Vancouver councillors approve ‘affordable’ rentals where starting monthly rates go as high as $3,702

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      Vancouver councillors this week approved two “for-profit affordable rental housing” developments.

      One is at 1906-1918 West 4th Avenue. The month rents that will start to apply at the project this year are: $1,646 for a studio unit; $1,903, one bedroom; $2,756, two bedrooms; and $3,702, three bedrooms.

      The building has yet to be constructed. Until the development is built and ready for occupancy, the owner can increase rents yearly.

      Previously, municipal law expert Nathalie Baker estimated what it takes to pay for a three-bedroom rental at $3,702, using 30 percent of income as affordability threshold. According to Baker, renters must have an annual income of $150,000.

      Voting in favour of the 1906-1918 West 4th Avenue project were Mayor Kennedy Stewart, and councillors Rebecca Bligh, Christine Boyle, Adriane Carr, Melissa De Genova, Lisa Dominato, Colleen Hardwick, Sarah Kirby-Yung, and Michael Wiebe.

      Councillors Pete Fry and Jean Swanson voted against the development in a meeting Tuesday (February 26).

      In the same meeting, councillors Fry and Swanson also voted against the proposed “for-profit affordable rental” development at 815-825 Commercial Drive and 1680 Adanac Street.

      The rents at the project start this year at $1,496 for a studio; $1,730, one-bedroom unit; $2,505, two-bedroom; and $3,365, three-bedroom.

      Mayor Stewart, and councillors Bligh, Boyle, Carr, De Genova, Dominato, Hardwick, Kirby-Yung, and Wiebe voted in favour of the development.

      The rental developments at 1906-1918 West 4th Avenue, and 815-825 Commercial Drive and 1680 Adanac Street were exempted from payment of development cost levies (DCLs).

      In the case of 1906-1918 West 4th Avenue, the developer will not pay about $795,683 in DCLs for the residential portion of the project.

      For 815-825 Commercial Drive and 1680 Adanac Street, the developer was exempted from paying around $644,402 in DCLs.

      The starting rents at 815-825 Commercial Drive and 1680 Adanac Street are similar to the two other “for-profit affordable rental” projects approved by council on January 17, 2019 at 3532 and 3435 East Hastings Street.

      Councillors Swanson and Boyle voted against the application for 3532 East Hastings Street. Councillor Fry abstained. Councillor Dominato was absent. Those who approved the proposal were Mayor Stewart, and councillors Bligh, Carr, De Genova, Hardwick, Kirby-Yung, and Wiebe.

      Swanson cast the lone negative vote for 3435 East Hastings Street. Dominato was absent.

      In the same February 26 meeting, council unanimously approved councillor Carr’s motion directing city staff to review programs in order to provide affordable housing.

      “The fact that $3,702 rent per month for a 3-bedroom apartment is considered affordable in our by-laws and results in city giveaways is emblematic of how broken our housing market is,” Carr said in a media release.

      Carr also called for an end in “subsidizing builders for market rental housing that the majority of Vancouver renters can’t afford”.