British Columbia

Vancouver housing: remove developers from affordability debate says expert

Avi Friedman, professor for the School of Architecture at McGill University, says developers will not innovate to achieve affordability because they're profit-driven.

McGill architecture professor says people who grew up in a city should be able to buy a home in their city

McGill professor Avi Friedman says developers will not come up with innovative housing affordability ideas because they are driven by profit. (CBC)

In a city where the average home price is well north of $1 million, there's no shortage of big ideas on fixing Vancouver's housing affordability crisis. But according to Montreal architect and McGill professor Avi Friedman — who has won international awards for his work on innovative housing — developers should not be relied upon to provide a fix for sky-rocketing prices. 

"Builders will not initiate innovative ideas because they are profit motivators, so the city needs to act as a catalyst," he told CBC Radio One's Rick Cluff on The Early Edition.

Friedman also criticized the idea offered by many in the real estate industry, like marketer Bob Rennie, that Vancouver isn't going to be affordable for everyone and that young people should consider moving to the suburbs. 

"People who grew up and live in a city should be able to buy a home in their city. The fear is that, some of these young people may leave Vancouver," Friedman said. 

"Once you see the departure of young people from the city, they take along their potential ... to start new businesses, to create a vibrancy that young people bring to a place."

Friedman says it is incumbent upon the city and its leadership to foster and implement new ideas that will allow young people to stay and thrive in Vancouver. 

"The city administration, need to be more vigorous, more active and proactive in making sure that there will always be some supply of affordable housing, primarily (for) those people who grew up here," he said.

The Montreal housing expert is in Vancouver to deliver the keynote address at The Social Purpose Real Estate Conference today. Tomorrow, he'll give a free talk about designing homes and cities for healthy living at the Main Branch of the Vancouver Public Library at 7 p.m.

To hear the full interview with Avi Friedman, listen to the audio labelled: Remove developers from housing affordability discussion says expert.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?