Why the views matter


With the first of three mountain-view-penetrating proposed towers heading to Council for vote tomorrow, there's a lot of talk both for and against the context and importance of Vancouver's view cones. #SaveOurSkylineYVR

It's easy (cynical) to paint false dichotomy: It's just a view after all. The mountains will still be there even when obscured behind condo towers; meanwhile there's more important issues like housing crisis, opioid crisis, economic growth, right?
But the choice is a logical fallacy.
Incursion into our view cones represent the depth of an ongoing assault on the public commons: "the cultural and natural resources accessible to all members of a society" the commons are resources belonging to the people not owned privately.
Selling off our commons to private interests for meagre returns of dubious public benefit is how our governments approve affordable housing disconnected from local incomes, or drunk with casino cash ignore dufflebags of fentanyl poisoning our streets.
The purported public benefit (stadium upgrades) associated with this particular tower at 777 Pacific are arguably more a benefit to land speculators than the commons. In fact, increasing scrutiny of big city/big stadium projects raises questions about economic impacts, let alone public benefits of these types of projects.

The only public free show at BC Place I recall: as a kid, watching the stadium inflate from the Connaught Street Bridge. In years that followed, Expo 86, and on subsequent sale of site for redevelopment, a commitment to preserve a view for the commons, not the highest bidder. That was barely 30y ago.
Those commitments we compromise today: be it laundering blood money, letting the market determine housing affordability, or selling off our views, only continue to set one awful precedent after another — where seemingly almost anything (and everything) is for sale.
From the depressingly prescient and present Harper's Magazine article from this month by Kevin Baker, The Death of a Once Great City
"The question haunting our urban success stories today is whether the prevailing conservative addiction to privately owned, government-subsidized mega-development is sustainable."