Vancouver City Councillor

Category — Housing

Tenants are the winners as rental database drives down number of building code violations

Vancouver city council’s decision to shine a light on landlords with bylaw violations is producing dividends for city renters, driving down the number of outstanding violations by 75 percent.

Using the city’s rental database, home-hunting renters can check out a building ahead of time. In 2013, seven buildings had more than 100 violations; today, the number is zero.

The reduction in violations, announced in a news release today by Mayor Gregor Robertson, delivers on one of a series of measures the Vision council has undertaken to support tenants, including a crackdown on slumlords and a successful program to increase the construction of rental housing.


“We wish every municipality in the province had a Rental Standards Database like the City of Vancouver,” said Tom Durning of the Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre (TRAC).  We speak to over 9,000 tenants per year through our Tenant Infoline and the most common issue we provide information on is repairs.  Using the City’s Rental Standards Database, Vancouver tenants can now see if prospective landlords are serious about maintaining their buildings to health, safety and housing standards required by law.  TRAC is pleased to hear that there has been a 75 percent drop in property violations in licensed rental buildings.  We hope other municipalities will see these positive results from the City of Vancouver’s actions and adopt similar initiatives to better protect tenants across the province,” concluded Mr. Durning.

April 17, 2014

Metro Vancouver Alliance promises to be new, strong force for social justice uniting labour, community, faith groups

Last week’s founding gathering of the Metro Vancouver Alliance at a packed Maritime Labour Centre auditorium, resounding with singing and speech-making, signalled the arrival of a significant new force for social justice on the city’s political scene.

Keynote speakers included the local leaders of the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches, as well as labour council officials and a wide range of community activists. (I was invited to respond to the MVA goals on behalf of city councillors.)

Although resolutely non-partisan, the MVS unites unions, community organizations and the Lower Mainland’s largest Christian faith communities in a new organization dedicated to campaigning against poverty and for improvements in housing, transit and civic engagement — non-partisan, maybe, but not apolitical.

March 26, 2014

Urban Futures survey shows massive and growing support for public transit investment to tackle congestion

Do Metro mayors face a tough sell on the upcoming transit referendum, as Ken Cameron suggests in this Tyee review of the new Urban Futures survey? Or is public opinion waiting for elected officials to catch up?

In fact, as Cameron notes in his analysis, this massive 2012 review of Metro public opinion found support for transit investment growing very significantly since the last survey was conducted in 1990. The relevant chart is on page 46 here.

Not so reassuring: the declining anxiety about the housing supply.

March 26, 2014

Why the solution to unaffordable housing requires building much more housing

Once you get past his job title, “planetary futurist in residence” Alex Steffen, of the design and innovation firm Ideo, makes a simple point in this Guardian essay that is too often missed in the debates about housing affordability: if you want social justice, “build a lot more housing.”

Steffen, a native of San Francisco and its insane housing market, argues that to make housing affordable again, “‘we need to catch up to decades worth of unmet demand.” To achieve that goal, we’ll have to change how we build cities.

Who wins? Steffen sees a growing constituency for this approach among the young. “Young people tend to understand that new housing, well-built, can be a tremendous force for positive transformation.”

Add in good design, and new housing can not only hold down housing costs, it can “help grow new, people-centred streets, incares use of bikes and transit and promote healthier and more active lives.”

Now about that “planetary futurist” job – where do I apply?

February 16, 2014