This opinion piece appeared in The Province dated July 29, re-published here with the author’s permission. We have taken the liberty to bold some of the key points, and start with two choice quotes. Lawyer Nathalie Baker points out flaws in the rental housing promotion policies of the City of Vancouver over the past eight years that made them ineffective at creating truly affordable rentals, and that the new initiative, announced last week by Mayor Gregor Robertson with much fanfare, is not much different.
This “new” initiative is almost identical to the city’s eight-year-old Rental 100 Program. The only real difference is the city is now going to require some of the units to actually be “affordable.”
… As I see it, the city’s big announcement is nothing more than a repackaging of an eight-year-old program.
Opinion: Nothing new about city’s new housing initiative
By Nathalie Baker, in The Province, July 29, 2017
On July 23, the city revealed plans for a new initiative to help struggling renters in Vancouver. Although little detail was provided, the gist is this — the city is going to require developers in the Oakridge Municipal Town Centre to ensure that 20 per cent of units in new rental buildings are affordable to households earning an annual income of $30,000-$80,000.
In exchange, developers will get incentives such as increased density, parking relaxations and Development Cost Levy waivers. Under this new pilot project an “affordable,” two-bedroom unit, for example, would rent for between $1,700 and $2,100. The city says this “new approach is part of the city’s update to the Housing Vancouver strategy — the city’s new way to deliver the right supply of housing to match local needs and incomes.”
If this all sounds familiar, it should.
After reading Frances Bula’s recent Globe and Mail article about the proposed pilot project, “Vancouver maps out plan to help the city’s renters,” I was overwhelmed by an eerie sense of déjà vu. In the article, Mayor Gregor Robertson describes a general framework for delivering more rental housing. The new initiative will aim to encourage developers to build a certain percentage of affordable rental units for households in the target income range and to “lock-in” lower rents.
Ring a bell yet? This “new” initiative is almost identical to the city’s eight-year-old Rental 100 Program. The only real difference is the city is now going to require some of the units to actually be “affordable.” Continue reading