Press Release: August 30: Building the Housing We Need (press release)


Video: Vancouver's West Side Issues
Video: Housing Announcement event
Video: Discussion with Tom Armstrong, Co-op Housing Federation of BC 

The housing crisis affects all of us and we cannot rest until we have a 3% rental vacancy rate and the price per square foot for housing in this city is a better match with typical wages.

We have spent too many years embroiled in a conversation narrowly focused on building more supply. The real focus must be on providing what the people of Vancouver need. We need to build more purpose-built housing to create thriving neighbourhoods for children, working professionals, seniors, and businesses.

The residents of our city deserve a decent, affordable place to live that supports a healthy work-life balance. We are a city of hardworking people and Vancouver should be a place for all us, not just those who can afford empty luxury penthouses.

My six-point action plan contains concrete steps to tackle the crisis, including:

1.) Using City land and assets for housing and support services. Vancouver is the biggest landowner in the city, yet it remains the most underutilized asset the City has to leverage. We will use this abundant land to deliver community benefit (not private benefit) in housing and support services. This includes city-owned land and sites held in the Property Endowment Fund - excluding parks. Funds from the $2 billion Affordable Housing Fund will be directed immediately to the community housing sector to build affordable purpose-built rentals.

"As Mayor, I will work in true partnership with the non-profit and community sector to deliver affordable housing and use my networks and 30 years of working with federal & provincial governments to leverage their support to help build the housing we need."

2.) Making Vancouver the North American capital of co-ops and co-housing through immediate lease renewals on all existing co-ops, allowing medium-density rezoning, reducing application and permit approval times, and providing land for new co-op development.

"I will call for renewing the leases on all existing co-ops within my first year as Mayor. I will also support medium-dense rezonings for community-led cohousing and co-ops in all neighbourhoods and streamlining applications with defined transparent and development permit approval times. Finally, I will call for the provision of land so that the Co-op sector can mobilize their capital to build new co-ops."

3.) Encouraging purpose-built rentals through faster permitting and specific fee waivers for homeowners creating affordable housing on their lots, and implementing a Community Amenity Contribution fee for owners looking to build market-rate housing on their lots, to be invested in rental assistance and affordable housing.

This will be achieved through a two-pronged approach to give residents the choice to add more affordable and human-scaled housing to Vancouver neighbourhoods, or to create a greater pool of income to support more affordable housing:

  • The Affordability Path: Homeowners could use their single-family lots to help address the affordability crisis by adding more livable space through gentle densification that respects the character of their neighbourhoods. In turn, those homeowners who create purpose built rental or other affordable housing are fast-tracked through the City Hall permitting process and are not charged for height or FSR (floor space ratio).
  • The Market Path: Upzoning is going to be transferring a great deal of value to owners, so it's important for the city to capture some of that value. Owners of single-family lots who wish to add more moderate density to their lots to create market-rate housing will be able to do so if they pay a CAC (Community Amenity Contribution)-- similar to what tower developers now pay. The city will be very transparent in laying out the rules, and rate of CAC. The CACs will then be put to rental assistance or put into an affordable housing fund to create more affordable rental housing.

4.) Creating targeted housing authorities to enable workers to live where they work. This will be a made in Vancouver model similar to the one in Whistler with the creation of the city’s housing authority. Action 4 will call for the creation of Housing Authorities that will support anywhere from First Responders, Teachers, Front-line Retail or Support Staff working in the Downtown Eastside, among others.

I will work in partnership with key employers, unions, faith groups, and community service organizations to identify opportunities for creating viable housing authorities which ensure workers have stable, safe and affordable housing in the city in which they work.

5.) Fast-tracking and cutting down red-tape for affordable housing. We will end the excessive wait and processing times for the housing that we need. That means fast-tracking applications for community-scale homes with community benefits, such as purpose-built rentals. We will create simpler, more predictable zoning rules and a clear and transparent approval process.

We will advocate with the federal government to ensure purpose-built rental developments are not subject to the GST and we will better enforce the rules on AirBNBs, while supporting good ideas as they emerge.

6.) Working with the public to complete community plans across the city. Currently, only 25% of our neighbourhoods have a community plan and as a consequence, those neighbourhoods are accommodating a disproportionate amount of the growth of our city.  

"I will support grassroots planning teams working out of offices across the city to have the support to authentically engage and deliver results in a timely manner. We need to engage the people who live, work, play and study here in revisioning the future city we want - finding a balance between inclusive, participatory and accelerated community planning while building the affordable housing we need now."

I’m committed to enacting my housing plan as soon as I take office. I love this city and I don’t want to see it become a resort town. I am ready to devote my time, energy, and brain power to collaboratively address this housing crisis.