Vision takes action on affordable housing

With next week’s council motion on affordable housing, proposed by Councillor Raymond Louie and me, the Vision team begins delivering on the campaign commitments to build a legacy of affordable market and rental housing.

Action can’t come too soon. Also up for debate next week is the demolition permit for 4550 Fraser St.,  a significant and affordable 89-unit rental housing complex slated for redevelopment as condominiums.

The rate of change bylaw, which requires one-for-one replacement of rental units in much of the city, bisects the site, so 48 rental units will be built as part of the overall development, but they will not be affordable under the current plan. In all, 167 units are affected by the development plans. Between 30 and 40 of the units remain occupied by tenants unable to find new accommodation in a city where the vacancy rate is at .3 percent.

This project alone will affect two percent of the city’s rental housing stock in the C2 or commercial zone, which is not covered by the rate of change bylaw. (City staff report that 1,500 units have been proposed for construction in this zone.)

Solutions are available to generate affordable market housing and the private sector is ready to play a role. The Vancouver City Planning Commission is proposing one innovative approach — special zoning around transit nodes — in a report also before council next week. For more solutions, watch Monte Paulsen’s series in the The Tyee, also beginning today.

The key will be city leadership. That’s why next week’s motion proposes a quick consultation with city experts, then sets out a firm timetable for action.