Friday, April 26, 2013

Vancouver development vs. Art

Pink clouds, originally uploaded by veggy.
You can not be in Vancouver and not talk about how freaking expensive it is, and how much property costs. I have been a renter, and a home owner that has benefited from this 'boom', and I have felt really weird about it. I have started to figure out what is going on here though, and went to a Big Mouth talk last night on the topic of Art and Real Estate paneled by some amazing local architects, developers, business owners, and artists.

The conclusion that I see is that it comes back to the city. The city need development and and developers come in and market themselves in a way that is attractive to the locals with cool images and links to all the places you can eat and drink in the area but in actual fact what the building is doing is driving out the very people that make that area indeed 'cool'. Artists most of the time can't afford to live in fancy new places, that in turn cause an increase and demand in the area that turn the run down places to jack up their rent as well and the spiral starts.

The city supposedly has a committee that oversees who gets to build where but what we have seen in Vancouver is that everyone is building the same stuff. Cheaper and cheaper glass boxes, which one day will need to be torn down because there is no effort made into making something that will last. Anyone with an eye for design or quality can see right through these projects and know what the majority of them are 'crap'.
The market is taken up by investors and realtors (don't even get me started on realtors! A system that allows these very easily trained people to become the richest people in our city is one of questionable ethics and positioning) purchasing new builds and then selling them at a profit, making a quick buck, something our government has deemed non taxable profit. Who wouldn't take advantage of this? Most other rich people in Canada (or government employees) take their off shore instead, but why bother when you can buy a condo and do it for free above board!

When the city agrees to put up a condo they do also take a percentage of the profits to use it towards new schools, parks etc, which supposedly they are falling behind on. All these new condos have gone up and I have not heard of any new schools?  Also what is being forgotten is a reinvestment into the arts. What makes any and every amazing city in the world, world class is the arts. Art is what keeps us on the pulse of the vibrance and energy you can feel in a city. A city like Portland has implemented a mandatory arts tax, and our city should be looking into this is well. But how does this help keep artists living and working in the area that they want to live and work in?
Subsidized housing, Co-ops, renting were all brought up, but it still won't be enough. Developers need to work with the artists to bring in real interaction not just marketed bull. The city right now offers four live/work in or subsided housing situations for four year patterns. This number needs to be increased to 40, or 400! Maybe take part of that inflated realtor fees and put it towards an live/work program. Imagine a program that housed and nurtured artists in our community? How much that would change our landscape of our city. The restrictions and bureaucracy of our representative and there inability to act upon anything because of outdated red tape policies need to be thrown out. Archaic rules that give people jobs to jump through hoops could be replaced by just making decisions and actually doing things. Keeping city workers in jobs to shuffle things from A to B instead of really making change is something that needs to happen or else we are going to end up a city that isn't progressive on the world scale. If we can learn anything from Europe and the countries in bankruptcy is that creating work based on old rules and not having outside monitoring of what is actually going on in these offices, and the constant increase of there own wages will eventually bankrupt us as well. Our system needs an overhaul, not just on a city level. So where do we start?

No comments:

Post a Comment