Two Green Party city councillors have proposed major policy shifts on housing and development for discussion at the first business meeting of the new Vancouver City Council on Tuesday, November 13.
Adriane Carr wants the municipal government to launch a citywide development master planning process that would allow the municipal government to depend less on piece-meal neighbourhood plans.
Her colleague, newly elected Pete Fry, also wants to create new renter’s office within the municipal government, effectively centralizing rental housing issues and policies into one department.
Carr has spearheaded a motion that requests staff to create a framework and timeline for a creation of a new citywide plan, effectively replacing the only other plan of this type, written by Harland Bartholomew about a century ago.
In her motion, which is seconded by One City councillor Christine Boyle, she writes that this work needs to be expedited given the urgency of the housing affordability and accelerating climate change crises.
The work will include urban design considerations, such as “determining the future of our city including accommodating growth, changing demographics and diversity, pursuing reconciliation, increasing housing that’s locally affordable, growing local jobs in a sustainable economy, providing local food security, improving transportation and public amenities, enhancing places for people and vibrant liveable neighbourhoods including local shopping streets, and ensuring our city does its part in tackling the climate crisis by rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
Carr suggests that a “robust and collaborative” public engagement process could include neighbourhood planning offices. If approved, city staff will be asked to report back to council with a way forward on the process by the end of January 2019.
As for Fry’s motion – also seconded by Boyle – on directing city staff to establish a process for creating a new municipal renter’s office, such a department would “provide an official City of Vancouver point of contact for renter and tenancy issues, including Standards of Maintenance, Tenant Relocation and Protections, and renovictions.”
The office would also coordinate with existing renter advocacy groups and city permitting, building inspections, and licensing departments and data with a goal of protecting tenants from illegal renovictions and monitoring the rate of change to affordable rental housing stock.
“Currently, the City of Vancouver does not have a department dedicated to track, resource, and support Vancouver renters and renter issues,” wrote Fry.
The office is necessary given that rentals represent more than half of Vancouver’s total number of households, and the overall rental vacancy in the city is less than 1%.
During the same meeting, City Council will consider a motion by the Non-Partisan Association’s Colleen Hardwick on reconsidering the last City Council’s approved policy of allowing duplexes within nearly all of Vancouver’s single-family areas.