The reality is that as long as people want to live in Vaughan, the demand is not going away. Selling off government real estate for build able land, a measure Brown urged, isn’t an immediate solution, as developers would first vie for it and then have to undergo the lengthy approvals process before building could even begin. I suspect another reality is that the days of anyone but the rich buying detached homes in the city center are gone. If there’s a theme in our market over the last few years, it’s condos.
In his book The Death and Life of the Single-Family Home, UBC sociology professor Nathanael Lauster, traces the change in housing trends in Vancouver since the 1960s; the city has transitioned from having the highest percentage of its population living in single-family houses to one of the lowest in North America, down from 70% in 1961 to 34% today. And yet, it is widely recognized as one of the world’s most livable cities.
As a sociologist, Lauster’s book centers on how people define “home” itself, and how embracing diverse housing forms has led city residents to an improved quality of life. Detached houses, he believes, with their abundance of private space, can deaden the urban experience; likewise long commutes also contribute to residents’ failing to participate in the social life of cities.
What needs to change isn’t interest rates, then, but our definition of “home.” Are we ready for the increased social contact that comes from living in townhomes and condos, where mingling with the neighbours is unavoidable, or will we be dragged, cranky and kvetching, into the inevitable housing evolution?