Designed to fail

But what Pye considers the most important part of the plan, a demonstration project for small-lot housing, never went ahead. 

The idea was to subdivide some of those large old lots in Pinecrest, build new streets, and rezone the area for homes on smaller lots than normally required in an area of single-family homes. The project would demonstrate to the city, to private industry and to residents of the area that changing the nature of housing in the area could be done while not

Jerry Pye (Brittney Teasdale photo)

drastically reducing the population density. Having the same number of people live in ten single-family homes as in an apartment building on a similar sized plot of land would ensure that home ownership would help people develop a sense that they have a stake in the community.

But while parts of the area were rezoned to the special R1-M zone, the homes were never built. The demonstration project was slated for year six of the plan, which turned out to be the year of the amalgamation. It was shelved and remains on the shelf today. Pye, who was strongly against amalgamation, decided not to run for re-election.

Pye now says that it is one of his greatest regrets that he didn’t stay in politics long enough to ensure the plan he helped put together was carried out in full.

Fast forward twenty years and one can see the statistics come to life. Trevor Zinck ran as an NDP candidate when he was elected as an MLA. He has since become an independent after charges related to the expense claims scandal led the NDP to cut ties with him (he is set to appear in court on April 20 this spring and has pleaded not guilty).

Zinck sees people from all walks of life, but the majority of them are the embodiment of all those statistics in the area, the poor or victims of crime.

If you ask him why it is his community that struggles with problems of crime, poverty, desperation and social stigma, he will tell you that it has a lot to do with poor urban planning. In a community with over 70 per cent multi-unit housing and some of the highest rates of single-parent families and social assistance, people often feel there is little they can do to improve their lot.

While Zinck is confident that a mix of multi-unit and single family units would provide for a healthier community, he also points out that the community is not strong enough in voicing its concern about high-density development. Because most residents in the area don’t vote, Zinck believes the community is voiceless and powerless to hold accountable those responsible.

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