Vision Vancouver council candidates support removing public-hearing requirements for all below-market housing

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      A once-powerful civic party is attempting a comeback with a recently announced five-point housing agenda.

      Vision Vancouver, which controlled city council from 2008 to 2018, says it wants to open up all neighbourhoods to low- and mid-rise "missing middle" housing options.

      "We need a city council that has the courage to act on the public's priorities," Vision Vancouver council candidate Lesli Boldt said in a party news release. 

      "Vision's housing plan will take swift, bold action to remove the barriers to new housing—particularly rental housing—and to work with other councillors who share our commitment to getting things done."

      The five-point plan includes a promise to introduce a motion instructing staff to bring forth a citywide zoning-reform policy opening up neighbourhoods to low- and mid-rise housing options for a vote within 90 days of taking office.

      The second plank in Vision Vancouver's policy is supporting the elimination of public-hearing requirements for all below-market housing, including nonprofits and co-ops.

      "Why is it that a mansion can be built without any challenge but the most urgent form of housing is subject to enormous hurdles," asked Vision Vancouver council candidate Stuart Mackinnon. "We need a more equitable approach. This policy will prioritize housing for those who need it most, getting our city working again."

      The third component of the party's housing plan is a pledge to kickstart the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency by giving it a mandate and resources to build more affordable housing on city-owned land.

      In addition, Vision Vancouver wants to expand protection and advocacy for renters by appointing a Renters' Advocate.

      "Vancouverites deserve elected representatives who are committed to acting on their priorities, share their optimism, and are laser-focused on finding ways to improve their day-to-day lives," Vision Vancouver council candidate Honieh Barzegari said.

      The final point in the party's housing plan is to address permitting delays. This would involve directing staff to guarantee a permit in under three months for any single-family homeowner who's densifying their lot with a secondary suite, laneway home, or duplex. 

      The three Vision Vancouver council candidates also support the City of Vancouver guaranteeing a 30-day decision on permits for projects under $50,000.

      To accomplish this, the party acknowledges that it will require increasing staffing in the building-permit department.

      Vision Vancouver only elected one of its candidates in 2018: veteran school trustee Allan Wong.

      This year, he was joined in caucus when park commissioner John Irwin quit COPE to join Vision and park commissioner Stuart Mackinnon quit the Greens to join Vision.

      Mackinnon is making his first run for council on the Vision Vancouver slate after serving three terms on the park board.

      The Vancouver civic election is scheduled on October 15.