‘The Housing Supply Myth’: Dr. John Rose, Kwantlen Polytechnic University (Nov 2017)

John Rose, photo credit KPU 2017

Dr. John Rose. Photo: Kwantlen Polytechnic University

For reference, here is the executive summary and link to the full report (17 pages, 450 KB) of this paper by Dr. John Rose, covered recently in media.

Download: Click here.

The Housing Supply Myth
Dr. John Rose,
Instructor, Department of Geography and the Environment
Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Surrey, BC
Working Paper, Version 1
November 24, 2017

Executive Summary:

Executive Summary: This report examines the argument that the housing affordability crisis in many Canadian cities is the product of a constrained supply of housing units. Utilizing publicly-available Statistics Canada census data, and examining the period from 2001-2016, the report evaluates the responsiveness of housing unit supply to resident demand across 33 Canadian Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs).

The research findings indicate that there is little evidence to support claims that i) the supply of housing units is systematically more limited in expensive housing markets than in inexpensive ones, and that ii) the supply of housing units in expensive markets has been inadequate to keep up with growth in household numbers and maintain a healthy buffer stock of surplus housing units. In metropolitan Vancouver, especially, the imputed relationship among affordability, supply, and resident demand, has, in fact, been turned on its head: prices have skyrocketed at the same time as the proportion of surplus housing units, relative to the number of households, has increased over the 2001-2016 period. Continue reading

Stunning shift – ‘Not enough focus on the demand side.’ Supply alone won’t fix housing crisis: chief planner (in Vancouver Sun)


Vancouver’s chief planner, Gil Kelley. Photo source SFU City Conversations

Preamble: The article referenced below, by Dan Fumano in the Vancouver Sun, signals a stunning shift in the City’s thinking. Officials are just starting to say what many community groups and activists have been saying for many years. The change in election campaign financing, in effect for the 2018 civic election, may be having its first impacts on policy as the municipal government system (hopefully) weans itself from industry and union donations (see this image for how we have depicted this system since CityHallWatch began in 2010). The new Housing Vancouver Strategy has its flaws, but the shift to identifying the underlying problems is significant.

‘Not enough focus on the demand side’: Supply alone won’t fix Vancouver housing crisis, says chief planner

Dan Fumano, Vancouver Sun (November 28, 2017)


[Below are excerpts in bullet form, with bolding by CityHallWatch. Please visit the Vancouver Sun for full text.]

  • As Vancouver real estate has soared out of reach of most locals in recent years, some high-profile figures have attested the only way to solve the problem is correcting the city’s housing supply shortage. Others have argued for interventions on the demand side. The debate has, at times, become heated.
  • On Tuesday [28-Nov-2017, Regular City Council presentation on Housing Vancouver Strategy 2018-2027], Vancouver’s chief planner staked out a position, saying the city can’t build its way out of its housing crisis by focusing solely on increasing supplyit’s crucial, he said, to address demand.
  • Gil Kelley, Vancouver’s general manager of planning, presented council Tuesday with the city’s new 10-year housing strategy, which he described as part of a “major turning point in the city’s development.”
  • …. “In fact, we’ve actually been creating a large supply of housing as opposed to San Francisco, for the past decade or more, it’s just that supply has been targeted at the high-end and for investors, and leaving out many of the folks that live here in Vancouver and want to work and raise families,” said Kelley, who was appointed as Vancouver’s top planner in August 2016.
  • “In fact,” Kelley continued in a statement breaking from the real estate industry’s reigning orthodoxy, Vancouver has “produced more than our population growth would demand on its own.”

Continue reading

Vancouver’s housing strategy needs a rethink (Opinion in Vancouver Sun, Elizabeth Murphy)

housing starts cov 2007-2016

Annual Housing Starts in City of Vancouver (2007-2016). Source: CMHC (Starts and Completions Survey)

Opinion by Elizabeth Murphy
Published in Vancouver Sun, 27-Nov-2017



“Even with this new supply, Vancouver has continued to experience rapid increases in housing prices…”

– City of Vancouver Housing Strategy Report – Nov.2017


The City of Vancouver has an addiction. Like all addicts, the first step is to admit they have a problem. The city has finally taken that step.

