Coalition letter to Council: Rental Incentives Review Phase II Report Back (in Council 26-Nov-2019)

The following letter was sent to all members of Vancouver City Council.

November 25, 2019

City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

Re: Rental Incentives Review Phase II Report Back

Agenda Nov. 26, 2019:

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) requests that City Council not approve the recommendations in this report. Many of the recommendations have been brought forward without the widespread public consultation that they require.

If approved, the effects of this 236-page report will be felt broadly across the city in a dramatic and complex way. It is impossible for the public and councillors to adequately read, understand and consider the details and implications of the staff proposals in the few days since the report was made public. Most of the public is likely unaware of it at all.

Adding large-scale new apartment development throughout RS, RT and C2 zones would dramatically reshape these neighbourhoods and render the City-wide Plan process meaningless. It would result in much change before that process even begins.

Council approval of the recommendations at this time would also undermine established local area and community planning in Vancouver. It would also go against general standards for public process and neighbourhood-based planning (e.g. IAP2) to which the City has committed itself.

These proposals need more time to be considered along with other options as part of the City-wide Plan and should not be rushed through as currently proposed. We remind council that the last election signaled the public’s desire for a new approach, not to carry on implementing the former council’s directions and policies. If this report is approved it would undermine opportunities for collaboration.

CVN fully supports the need to provide more truly affordable rental housing. However, City programs to date have seen the construction of an extraordinary number of units without meeting that goal. As noted by SFU professor Andy Yan, only 12% of units approved over the past two years were affordable for the 39% of households earning less than $50,000 per year, while 66% of the units would require earnings above $80,000 per year. In the meantime, affordable low-rise buildings have been demolished and the need for truly affordable housing has risen to crisis level. It is City programs that need to change, not zoning criteria, with an emphasis on retaining units that are already affordable.

The former council’s Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program (MIRHPP) should not be accepting new applications and should be suspended until the City-wide Plan is complete. It creates very large buildings, similar to STIR, that would set precedents of scale that undermine community planning processes.

The recommendations in this report show a clear bias towards new construction, while retrofit incentives for existing rentals are not nearly enough to be effective. The proposed new development incentives would place existing rentals at risk, undermine character house retention options, and put heritage buildings at risk.

Properties listed on the Heritage Register should be exempt from rental incentives, in order to encourage retention options instead. More should be done with character house retention incentives to create more rentals through secondary suites.

We also question why the housing unit targets are more than double the numbers that would be reasonably justified based on data. The city has yet to provide the rationale and supporting data to push for so much new large-scale development, which will result in displacement and hardship for current residents.

We therefore request that you do not approve the recommendations of this report, and instead commit to a proper process and meaningful public participation in a collaborative relationship with neighbourhood communities.


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

On behalf of the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods
Member Groups 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
Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council
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
Strathcona Residents Association
Upper Kitsilano Residents Association
West End Neighbours Society
West Kitsilano Residents Association
West Point Grey Residents Association