City Hall the biggest culprit in making Vancouver unaffordable: Clr Colleen Hardwick

In the lead-up to the final Council meeting (July 21, 2021, agenda here) of this session before City Hall’s summer hiatus, Councillor Colleen Hardwick has issued the following statement to media with her views on the situation at our municipal government. After tomorrow, the next Council meetings start on September 21, exactly two months later.

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VANCOUVER CITY HALL THE BIGGEST CULPRIT IN MAKING VANCOUVER UNAFFORDABLE

Applications take too long, City fees and charges are out of control, and increased rezoning inflates land values and home prices: Councillor Colleen Hardwick

Vancouver, BC (July 20, 2021): When it comes to making housing unaffordable in Vancouver, the biggest offender is Vancouver City Hall, says Councillor Colleen Hardwick.

Vancouver City Councillor Colleen Hardwick

“City Hall’s addiction to the revenues generated by rezoning continues to inflate land values, it takes too long to get permits and applications approved, and City charges and fees can add $200 per square foot or more to building costs,” said Hardwick as Council’s Finance Standing Committee reviews the current Vancouver Plan planning process this week. “It’s also been more than a year since I asked city staff in council to provide updated housing data so we could actually make housing decisions based on real numbers and facts, and still, we have no data. Meanwhile the city has charged forward with development and planning policies based on aspirations rather than evidence.”

Hardwick says the city continues to make decisions that are making housing unaffordable, particularly when it comes to the constant rezoning that results in rising land values that push housing costs through the roof.

“The volume of rezoning under Vision Vancouver inflated the value of land and the air above it, and today’s council continues to take that same approach, to the detriment of people looking to buy a new home in their own city,” said Hardwick. “Frankly, the existing zoning in Vancouver is more than able to handle the real population growth expected in the future. But City Hall is addicted to the revenues that come with rezoning, and those extra costs are passed on to the homebuyer and pricing this city out of the reach of Vancouverites. If you’re buying a 1,000 sq ft condo you can expect that about $200,000 of the actual cost is directly related to City Hall. Meanwhile, everyone at City Hall says they are committed to affordable housing.”

Hardwick said that when you take the pricing inflation caused by rezoning and add in the growing number of city fees and charges around developments, plus the fact that permits and approvals can take four, five and six years, it’s easy to see why Vancouverites are finding it harder and harder to live in their own city.

“Politicians and staff at City Hall say they are all for affordable housing, but then they do anything and everything in their power to make it less affordable,” added Hardwick. “It reinforces my strong belief that City Hall views Vancouverites as ATM machines and there is no real interest at 12th and Cambie when it comes to making our city more affordable for Vancouverites.”

“If we really want affordable housing we need to focus on three things: sticking with existing zoning for a time, rather than more rezoning that continues to push up the price of land; reigning in and rationalizing the cost of development permits, building permits and community amenity charges, all of which add more and more costs to the final price of a home; and we definitely need to reduce the time it takes to approve projects, because, after all, time is money.”

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2 thoughts on “City Hall the biggest culprit in making Vancouver unaffordable: Clr Colleen Hardwick

  1. I fully agree with Councilor Hardwick. The increased rezoning in many areas for more housing is not supported by a greater influx of people. The city has a reputation of being too expensive to live here keeping people to move here. The only one profiting is the developer and as it looks like the city because of the extra revenue.
    We need affordable housing for the population who can’t afford their own homes but need adequate housing at reasonable prices. How long to we have to discuss this?
    The Council is supposed to work for all Vancouverites.

    Thank you for giving me a chance to voice my opinion.

  2. This is the great untold story of modern-day Vancouver — an addiction to Community Amenity Charges — which is a fancy word for “rezoning for sale to the highest bidder”. One third of Vancouver’s (under-scrutinized) capital budget is financed by CACs. The City has become a public-sector land developer and existing residents?? …. well we are just impediments in the way of “progress”.

    As Councilor Hardwick points out, it would seem that our City no longer works to serve residents … we only exist to support their vision of how we all should live.

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