Rental housing remarks highlight divide between Vision Vancouver and COPE


According to statistics released by the city this week, Vancouver set a record in 2013 for new rental housing, with 1,097 units approved this year.


Mayor Gregor Robertson cited the statistics as proof that the city is “on the right track”.

“City Hall remains focused on enabling new rental housing to help people who can't afford to buy in Vancouver, particularly seniors, students, and young families,” Robertson said in a news release.

But former Coalition of Progressive Electors councillor Tim Louis said the statistics show “a record of market rental units”.

“Vision has redefined what affordable housing is to include rental housing no matter how unaffordable the rental housing is,” Louis told the Straight by phone. “So this is a record not to be proud of, but to be ashamed of.”

COPE's Tim Louis says that Vision should be ashamed by the numbers.

Vision Vancouver councillor Kerry Jang said the new units are intended to fill a gap in regular rental housing.

“We had years in which zero rental housing was being built, and there’s a huge demand for that, especially when 50 percent of Vancouverites rent,” Jang said in a phone interview.

Under recent changes to the city's incentive program for securing purpose-built rental housing, average rents for initial occupancy cannot be more than 10 percent higher than $1,443 for a studio apartment, $1,517 for a one-bedroom unit, and $2,061 for a two-bedroom.

Jang said the city has other programs under its housing and homelessness plan to address a range of needs.

“Our goal as a city council is simply to provide a range of housing to suit all different types of pocket books,” he stated.

According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation information cited by the city, a one-bedroom purpose-built rental unit in Vancouver is 37 percent cheaper than renting a one-bedroom condo.

The 1,097 units of new rental housing approved this year follows 1,021 units approved in 2012.

The largest rental project approved in 2013 was 133 units at 1600 Beach Avenue in the West End, which was submitted under the city’s Short-Term Incentives for Rental Program. That policy has since been replaced by the Rental 100 program.

Comments (8) Add New Comment
Ted Alcuitas
I wonder if the city included the ten Chinese Seniors who were displaced at the 439 Powell St. SRO housing operated by the Ming Sun Benevolent Society for decades renting at $350 or so, well below market rents. With City engineer's obesessive and relentless efforts to demolish the building supposedly for its 'structurally deficient condition only to find out later that their decision was the one that was deficient after three engineering reports. The assault on this building bordered on racism and was personally led by no less than the Deputy chief of Inspections, Carli Edwards who is among the highest paid bureaucracts at $130,000 + salary. For months, Ms. Edwards was on the ground personally supervising the so-called inspection and ordering for several times, its demolition despite the strong demands by the owners and citizens to keep the bldg. and restore it so that the ten tenants can come back. Can Councillor Jang and Mayor Robertson please tell us the taxpayers of thus city where they are now?
Living in the 'affordable' rentals units of over $1,500/month? May you have a New Year haunted by the image of the seniors that were evicted from their housing on July 24, 2013 when 451 Powell was demolished hastily. If you wish I can send you a picture of one of them, Mrs. Zheng who burst into uncontrollable grief when she returned to her suite last month after the bldg. was heavily vandalized to find out all her possessions and even a little cash were gone. To this day, we are not sure where she (and the nine others) are living...Happy New Year Mayor Robertson and your gang!
Rating: +26
Privately owned, for profit rental stock is not the solution to Vancouver's housing crisis, it's not even a band-aid.
Rating: +13
Vision has absolutely failed in almost two terms in office. Rental costs are higher than ever. There is no simpler measure of performance than either getting the job done, or not. Sadly, some Vancouver voters still do not recognize Vision as simply a well packaged greenwashing machine with a single minded focus on furthering profits for their developer puppet masters, under a self congratulatory umbrella of progressive sounding spin. Spin that occasionally includes controversial bike lanes to distract the public from the massive and shocking developer giveaways that are happening daily.

Vision's record speaks for itself. Despite the biggest development frenzy this side of Dubai, despite loss of irreplaceable heritage landmarks, despite flippant disregard to community members who elected them, rents haven't dropped one penny. In service to their developer masters Vision denies the obvious impact of Asian investment and resist any effort to measure or understand how this dramatically influences our city. They not only allow, but actively promote the sell off of Vancouver's limited land mass for luxury investor condo towers. Despite Vision's spin, fewer new rentals have actually been constructed in Vision's terms than in the years prior. The few new rentals that have been built are so expensive they actually bring average rents up, and unlivably smaller than almost anything spaces offered almost anywhere in the developed world.

The solution is simple. Vancouver needs curbs on overseas investment. It needs public ally funded public housing for the most needy. It needs protection of what remains of our heritage, culture and parks. It needs leadership that actually cares about the environment, leadership that does not try to convert parks into development land. It needs a government that cares about its citizens, not about developer profit and overseas investors.
Rating: +28
Thanks Vision!
$1500 studio apartments are clearly the answer to housing challenges in Vancouver - I'll be voting for you again! (Not).
Rating: +18
VISION is visionless toward the crisis of affordable housing in this city. The one's profiting are the developers and the friends of City Hall.
Rating: +27
Charles Quon
I am outraged at Kerry Jang and Gregor Robertson's fictitious claims of "added rental housing". For cripes sakes...what these two visionless men has done is only create more offshore investment units...and drive up real estate prices here.

Jang and Robertson, your song of creating more "affordable" housing via greasing Developers pocketbooks is akin to creating "jobs" via prostitution.

And double shame to the city and Vision Vancouver for trying to demolish that old building in Japantown (439 Powell). Now that the city has admitted they are wrong and that the building is sound, how will you make it up to all those Chinese seniors who were evicted by the city Fuhrer and his browncoats?
Rating: +26
justice 4 da homeless
can u guys do an expose on the city hall coverup of that building in japantown. the building condemed by city hall and now the city find out they make a big mistake and is not to tear down the buildlng.
Rating: +7
If you can't afford to live here buzz off. Living in Vancouver is not a human right. Surrey is a very nice place. Humans live there.. :)

I on the other hand make a good return on my investments by renting out property for ridicolous high rent.

Rating: -4
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