Letter: low income housing

Monday, June 3 2013

A brief introduction to low income housing for the sake of newcomers and the largely disinterested. Enthusiasts as well, who seem to have the wrong idea, wanting to get totally upset because it doesn’t jive what they had in mind.

You don’t have to make the distinction, as long as the zoning is set up equitably, in a way that respects property values, which it almost sort of is. A smorgasbord of possibilities, once you get to know about what might seem like escape routes, making way for multiple dwellings and other nonstandard arrangements. In a couple of different versions. Lots, meaning small lots, where the building allotment is quite tiny, and acreages, where it’s a little more substantial. Coping with the awkwardness as part of the bargain.

A sleekly sophisticated version would require the trappings of a municipal bureaucracy, with a palette of variant forms of zoning arranged to mesh with the existing, with a total footprint of maybe 1200-1500 square feet on a small lot, double that on an acreage, tailored down depending on the number of dwellings.

There’s yet another version, revolving around higher density growth, and a process that you can be involved in. Tends to be older, retired people mostly, rather comfortable and not into learning anything new, and they like to throw their weight around, having a substantial amount of accumulated wealth to invest. A younger contingent is welcome, as long as they’re fairly docile.

And it can actually come to fruition, the almost unique example being the Lions Club housing project. Effectively quarantined by now, and likely to be the last of its kind. The prospect of an elders eco-village was floated for a while, at the Commons. A little more reasonable, and it could still happen. There’s one up on Hornby. With money to be made, off of the land itself and what it might be worth. Elementary school math is about all you need. When you double the densities, you double the land values. A deep subject to get into if you’re hoping to cash in, wanting to make it seem like a sophisticated endeavour somehow, at the expense of anybody that doesn’t seem to be picking up on the heavily conceptual aspects and the need for consensus.

~ Mike Decker