Vancouver City Councillor

Category — Housing

Affordable housing, “social mix,” empty mansions front and centre as UK voters prepare for election

Latest news from the increasingly upside-down world of United Kingdom housing debates: developers condemn the Conservative government for proposing to eliminate affordable housing requirements, declaring it a threat to London’s “social mix.”

The developers stand to gain hundreds of millions of pounds in windfall profits if the policy stands, but have demanded that the policy be scrapped because it poses a fatal threat to the diversity of housing London requires.

Denounced as “insane” by Tory critics, the Tory initiative is on the heels of a major London march for action on housing that saw thousands demand major national investments in new, affordable homes.

Also prominent: widespread anger about countless empty mansions, apparently owned by foreign investors, that sit crumbling while tenants and low income tenants struggle to find homes.

Sound familiar? All issues we debate here, but so far without the popular mobilization and, in particular, the direct debate at the federal level, where solutions can actually be found.


February 3, 2015

Help wanted: residents in Jim Green’s affordable housing projects who can help assess his legacy

Are you now or have you ever lived in one of hundreds of affordable housing units that Jim Green helped build in our city? If so, Tyee journalist David Ball would like to talk to you as part of an upcoming series that assesses Green’s hopes for his affordable housing projects against the outcomes, as seen by the residents themselves.

That means you’re a resident or former resident — or you know someone who fits the bill — of the DERA Co-op, Bruce Eriksen Place, the Tellier Tower, Pendera, Four Sisters, Lore Krill, Solheim Place or Woodwards, nearly 1,000 units of social and affordable housing that Green steered to completion.

Ball can be reached at or 778 318-4673. His report is scheduled for completion in time for the annual Jim Green lecture, an annual event that seeks to build and move forward Green’s ideas and philosophy.

January 19, 2015

Building new rental in Vancouver: can Canada’s “rental boom” help Metro?

Just 60 days after a hard-fought civic election in which the NPA vowed to kill Vision Vancouver’s Rental 100 program, Vancouver Sun reporter Barbara Yaffe is fuming that “Vancouver lags behind nation’s rental property boom.”

It’s good news that reporters like Yaffe acknowledge the crisis in rental housing construction and the role rental can play in housing affordability.

Missing, of course, is a reminder that an NPA victory on Nov. 15  would have eliminated a program that has increased annual rental construction from a few hundred units to more than 1,000, a pace Mayor Gregor Robertson wants to maintain for the next four years.

Given Vancouver’s rental program — and a similar effort in New Westminster — it would be interesting to know how much rental is being built in other municipalities like Burnaby and Port Coquitlam, where land costs are lower and new Evergreen Line stations offer fabulous opportunities. My guess is that the number is very low.

Will the national boom help other Metro municipalities? Expansion of the rental stock in Surrey, Burnaby, North Vancouver, Coquitlam and all the rest would be welcome news. [Read more →]

January 13, 2015

New CMHC survey shows rents rising, vacancies falling as tenants face tightening market

Thanks to Tom Durning, of the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre, for forwarding this gloomy CMHC update on Vancouver’s rental housing market: rising rents and falling vacancies are creating a housing crunch for tenants.

Although Vancouver saw more than 200 new units completed last year, rising migration, a strong economy and the high cost of home ownership all combined to reduce rental vacancies.

A key finding of the CMHC study: the region’s new jobs tend to be lower-paying, underlining the “affordability” advantage of rental. It is remains much less expensive to rent a one or two-bedroom apartment than to buy one, despite low interest rates.

This all adds up to a heavy work agenda for the new Renters Advisory Committee approved by council yesterday, to be chaired by Councillor Tim Stevenson.

December 17, 2014