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.”
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 That policy has since been replaced by the Rental 100 program.