No Tower on the Drive? More fallout on the BOFFO-Kettle deal

Fallout over the BOFFO-Kettle deal that would have seen a new drop-in and supportive housing along with close to 200 market condos built atop an assembled parcel of private and public owned land and Commercial and Venables.

As I commented to the Sun reporter yesterday and on Twitter as the story broke - it's impossible to have an informed opinion on this issue because there is absolutely no transparency. Indeed, as close to half the property in question here is owned by the taxpayers, there should be an onus for even MORE clarity when it comes to negotiating Community Amenity Contributions. There isn't.

CACs are negotiated ad hoc, on a case-by-case basis between staff and developers. There is no public scrutiny, nor is there any predictability - this builds an air of frustration and distrust for both developers and the public. Where millions of dollars of public benefits are at stake, and where over the course of ten years of unfettered majority rule, Vision Vancouver have net millions of dollars in developer donations (just as the NPA did before them) it's high time we took a closer look at how these benefits are calculated and for whom.

In the case of the BOFFO-Kettle project, a conflux of issues: neighbourhood opposition to the height, scale and context of the project, with the developer on one side claiming the city has demanded too much public benefit to make the project viable, on the other side the city claiming the developer hasn't even submitted an application and their asks are quite reasonable.

Was the city being reasonable? Did BOFFO bail because of neighbourhood resistance, sunk costs, a softening speculative and offshore condo market, greener pastures and smoother sailing next door in Burnaby? — of course, we the public will never know what is really going on because the details of the CAC ask aren't public.

Mayoral candidate and UBC urban planning prof Patrick Condon once called CACs and spot zoning the soft spot for corruption. He's right: let's open it up and have honest good faith negotiations, we have a (moral) right to know what we are trading in public benefits for private profits.