Affordable-housing crisis requires local solutions too

Originally published by The Georgia Straight.

By RJ Aquino, David Chudnovsky, and Cara Ng

In a city where housing costs reach stratospheric heights, it seems Vision Vancouver will continue approving luxury-condo towers rather than creating the affordable housing for seniors, families, and young people that we so desperately need.

Vancouver’s governing party is, rightly, calling on the provincial government to implement speculation and luxury-housing taxes. Vision has also offered 20 city-owned sites to the federal government for affordable housing. We at OneCity support Vision in these initiatives.

We also agree that the provincial government is failing low- and moderate-income households and young families. The 2016 B.C. budget does not come close to tackling the immensity of the homeownership challenges facing young households—nor do the B.C. Liberals seem to comprehend (or care) about the crisis facing renters in Canada’s most expensive and lowest-vacancy market. In fact, the B.C. government quietly doubled residential-tenancy-dispute fees—a move that further tips the residential-tenancy system in favour of landlords.

We believe there is a great deal of merit in a speculation tax. Hey, wait a minute. That sounds like the policy idea OneCity first proposed during the 2014 Vancouver municipal election. In fact, it is—only Vision’s proposal deflects municipal responsibility for addressing speculation. They have proposed a provincial speculation tax whereas in 2014, OneCity proposed to implement That Flipping Levy at the municipal level, with the City of Vancouver taking the revenue and creating new living spaces for low- and middle-income households.

We’re flattered Vision Vancouver is putting forward the affordable housing solutions we proposed back in 2014. But, unfortunately, their proposals fall short because they cede responsibility for a municipal role in protecting and creating affordable housing, leaving the success of such a plan entirely in the hands of the province.

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Addressing the Affordability Crisis: Calling on City Council and the Mayor to Act

Photo by Caelie Frampton | Wikimedia Creative Commons

Photo by Caelie Frampton | Wikimedia Creative Commons

Just over a year has passed since City Council and the Mayor were sworn into office, and in that year, the housing affordability crisis has only gotten worse. Or so at least we can speculate, in the absence of much data. What we do know, is In Grandview-Woodlands, for instance, housing prices have risen by 30%. While Council is patting themselves on the back and calling  a new rental development “affordable”, the price of 1bedrooms are far from modest - starting at $1300  a month. BC Housing is no longer collecting data on the number of people who are turned away from shelters, which further denies us valuable information on the state of the ongoing homelessness crisis. Almost a quarter of Vancouver renters spend more than half their incomes on rent, and the vacancy rate sits at below one percent. Social housing waitlists are years long, and co-ops are anxiously waiting for confirmation that their operating agreements will be renewed under the newly elected federal government. Ordinary working Vancouverites who need to find a new home, especially families with kids, are faced with a difficult and desperate search. It’s enough to make a family consider leaving town, like many already have. But what if your job, family, and support systems are here? What if you consider Vancouver home? What if you consider this beautiful, beloved city a place you’d like to be for the long haul?

We at OneCity believe that a strong Vancouver - a diverse, vibrant, and welcoming Vancouver - starts with affordability. People from all backgrounds should be able to feel like they can pay the rent and build relationships in their communities. We also believe that government intervention is the best way to achieve affordability in Vancouver. Here are some of our ideas:

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Honouring Noel Herron and Al Blakey

It is our pleasure to invite you to celebrate the lifelong dedication to justice and equity in public education of well-known BC educators, Al Blakey and Noel Herron, on Sunday November 29th. As you may know, both served as school trustees on the Vancouver Board of Education and each also had a singular impact in his own sphere.

This event is also a fundraiser for OneCity, a new Vancouver civic political group committed to an inclusive, just and compassionate IMG_1433.jpgcity. In November 2014, we ran RJ Aquino for City Council and are proud of both our campaign and our results. With your help, we will continue working in our neighbourhoods and strengthening our communities.

Please come and join us to enjoy wine and snacks, to canoodle with friends, and to honor Al and Noel’s outstanding contributions.

Tickets are $25. We hope you will also consider making a donation of $50 or $100 -- or any amount that works for you -- to support the ongoing work of OneCity. Purchase Tickets

If you have any questions about our event or OneCity, you are welcome to contact us at We hope to see you on November 29th!

November 29, 2015 at 3pm - 6pm
Trout Lake Community Centre
3360 Victoria Dr
Vancouver, BC V5N 4M4



Thanks for joining us at the 2015 OneCity Summer BBQ!

Summer fun at the 2015 OneCity BBQ!

A belated thanks to everyone who came out to our second-annual OneCity summer BBQ in Slocan Park in August. It was great to see familiar faces as well as meet some local Renfrew-Collingwood community members who saw our posters and joined us!

We had a ton of fun catching up after a hot summer, and made sure to keep the speech-making to a minimum and the kickball playing to a maximum! A spirited all-ages game took place with some great bouncy kicks, full bases, home-runs and supportive cheers. That is, until Marci fired up the BBQ, and then we lost our entire outfield! 

Check out the photos below for highlights of the afternoon, we hope it will warm you up now that the Fall has set in!



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