Sunday, July 19, 2009

Tightening inventory should have an upward effect on home prices

Take for example any town in rural England. The one I saw on TV in Cornwall last night for instance. The owner of the house for sale states that house values have doubled and trebled in recent years owing to the fact that no further development has be allowed in the area. This is the opposite way to how things work in North America. And Maple Ridge being a typical wannabe small-town on this continent follows the pack on policy and open up sub-division after sub-division on the realtor-promoted myth that the 'market demands this type of housing'.
All the realtors are doing are pandering to their clients who continue to remove thousands of acres from our agricultural and green spaces without any end in sight. There is no need for this and strong arguments exist to simply putting a stop to it. A moratorium on further housing in Maple Ridge would result in:
1 House prices rapidly rising, making it harder, not easier, for people to move to Maple Ridge
2 Our aim should be to slow growth and perhaps even reverse growth if we are to maintain our environment
3 We need to maintain and improve our environment because it is our only - only - asset
4 Maple Ridge has nothing else to offer its residents than a reasonably stable and clean inventory of rivers and forests and lakes
5 If people want to come to Maple Ridge because of our green spaces then it makes no sense to destroy them
6 In short ' less' in the case of Maple Ridge, could be much, much 'more'.
For those who wish to live here, we must encourage them to inhabit the areas already ruined by civilization; our downtown would be a good place to start. There are so many worn out homes for our past in this town that one could almost develop an industry around restoring them or tearing them down and replacing them with new homes.
It is not too late to save Maple Ridge from itself. The only thing holding us back is the lack of vision on the part of our politicians and planning department. The realtors and owners of potentially divisible land will of course protest such a concept, but one has to accept that they are in the preservation business in that their only goal is to preserve their asses. While doing so they totally ignore what is best for the wider community.
Once a development fence is thrown around this town the better. People will want to live here not for what we have done, but for what we have not done. Which is to blindly follow every other town in the Fraser Valley along a path which ultimately will end in that 'paved paradise' that Joni Mitchel so famously sang about.
No new builds puts an upward pressure on existing values and higher property taxes will follow. That is the price of living in a special place. It also means an increasing purse for the town's treasury without the additional cost of creating infrastructure where there is none.
We already know that our jobs lie beyond our borders, as does the bulk of our retail needs. Keep it this way. Smart Centres (talk about an oxymoron) and Walmart have grand plans for the Albion; they should be and I hope will be rejected outright. The absolute last thing this town needs outside of the downtown is a large and destructive regional, or even local, Mall. One cursory glance at the host of scruffy malls already in existence will leave no doubt in the observer's mind that Maple Ridge 'does not do malls' with any degree of success.
The truth is that we do very little with any degree of success so we are better off folding our hands behind our back and doing nothing at all. At least, in this way, we will not ruin what remains of what may have been a once charming and quaint north east corner of this greying valley.

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