The city’s addiction is to increasing density through rezoning that has been inflating land values. Along with large speculative inflows of capital that treats housing as a commodity rather than a home for people who live and work here, this has created an affordability crisis. It is positive that for the first time, the city has finally made this admission as part of the new housing strategy going to council this week.

Unfortunately, typical of an addict, the city’s solution to this problem is to increase the addictive substance. They claim that if they increase density and housing supply — this time, the right kind of supply — affordability will get better. This is unlikely for a number of reasons.

The city’s addiction is not like drugs or alcohol that one can stop all together if one chooses. It is more like an eating disorder in which one must learn how to eat healthily and in smaller quantities. In many ways this is much harder to achieve. Continue reading

Heads up: Motion “Retaining Older Purpose Built Rental Accommodation” goes to Council Tues Nov 28 (by Clr Adriane Carr)

Affordable housing advocates will love this one. A motion entitled “Retaining Older Purpose Built Rental Accommodation” has been proposed by Councillor Adrian Carr and goes to Regular City Council on Tuesday, November 28, 2017.

If you support the the motion, you can write comments to Council or sign up to speak. As long as someone signs up, prior to the Tuesday meeting, speakers will be able to address City Council at the committee meeting on Wednesday, November 29.

The  Housing Vancouver Strategy (2018 – 2027) and 3-Year Action Plan (2018 – 2020) goes to Council the same day (Nov 28), with speakers also the next day (Nov 29). But Councillor Carr appears to have identified a gap the deserves specific attention.

Agenda: http://council.vancouver.ca/20171128/regu20171128ag.htm

Please visit that link for instructions on how to speak or write (online form) to Council. Or for a list of Councillors’ direct e-mails, click here.

Text of motion:

Retaining Older Purpose Built Rental Accommodation
MOVER: Councillor Carr
1. The housing affordability crisis continues to escalate in Vancouver, especially
for the 51 percent of Vancouverites who rent, about half of whom spend more
than 30 percent of their income on rent;
2. Much of the most affordable rental accommodation in Vancouver exists in older
purpose-built rental buildings which are vulnerable to redevelopment and
replacement with rental housing that is far more expensive;
3. The Housing Vancouver strategy aims to protect and refresh the existing 90,000
units of affordable rental stock, despite some local area plans’ goals to
“replace aging stock”.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT staff report back on a specific purpose-built rental accommodation strategy within the overall Housing Vancouver Strategy that outlines ways to assess building condition, retrofit, increase retention and ensure affordability, especially for current tenants of, older purpose built rental buildings.

Preliminary analysis of City of Vancouver’s new Housing Strategy (goes to Council Tues Nov 28): Elizabeth Murphy

Vancouver housing strategy pie graph Nov 2017The City of Vancouver’s Housing Strategy report is scheduled for City Council on Tuesday November 28, 2017, for the staff presentation.  Speakers will be able to address City Council at the committee meeting on Wednesday, November 29. The public can write comments to Council or sign up to speak.

Agenda: http://council.vancouver.ca/20171128/regu20171128ag.htm
Report: “Housing Vancouver Strategy (2018 – 2027) and 3-Year Action Plan
(2018 – 2020)” (PDF, 6.8 MB, 248 pages, including all appendices):
Download PDF here: http://council.vancouver.ca/20171128/documents/rr1.pdf

(Note the City’s website appears to have been intermittent over the weekend, but seems to be up again. Just in case, we have saved it here for download.)

Here is a preliminary response by Elizabeth Murphy to the City’s Housing Strategy and to an op-ed that was in the Nov. 25 Vancouver Sun by senior City staff Gil Kelley and Dan Garrison (see text further below).


Preliminary analysis of City of Vancouver’s new Housing Strategy
by Elizabeth Murphy
(Private sector project manager, formerly a property development officer for City of Vancouver’s Housing and Properties Department and for B.C. Housing. Visit www.ElizabethMurphy.ca to see published articles)

This city housing strategy will affect most of the city even though the report recommendations have not had adequate community consultation. The text of the report was just made public on Friday, and it goes before City Council after just two working days.

