Cambie rezonings generating millions for affordable housing, childcare

Just two years ago, then chief city planner Brent Toderian was warning developers to cool the frantic speculation that was driving up land prices along the Cambie Corridor, leading some to worry they would be unable to offer community amenity charges on rezoning.

Toderian, responding the news that 10 homes near 41st and Cambie had sold for $3.4 million each, warned buyers that “if you’ve overpaid for land because you paid the rezoned price, and then suddenly you come into the city and are reminded the plan calls for public benefits and rental housing  . . . we don’t change our plan to match your purchase price.

“Your purchase price has to reflect our plan.”

Apparently they heeded his call. Two rezonings along Cambie, both approved unanimously by council last night, delivered more than $10 million for affordable housing, childcare and cultural facilities.

  • 516 W. 50th Ave and 6629-6709 Cambie consolidated six lots on Cambie into two six-storeyresidential buildings and two two-storey townhouses with a total of 128 units.  Total public benefits exceeded $4.6 million, including $1.3 million for chldcare, $2.3 million for affordable housing and $1 million for social and community facilities. (Only one speaker raised concerns about this rezoning, anxious to confirm that her own home in the next block would included in the Phase 3 Cambie Plan and thus eligible for rezoning. It is.)
  • A similar rezoning at 5675 Mason St., 665-685 W. 41st and 5688 Heather St. combines five lots to create 114 units in two six-storey buildings.  Public benefits here exceed $4.2 million, including $2.1 for affordable housing and $935,000 for each of heritage and community facilities. (No speakers appeared on this item.)

In both cases, the community amenity charges amounted to $55 a square foot under the city’s “targetted CAC policy,” to “reflect the increase in land value expected to result from rezoning approval, community needs, area deficiencies and the impact of the proposed development on city services.”

The money will be spent along the corridor through the city’s capital plan.

Landing affordable housing will be a challenge, but so far, at least, it appears Toderian’s words have been heeded. City housing planners will have millions of dollars to work with.