known Vancouver architect, planner and developer, as well as frequent REW.ca columnist and regular guest on my Real Estate Therapist radio show, is a very smart guy. Not only does he know a huge amount about Vancouver in particular and city planning in general, but he also travels the world to see what other cities are doing to solve their own affordability issues. He is careful to point out that many older cities across the globe have gone through similar growing pains to those which Vancouver is currently experiencing, and have come out of the other side, aided by the implementation of housing innovations.

It was wonderful, and refreshing, to hear a talk about our affordability issues that focuses on practical, applicable (or at least translatable) solutions.

They range from the simple and pragmatic (converting heritage houses into multiple strata lots, adding infill cottages, etc) to the important and socially conscious (regenerating social housing, creating more cohousing) to the perhaps-controversial (shaving off edges of green spaces for development) right through to the magnificent and creative (buildings on top of buildings, developments over streets, apartment buildings on water, and more).

Here at REW.ca we are firm advocates for progressive discussion on how Vancouver can supply the housing its growing number of residents need. We believe that well-thought-through but widespread change in all our neighbourhoods, and pervasive rezoning by the City, is likely to be necessary to achieve this.

To this end, courtesy of Michael Geller, we will publish a series of extracts from his talk, in which Geller goes into detail about his suggestions. Watch this space over the next weeks and months for Geller’s ideas – and let us hope that his influence at City Hall will see some of these start to come into fruition.

Also, see the links in "Related to this story" below for a series of Geller's ideas from last year's talk.

Michael Geller will be guesting once again, and discussing some of his ideas, on the Real Estate Therapist show live on CIRH Roundhouse Radio 98.3FM on Saturday, April 23, 9-10am. Tune in on the dial at 98.3FM, stream live online at roundhouseradio.com or listen on demand at any time at cirh.streamon.fm. 

Joannah Connolly
Joannah Connolly is editorial director of Glacier Real Estate, Glacier Media's real estate division. Joannah writes and curates real estate news for Glacier Media's local newspaper websites, including the Vancouver Courier, North Shore News, Burnaby Now, Tri-City News and others. She also oversees editorial content in Real Estate Weekly Homes, West Coast Condo, Western Investor and Glacier's special real estate publications. A dual Canadian-British citizen, Joannah has 22 years of journalism and editing experience in Vancouver and London, with a background in construction, architecture, healthcare and business media. Joannah has appeared on major local TV outlets as a real estate commentator, has moderated and spoken on various industry panels, and spent two years hosting the Real Estate Therapist radio show on Roundhouse Radio.