Vancouver Election Housing Questionnaire 2018 - Parties for Council & Mayor

Housing is the critical issue in the City of Vancouver municipal election this year. Abundant Housing Vancouver sent a questionnaire to all candidates inquiring about their policies to address the housing shortage. We wish to thank all the candidates who responded. While we are expecting more responses to come in soon, we've received enough to warrant publishing those received thus far. Check back soon for more entries!

Responses we have received from political parties running for Council and Mayor are posted in full below:

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Other Responses:

Vancouver 1st

1. The City of Vancouver prohibits apartment buildings on more than 75% of the city’s residential land via zoning. Do you support entirely or significantly eliminating the ban on apartment buildings in residential areas of the City of Vancouver?

Vancouver 1st is proposing a brand new city plan. The Offical City Plan we are using as our benchmark for how we zone and plan the city was first drafted in 1927, it hasn't been altered significantly since then. We need to ensure that a new plan is made with consultation and addresses the need to tackle the current crisis and future growth of the city.  There will be new areas where we commit to density but it will clearly not be throughout the entire city. 

2. Will you commit to enacting policies to increase the rental vacancy rate in Vancouver to at least 3%? If so, which policies would you enact?

Vancouver 1st is going to review the city policy on Community Amenable Contributions (CAC's). Many people have never heard of them. They go to the heart of our issues of affordability. CAC's are a levy that developers pay to build larger projects. They have directly contributed to a lack of rental units being built because the CAC's need to be added to the cost of the future rent. As an example, a 300 unit rental building was assessed to pay $43,000,000 in CAC's. (That is not a typo). The project was abandoned and passed to a condo developer instead.

We are going to allow for more widespread addition of an extra floor and basement suites. This will not be a blanket across the board or city change,  some communities cannot deal with an increase in traffic 

3. Currently, development of purpose-built rental buildings is concentrated along arterial roads, which have significantly higher levels of air pollution than non-arterials. What policies do you support to ensure renters have a healthy living environment?

I don't believe this will come as a change in rental policy or where rental units are slated to be built. The change will come as a result of cars and buses becoming more electrified. 

4. It can take several years for the City of Vancouver to approve new construction, including purpose built rentals. What are your views on how we can more quickly approve and build needed rental housing?

Vancouver 1st committed to slashing permit wait times by 90%. The city has become the barrier to business growth and the city's development. It is not a pipe dream to believe we can achieve a 90% reduction. They do it in neighboring municipalities every day. We are going to have the permit office open until 9pm and permits will be able to be applied for in the first instance by email. 

5. The City of Vancouver announced their new housing strategy, “Making Room” earlier this year. One component of the strategy was to allow duplex housing and possibly other forms of housing in areas currently zoned for single family detached housing. Do you support this strategy? What would you change?

Vancouver 1st has been very clear where we stand in respect to the "Making Room" policy. We are opposed to it in its entirety. The policy has been rushed through in the dying days of an administration. Why? If they believe the policy has merit, why would they not wait for a new administration to review the policy and pass a policy that reflects the aims and goals? There was almost zero consultation. Did you know in Burnaby, they have a policy that creates a moratorium on passing policy and bylaws within three months of an election?

6. Do you support reducing or eliminating parking requirements for new residential construction located near frequent transit?

Vancouver 1st is creating the position of Transportation Commissioner. A role that will oversee the creation of an integrated Traffic Plan. We need to get traffic moving. In addition, we are supporting free transit for youth 18 and under and seniors. The cost is minimal and will remove thousands of cars from the road making unnecessary journeys, as well as reducing carbon emissions. 

7. Are there any other policies you support to address the housing crisis?

Vancouver 1st is going to support the building of new infrastructure and the return of the NBA.  We are going to do all we can to create a new tech-hub in the city. 

  • Infrastructure projects create longterm high-paying jobs. We need this for the city.
  • The NBA creates around 7000 jobs per stadium, 2000 of which are high-paying roles
  • Crypto-Blockchain and Data Sciences create billions in revenue much of which will go to the city

We should all remember the Provincial Government has already dedicated the building of 114,000 new homes in BC. We have to see what the allocation to Vancouver will be. That should make a dent in the housing crisis. In addition, the City has already committed to create 72,000 new homes between now and 2027.

