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?)
Why Secure Rental is Important (PDF, City of Vancouver)
Proposed Changes for Low-Density "Transition" Areas (PDF, City of Vancouver)
Survey on Rental in “Transition Areas” and Some Commercial Zones Closes Soon; Fill it out Today!
The City of Vancouver wants to hear from you about their revised policy allowing apartments near arterial roads. The policy will allow single-family (RS) and duplex (RT) lots to be rezoned for small rental buildings, generally up to 6-storeys on arterial roads and 4-storeys up to one block away. Kitsilano NIMBYs are fighting this hard, the policy is at risk of being watered-down even more. Your voice can make a difference!
TL;DR: Here are a few important points to consider before answering the survey (direct link here - ends July 27th):
Question 1: The City should encourage the construction of secure market rental housing/below market rental housing/social housing in more neighbourhoods?
- We strongly agree with all three of these points.
Question 2: Would the proposed changes make it faster and easier to build new secure rental housing / complete neighbourhoods / to address climate emergency?
- We agree with all three of these points, with some reservations.
Question 3: Do you have any comments specific to the zoning changes for rental housing in C-2 areas [busy commercial streets]?
- This change will allow rental housing at 6-storeys to compete with condos/strata on a more level playing field. This is overdue.
- More options, such as 12-storey mass timber buildings, should be considered, especially on larger sites or near rapid transit.
Question 4: Do you have any comments specific to the rezoning policy changes for rental housing in low density areas, or the new standard rental zones?
- Still Breathing Diesel Fumes: This policy still only allows apartments within 1 block of arterial streets. Renters deserve to be allowed to live on quiet, clean side streets too. The 1 block limit should be removed entirely: apartments should be allowed anywhere near schools, parks, or shopping nodes (or just anywhere!).
- More Options for Moderate Income Rental: There are not enough incentives for moderate income rental apartments and the incentives described do not appear very financially attractive. Only a 9% increase in floor space is offered for reserving 20% of an apartment building for below market apartments, and this small bonus is only allowed directly on arterial streets. The City is running way behind the rental targets in the Vancouver Housing Strategy, there should be more and better incentives, such as allowing 6-storey buildings with moderate income homes off-arterial and providing options for 12-storey mass timber construction in at least some locations.
- This is an important policy for creating much-needed rental housing. The scale of this policy has not changed much from what has been allowed for years; which ignores the worsening crisis, a critical shortage of rental housing and the rapidly rising rents over the past several years. More ambitious policies are needed now.
You can answer the survey and read more about the policy at the City’s consultation page, but be sure to submit your thoughts as the survey closes soon!
Want to know more? More analysis after the flip…Read more
Are you or your children renters, or will they be soon? Are other loved ones or friends struggling to stay in Vancouver? This apartment building is for you! It will have 161 secured rental homes, including 20% (by floor area) reserved permanently for moderate incomes earning between $30,000 and $80,000.
TL;DR: This building will improve affordability in Vancouver, as well as access to jobs and public transit. It is at risk because people in wealthy neighbourhoods are very organized in their opposition to new buildings, especially buildings that are larger (i.e. include more homes), and several city councillors have recently started trying to delay most housing initiatives. To support, speak at the public hearing this Tuesday, October 27th, and/or write in via the City's online comment form. Don’t know what to say? Here's the basics, read on for more:
Subject: 3701-3743 West Broadway
Comments: Whatever you like, the more specific & personal the better! It can be as simple as "We need much more rental in West Point Grey / near UBC / in this City. The housing crisis is now; this project must be approved and not delayed" Read below to find out some of the reasons this is a great proposal that should be replicated many times over.
Why Vancouver needs these apartments and many more like it:
1. Centrally Located - By public transit, these homes will be 30 minutes to UBC and 30 minutes right to Waterfront Station. By bike, they are 15 minutes to UBC, 30 minutes to Waterfront Station downtown.
2. Zero Displacement - Wealthy, low-density neighbourhoods need to stop pushing people out through no growth or slow growth planning policies. It's socially bad, forces people in less affluent neighbourhoods to compete with West Point Grey's wealthy children for housing, and makes thousands of people have longer commutes. This proposal is exactly where we should be building much more housing, and this building will not displace any current tenants!
WPG has half the population density of the rest of Vancouver.
WPG is one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in the city, but far too many people can't afford the rent.
3. Moderate Income Homes - While building more market rental homes helps to increase affordability through increased supply, these moderate income homes will help keep people in their neighbourhood who can't afford market rents today (and long into the future). To meet the targets set out in the Housing Vancouver Strategy, the City needs to approve about 573 moderate income homes per year over the next 8 years, roughly 19 buildings like this per year. The need for "missing middle" housing is great, and City Council needs to be pushed to do much more much faster. This project is a step in the right direction.