11/06/2012 07:23 EST

Gregor Robertson: Affordable Housing, Transit Key To Vancouver 2050

HuffPost BC

Affordable housing and a strong transit system are key for Vancouver leading into 2050, Mayor Gregor Robertson told a crowd of real estate professionals on Tuesday.

"We could let Vancouver become an exclusive resort city, affordable for those with wealth; where everyone who works in our stories, polices our streets or teaches our kids lives an hour or two away and clears out after 5 p.m.," he said at a speech to the Urban Land Institute.

"Or we can work together for something better, knowing that a mixed-income city is a stronger city."

He added: "We have to build the gap between the glass towers and the Vancouver specials."

Robertson focused much of his talk on transit, telling the audience that building rapid transit along Vancouver's Broadway Corridor is a key priority.

He warned the provincial government that it needs to provide Metro Vancouver mayors with a new public transit funding model in the next legislative session or else it will become an issue in the spring provincial election.

The funding model could involve road tolling or putting carbon tax revenues into public transit, he said later to reporters.

Robertson also said the city needs to restore the "balance of affordability" when it comes to housing.

"It's not just a social issue, this is fundamentally an economic issue for Vancouver," he said.

A better city involves new forms of affordable ownership mixed in with other types of housing such as townhouses, row houses and apartments, he said.

He touted the city's Rental 100 program, which encourages residential rental development, adding it has boosted the number of new rental homes from 150 units a year to 500.

He said every neighbourhood needs to play its part when it comes to social housing, pointing out that such complexes have been established Dunbar and 16th, one of Vancouver's more affluent areas, and at Union and Main.

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