9.3% tax increase? How high is too high? Vancouver’s property tax dilemma: Comments by Mark Ting on CBC

Dollar signs, CHW

At the Special Budget Council Meeting starting 9:30 am on Tuesday, December 3, 2019, Vancouver City Council will discuss the draft 2020 municipal budget (#VanBudget2020).

Here is the link to the agenda, live stream video, and instructions on writing or speaking to Council.
https://council.vancouver.ca/20191203/spec20191203ag.htm

If you go to Vancouver.ca/budget you can also access many other info resources on this topic, prepared by City staff.

Many opinions have been expressed in mainstream and social media about the rising budget, but in the midst of all that, we think Mark Ting (Certified Financial Planner and CBC columnist) has offered good comments. Some of his points we highlight below. For the full text please visit CBC online (https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/how-high-is-too-high-vancouver-s-property-tax-dilemma-1.5379887).

One additional point we would like to say based on ten years as CityHallWatch observing the City’s budgeting and reporting process. Many people have pointed out that the 600-plus-page draft budget reads like a sales pitch and lacks the presentation of information people need to really evaluate the budget. This is a trend that became entrenched under Vision Vancouver. Of course, the municipal government is a large organization, so expertise and knowledge is required to truly evaluate budget efficiency. No person or organization we have seen has the time or capacity do to a comprehensive evaluation of Vancouver’s operating and capital budgets. But the newly approved position of Independent Auditor General Office, proposed by Councillor Colleen Hardwick, will be a valuable step in that direction.

How high is too high? Vancouver’s property tax dilemma: Columnist Mark Ting considers the effect on renters, landlords and homeowners (Mark Ting · for CBC News,  1-Dec-2019)

[Excerpts / highlights selected by CityHallWatch] Continue reading

Development applications snapshot 1-Dec-2019

For an explanation of our monthly snapshots please visit this page:
https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/city-hall/snapshots-rezoning-development-applications/

As a free public service CityHallWatch takes a separate monthly snapshot of the Rezoning Applications and Development Applications listed on the City of Vancouver website. The rezoning list contains valuable information on each application, and indicates scheduled “open houses” and Public Hearings. The development list shows applications currently in progress as well as upcoming Development Permit Board meetings. Spread the word to anyone who might be affected or interested.

A tech-savvy citizen is voluntarily producing two handy online maps (click bottom right to switch between rezoning and development applications):  https://vancouverapps-fa328.firebaseapp.com/

Download the full list of development applications we created in PDF format:
CoV development applications snapshot 1-Dec-2019

For a current list of applications, click: vancouver.ca/devapps/.

Below is the list as of 1-Dec-2019. Continue reading

Rezoning applications snapshot 1-Dec-2019

For an explanation of our monthly snapshots please visit this page:
https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/city-hall/snapshots-rezoning-development-applications/

As a free public service CityHallWatch takes a monthly snapshot of the Rezoning Applications listed on the City of Vancouver website. The list contains valuable information on each application, and indicates scheduled “open houses” and Public Hearings. Spread the word to anyone who might be affected or interested.

A tech-savvy citizen is voluntarily producing two handy online maps (click bottom right to switch between rezoning and development applications): https://vancouverapps-fa328.firebaseapp.com/

Download the full list of rezoning applications we created in PDF format:
CoV rezoning applications snapshot 1-Dec-2019

For a current list of applications, click: vancouver.ca/rezapps/.

Below is the list as of 1-Dec-2019 Continue reading

STEPUP petition and protest Dec 3 (Tues) against 9.4% tax increase in Vancouver

pile of gold round coins

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We are passing on this message from STEPUP (http://www.stepupnow.ca/). They are calling on Vancouver residents to come out in mass to speak out against a tax increase four times the rate of inflation.

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A clear loud message needs to be sent to the Mayor and Council to stop tax increases.

Please help us urge the city of Vancouver homeowner to come out to protest this budget with an increase totaling 9.4% at 9:30 a.m., Tuesday, December 3, 2019 at City Hall Chambers (3rd floor).

Taxes continue to escalate, continually, making Vancouver less affordable. City Councillors promised a deep dive into eliminating waste, finding savings and making priority choices within the limits of inflation.

They need to question expensive “wants” that are not “needs” and account for programs that are wasting money. Raising taxes is not an option.

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As you may be aware Vancouver City Council announced earlier this week that the draft budget for the City for 2020 has been prepared, and that in this budget there is an increase totalling 9.4% in property taxes and utility fees for Vancouver homeowners.