I have personally described the crisis as a Rubik's cube of complexity. It is caused by the mortgage rate, CAC's, zoning, the new changes on mortgage lending allowances by the banks. There are other unforeseen consequences of well intended policies that have increased the problems we are facing. The enpty Homes Tax, the Speculation Tax and the Schools Tax. They have combined to cause a price crash to homes in the $4-10M range so the wealthiest among us are picking up homes at million dollar discounts, while continuing to drive up the price of condos and other homes by 30%. 

We are eliminating the Empty Homes Tax because the City's own numbers do not make sense. We are going to sue the Province to end the Schools tax which is, we believe, illegal.

OneCity

1. The City of Vancouver prohibits apartment buildings on more than 75% of the city’s residential land via zoning. Do you support entirely or significantly eliminating the ban on apartment buildings in residential areas of the City of Vancouver?

Yes. We believe that all neighbourhoods across Vancouver should include a variety of building forms, including co-ops, social housing, supportive housing, seniors housing, purpose-built rental, and non-market rental. We envision a city of vibrant, walkable human-scale neighbourhoods with a variety of housing options for people in all stages of their lives and all income levels. We envision a city where renters are no longer at the whim of landlords and the rental vacancy rate is at a healthy 5 percent. More details on our zoning reform policy are here: Every Neighbourhood for Everyone.

2. Will you commit to enacting policies to increase the rental vacancy rate in Vancouver to at least 3%? If so, which policies would you enact?

Yes. If elected, raising the vacancy rate will be a top priority for OneCity councillors. We propose:
● Encouraging the development of non-market and market rental; for example, offering incentives like density bonuses to non-market and market rental projects in all residential parts of the city.
● Improving upon existing incentives for non-market housing by relaxing parking minimums, decreasing approval wait times, making development charge and property tax waivers for non-market housing more attractive.
● Working with existing, interested, non-profit housing groups and co-ops to help them grow their buildings. We also believe that the city needs to get into the business of building housing. OneCity councillors will raise funds through a Land Value Capture and supplementary property tax on
our city’s most expensive homes. Through those funding tools, along with nonprofit housing developers, co-ops, and other non-market housing providers, we will work to create 5,000 new non-market rentals each year in the City of Vancouver.

3. Currently, development of purpose-built rental buildings is concentrated along arterial roads, which have significantly higher levels of air pollution than non-arterials. What policies do you support to ensure renters have a healthy living environment?

Renters are not second-class citizens, and therefore should not be pushed towards less desirable locations like arterial roads. We believe that a variety of housing forms have a place throughout the entire city. People’s qualities of life improve when they live on quiet, walkable, green streets and we believe that people who rent - including families with children, and seniors - should be able to enjoy those streets as much as homeowners can.

4. It can take several years for the City of Vancouver to approve new construction, including purpose built rentals. What are your views on how we can more quickly approve and build needed rental housing?

We believe that implementing “by right” zoning is a tool we can use to speed up the process. OneCity proposes:
● Implementing “by right” zoning for housing those who are most vulnerable - for example, social and supportive housing developments will no longer have to go through a project by project process; they will be put on a fast track. This would make it as easy to build housing for those who are most vulnerable as it is to build single detached homes.
● Decreasing permit wait times by introducing “by-right” zoning for small multi-family homes including duplexes, fourplexes, and small apartment buildings in neighborhoods currently zoned for "single-family" homes. What a city prioritizes, gets dealt with more quickly. OneCity Councillors would prioritize the building of rental housing, and work with staff to make it a priority in the planning department as well.

5. The City of Vancouver announced their new housing strategy, “Making Room” earlier this year. One component of the strategy was to allow duplex housing and possibly other forms of housing in areas currently zoned for single family detached housing. Do you support this strategy? What would you change?

Yes, we support the introduction of duplexes into single family neighbourhoods. Our main criticism of the policy is that it doesn’t go far enough. We believe that all neighbourhoods can support a variety of building forms, including duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, and small apartment buildings. Some of our most attractive, vibrant neighbourhoods - like Strathcona, and parts of Grandview-Woodlands and Mount Pleasant, are already like this. We’re also committed to ensuring that zoning changes don’t simply result in more supply of high-end housing. To that end, we’ve proposed a Land Value Capture so that land value increases created by the community - like zoning changes - can go back into the community and fund affordable housing. We’d also like to see more zoning tools and incentives to ensure that thousands of non-market housing units across the city are built every year.

