220,000 homes in 10 years: Kennedy Stewart promises to build the equivalent of 37 Senakws across Vancouver

Sep 13 2022, 9:10 pm

Over the next 10 years, by 2033, Squamish First Nation’s Senakw development on the reserve at the south end of Burrard Bridge will generate 6,000 new homes — all rentals.

Now imagine a housing plan that generates 37 times the housing supply of Senakw.

Released today, Forward Together mayor Kennedy Stewart has announced his party’s five-point housing platform that aims to drastically increase new supply, and introduce new permitting efficiencies and protections.

He is promising to catalyze 220,000 new homes across the City of Vancouver over the next 10 years through 2032, including 140,000 units of market rental, below-market rental, social housing, and co-operatives; 40,000 new ground-oriented homes for purchase by the middle class; and 40,000 market condominiums or townhomes for ownership. The number of co-operatives on city-owned land will double.

Four years ago for his 2018 civic election campaign, Stewart, then an independent candidate, made similar types of campaign promises, including building 85,000 new homes over 10 years — entailing 25,000 units of non-profit affordable rentals, 25,000 units of market rentals, and 35,000 units of condominiums and townhouses.

Under the City of Vancouver’s existing 10-year Housing Vancouver plan between 2018 and 2027, the municipal government is aiming to catalyze 72,000 homes. As of 2021, the fourth year of the plan, the City has approved 52% of its target or over 37,000 homes. It has exceeded over 50% of its 10-year sub-targets of 12,000 units of social/supportive housing, 30,000 units of condominiums, and 4,000 units of laneway houses, but is below the halfway mark for its sub-targets of 20,000 units of rental homes and 6,000 units of townhouses/coach houses. In 2021, City Council and City staff approved 8,800 homes.

With Stewart’s new targets, triple the number of Housing Vancouver, it is expected they will be achieved under high-density community plans like the Cambie Plan and recently approved Broadway Plan, and the future Renfrew/Rupert Station Area Plan.

For his 2022 bid, other housing platform components entail extending the “toughest renter protections in Canada” under the Broadway Plan across the whole city and continuing to add permanent vacancy control to more new rentals.

As well, Stewart’s party is vowing to modernize the public hearing and permitting process to be more efficient and inclusive, create new specialized project approval teams for large impact projects (such as Jericho Lands, the old St. Paul’s Hospital in the West End, and Renfrew/Rupert station area), and maintain the municipal government’s Empty Homes Tax at a minimum of 5%.

In 2018, Stewart also promised to speed up the permitting process by increasing staff and reducing red tape, promised to triple the Empty Homes Tax, and outlined various new protection measures for renters, including a new Renters Advocate Office.

“Forward Together’s housing plan is the most ambitious in our city’s history,” said Stewart.

“Despite the challenges of COVID-19 and a deeply divided council we’ve managed to make good progress over the last four years, but I know we can do so much more if we elect a council that is focused on solving the housing crisis today and for generations to come. That’s what our plan does. It’s big. It’s bold. It helps build a city for all of us, not just for the few.”

Forward Together is running a total of seven candidates, including the incumbent mayor and six city councillor candidates. Stewart ran in 2018 as an independent but formed his own party early this year after struggling to push policies forward without the backing of City Council throughout his term in office.

The civic election is scheduled for October 15, 2022.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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