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Campbell River group wants to say “Yes in my backyard”

Those interested invited to help educate, advocate and speak for positive housing development
Sue Moen is championing the idea of a YIMBY (Yes in my backyard) group in Campbell River. The Rose Harbour development is an example of the community coming together to show the need for beneficial housing projects. Photo by Marc Kitteringham/Campbell River Mirror

What would Campbell River look like if we had more people saying “yes” to creative solutions to our crises?

That’s the idea behind a new team of people coming together to speak in favour of attainable and affordable housing at public hearings. The idea is called “YIMBYism,” and it’s a counter to the more well-known phenomenon of NIMBYism (not in my back yard). It started in the San Francisco area in the mid-2010s as a way for people to advocate for more plentiful and diverse housing to confront the area’s growing housing crisis.

“I heard about it a few months ago and kind of put it on the back burner,” said Sue Moen, a Campbell Riverite who is championing the idea. “What the purpose is is to have a group of citizens, residents, who advocate for other kinds of housing in neighbourhoods…In the context of Campbell River I can see that as a lot of things like densification, easy fixes or what we perceive as fairly simple fixes to increasing the density in neighbourhoods.

“Depending on the neighbourhood it could be secondary dwellings, secondary suites, low rise developments, multi-family developments,” she said. “The idea is when these things do go out for public comment and review to let elected councils know that there is support in the city for these measures; to increase both the type and amount of housing.”

Right now the group is a work in progress. If enough people are interested in the idea, Moen said they will sit down and set up some terms of reference for exactly what kinds of developments they’ll support. Then when that kind of development is proposed, the group will help educate folks about how the developments can work, and advocate in their favour.

“We have to vocalize support without discounting or denying that the people who live there often have legitimate concerns, often with education and anti-stigma work and demonstrating the positives and the benefits of different kinds of development,” she said.

That can also mean showing up to public hearings and advocating for the projects.

“It doesn’t have to be adversarial. We think that more housing could be provided quicker,” she said. “Often what happens is it gets turned down and the design or development has to go back to the drawing board, which adds a whole bunch of cost and time to adding to our housing stock.”

According to recent census data, the majority of people in Cambpell River live in single family dwellings. In addition to the predominant single family dwelling model, Moen said that things like co-housing, cooperatives, supportive and assisted housing are all ways to add diversity to a neighbourhood. While increasing the diversity and density of homes can be a daunting idea for people who are used to their lifestyles, Moen says that “every neighbourhood here has changed at some point.

“We are not in a position, because of overlapping crises, to maintain the status quo and to lock whole areas into an ‘idyllic’ and not totally accurate past. A lot of the changes that could come are very beneficial, and people forget to consider those,” she said. “Adding different kinds of housing into neighbourhoods makes for more vibrant and safer neighbourhoods.”

Those interested in being part of the group can contact

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