'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'
'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master — that's all.' Lewis Carol, Alice in Wonderland
Vancouver City Council had given the City Manager the extraordinary power to make the word unaffordable mean affordable. Depending on her feelings on the subject, she could in effect bypass zoning bylaws and subsidize developers to develop rental housing at or above market rates.
The system was straight out of Alice in Wonderland, so an Association of West End Neighbours sued City Hall. The Judicial Review application did not have to go to court. Council could no longer hide behind the Manager’s skirts. It revealed the standards that they thought should be applied.
The scheme was even crazier than when Councilor Jang announced that everyone knows that 'affordable means - what else- affordable.' As it turns out affordable means anything but.
“Developers charging a rental of $1440 to $2743 for market housing deserve a subsidy? On what planet is that affordable ? ”
Depending on the perversity of one's sense of humour, it gets funnier.
Councilor Raymond Louie is quoted in the Globe and Mail by Francis Bula. He told her today that the units being created through the incentive program, despite the fact that they are initially expensive, will become more affordable as they age.
On that theory, the Taj Mahal and the Palace at Versailles could be justified as long term affordable housing projects. In fact what Marie Antoinette actually said before King Louie's and her own beheading was, " Let them live in Versailles and eat cake."