Another thing to share this weekend

includes4.jpgIt has been a great week for OneCity. Vancouver is talking about the ideas that City Council candidate RJ Aquino is putting forward to support and protect a sustainable city that people can afford.

But what we're building here isn't a political machine. This doesn't end on November 15. OneCity is a community of people from different backgrounds, generations and neighbourhoods who are learning from and about each other as we go.

This long weekend, as you gather with friends and family, we hope you will talk about OneCity and encourage them to get involved. This is an opportunity to be part of something new and to make our voices heard.

A great way to start is to sign up for the OneCity mailing list. You can find and share it here:

Have a wonderful weekend.

-RJ Aquino and the OneCity team


Making Speculators Pay That Flipping Levy


9 October 2014

VANCOUVER — A real-estate speculator buys a Vancouver residential property for $1 million. The home is left empty, with no improvements or a single dollar flowing into the local businesses around it, and in less than a year it is sold for $1.5 million. That is a speculative profit of $500,000 — and it is a big part of the reason housing prices in Vancouver are leaving too many people who live and work here on the outside looking up.

The OneCity team and City Council candidate RJ Aquino say we need to curb rampant speculation in Vancouver with a Flipping Levy, a policy being used in cities around the world facing out-of-control housing costs: Singapore, Hong Kong, and potentially San Francisco, where it is on the ballot later this year.

“Instead of homes for people who are trying to live, work and raise a family in this city, housing in Vancouver has become a real-life Monopoly game for speculators. We need a City Council that values housing as a social good, not as a game with too few players,” said RJ Aquino. “By reining in real-estate speculators who are driving up housing costs, the Flipping Levy will help people who have been priced out of the market and too often priced out of Vancouver.”

The Vancouver Flipping Levy will be applied only to speculative profit, the difference between the initial purchase price and the resale price. It will encourage long-term home ownership and spending in the local economy by decreasing over time, disappearing after the fifth year, and by exempting the cost of renovations, green retrofits and other capital improvements.

The revenue generated by the Flipping Levy will be transferred to the Vancouver Housing Authority to create new living spaces for low- and middle-income people throughout the city.

OneCity’s proposed Flipping Levy will be 50 per cent of speculative profit in year one; 35 per cent in years two and three; and 20 per cent in years four and five. The speculative profit of $500,000 in the example above would result in a Flipping Levy of $250,000 to support affordable housing. Aquino and OneCity define affordable as housing that costs no more than 30 per cent of a household’s monthly income.

Get More:

  • “The average sale price of a single-family detached home is now around $1-million. Over the past five years, Vancouver homes worth $1-million to $2-million have doubled in value, according to tax-assessment records. That puts property beyond the reach of most local residents. A Vancouver family earned a paltry $68,970 total median income in 2011, putting them 23rd out of the 28 major cities in Canada.”
  • “In one stunningly profitable sale, a buyer purchased [an Olympic Village] unit for $1.27 million in August 2012 and sold it for $1.7 million in September 2012 — a $433,840 profit in one month. In another case, a unit bought for $2.2 million in October 2012 was sold for $2.6 million five months later.”
  • The Flipping Levy works in concert with 20 Over 5 Housing, a policy released last week by Aquino and OneCity that calls for 20 per cent of the living spaces in new developments over five units to be reserved for low- and middle-income people throughout Vancouver. Watch and share the OneCity 20 Over 5 Housing video here:

Media Contact:

Scott Colbourne, OneCity Communications Director: 778-679-1110;


Addressing the affordability crisis with 20 Over 5 Housing


2 October 2014

20 over 5 HousingVANCOUVER — The OneCity team and its City Council candidate, RJ Aquino, are calling for a 20 Over 5 Housing policy to combat the out-of-control costs of living, working and raising a family in Vancouver. Aquino and OneCity say that 20 per cent of the living spaces in all new developments over five units, right across the city, must be be reserved for low- and middle-income people.

With the average family income of renters stuck at around $35,000, the new living spaces being built in Vancouver are simply not affordable for many renters or potential buyers. Vancouver needs more affordable housing, and unlike the Vision-led City Council, Aquino and OneCity are willing to define what affordable means: In all new developments of five living spaces or more, 20 per cent of units must cost no more than 30 per cent of income.

