Sunday, 21 September 2014


The bitter laments of young developers at an Urban Development Institute panel discussion,  to the effect that old folks in walkers were giving them the miseries by failing to appreciate their good works, is astonishing.

*** the 34-year-old president and CEO of [ the company] spearheading the Trump Tower in Vancouver — said he almost wants to leave and open shop in another country because developers are rarely recognized locally for their good work.“We as developers are painted as bad people, that we are making windfall profits all the time,” he said.“We try our best to contribute back to the communities and neighbourhoods and shape our city, but we’re hated by everyone else.”

***“We have lawsuits filed by residents associations that are completely log-jamming legal services at the City of Vancouver,” he said.“The people who show up are literally in walkers and canes. ***

“*** I don’t have time to go and attend these planning sessions... and the people who do have the time aren’t going to be around to see the plan implemented.”

Before zoning, first introduced to North America in Euclid N.Y. in 1924,  land use was governed by private restrictive covenants.

Covenants controlled everything including the acceptable ethnicity of residents permitted to buy into  developments. 

The case of Fleischman v. British Pacific Properties Ltd. [1997] B.C.J. No. 2838 reveals how the system works to this day.

In 1984 Mr. Fleischman purchased a one and one-half acre property in West Vancouver. He wanted to subdivide the lot in order to construct a second, smaller, home.

The respondent in the case, British Pacific Properties Ltd. was incorporated in 1931. B.P. acquired a large tract of undeveloped land which it has developed and sold, one subdivision at a time. .There are 814 homes on 1500 acres.

Each subdivision is subject to a "Building Scheme" consisting of a number of restrictive covenants. 
Mr. Fleischman's filed an application to the Developer, B.P.  but the plan was refused by the Managing Director.

The first thing to note here is that this is a quarrel between a resident owner who wants to build a small second  house
 and the developer who wants to stop him. This is the reverse of what has been happening in Vancouver. The developer is the NIMBY or, more properly, NIYBY.

Why would the developer, BP do that?  Why would he choose to pick on the  homeowner and prevent him from building his second house?

If one were to accept the theory of the tadpoles at the Urban Development Institute it is probably that British Properties is run by demented nonagenarians scuttling about in walkers. They have nothing better to do than to torture young developers with their regulatory obsessions.

Another possibility is that the Developer wants the rules enforced because it it was and remains in his best interest to do so. 

Here is what the court said:

6.      The purpose of the restrictive covenants is to create and maintain a unique residential environment, which will maintain and enhance property values and ensure the continued desirability of the British Properties as a residential area.

The purpose of land use controls - both zoning and private building schemes - is to enable developers to sell their developments. Who will buy an apartment in a building for a million dollars if the rules on the lot next door will suddenly allow a building with Beijing densities to abut against it? 

There is no room for uncertainty in land use law.

If there were no zoning today, these same Developers would be forced to create their own private building schemes in which either the company continues to administer the system, or the covenants are reciprocally enforceable by homeowners.

The willingness of our Vancouver government to treat the established city as though it is raw land that is available for  redevelopment is contrary to the interests of everyone including developers. Of course, if their purpose is not to create housing but simply investment instruments that no one lives in, then the attitude makes more sense.

1 comment:

  1. Looking for my reading glasses to check out the instructions on my Depends when I ran across your blog. Check out for community responses to this UDI panel.