4 letters to City Council for May 12: Cambie Corridor, rental housing, development applications, Housing Vancouver Strategy

The following letters were sent to Vancouver Mayor and Councillors pertaining to agenda topics for meetings this week of May 11, 2020 at City Hall. Please see the list at top, with actual text of the letters further below.

  1. Motion B.3 (May 12) – Working for More Housing Affordability in the Cambie Corridor
  2. Motion B.4 – Rescinding Motion to Include C-2 Zones in Rental Housing Stock Official Development Plan
  3. Motion B.6 – Improving the Effectiveness and Efficiency of Development Application Processes
  4. Motion B.7 – Recalibrating the Housing Vancouver Strategy post COVID-19



Re: Motion B.3- Working for More Housing Affordability in the Cambie Corridor
May 12 Council Item B.3: https://council.vancouver.ca/documents/b3.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) supports this Motion. It is very clear, as the Motion states, that in the Cambie Corridor, the development of new units that are built, under construction, approved or under review, will not meet the Cambie Corridor Plan’s goals for affordability. And this reflects the problem which exists in Vancouver, that of housing affordability for people of lower incomes, and the need to solve that problem.

The City needs to address the shortcomings of the Cambie Corridor Plan, and move to increase the percentage of ‘social housing’ called for in the Plan.

The core problem is that under the City’s current definition of social housing, the majority of units provided are not actually affordable. Prior to 2014, the City defined ‘social housing’ as: “…residential units, purchased by a government or a non-profit housing group using available government funding, for housing senior citizens, handicapped persons or individuals or families of low income”. The current definition defines it as any “rental housing where 30 per cent of the units are affordable to households with incomes below Housing Income Limits (HIL)”. Add to that the current City policy that considers any building in which 30% of its units are affordable to people with incomes below the HIL to be 100% social housing, and you find a policy that needs re-evaluating. This also produces a condition where the city is appearing to be gaining many more units of affordable housing than is actually the case.

In the Cambie Corridor case, as in other developments throughout the city, this also points out the need for not only monitoring of these plans, but following up with actions to ensure that the principles and goals of such plans are being followed and achieved.

This Motion is a call for action to achieve the stated goals of the Cambie Corridor Plan. It should be supported.



Re: Motion B.4 – Rescinding Motion to Include C-2 Zones in Rental Housing Stock Official Development Plan
May 12 Council Item B.4: https://council.vancouver.ca/documents/b4.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) opposes this Motion to rescind the previous directions from Council.

City Council, on November 26, 2019, voted by majority:

THAT Council instruct staff to prepare a report for consideration for referral to public hearing to amend the Rental Housing Stock Official Development Plan to extend rental replacement requirements to C-2, C-2C, C-2B and C-2B-1 zoning districts city-wide.

There exist, at present, arterial and high streets in neighbourhoods across Vancouver with C-2 zones. This zoning includes many grandfathered existing rental buildings, sometimes with residential rental units on all floors, some with residential rental above commercial, in a 3 or 4-storey form. These C-2 zones can be found on portions of streets including West 4th Avenue, Main Street, Commercial Drive, Kingsway, West 41st Avenue, Fraser, Victoria, East Hastings and Dunbar. Under existing conditions, these affordable rental units can be torn down and replaced with market condos.

The Mayor, through this Motion, is calling for the removal of this rental protection. Previously, through their vote, Council directed staff to draft changes to include C-2 in the Rental Housing Stock Official Development Plan to be brought forward at a future public hearing. The Rental Housing Stock ODP, which includes a “rate of change” policy that requires that rental units be replaced one-for-one in any redevelopment of a property, also provides for a tenant relocation policy.

In a time of extremely low vacancy rate for rental accommodation, we need to defeat this attempt to reverse the will of Council, and support the extension of rental protections to the C-2 zones.



Re: Motion B.6 – Improving the Effectiveness and Efficiency of Development Application Processes
May 12 Council Item B.6: https://council.vancouver.ca/documents/b6.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) opposes this Motion. While we support the intent to improve the effectiveness of the City’s development application process, in our assessment this Motion’s call for ‘all rezoning enquiries (to be) voluntary, not mandatory, for development applications’ will not accomplish that goal and will severely curtail the ability of residents to provide early input when it is most needed.

The current system requiring rezoning provide the opportunity for

• Public input at the earliest stage of a proposal
• A preliminary review by staff that allows for early elimination or to provide a better direction
• A proposal that can be less costly to prepare than a full on DP application
• Identifying incomplete, easy or complex applications, then direct to better processing avenues

CVN also suggests that there are other solutions to streamlining and restructuring Vancouver’s application processes:

• As the Provincial government’s Development Approvals Process Review (Sept. 2019; British Columbia Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing) suggests, the City should develop its own ‘best practices guide’ to lay out a program to establish goals and principles to achieve this work.
• Monitor results and take measures along the way to correct or improve the processes.
• Include in these guidelines early public involvement in the proposal process, providing feedback from a community perspective so developers don’t spend money on a project that could be problematic further down the line.
• Generally, move toward neighbourhood-based planning processes, working in collaboration with the city planners, which helps to recognize problems at the earliest stages, moves to correct or improve or eliminate problematic proposals, and helps to build a better city.

Rezoning enquiries are an important part of the process that should not be weakened for expediency’s sake.
Therefore, all rezoning enquiries should remain mandatory, not voluntary, for rezoning and development applications. Please ensure this Motion is defeated.



Re: Motion B.7 – Recalibrating the Housing Vancouver Strategy post COVID-19
May 12 Council Item B.7: https://council.vancouver.ca/documents/b7.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) supports this Motion.
In establishing any program or policy, a government has to rely on data as a baseline to build on. That data has to be valid, reliable, and supportable. There have been many questions about some of the data that the Housing Vancouver Strategy policy was based upon. This Motion spells out some of these questions and marks a path towards revising and clarifying the data to more correctly reflect the realities of the present, allowing us to move in the right direction into the future.


All above letters signed:

Larry A. Benge, Co-chair
Dorothy Barkley, Co-chair
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
Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council
Dunbar Residents Association
Fairview/South Granville Action Committee
False Creek Residents Association
Grandview Woodland Area Council
Granville-Burrard Residents & Business Assoc.
Greater Yaletown Community Association
Joyce Area Residents
Kitsilano-Arbutus Residents Association
Kits Point Residents Association
Marpole Residents Coalition
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 Assoc.
Strathcona Residents Association
Upper Kitsilano Residents Association
West End Neighbours Society
West Kitsilano Residents Association
West Point Grey Residents Association