Letter to Council (for July 7): Opposed to “Missing Middle” motion, with reasons

July 5, 2020
City of Vancouver Council
Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Councillors,

Re: Motion B6 –  “Missing Middle” Housing Pilots    

Agenda: https://council.vancouver.ca/20200707/regu20200707ag.htm

Motion: https://council.vancouver.ca/20200707/documents/b6.pdf

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) agrees with the aim of this motion to provide more affordable, innovative housing options, and it is timely to think about creative choices to fill that need. But we have concerns that the motion as proposed will not accomplish the intended goals. Therefore, CVN opposes this motion.

Achieving the stated goal through citywide rezoning would contradict the intent of developing a citywide plan and could potentially produce unintended consequences leading to the development of more intensive high-end market housing in the areas affected. Additionally, allowing higher density spot rezoning everywhere would increase speculation and demolition of older, more affordable housing, causing displacement while also undermining the few character house retention incentives currently existing in zoning and City policy. To date, spot rezoning has been notably ineffective in meeting the housing needs of local residents. Neighbourhood-based planning processes integrated into a citywide plan will deliver substantially better results.

There are other options that could be considered to better maximize affordable housing availability working within current zoning and neighbourhood plans. It seems that many modifications could be put into place with no delay without costing the city a great deal of money. These would also have the benefit of not actually changing any zoning in a major way. For example, an approach could be to simplify renovation requirements to ensure retaining current housing, including heritage housing. Fast track the designation of heritage housing for retention. Such changes would be minor and effective. Consideration could be given to supporting co-ops, co-housing, and land trusts. There are other equally effective changes that could be made without having to rezone wide swaths of the city prior to the development of a full citywide plan.

We would be prepared to work with the City on identifying other options that could be put in place to increase affordable housing options.  Any of these approaches should recognize the unique characteristics and needs of each neighbourhood so as to best adapt any actions to that neighbourhood, thus following the intent of zoning by-laws and local community visions and plans.

Seeking truly effective solutions to the need for affordable housing, we oppose this motion.

Thank you,
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
NW Point Grey Home Owners Association
Oakridge Langara Area Residents
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