CVN writes City Council on proposed new Housing Vancouver Strategy (2018-2027)

November 26, 2017

City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Gregor Robertson and Councillors,

Vancouver Housing Strategy

November 26, 2017
City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Gregor Robertson and Councillors,

Re: Vancouver Housing Strategy

As strong supporters of the need for affordable housing, especially for residents who live and work here, we appreciate the City’s efforts with the new Vancouver Housing Strategy. While the City finally acknowledges that speculative capital and land inflation created by increased density are driving unaffordability, the proposed solutions are again based on increasing supply through rezoning. This focus on additional supply through up zoning has proven to be one of the primary contributors to increased land inflation and undermines our shared objective of improving housing affordability. On that basis, we are opposed to this proposed plan.

We are particularly concerned about the proposals for city-wide rezoning to greatly increase new strata townhouses, rowhouses and apartments in ways that run counter to the CityPlan Community Visions and Local Area Planning processes that were promised to guide future increases of growth at the neighbourhood level. With the new proposed strategy, character house retention incentives would also be undermined, resulting in more demolitions and expensive new development that locals cannot afford.

Neighbourhood character and fit should be considered on a neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood basis, with meaningful community participation, not by a citywide blanket override of existing zoning bylaws, community plans and neighbourhood-specific concerns. We agree that there should be opportunities for more housing choice all across the city, but any changes to zoning should be implemented appropriately for each neighbourhood. Density bonuses, intended to increase affordability in Rental 100 projects, could have the opposite effect by creating much larger developments that inflate land values for properties around the site with buildings that are out of scale with the neighbourhood. Targeting major developments for transit hubs has already proven to inflate both housing and land costs, yet this plan proposes to maintain this negative path.

Retaining current rental stock receives relatively little attention, despite being the most affordable option for residents. Retaining character houses by encouraging secondary suites that can provide additional rental housing and mortgage helper income will have less impact on land inflation than demolition and new larger developments. Making it easier for renovations and more secondary suites is a faster, more effective approach to affordability, yet is less of a priority in this plan than more expensive new development.

The City has provided virtually no time to review and respond to this massive 248 page report, posting it 2 to their website only last Friday; just two business days ahead of Council consideration. This clear lack of respect for the public’s interest flies in the face of the Mayor’s 2014 apology and commitment to listen to voters in the future. Vancouver’s voters expect and deserve better.

We request that this report not be approved at this time. Recommendations are complex, with far reaching implications. This report should be referred for meaningful participation to the communities that will have to live with the results of this process.


Larry Benge, Co-Chair
Dorothy Barkley, Co-Chair

On behalf of the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods

Member Groups of the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods


Arbutus Ridge Community Association
Arbutus Ridge/ Kerrisdale/ Shaughnessy Visions
Cedar Cottage Area Neighbours
Chinatown Action Group
Citygate Intertower Group
Community Association of New Yaletown
Crosstown Residents Association
Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council
Dunbar Residents Association
False Creek Residents Association
Grandview Woodland Area Council
Granville Burrard Residents & Business Association
Joyce Area Residents
Kitsilano-Arbutus Residents Association
Kits Point Residents Association
Marpole Oakridge Community Association
Norquay Residents
NW Point Grey Home Owners Association
Oakridge Langara Area Residents
Residents Association Mount Pleasant
Riley Park/South Cambie Visions
Shaughnessy Heights Property Owners Association
Strathcona Residents Association
Upper Kitsilano Residents Association
West End Neighbours Society
West Kitsilano Residents Association
West Point Grey Residents Association