Vancouver’s 72,000 housing target excessive, less than half needed: councillor Colleen Hardwick

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      A Vancouver councillor is proposing a review of the city’s housing targets.

      Councillor Colleen Hardwick suggests that the goal of enabling the development of 72,000 housing units over a decade is too much.

      Hardwick believes that a target of 30,000 is more appropriate.

      According to Hardwick, the 30,000 figure is more in line with the historical growth of the city’s population.

      Hardwick tackles this subject in a motion included in the agenda package of council, which meets on Tuesday (May 12).

      As Hardwick recalls in her motion, the 72,000 target was made in the Housing Vancouver Strategy or HVS passed by the previous city council in 2017.

      The strategy covers the period between 2018 and 2027.

      Hardwick notes that the target of 72,000 new homes in the next 10 years, when multiplied with the average size of a household at 2.2 people would mean a population increase of 158,400.

      That’s “more than twice the historical rate”, Hardwick points out.

      Citing Census data from Statistics Canada, Hardwick notes that population growth in Vancouver has been consistent at about one percent per year over the past 20 years.

      “Based on this historical trend, a similar growth rate for the coming decade would amount to a population increase of around 66,000,” the councillor states in her motion.

      Using the average household size is 2.2 individuals per dwelling unit, Hardwick notes that the city needs far less than 72,000 new homes.

      “A projected historical rate of population growth would imply instead a need for roughly 30,000 new housing units over the coming decade,” Hardwick explains.

      According to Hardwick, even an increased rate of immigration could “not justify the large disparity between historical rates of population growth and the HVS targets”.

      In her motion, Hardwick proposes that council directs staff to revisit the city’s housing strategy targets to “align with historical and projected population growth based on census data”.

      “Setting excessively high targets will pressure the City of Vancouver to grant significant amounts of density at a low price, in an attempt to induce housing construction approaching the HVS targets,” Hardwick states.

      According to Hardwick, this approach will “cost the City of Vancouver potential revenue, and will mean that the City abandons its commitment to having growth pay for itself”.

      “A revised and more accurate understanding of demographic needs and demand will assist in properly planning for the post COVID-19 reality,” Hardwick proposes.

      A recent progress report indicates that by the end of 2019, the city would have met 30 percent of its 10-year housing targets.