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Penthouse space in exchange for affordable housing

November 3rd, 2009 · 29 Comments

Vancouver’s new council desperately wants to create affordable rental and, to that end, it’s preparing to give developers extra density if they can come up with proposals for suites they’re prepared to rent out for at least 20 years and at rents in the neighbourhood of $2 a square foot.

But, as NPA Councillor Suzanne Anton points out in my Globe story today, that is creating competition for the things that density is usually used for: daycares, park space, cultural facilities and more. Her question: Is rental housing in the private market really a public benefit that should be supported by giving developers density?

Anton has been picking away at this topic for quite a while — even questioning the use of density for social housing dollars when her own council was in charge. It’s an interesting question, not just for Vancouver, but all the municipalities in the Lower Mainland, which are increasingly turning to density exchanges in order to get public amenities for their cities.

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