One Vancouver City Councillor has lambasted other municipalities in Metro Vancouver for not stepping up to create their “fair share” of new rental housing stock, which is one of the key ways to address the housing affordability crisis.
The Non-Partisan Association’s (NPA) George Affleck took note of a City staff report presented to City Council on Tuesday that found Vancouver created 2,227 new additional units of rental housing over the past six years. These findings were based on Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation data.
In comparison, the rest of the region’s municipalities – not including the University of British Coumbia’s endowment lands – built only about half of the number of units Vancouver created, which is greatly disproportionate to the known municipal population distributions.
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“These are numbers that aren’t even close to what Vancouver has done,” Affleck fired off in Council on Tuesday. “It begs the question, perhaps we should not be looking to the province and federal government right now, we should be looking at our neighbours in Burnaby, White Rock, Delta, West Vancouver, and North Vancouver. They are letting us down.”
“As is the case in so many fronts in Vancouver, we can’t do this alone and clearly it is not happening in any community. I don’t think it’s fair for Vancouver to take this kind of burden.”
Surrey, the region’s second largest municipality with a population of about 520,000 people, which is about 100,000 less than Vancouver, only created 162 additional units.
In fact, two municipalities saw an alarming net loss in rental housing stock. White Rock lost 25 units while Burnaby plummeted by almost 500 units.
Most of Burnaby’s losses are the result of the demolition of low-storey rental apartment buildings to make way for market condominium towers.
“We saw a protest in Burnaby last night. Perhaps what is challenging for us is they’re relying on us to take care of it for them,” continued Affleck. “Burnaby gets to reduce their number by nearly 500 over the last six years while we increase by over 2,200. They’re going ‘Great, thanks very much Vancouver for taking care of that!'”
“We’re also spending millions of dollars on homelessness. People are coming to Vancouver because we are taking on all of the burden here… Why are they not doing their fair share? This seems to be a major problem for the region.”
Taxpayers within the City of Vancouver are largely responsible for the thousands of new affordable and social housing rental units that have been built over the past few years.
On Tuesday, the municipal government announced a plan to build 72,000 new homes over the coming decade. Many of these units, specifically those for low-income residents, will require municipal funding.