UPDATE: The long-delayed Secured Rental Policy for near local shopping areas is continuing at public hearing this Tuesday, November 9th, at 6:00 p.m. It will enable rezonings within 1 block of an arterial street, as long as the location is close enough to shopping, parks and schools. The same proposal will also change C-2 zoning, commercial zones that currently allow 4-storey condos, to allow 6-storey mixed-use rental buildings without a hearing (mixed-use means that the buildings also have commercial space on the first floor). Council notionally gave the thumbs up to these same proposals back in 2019, but in 2020, NIMBYs complained at the first public hearing and Council sent it back for moar consultation. Now, finally, at the end of 2021, we may be nearing the real implementation of these policies that have been called for since at least 2017! Your support is needed to ensure these policies make it all the way past the finish line this time.
Click here to send comments to Council, and use subject "1. Streamlining Rental Around Local Shopping Areas" and choose Position: "Support". Better yet, click here to register to speak to Council. A few hundred NIMBYs are fighting this hard, your voice can make a difference!
Here are some points you might want to mention:
- "I support this policy proposal"/"Please approve this item"
- The C-2 rental option is long overdue. Rental rezonings in C-2 areas are never rejected in practice, this is a practical step that will save everyone time and make rental more competitive with condo development, which does not require a rezoning.
- The streamlined rezoning policy for transition areas is also long overdue. Renters deserve to be able to live off of busy, polluted arterial streets. This was approved by Council in 2019 and Staff have been working on it since then, consulting widely with a range of Vancouverites of different backgrounds. It would not be fair to taxpayers, nor to the people who participated in shaping this policy, to reject it now.
- This will help prevent urban sprawl. Other cities in Metro Vancouver are still cutting down forests to build housing on the outskirts of the metro, usually close to highways and far from public transit. Housing policy is climate policy.
- The policy has additional incentives to help build social housing. Social housing providers support this policy.
- The simplified rezoning process is important and will help get more rental built. Not requiring a public hearing or a rezoning at all would be much better.
- Some of the proposed changes are an improvement on the former Affordable Housing Choices policy. This is not a radically new policy and rental rezonings are regularly covered in the media, as was consultation for this policy. Polling by Research Co shows that Vancouverites support these missing middle housing options: "fewer than one-in-five [oppose] 6-storey rental buildings (19%), ...[and] 4-storey rental buildings (14%)..."
- Recent academic research matches housing economists' intuition: Building new apartments helps lower rents nearby, and at the metro level. The large majority of people that move into new apartments in Vancouver already live in the metro area; freeing up cheaper apartments for new tenants.
- That being said, the transition areas policy does not go nearly far enough:
- Renters should be allowed to live more than one block off of arterial streets. It is not fair, not equitable, and not reasonable to reserve quiet streets only for multi-million dollar houses. Council has already passed a motion stating that rental does not belong only on busy arterial streets, but that is not reflected in this policy.
- Some of Vancouver's best-loved neighbourhoods, like the West End, Mt. Pleasant, and Kerrisdale, integrate lots of apartment buildings on side streets.
- According to the City's own analysis, off-arterial apartments will not be viable in many locations. Expanding the eligible area to two (or more) blocks from the arterials would help get more apartments actually built. Council can do this at the hearing, or approve the proposal as-is and direct staff to come back with a proposal to expand the eligibility map.
- This new map excludes many areas that were included under the previous rental policy. Places like Shaughnessy need apartments, and local-serving retail too, and should not be excluded.
- Some of the below-market rental options are especially uneconomical and unlikely to see much uptake. Council should look at improving these in the future. All of the below-market rental options are on arterials, as only 4-storey buildings are allowed off-arterial and they do not offer enough density to make a below-market component economical.
- The majority of new development in Vancouver is still detached houses and duplexes. Every torn down house is an opportunity for better land use, every new detached house is a missed opportunity.
Note on the map: "Community Plan Areas" in hatched lines are excluded from the policy. (Should they be though?)
A blog post explaining the policy and why it is needed
City of Vancouver's page for the Streamling Rental
Why Secure Rental is Important (PDF, City of Vancouver)
Proposed Changes for Low-Density "Transition" Areas (PDF, City of Vancouver)