Court case won’t stop city continuing to help developers of for-profit rentals
A legal challenge hasn’t prevented the City of Vancouver from continuing to help out developers of for-profit rentals.
City hall will process applications under the Short Term Incentives for Rental Housing, and Rental 100: Secured Market Rental Housing Policy, while the B.C. Supreme Court considers a petition for a judicial review of these programs. The petition was filed last month by the West End Neighbours Residents Society.
“They shouldn’t be doing these projects until this is complete,” WEN member Virginia Richards told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview on October 4.
Richards executed a sworn statement in connection with the legal challenge, which seeks a court declaration that the programs violate the Vancouver Charter.
After running for two-and-a-half years, STIR ended on December 15, 2011. It was succeeded by Rental 100. Both programs allow the city to waive development-cost levies, reduce parking requirements, approve smaller apartment sizes, give developers the authority to build more units than they would have been permitted, and accelerate the processing of applications.
“The benefits they’re giving the developers are going to cost taxpayers,” Richards said.
A few days after WEN announced that it filed a legal challenge, council went ahead and approved two STIR projects on September 24.
When Green councillor Adriane Carr inquired about the case, city manager Penny Ballem responded that there is no reason to suspend deliberations on these applications. “You’re not getting into harm’s way by continuing to consider these proposals,” Ballem told council.
The Vision Vancouver caucus voted in favour of the two applications involving 60 market rental homes at 3058 Kingsway and 5650 Victoria Drive. The city waived development-cost levies amounting to at least $670,000. Carr and Non-Partisan Association councillors Elizabeth Ball and George Affleck cast dissenting votes.
In the past, Vision councillor Geoff Meggs defended the city’s policy on the development of for-profit rental homes, telling the Straight that it will boost housing supply. Figures provided by city hall to the Straight on October 7 indicate that two STIR projects with a combined 298 units have been completed and are now occupied. Construction is going on for nine other projects involving 624 units.
Including the two projects approved by council on September 24, six are awaiting the issuance of construction permits. Once built, these will provide 335 rentals. Four other STIR applications are being processed. These have a combined 249 rental units, according to the numbers given by city hall.
Under Rental 100, two projects with a combined 123 units have permits pending. Five others involving 349 units are in the application process.