There are both some positive aspects to this staff report and article, as well as many concerns.

First, it is positive that the City is finally admitting in a very public way that there is a problem with housing affordability that is being affected by foreign and investment speculative capital that treats housing as a commodity rather than a home for people who live and work here.

And further they admit that rezoning and increasing density is causing land value speculation. This is a huge admission that the City’s policies have contributed to the current situation.

However, the problem is with many of the City’s proposed solutions.

Most of the demand side issues are under the provincial and federal jurisdiction. The City has few tools to address this, and as proposed the City’s plans will be of minor influence.

The area where the City does have influence is on the speculation created through increased density and rezoning. But the proposals are supply-based, and that will continue to put inflationary pressure on land values. Although the City is attempting to incorporate some measures of affordability, it is unlikely that these will be effective. Continue reading

City of Vancouver rezoning applications snapshot, 1-Nov-2017

As a free public service we take a monthly snapshot of the City of Vancouver’s Rezoning Applications listed on the City of Vancouver website.

A  tech-savvy citizen is voluntarily producing two  handy online maps (click bottom right to switch between rezoning and development applications). They are typically right up to date:

Below is the snapshot of the rezoning applications as of November 1, 2017. Listed here are 73 “proposed” rezonings; 64 “approved”; 38 “enacted”; 6 “open houses”; 6 items “referred to public hearing”; 1 “withdrawn”; and 5 “updated.”

The open houses and public hearings deserve special attention as they are important chances for the public to obtain information and give feedback.

If you see any of the rezoning applications that deserve public scrutiny, please feel free to send us an e-mail (citizenYVR@gmail.com) with your concerns and we’ll see if we can look into it further. Or let the media know of your concern.

This list below is simply copied from the City’s Rezoning Centre website. There is no guarantee that the City’s links will continue working over time, so you are advised to download anything important. For the current official list, click: http://former.vancouver.ca/rezapps/. Note that the Archives link carries links to past rezonings from 2011 onward.

Download this list we saved in PDF format:
Cov Rezoning applications snapshot 1-Nov-2017

Continue reading

City of Vancouver development applications snapshot, 1-Nov-2017

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/

As a free public service CityHallWatch takes a monthly snapshot of the Development Applications listed on the City of Vancouver website.

Our count for 1-Nov-2017 shows 34 “DE” applications and 95 “DP” applications (excluding 5 MMRU – Medical Marijuana-Related Use Development Applications). That 95 is way down from 178 in October. Of the DE & DP numbers, 16 are “concurrent with rezoning.” The “Centerm Port Expansion Project” is still listed without a number. Four applications are “revised,” one is “on hold,” and 0 are “unscheduled from the Development Permit Board.” Some may have also had a change of address.

Anyone interested in these projects is also encouraged to periodically check the Urban Design Panel (UDP) and Development Permit Board (DPB) schedules, as many projects appear before them as part of the approval pipeline. Check often, as sometimes their agendas appear publicly online as little as one hour before the meeting.

Upcoming UDP meetings are November 1 (for 33 storeys at 1065 Hardwood Street & 1332 Thurlow Street (West End), 32 storeys at 1066-1078 Harwood Street (West End), 10 storeys at 129 Keefer Street (Chinatown), and Heather Street Lands Workshop (4949 Heather Street, 5255 Heather Street & 657 37th Avenue) and November 15, November 29, and December 13.

Upcoming DPB dates are November 14 and 27, and December 11. Download the official DPB list (as of Nov 1, the version online is still dated 14-Sept-2017:

Consider writing Mayor and Council asking them to make Development Applications archives available online. The City website provides a list of archived Rezoning Applications (here) going back to 2011, so why not full information on past Development Applications too?

For current (at time of viewing) full list of applications online, click: http://former.vancouver.ca/devapps/.
For our PDF version saved November 1, 2017:

For reference, we’ve reproduced the full list of development applications as of today:
CoV Development applications snapshot 1-Nov-2017

Continue reading