Vancouver City Councillor

Vancouver moves on affordable housing as UDI protests community amenity fees

It’s an upside down world today for critics of Mayor Gregor Robertson’s Vision Vancouver, who like to claim council is ignoring affordable housing to ensure the city remains a profit playground for developers.

But today’s Sun features a lengthy report from the Urban Development Institute claiming “the high costs of development” in Vancouver, particularly for community amenity charges, may be contributing to high housing costs. If council is pandering to developers, this is a strange way of showing its love.

(As chief city planner Brian Jackson points out, reduced city fees would not necessarily reduce costs, just increase profit.)

According to the UDI analysis, Vancouver’s community amenity charges can be as much as 75 percent of the profit a developer would make by achieving higher density in a rezoning. Land costs in Vancouver are 70 percent higher than those in Burnaby and five times the price in Surrey. Yet construction continues in Vancouver and so do sales.

To complete the confusion, several news reports point to next week’s pending council approval of a proposal to use four city sites to create more than 350 affordable housing units.

So the City of Vancouver is actually taking more from developers than neighbouring municipalities while implementing new strategies to build affordable housing . . . and requiring the new buildings to achieve LEED gold standards while we’re at it!

Whatever is the world coming to?

Next question: is Vancouver charging too much? Or are others charging too little?