Vancouver city council votes in favour of housing recommendations

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Vancouver city council voted to move ahead Wednesday (October 3) with the recommendations made by the Mayor's Task Force on Housing Affordability, including a plan to establish a local housing authority.

But before council voted on the series of actions stemming from the task force, it heard from over 15 speakers opposed to some of the measures.

Several speakers raised concern over what some critics said was insufficient consultation on the action plan aimed at increasing the supply of affordable housing.

“We all want a home - I don’t think any of the speakers here are objecting to trying to address the problems of affordability and homelessness, so I hope all the councillors understand that,” Dunbar resident Susan Davis told council. “But at the same time, we have been robbed of meaningful consultation.”

Mayor Gregor Robertson disputed the argument that consultation wasn't done as he moved an amended motion at the end of Wednesday’s planning and environment committee meeting.

“I do take exception to the fact that there hasn’t been a lot of discussion and engagement around this,” he said. “This has been a constant topic for the four years that I’ve been mayor, it’s been probably the most primary concern through all of the election campaigns, and as we’ve ramped up the engagement specifically through Talk Housing To Us, that process that we had, the task force on affordability work over these last nine months - it’s all about affordability.”

The task force co-chaired by Robertson and former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister Olga Ilich released its final report last week.

Its central recommendations included the implementation of an interim rezoning policy to allow for the consideration of housing forms such as duplexes, stacked townhouses and row housing near major transit arterials. Under specifications approved Wednesday, the projects will only be considered if they are 100 percent rental or sold at 20 percent below market rates, and will be restricted to a maximum of 20 projects. The policy will also be presented to citizen advisory committees and neighbourhood advisory groups for feedback.

The task force’s final report also included a proposal to thin some under-utilized streets to create room for affordable housing. That idea has drawn opposition from some community members, including David Grigg, who told council the proposed action should be referred to residents for consultation.

Robertson said the proposal, which won first place in the city’s re:Think Housing competition, will be limited to consideration as part of the three community plans underway in Marpole, Grandview-Woodland and the West End.

“There needs to be community buy-in for this obviously,” he said. “The compelling examples I think I’ve heard are where there’s a mix of green space, park space…and potentially some affordable housing.”

Vision Vancouver councillors also voted Wednesday to fast-track a model for a city-owned housing authority by the third quarter of 2013, and to evaluate existing rental protection regulations by the same time.

The protection of existing rental housing stock was among the other concerns raised by a number of speakers at the meeting, including supporters of the remaining tenants at the Little Mountain social housing development.

Former Coalition of Progressive Electors city councillor Ellen Woodsworth raised a series of criticisms with the housing affordability measures, including the task force’s definition of low-income housing starting at $21,500.

Earlier in the day, COPE released their own set of housing recommendations, including a call for affordable housing to be defined, to build city-owned and resident-managed affordable housing, and to strengthen inclusionary zoning.

Vision Vancouver councillors present at the meeting all voted in favour of the task force’s recommendations, while councillors Adriane Carr, George Affleck, and Elizabeth Ball voted against proceeding with some of the actions before allowing further input from residents.

“I don’t believe that an expert task force and their opinion trumps the opinion of our citizens, and we need to hear from them,” said Carr.

Comments (5) Add New Comment
Andrew
The virtually rezoning of land citywide that lies within 100 metres of all arterials to allow for 3.5 storey developments or to allow 6 storey developments along arterials 500m from neighbourhood centres is a complete sell-out to the development industry. This is not about affordability, it has everything to do with density and easy money. All existing community plans will be overwritten without consultation with the new Interim Rezoning Policy. This was the key objection from many of the speakers on the report.
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hello
gregor robertson, what a guy, i think he loves developers more than he loves juice
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PendrellSt
I've been predicting that Vision would start handing parkland over to developers any time now. With the thin streets policy we've almost arrived (although the Langara Golf course's conversion to high rises might still win the race)
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brian55
Vision Vancouver also voted Wednesday to fast-track a model for a city-owned housing authority by the third quarter of 2013, and to evaluate existing rental protection regulations by the same time.

A year to form a committee?! Ridiculously slow! And get going now with evaluating rental protections! Again - anything that makes developers happy.

The only way to provide "affordable" housing is to get rid of the developer's 40% mark-up on construction. We need a NON-profit group to build homes. I know the Vision party gets 80% of its funding from developers, but enough is enough.
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james green
I must say how concerned I am about the future of this city. All political parties and many citizens are at the table and struggling to find solutions about affordable housing and a few other things that all are important. My concern is that where is the push and struggle to combat domestic violence, gangs, proverty, crime, drugs, homelessness, human trafficking, child abuse, violence against women and girls, the wide use of the food bank, the sex trade,racism, car pollution, global warming,violence against gay and people and more. These matters and how we deal with them determine the quality of life for all of us in this city and yet not one community organizations, that I have seen, not one city politician, not one leader has made these issues high on their priorty list. As the argument about density, eco density or whatever argument rages about prices of housing and a so called concern about maintaining our communites these isssues are not being addressed.
Let me say here that without a new agenda that focuses on the quality of life and these issues we will all suffer in the long run and we as a city fail.


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