Vancouver's proposed 10-year housing strategy will densify city and tackle speculation

Nov 24 2017, 2:39 am

The City of Vancouver has fully outlined its 10-year housing strategy ahead of a City Council vote on Tuesday that could approve the new policies.

The plan intends to address affordability issues by increasing supply through densification and enacting policies that prevent speculative behaviour.

“Housing and affordability must reflect the diversity of our residents and support those most in need of housing,” says Gil Kelley, General Manager of Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability for the municipal government.

“Our Housing Vancouver strategy lays the groundwork for change in our city to increase the variety of housing options – the right homes Vancouver residents need and can afford.”

A plan announced by the City earlier this year to build 72,000 new homes over the next 10 years is key to the strategy, including 12,000 units for low-income residents and 20,000 new purpose-built rentals.

Overall, the target is to create 30,000 condominium units, 5,000 townhouse units, and 1,000 coach house units.

Areas close to transit hubs, parks, schools, public amenities, and arterial streets will be identified for townhouses and low-rise apartments, and affordable housing options will be expanded in shopping areas and neighbourhood centres.

Townhouses and infill developments will be targeted for single-family neighbourhoods, with many seeing declining numbers of families and children – especially in the Vancouver Westside.

Planning processes will be launched in 2018 to densify the areas around SkyTrain’s Nanaimo Station, 29th Avenue Station, and Olympic Village Station. And unlike the Cambie Corridor, an area planning process will be initiated for the Broadway Corridor long before the completion of the SkyTrain extension.

The City says it wants to address “excessive speculation [that] has contributed to distorted land and housing prices,” adding that “this is a key barrier to creating new housing that is affordable in the near and long term”.

If the strategy is approved, staff will create a policy framework that could include an interim public benefits strategy to limit speculative land value, such as establishing community amenity contribution target rates on areas to respond to the needs of growth.

This will add to other initiatives such as the Empty Homes Tax, the regulation of short-term rentals like Airbnb, and continued advocacy for a provincial speculation tax.

A policy approved last month will also give city residents the first priority for pre-sales.

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