A new pilot project that will introduce affordable rental homes in the Oakridge area is the City of Vancouver’s latest approach to tackling the housing crisis.
Mayor Gregor Robertson has announced a proposal to require new mid and high-rise rental buildings immediately around Oakridge Centre to include a minimum 20% of homes designated as long-term affordable.
These rental units are targeted to households making between $30,000 and $80,000 per year.
Proposed affordable rents could range from $850 to $1,000 for a studio, $1,250 to $1,500 for a one-bedroom unit, and $1,700 to $2,100 for a two-bedroom unit.
Alternatively, instead of rental units, developers could opt to build market housing, with 70% of the units for strata and 30% for social housing.
It is expected that 1,000 new affordable homes will be created in this area alone, and when combined with other Cambie Corridor areas it will create over 4,000 affordable homes. When market residential units are included, a total of 11,500 new homes will be permitted along the Corridor.
Developers could receive extra density, parking relaxations, and waivers on Development Cost Levies in exchange for the long-term affordable housing units.
But it remains to be seen whether there will be any much-needed, short-term immediate relief from this proposal as the municipal government’s timeline for the full completion of this housing stock is by 2041.
“Vancouver doesn’t just need supply, it needs the right kind of supply local people on local incomes can afford,” said Robertson in a statement.
“The City is doubling down on affordable housing backed by the principle that no one should spend more than 30 per cent of their income on their home. We’re putting a big focus on rental housing and prioritizing innovative ideas like this pilot project that will ramp up the City’s delivery of affordable housing for renters across the spectrum.”
Currently, the Oakridge area is dominated by single-family homes, although since the opening of the Canada Line the entire Corridor has been one of the Vancouver’s largest hotspots for redevelopment.
This proposal, if approved, would push Oakridge towards become Vancouver’s only Municipal Town Centre, which is a classification that areas such as Brentwood and Lougheed also share.
The proposal will be presented to City Council on Tuesday, and a decision could be made later this year or in early 2018 following public consultation. If the pilot project is successful, it could be expanded city-wide to potentially spur thousands of new required affordable rental homes.
However, this proposal and its housing unit allocations does not include the major redevelopments of Oakridge Centre, the old Vancouver Transit Centre (Heather Lands), and the former RCMP headquarters as each project has its own separate planning process.
In addition to the changes to the area around Oakridge and these redevelopments, the City is planning to rezone hundreds of single-family homes along the Corridor into townhouses.