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Artist Rendering of High-Rise, High-Density Capilano Road & Marine Drive Village Centre on the North Shore
Artist Rendering of High-Rise, High-Density Capilano Road & Marine Drive Village Centre on the North Shore

Everywhere along the shores of Planet Earth, endless development and the pressures of over-population continue to escalate a pitched battle among the people: It’s the Nimby’s versus the Yimby’s. So much so that this tale about what is happening on the North Shore of North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada could be called The Battle of North Shore, Planet Earth.

“Here’s another ignorant comment by a Single-Family Nimby, who complains about endless development as a non-solution,” says one Michael Turner in an August 2nd “Online Comment” to a recent local North Shore News article by Harold March(“Towers for Cap, But More Buses?”; North Shore News Mailbox, July 14).

To turn this argument on its head, for the past 40 years too many Yimby’s like Turner have similarly denigrated and castigated all those who’ve ever attempted to speak out against the mindless development and crunch of over-population that continues to everywhere spread like a terminal cancer. Such Yimby’s, who say “Yes In My Backyard”, have never come up with any other solution to stop this dreaded malaise other than passively allow for more of the same. Exponential population and economic growth is their holy mantra. Its solution is the slippery slope upon which there is ultimately no sustainable recovery for either the human or natural worlds, with the final dreaded “HongKongization” of their world a given. They claim the so-called single-family Nimby’s, who seek to preserve the way of life they have come to love, only know how to “point fingers” and only ever want to selfishly “turn their paradise into an exclusive club for themselves.”

The argument made against those opposed to what the Yimby’s call “their own dream for the future”, castigates the ‘Nimby’s as the ones who are asking for things like more public transit and infrastructure to accommodate the continued glut of development, when just the opposite is true.

In the case of British Columbia, Canada, more public transit and infrastructure wouldn’t be needed if its North Shore politicians, city planners and development community listened to the citizenry and didn’t instead always look to endless exponential growth as a bogus, knee-jerk solution to such critical issues as: affordability; infrastructure; community amenities; job growth; housing options, or; better transit options. These issues would be better served if they instead set an example for every municipality in the world to follow by devising a glass ceiling formula for population and economic growth that would flourish within sane limits for both, based upon a realistic, workable formula for sustainability not unlike what indigenous peoples worldwide once intimately understood and practiced.

The Yimby’s wrongly accuse the Nimby’s when they claim the Nimby’s only want: to slow down development and protect the single-family land-use designation for their own selfish ends; have never been a part of the political planning process to correct it, and; actually are the ones who’ve caused all the grid-lock traffic problems. They cite as an example the development of a current high-density, high-rise Capilano Road/Marine Drive Village Centre being built in North Vancouver as a laudable solution “done in concert” with the local citizenry’s Lower Capilano Community’s Official Community Plan (OCP), of which, the Yimby’s say many of the plan’s solutions are because the “developers have had to make supreme sacrifices from their allotted lands due to the complaints of the citizenry.”

WOW! IF THAT ISN’T A LAUGH! To begin with, it was the Lower Capilano Community, after years of consultation between its residents and homeowners, with North Vancouver District politicians and staff, who actually came up with their own unique local plan, designed to protect and preserve their way of life, that addressed such things as: lower height restrictions; less lot in-fill spec’s, and; fewer variance allowances. Yet the District, without any consultation with the locals and their community association who had ‘sweat blood’ to craft their plan, unilaterally abolished it. Overnight, the residents and homeowners were ‘cut out of the loop’, with direct community involvement, active participation and dreams for the future all but scraped and put solely in the hands of development-obsessed politicians, planners, staff and developers who, with a ridiculously unrealistic, undemocratic, swipe-of-the-pen, created their own One Size Fits All Communities OCP that favored virtually unchallengeable development.

In the case of British Columbia’s Capilano Road/Marine Drive Village Centre Plan, the recommendations that local residents and homeowners attempted to make about lower density, lower high-rise were ruthlessly steamrolled over. Indeed, it was they who were told that if they wanted any community amenities (community meeting place, recreation facilities, day care, etc) in the future, it was they who would have to pay a steeper price in the way of ever-higher, ever-denser FSR development, regardless of however many tax monies they may already have paid over the past 50 years and yet received no amenities in-kind.

There are many ways to characterize what essentially differentiates the Yimby’s from the Nimby’s in the world. But perhaps the defining characteristic of all between them, at the heart of the matter, is that Nimby’s possess a keen sense of place where they live, that could be called ‘Sacred’, the loss of which is so devastating that they will attempt to protect it to the very end. Yimby’s, on the other hand, tend to lack anything that could remotely be called a sacred sense of place where they live, the loss of which holds little real meaning or significance.

So it’s the Yimby’s of B.C.’s North Shore Planet Earth, like everywhere else, who actually serve as the shills for a way of life that only ever knows endless, mindless growth and change for the sake of unbridled profit and expansion that will never ever squarely address and solve the two giant Elephants in the planetary room – POPULATION EXPLOSION & UNSUSTAINABILITY. The fundamental problem about ever doing anything positive and constructive about them both is that there just are too many Yimby’s and never enough Nimby’s.

Jerome Irwin is a freelance writer and author of “The Wild Gentle Ones; A Turtle Island Odyssey” (www.turtle-island-odyssey.com), a three volume account of his travels as a spiritual sojourner, during the 1960’s, 70’s & 80’s, among Native American & First Nation peoples in North America. It encompasses the Indigenous Spiritual Renaissance & Liberation Movements that emerged throughout North America during the civil rights era. During this period of sojourn, Irwin also underwent a Lakota hanbleceya vision quest, under the tutelage of Joe Thunder Hawk, and received the name Twin Rainbow that symbolizes a healing bridge between the cultures of the West & East. and their many ensuing conflicts. In addition to being a long-time activist and political organizer among his community of Lower Capilano, Twin Rainbow-Irwin has authored over the years a number of environmental, political, cultural, spiritual articles with a special focus on Native Americans, First Nations, Australian aboriginals, Israel, Gaza, Palestine and Syria. Irwin also is the publisher of The Wild Gentle Press.

2 Comments

  1. Sally Dugman says:

    Thanks for writing about this important topic, Jerome. We have the same problem with a few minor details different where I live in MA, USA, I’m sad to share.

  2. The idea of “sacred sense of place” seems moot when large swaths of the population are replaced with new residents with higher incomes who can outbid existing residents for housing. To me, sense of place is not just the buildings, but also the people.

    The author of this article fails to identify how limiting density at a particular locale will positively influence population growth on a global scale. I haven’t seen the data, but it sure seems like people who live in less dense areas drive further in larger vehicles, inhabit larger dwellings with bigger carbon footprints and have more children compared to their high density urban dwelling counterparts.

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