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One way to protect Vancouver from land speculation: community land trusts

February 16th, 2017 · No Comments

I used to hear the term “community land trust” about once a year. Now, I seem to hear about it almost every month.

Cities like New York and London are looking to community land trusts as a way to deal with the general real-estate insanity that appears to be prevailing in key cities around the world.

What are community land trusts? To use a definition scalped from one of the above articles:

A community land trust (CLT) is a model of non-profit land ownership in which a board of community stakeholders governs the use of land, while regulations ensure the permanent affordability of the rental or home-owner housing on that land.

Now a growing group of people in Vancouver are hopeful that this could become a more widely used model here.

As I note in my Globe story (which will appear in the Saturday print edition), the idea got a big boost here when the City of Vancouver turned over four valuable pieces of property worth $25 million to a group of non-profits and co-op housing to create a community land trust.

The group has started construction on the 358 units that will eventually exist, and which will function through a system of cross-subsidization. (The people who get the lovely condos fronting the river will pay max dollars, and their rent will help reduce the rent of someone in an apartment further away.) Warning: this system can’t bring rents down to a fully subsidized level. That would take provincial and federal help.

But it’s certainly an improvement from the unfettered market.


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