Put mixed housing on Jericho Lands

To the editor:

Re: Open letter to Vision Vancouver and the NPA.

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Two overriding issues for the City of Vancouver, currently, are revenues/budgets and housing. And although there is a unique opportunity to make a significant positive impact on both these vital areas, it's being ignored. Or do you and your party have a plan for the 91 acres of land, in the core of the city, called the Jericho Lands (JL)?

The JL have some of the highest property values in Vancouver. And yet they appear totally exempt from city taxation. There may be minor quid pro quo payments to the city, which are not available to the public, but I understand they are far less than the possible (depending on zoning) $5-6 million of annual tax revenue these lands could generate if made available for housing.

These lands are situated between Fourth and Eighth avenues in the heart of West Point Grey (WPG). They are owned by the federal (53 acres) and provincial (38 acres) governments. The JL may have had some importance to these governments in the past, but even if the feds still use them (the province does not), it is not a use that couldn't be duplicated on much lower-value property.

Both governments could certainly use the hundreds of millions of dollars their sale would raise. At the same time, the city would also finally receive appropriate taxes from these exceptional properties. As well, hundreds of housing units could be created. If a mixed development, 900 to 1,000 are possible.

Some WPG residents want the JL as green space. A laudable position, but in this case we (I live in WPG) already have an almost obscene amount of "green space" compared to other Vancouverites. For example, for every 70 residents of WPG, there is one acre of park land. If the contiguous Pacific Spirit Park is included, this ratio drops to under 25 people per park acre even after assuming 25,000 permanent residents on the UBC endowment lands. By comparison, the average ratio for the city is over 300. In Grandview/Woodlands, it's over 1,100.

We need a plan for these lands today. The other governments should be pushed to either sell its JL or, if this won't happen soon, to properly compensate Vancouver for leaving them undeveloped.

Jack Jefferson, Vancouver

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