“I know from personal experience, as a young parent raising a family here, that there is a housing crisis in Vancouver. The skyrocketing costs of living in this city are putting pressure on workers, seniors, young people, new immigrants and many others, and they are hurting the local economy as well,” said City Council candidate RJ Aquino. “Right now we have an unbalanced city council that is not hearing or listening to so many voices and communities. OneCity will continue to put forward innovative ideas such as 20 Over 5 Housing that will ease the stress caused by the high cost of living in Vancouver, and we will make sure those ideas and voices are heard at City Hall.”

The 20 Over 5 Housing plan will encourage two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments and homes, built by the developer and then managed by the City’s Housing Authority. There will be no up-front capital costs for the City of Vancouver.

This is the first public piece of a platform that has been researched and created by a OneCity policy team drawn from communities throughout Vancouver. In the coming weeks, Aquino and OneCity will propose additional ideas around affordable housing and child care; giving communities a say in decision making at City Hall; transit and climate justice; and job creation and the local economy.

Find Out More:

Watch and share the OneCity 20 Over 5 Housing video:

Media Contact:

Scott Colbourne, OneCity Communications Director: 778.679.1110


Why I'm Running

I live in a one bedroom apartment in East Van with my wife and two young kids. While my wife and I are both professionals with good jobs, the ever-increasing cost of housing in this city and our monthly child-care expenses have kept us in the same apartment for the past 10 years. We’ve learned the ins and outs of Renfrew Collingwood. We’ve gotten to know other families at the park, at Collingwood Neighbourhood House, and in the shops along Kingsway where we pick up groceries. We love our neighbourhood and we care about our neighbours.

What’s troubling, though, is that a lot of these friends have moved out of the neighbourhood and out of the city because it’s hard to raise a family in Vancouver. Whether they move just across Boundary Road to Burnaby, or all the way to Maple Ridge or Calgary, they’re making the difficult decision to uproot and leave behind friends and family to try to have a better life for their children. That’s a decision we don’t want our friends, family, and neighbours to have to make. It’s a decision that we don’t want to be forced to make.
Vancouver is increasingly becoming two cities: one for the wealthy, and one for the rest of us. We in OneCity are building a political home where young people, working families, new Canadians, marginalized people and older generations can come together, talk about the issues that affect us, and work to make our city a better place.

There is plenty of work to do. Under the Vision City Council our rents are going up, not down, not holding steady. Out of control condo developments undermine the character and diversity of our neighbourhoods. Finding affordable child care is a challenge for many families, including mine. And rising rents are eroding independent retail and industrial spaces, which means that fewer jobs are available, and artistic and cultural sectors are threatened.

We need to stop subsidizing developers and create affordable housing for middle- and low-income residents. We need to support the $10 a day child care plan, and make affordable childcare a priority. Public transit is critical to building a healthy, sustainable city — but a subway project in only one part of it won’t help people whose buses are already at capacity right now. That’s why I’m running for City Council.

I’m also running because I believe we need to do a better job of listening to one another. Council’s current development policies don’t align with what neighbourhoods want. Across the City — in Marpole and Grandview Woodlands and the West End and the Downtown Eastside and Oakridge and Mount Pleasant — people are frustrated and angry with City Council. Of course the city needs to grow, but it needs to do so through genuine community engagement. We need to be able to have difficult conversations, to compromise, and to listen. And we need a City Council that supports and facilitates that process respectfully.

I’m running because I can imagine a city where democracy isn’t just a slick marketing exercise, and where our shared values of community, collaboration, creativity, and respect are expressed in the actions of our elected officials.

I can imagine a city strengthened and united by equity, affordability, and diversity, where young people can find jobs that provide a living wage so they can plant their roots here.

I know I’m not alone when I say I’m frustrated by what I’ve seen happen in the last few years in Vancouver. Are we better off than we were six years ago? Have we made progress in addressing the affordability crisis? Or homelessness? Is it easier for young people and families to make a home in this city? For my family, the people in my community, the answer to those questions is no. Are things getting harder for you, not easier — for your children, for your friends and neighbours? Then perhaps you share my frustrations.

I believe there is something special happening right now in municipal politics. We named our party OneCity because we believe in one Vancouver, for everyone. I believe there are thousands across all parts of our city who share my concerns and who want better. If we join together, we can make a change. Join us.

-RJ Aquino


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