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Vancouver tries to kickstart rental housing

June 16th, 2009 · 9 Comments

Many cities have complained about the lack of rental apartments being built. Few have done anything. That’s largely because it’s been seen as beyond the financial ability of cities to start subsidizing something as expensive as housing.

But Vancouver is going to give it a try, as I outline in my Globe story here.

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  • Frothingham

    I smell housing abuses… Increase densities and less taxes, which be have to be off-loaded on to property owners.

  • Not Running for Mayor

    This is an attempt to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. CHMC has vacancy at less then 1% but the real vancancy rate when you include individual owner rented out condos and sfh basements suites is ~6% which is a pretty healthly number.
    These measures will not do anything to create “affordable” rentals. The problem is regionwide heck it’s even nation wide, but by Vancouver creating incentives for rental it will do squat to fix the problem, in fact all it will do is leave Vancouver taxpayers footing the bill while people from the burbs move into the city, we end up paying more and sharing our resources with even more people, thus getting less.
    What happened to “Vision”?

  • The NPA has been out of office for eight months now, almost an entire year. The doubling of the costs for the Salt House project, as just one example, occurred on their watch.

    Now it’s true, that the NPA was in control the previous three years when some of those decisions were set in motion, but it’s also true that Vision and Cope were in charge the term before that when the most consequential decisions affecting Olympic costs were set in stone.

    Geoff Meggs knows, because he was part of the administration that larded that project up with requirements that led to those cost overruns.
    For Meggs and Penny “e-Health Ontario” Ballem to now blame the previous council for cost overruns that have only appeared during Vision’s rule is risible.

    How much of the overruns are attributable to the loss of Jody Andrews – a first-rate project manager forced out by “$3K-A-Day” Ballem? Have they forced out so many qualified staff that they are running into overruns due to incompetence?

    The lack of oversight is on this council’s watch – Meggs should spend more time managing the city’s finances and less time politicizing the Olympics. It’s turning people off to the Games.

    And this type of one-sided journalism – no response from the NPA slammed irresponsibly by Meggs, no balancing opinion – is a disappointment from Frances Bula, who usually takes the trouble to appear objective at least.

  • “And this type of one-sided journalism – no response from the NPA slammed irresponsibly by Megg”

    Ummm, Meggs isn’t even mentioned in the article Sean.

    And, while I’m not keen to live in a shoebox either, I have lived in an 8′ X 8′ shack in the woods with two other guys. Wasn’t the Ritz, but it was better than sleeping in the truck. Also, many people live on boats where the living space is comparable. I would venture to say even a somewhat-flawed home is head and shoulders above no home at all.

  • WW

    Not Running for Mayor makes a good point that this doesn’t deal with housing at a region-wide level. No, there is not tons of available, affordable housing in the West End or Kerrisdale, but where is it written that everyone has a right to live there.

    But, there is something to be said for a lack of professionally managed, purpose-built rental buildings. CMHC’s < 1% vacancy rate is likely accurate for this housing stock.

    Many renters don’t want to deal with a mom-and-pop-shop renting their condo or basement suite. They want a building where someone will fix the toilet if it breaks or repair a leaky faucet quickly. And, there is a big demand from institutions such as pension funds to own professionally-managed apartment buildings.

    This policy could be great for creating more options for people moving to Vancouver or who prefer to rent for the flexibility or location.

    And, if it becomes tougher to rent out condos, some investor-owners will sell, perhaps creating some more-affordable ownership options for first-time buyers.

  • Frances Bula

    I think that Sean was critiquing the other article that had my byline on it jointly with Rod Mickleburgh, which I haven’t posted yet, re the escalating costs at Southeast False Creek.

    Sean — While I agree it’s vital to get the perspective from the other side on this, the reality is that the decision was made long before this administration to 1. go ahead with the Salt Building 2. strike a deal that saw the city pay almost all the costs. Those two decisions were already made by the time VV took office. If you know something different, I’d be happy to have you post it here and it could be pursued at another time.

  • WW

    “No, there is not tons of available, affordable housing in the West End or Kerrisdale, but where is it written that everyone has a right to live there.”


    People should be able to find reasonable accommodation closer to where they work and live without debilitating commutes: for the sake of the general economy, you and I, if not their own convenience.

    Before the “executive city” bubble that was possible.

    No one has a handle on the accommodation situation, not even CHMC. All we know is that it is very expensive and time consuming to find . . .

    Watch “Golden Ears” clog up before year end . . .

  • PS “. . . where is it written that everyone has a right to live there.” May I, at great personal risk, burst your superiority Mr. WW?

    Nowhere is it written, Sir, please, thanqu!

    Good economic health does, however, require a stable productive work force living within their means producing needed goods.

    And that, Sire, is writ large in stone . . .

  • I’m of two minds on this one…on one hand, as ‘not running for mayor’ points out, it is important to distinguish between rental housing, and affordable rental housing. As a taxpayer, I’m not convinced that this is a prudent expenditure of my money.

    On the other hand, these incentives could encourage some developers to build rental units (above commercial space and elsewhere) which might not otherwise be built.

    One concern that I do want to share, however, is the city hall process related to the preparation process and distribution of this report. As one of the attendees at the cemetery workshop, I was eagerly awaiting further word on the staff decisions and council considerations. But I heard nothing.

    Last Friday afternoon, when I reviewed the package of reports for Council and Committees for this week, there was no mention of this report. However, there was reference to a Special Meeting of the Transportation and Traffic committee for Tuesday AM (but no agenda).

    Sure enough, on Monday someone sent UDI a copy of the Council report on rental housing initiatives, one day in advance of the special T&T committee meeting, and just in advance of a special UDI seminar on the governments’ response to the need for more Rental Housing, also scheduled for Tuesday morning!

    So here we have 190 members of the development community and allied professions (and Clr Suzanne Anton) listening to a rushed and somewhat confused presentation by Clr Raymond Louie, who THEN RUSHED OFF TO A SPECIAL CITY HALL COMMITTEE MEETING TO DECIDE ON THE MATTER….WHILE THE REST OF THE INTERESTED PARTIES REMAINED IN A PAN PACIFIC BALLROOM DISCUSSING HIS IDEAS!

    HELLO CITY MANAGER AND MEMBERS OF COUNCIL. Why would you ever do it this way?

    As it turned out, I’m told that after 5 speakers, the matter was held over to another meeting this afternoon. But at this point I will leave it Fabula readers and others to speak up on this matter…

    I’m off to Armstrong to see how my 2nd year Med School daughter is enjoying pretending to be a small town doctor…and to enjoy Fathers’ Day.

    Happy Fathers’ Day to all Fabula Blog Fathers. I do hope you don’t spend time responding to other bloggers on Sunday. Spend it with your kids instead. We’ll all be here on Monday.