6. Do you support reducing or eliminating parking requirements for new residential construction located near frequent transit?

Yes, we believe this is a useful tool for creating more affordable housing near transit. We have, however, heard from seniors and people with disabilities a concern that there be thought put into their transportation requirements as mandatory parking is reduced, including ensuring accessible entrances and space for handy dart pick-up. We will continue to listen to these voices.

7. Are there any other policies you support to address the housing crisis?

Our policy to address the housing crisis is extensive. It focuses on zoning reform, and on raising money through practical, achievable taxation measures to build large amounts of non-market, publicly owned housing. Please see our website for full details:
http://www.onecityvancouver.ca/affordable_city

YES Vancouver

1. The City of Vancouver prohibits apartment buildings on more than 75% of the city’s residential land via zoning. Do you support entirely or significantly eliminating the ban on apartment buildings in residential areas of the City of Vancouver?

Yes. Our Let’s Fix Housing Action Plan (https://yesvancouver.ca/letsfixhousing-action-plan/) calls for the legalization of apartments in all residential areas.

2. Will you commit to enacting policies to increase the rental vacancy rate in Vancouver to at least 3%? If so, which policies would you enact?

Yes. We have committed to raising the vacancy rate to 3% with a long term goal of 5%. We will accomplish this by:

  • Legalizing purpose built rental buildings in all residential areas
  • Incorporate vacancy rate targets into city planning decisions.
  • Permitting 50,000-75,000 new purpose built rental homes in the first three years of a YES government
  • Treat building rental homes as its own community amenity contribution by exempting new purpose built rental buildings from community amenity contributions
  • Provide bonus density for purpose built rental buildings when the vacancy rate is below 3%
  • Fast track permits for purpose built rental buildings
  • Allow development cost levies to be paid in installments over the first 10 years of a rental building’s operation.

3. Currently, development of purpose-built rental buildings is concentrated along arterial roads, which have significantly higher levels of air pollution than non-arterials. What policies do you support to ensure renters have a healthy living environment?

YES Vancouver believes all residents of Vancouver, regardless of circumstances deserve to live in healthy communities. We support the construction of more new housing on quiet, unpolluted side streets.

4. It can take several years for the City of Vancouver to approve new construction, including purpose built rentals. What are your views on how we can more quickly approve and build needed rental housing?

YES Vancouver will commission an independent core review of the City of Vancouver’s development and permitting system. We will identify and remove bottlenecks and redundancies in the permitting system. Additionally we will end the reliance on spot rezoning. By prezoning the city we will bypass the lengthy project by project spot rezonings that are currently the norm.

5. The City of Vancouver announced their new housing strategy, “Making Room” earlier this year. One component of the strategy was to allow duplex housing and possibly other forms of housing in areas currently zoned for single family detached housing. Do you support this strategy? What would you change?

Yes, we support the Making Room strategy and voted at City Council to allow duplexes in areas zoned for single family detached. However, we believe the housing crisis deserves a bolder and quicker response. We would build on the housing strategy by legalizing apartments and diverse housing options in all residential areas.

6. Do you support reducing or eliminating parking requirements for new residential construction located near frequent transit?

We will review and modernize parking requirements. Parking can add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of a new home. The city needs a more flexible approach, particularly in areas served by frequent transit.

7. Are there any other policies you support to address the housing crisis?

Yes, we have the only comprehensive housing plan. The Let’s Fix Housing Action Plan can be read at https://yesvancouver.ca/letsfixhousing-action-plan/.

Some of our other policies to address the housing crisis are:

  • Simplifying the zoning bylaw by consolidating the 50+ residential zones into a manageable few.
  • Raise the city’s non-market housing targets by 25% to 15,000 units over the next decade
  • Use city land with 99-year leases to build social and non-market housing.
  • Create no barrier housing for the homeless
  • Create an office of Non-Profit Housing to assist the non-profit sector in permitting and building housing.
  • End corporate ownership of residential real estate
  • Require source of funds to be disclosed for real estate transactions
  • Introduce a speculation tax of 50% on the capital gains on the sale of unimproved property within 24 months of purchase
  • Review the effectiveness of short term rental regulations and enforcement
  • Replace closed door Community Amenity Contribution negotiations with preset contribution rates
  • Create a City Chief Economist position
  • Create a regional Mayors’ council on housing and homelessness.

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