Many affordable rental units in Grandview-Woodland could disappear under the City’s draft plan. City staff presented the plan to City Council at a meeting today. The public has a chance to address their elected officials — Mayor and Councillors — tomorrow, July 27, after which it is expected that Council will vote on the plan.
As currently written, a rezoning policy to cover the first three years of the plan would allow the redevelopment of existing purpose-built rental buildings. Additional height, of up to 6-storeys would be permitted; the redeveloped housing stock could also see substantial increases in rental fees. The changes to the apartment zones could become permanent.
We have noted that large real estate developers have holdings in mature and affordable rental stock in the neighbourhood. For example, Cressey Developments controls 152 units in three rental buildings, side by side, on 6th Avenue along the block between Woodland Drive and Commercial:
- 44 units at 1555 East 6th Avenue (3-storeys)
- 54 units at 1595 East 6th Avenue (Hazelmere Apts / 4-storeys)
- 54 units at 1635 East 6th Avenue (Roslyn Place / 4-storeys)
The developer Amacon is linked to 1529 East 3rd Avenue that contains 47 rental units. Some renters are paying less than $1000 for a one bedroom apartment in mature rental stock. By Vancouver standards, many people would consider that to be relatively affordable.
But the demolition and redevelopment of these rental buildings will most certainly result in substantial rent increases. As well, existing tenants would be displaced.
The draft plan notes that Grandview-Woodland “had the highest proportion of households spending over 30% of their incomes on shelter of anywhere else in the city” while stating that “some of the most affordable rental housing in the city is located here”. If market rental buildings are to be demolished, City staff are proposing that Council make a cap of 5 market rental building redevelopments or 150 market rental units for the first three years of the plan. Staff have proposed no clear measures for the “protection of existing rental housing” after this time. After the three-year period, the plan will allow the City to review how well the ‘rezoning policy’ has worked, and then Council could make a permanent area-wide rezoning of the multiple family building zones (RM-3 & RM-4) to a 6-storey apartment zone. (Three years would bring us to 2019. Note that the next civic election is set for October 2018.)