December 12, 2017 11:01 pm
Updated: December 13, 2017 3:06 am

It’s a rich area with massive homes, and a Vancouver councillor wants to house students there

Some residents of Vancouver's west side are fighting a proposal to densify a section of their neighbourhood. Nadia Stewart reports.

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West Point Grey: it’s a wealthy neighbourhood with big, sprawling mansions spread out over lots the size of football fields, according to one Vancouver councillor.

But a number of them sit empty and even crumbling. So Hector Bremner, a member of the Non-Partisan Association (NPA), wants a 150-acre section of it rezoned to accommodate denser housing for students and seniors.

LISTEN: Councillor Bremner talks about his proposal on Steele & Drex

“We have this grossly-underutilized series of lands, 400 people live there perhaps,” Bremner told Global News.

“It’s right on the edge of UBC, let’s provide housing for students to go to school.”

The NPA councillor has proposed a diversity of housing types in the area that would include six-storey multi-family buildings, as well as social housing.

Coverage of Vancouver housing on Globalnews.ca:

The proposal also allows single-family homes.

But there’s concern about the idea from neighbourhood advocates like Larry Benge, with the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN).

He told Global News it’s not often that a councillor pitches a motion that “dictates and outlines an entire rezoning for a large portion of a certain specific neighbourhood.

A derelict-looking home in West Point Grey.

Global News

West Point Grey, he said, isn’t conducive to the sort of housing that Bremner wants.

There are sloping sidewalks — not ideal for seniors — as well as expensive land and limited public transit options.

READ MORE: $14M mansion in Vancouver’s Shaughnessy neighbourhood destroyed by fire

Planning experts also say you can’t rezone your way out of a housing crisis.

“Rezoning by itself doesn’t create affordable housing,” said Andy Yan, director of SFU’s City Program.

“It doesn’t create neighbourhoods that can move around in terms of non-car dependency. It’s a tool.”

Nevertheless, Bremner’s idea is a sign that density could be coming to one of Vancouver’s richest areas — and that the 2018 civic election has unofficially begun.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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