Why You Should Care About Birch (and other Moderate Income Rental Projects)

And What You Can Do About It Right Now 

Are you a renter? Are your children renters (or will they be soon)? Are other loved ones or friends you’d like to be able to stay in Vancouver renters? Great, this apartment building is for you! 

2538 Birch St Location & Rendering

TL;DR: This building will improve affordability in Vancouver, as well as access to jobs and public transit. To support, speak at the public hearing this Thursday, July 9th, and write in to [email protected]. Don’t know what to say?

- Use our handy Letter Generator to get you started.


2538 Birch St is a rezoning proposal at the site of the former Denny’s on Broadway to allow for 95 more apartments above the currently-allowed 153 homes, 53 of which will be permanently affordable to moderate incomes. That’s over 50% of additional homes affordable to households making between $30,000 and $80,000. This is achieved by increasing the height of the building from 16-storeys to 28-storeys.

So why should you support moderate income rental projects like 2538 Birch?

Affordability in Vancouver

  • 53 affordable homes won’t solve the housing crisis; no one building can. But, these homes will allow 53 individuals and families to stay in Vancouver in new and healthy homes who would otherwise be pushed out, be paying much more than 30% of their income, or renting something inadequate or unhealthy (or maybe all three).
  • The additional 42 market-rate rental homes will be secured for the life of the building, which means the homes can never be sold off as condos and tenants have secure tenure so that they don’t have to worry about having to move unexpectedly.
  • These additional homes indirectly help all renters in Vancouver: building new apartments decreases competition for all the existing apartments, rents will go up less at turnover when there are lots of other options on the market.
  • Zero Displacement: since this is a former commercial building, no current tenants will be displaced to build these additional homes.
  • “Family-Sized” Homes: 39% of these apartments and 58% of moderate income homes will be 2 bedrooms or more.
  • All homes are pet-friendly, and there will even be a pet-washing station. This might not seem like it affects affordability, but have you tried looking for a pet-friendly apartment lately?

Moderate income homes are much cheaper than market rents and extraodinarily cheaper than typical condo ownership costs.

Source: https://council.vancouver.ca/20200609/documents/rr1.pdf

Environment and Greenest City

  • This project is just 2 blocks from the future Skytrain station at Granville, and is right in the middle of Broadway, the province’s largest jobs cluster outside of Downtown.
  • Did you know that most of Metro Vancouver’s growth in at least the last two decades has been in car-dependent suburbs? Building housing in Vancouver’s urban core means fewer car trips and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Rezoning projects in Vancouver have to meet the highest Step Code energy efficiency requirements, higher than detached houses and higher than apartment buildings in other jurisdictions.

Vancouver's Energy Efficiency Requirements 2015,2020, and 2025. Much more stringent than for low-rise buildings.

  • Amenity areas include gardening plots for residents’ use and a green roof.

Support Essential Workers

  • These homes will be within walking distance from VGH and will provide many homes for healthcare workers, who will be able to get to work without lengthy commutes.
  • These apartments will also provide homes for other workers who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to live within an easy walk, cycle or bus from their jobs.

There is a high density of jobs within 30 minutes and even more within 45 minutes of travel (walk, bike, or public transit)

Support Local Businesses

Building rendering

What Can You Do?

It is an unfortunate reality that future renters are at the mercy of a public hearing process that disproportionately gives a voice to vested interests, often including nearby landlords who don’t want competition but seldom acknowledge their obvious conflict-of-interest. But you can speak at the public hearing to voice your support for more homes in more places in the city, especially for moderate incomes and especially near jobs and frequent public transit.

  1. Click here to sign up to speak at the hearing this Thursday, July 9th. This is the most effective way to let Council know we need more rental housing in transit and jobs-rich locations. Generally it is best to make your comments as personal as possible, tell Council why apartments like these are important to you and your family/friends/etc. Note: speakers are currently asked to phone in (social-distancing); this is a great opportunity to speak without having to face a crowd and from the convenience of your own home!
  2. You can also write in to support, commenting online or by e-mail, with the help of our Letter Generator to get you started.

Other relevant information for the interested:

A 28-storey building at Birch will have a surprisingly small impact on nearby street views: https://twitter.com/ianwrob/status/1279619153876275205

Frequently Asked Questions about the MIRHPP program (from CoV): https://vancouver.ca/files/cov/mirhpp-public-faqs.pdf

Broadway East of Arbutus, along the part of the new subway line that is already approved, is undergoing a comprehensive planning process that will certainly see a lot of change near the new stations: https://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/broadway-plan.aspx