This is in addition to the 6.3% increase for 2019, and a 4.9% increase in 2018 resulting in a total increase of over 20% for these three years. With inflation and worker’s wage increases at about 6% over the same three years (typically about 2% per year), that means that your taxes are going up three times faster than inflation or wage increases. Continue reading

Little Mountain petition & rally Nov 30 (Sat) to mark 10 years since social housing demolition and call for Province to take back the site

Little Mountain-2, CALM_11_09_1811a

Scene from a previous protest against demolition on the Little Mountain site

Rally:
10th anniversary of housing demolition and eviction of Little Mountain community
Where: Little Mountain Social Housing site – corner of 33rd and Ontario
When: Saturday, November 30, 2019, starting 11 a.m.
Organizers: Riley Park South Cambie Community Visions Steering Committee (RPSC) and Community Advocates for Little Mountain

Petition: https://www.thepetitionsite.com/530/409/917/take-back-little-mountain-housing/

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The rally’s organizers have had enough with the delays that have become the “new normal” in the redevelopment of the Little Mountain Housing site. Since the outset in 2008, the sale, planning process and consultation around the re-purposing of Vancouver’s first social housing site “have resulted in nothing more than a social and economic disaster.” They are inviting everyone to joint the rally and sign the petition.

RESIDENTS CALL ON GOVERNMENT TO TAKE BACK LITTLE MOUNTAIN

Vancouver residents will rally on Saturday, November 30 to mark 10 (TEN!) years since the Little Mountain Social Housing community was destroyed and to call on the government to take back Little Mountain.

“Everyone knows that this project has been a failure,” said Community Advocates for Little Mountain spokesperson David Chudnovsky. “It’s been 12 years since residents were pushed out of their homes and ten years since those homes were demolished. In the midst of a housing crisis the site is still a gigantic 15 acre vacant lot. Vancouver residents can no longer tolerate this incredible waste. It’s time for the provincial government to #Take Back The Mountain.”

Allan Buium, Riley Park South Cambie Vision Committee Chair added, “Our community needs social housing, affordable rental, co-ops and co-housing. We need to start over with a project that actually deals with the affordable housing crisis.”

Organizers are asking the people of Vancouver to join us at the rally at the Little Mountain site, sign the petition, and take part in the social media photography campaign.

CONTACTS:
davidchudnovsky@gmail.com
norm.dooley@gmail.com

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LINKS

Riley Park South Cambie Community Visions Steering Committee (RPSC)www.rpscvisions.ca

*RPSC has been a City of Vancouver sanctioned community consultation body since 2005, and has worked since 2007 to ensure that the Little Mountain site is developed in the public’s interest.

MORE INFORMATION

Ten Facts About the Sale of Little Mountain (November 18, 2019)
The sale of the Little Mountain Housing site now holds an unofficial record for “sale in progress.” It began twelve years ago and still has not yet been completed. People, understandably, have lost track of just where the process of rebuilding the site is at and what will be done. Here are some key facts and dates that describe the situation and what it means for housing in Vancouver.

Download PDF:
https://rpscvisions.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Ten-Facts-About-Sale-of-Little-Mountain-Housing-Site-1.pdf

16 Unanswered Questions about the Sale of Little Mountain Social Housing Site to Holborn International
The sale of the Little Mountain social housing property, Vancouver’s first social housing site in 1954, has been dogged with controversy, delays and a lack of transparency. Here are sixteen important questions that have yet to be answered by either the developer/owner, Holborn International, or the Province of British Columbia.

Download PDF:
https://rpscvisions.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Unanswered-Questions-about-the-Sale-of-Little-Mountain-Social-Housing-Site-to-Holborn-International.pdf

See also CityHallWatch.ca for scores of articles – search for “Little Mountain”. For example:
Little Mountain and the sale of BC’s Jericho Lands, Ned Jacobs, 4-Dec-2015 (see comments too)
https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2015/12/04/little-mountain-and-sale-of-bc-jericho-lands/

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TEXT OF PETITION

https://www.thepetitionsite.com/530/409/917/take-back-little-mountain-housing/

Premier Horgan,
I urge the government of BC to take back the Little Mountain housing site. The Little Mountain redevelopment has been an appalling failure – an embarrassment to the Government of British Columbia and an insult to the people of Vancouver.
History:
2008—The province started pushing residents out of 224 Little Mountain social housing units. 2009—The buildings were demolished. 2019—The land sits empty.
The Problem:
• Lower and middle income Vancouver families, young people and seniors desperately need homes they can afford.
• Developer still has no definite date to complete the project.
• Promised social housing not replaced except for one social housing building of 53 units.

I urge the provincial government to take back the property, keep this important asset in public hands and use the land to:
• replace all of the social housing lost in the destruction of the Little Mountain community;
• build hundreds more social housing units;
• add new homes with guaranteed below market rents and a guarantee the units will remain rental in perpetuity;
• create affordable ownership options such as co-op and co-housing.

It is time for the government of British Columbia to reverse the sale and start over with a plan to use the land in the interests of those who need homes – and not just those who can afford them.

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Little Mountain

City staff want Council to ‘pre-zone’ much of Vancouver (Rental Incentives Review Phase II Report Back, 26-Nov-2019) in one public hearing, then ‘leave it to us’

Arterial 100m zones

CityHallWatch 2012 map showing a 100 meter band from arterial roads. The City should publish a high-resolution map showing ALL areas affected by current staff recommendations, including the proposed 150 meter band to be pre-zoned citywide for 4-storey apartments. That info is needed before the public and Council can have a proper discussion. If the City publishes a proper map, we’ll post it here.

(Epilogue: On Nov 26, after a staff presentation and speakers, Council discussed amendments, and then voted clause-by-clause on the staff recommendations. In the end, ALL clauses were adopted by majority vote, though some with abstentions or opposing votes. We will need to see the published minutes in a few days to learn what eventually was passed. In closing, Vancouver’s chief of staff and some Councillors praised planning staff for many months of hard work on this document. Some Councillors chastised staff for publishing the recommendations last minute, giving the public and Council only a few days to digest the 236-page document.

The Director of Planning Gil Kelly and other planning staff are seeking more and more control of land-use decision-making in Vancouver, and with the current City-wide Plan process now in progress, they must mend their ways. They are abusing their power when they strategically control the release of information. The “pre-zoning of vast areas of Vancouver will be going to one single public hearing in early 2020. The Mayor and City Councillors are urged to watch carefully and ensure that planning staff release the relevant maps and other information in a form comprehensible for non-experts, and in sufficient quantity, well in advance of that public hearing.)

On Thursday, November 21, the City made public a 236-page “Rental Incentives Review Phase II Report Back” with ten recommendations authored by City planning staff. They are urging City Council adopt all ten recommendations immediately at the Council meeting, just three business days later, on November 26.

Mainstream media have provided only limited media coverage and analysis. Via social media, supply-side activists have solicited support for the wholesale adoption of the recommendations. Many such activists and development industry leaders are lined up to speak to Council and urge immediate approval. But Council should take into account that the many of the speakers are being paid to attend this meeting during working hours as part of their employment associated with industry.  The diversity of voices of many residents who cannot skip work to speak to Council, and the many residents who don’t realize the implications of these proposals.

But this report is like an omnibus bill, with many detailed components. While some recommendations appear to be beneficial, others have implications not adequately presented publicly. Some recommendations, if adopted, will circumvent the newly launched City-wide Plan process. One recommendation is calling on Council to “pre-zone” large areas of the City at one single public hearing to allow for 4-storey apartment buildings within 150 meters of arterial roads. (Our map above illustrates just 100 meters, so the new proposal would cover an even larger area.) On this item, staff are basically saying that after “prezoning” large sections of the City in one public hearing, Council should thereafter allow staff to be in charge of all the rezoning approvals.

People (including current renters and owners) in the affected areas have not been directly contacted regarding what is being proposed. It is too early to push the recommendations pertaining to prezoning forward to a public hearing.

Without publishing more information and consulting properly with residents in the affected areas, City Council should not approve all the recommendations in the omnibus report. How many renters and owners live in the affected areas already? What scenarios are there for the uptake of the proposed policies? How many people could be displaced?

Pre-zoning in the West End has eliminated public hearings on many large developments since 2013, resulting in the displacement of hundreds to thousands of renters of older affordable apartments, to be replaced by expensive new strata and rentals. Is the City tracking those numbers? This information should be considered. Since 2013, in large sections of the West End, some development applications submitted by developers go straight to the director of planning for approval behind closed doors on dates not made public, or in some cases, they go to the development permit board. The public might notice a development sign posted on the site with limited information, and might write in or speak to the DPB, but the decisions are largely opaque, and public documentation of the process is minimal.

The map shown above was prepared by CityHallWatch in 2012to indicate areas within 100 meters of  arterial roads for Council consideration of the “Interim Rezoning Policy.”

We call upon the City to public a proper map indicating ALL the areas that would be affected by the proposals in the “Rental Incentives Review Phase II Report Back.”

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods wrote Council on November 25 urging Council NOT to approve the staff recommendations. Their points are worth noting.

Below is more information on what staff are proposing Council to approve today.

Continue reading