Motion to fast-track co-op, non-profit and social housing will give governing ABC majority a chance to make good on campaign promises
VANCOUVER (Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Territories) - Councillor Christine Boyle today announced that she is returning her non-market housing motion to Council, aimed at reducing barriers and deepening affordability for non-profit, co-op and social housing by speeding up the process and delegating final approval for qualifying projects to staff.
This motion will give Ken Sim and ABC Vancouver a chance to make good on a campaign promise. In a 2022 Women Transforming Cities pledge, every ABC Vancouver candidate for Mayor and Council committed to delegating approval of non-market housing to staff - up to 12 storeys in multi-family areas, and up to six storeys in other residential areas - without a rezoning requirement.
They further committed to doubling Vancouver’s supply of co-op housing units in their platform.
Cllr. Boyle’s motion gives the new ABC majority a chance to make good on campaign promises, and make Vancouver more affordable now and in the future.
“Mayor Ken Sim committed to non-partisanship, cooperation and comity in his inaugural address. I would like to take him at his word. Here is an opportunity for him to live up to his commitments,” said Councillor Christine Boyle, OneCity Vancouver. “This motion does exactly what the community housing sector says they need to deliver the affordable homes Vancouverites deserve. It reduces red tape, it simplifies processes, it reduces costs - and it builds a city where working people, seniors and young families can afford to live. A better city - for all of us.”
Councillor Boyle’s 2021 motion attracted substantial support from the community housing sector, including non-profit housing developers and residents. Despite this strong support, and a very clear need for more affordable housing across Vancouver, the previous Vancouver Council voted the motion down.
Her 2022 motion, like her 2021 motion, enjoys support from the BC Nonprofit Housing Association (BCNPHA), Cooperative Housing Federation of BC (CHFBC) as well as organizations and experts that build and operate non-profit and co-op housing.
This is because it would make it much easier for them to build more deeply affordable housing. Single-family homes - the most expensive, exclusive and luxurious form of housing - do not require a rezoning. But badly-needed affordable non-market housing is forced to deal with significant bureaucratic hurdles. This increases costs, increases delays, reduces the likelihood of securing senior government funding, and leads to poor outcomes for the citizens of this city.
This new Council has the chance to listen to the experts and do what is needed to address our housing crisis.
“I’m delighted to support this much-needed reform. We are in an ongoing housing crisis. Every opportunity to reduce delays allows us to provide safe, secure, affordable homes more quickly and cost effectively for people who need them,” says William Azaroff, CEO, Brightside Community Homes Foundation. “That’s good for seniors, that’s good for families and people with disabilities. That’s good for workers. And that means it’s good for local employers, and for the City of Vancouver.”
This motion will result in a more affordable Vancouver. Delegating final approval to staff will reduce the risk that each non-market housing project faces, reducing borrowing costs and increasing the likelihood of securing funding from senior levels of government, which reduces rents from day one. And that affordability will only deepen over time. In a city dealing with persistent increases to the cost of housing, building more social and co-op housing will allow us to slow increases in rent and build a city that young and working people can afford. In a recent study, the CHFBC found that rents in co-ops have been consistently lower than rents in comparable buildings in the private market - up to $400 less per month.
This is because the lack of a profit motive gives non-profit housing administrators no incentive to raise rents. As the CBC’s Utyae Lee explained in a recent video in his “About Here” series, although non-market and market rents may be comparable in the first few years of a building’s life, as time passes, non-market rents grow much more slowly - contributing to deep, and city-wide, affordability.
That makes all the difference for families struggling with the increasing cost of living in this city, which is increasingly pricing them out.
“As a parent with young kids, living in non-profit housing has made it possible for us to stay in Vancouver. It means that I have predictable costs, control over my living space, and a guarantee that I won’t be renovicted by a landlord looking to get market rent. And my kids benefit from growing up in a mixed-income community,” says Robyn Chan, a resident in False Creek South. “More families deserve this stability and community. But there just aren’t enough units to go around. When families move away, a city dies. I want to live in a Vancouver where families know they have a future.”
Vancouverites who support Councillor Boyle’s motion are invited to write a letter to council indicating their support. OneCity Vancouver has provided a suggested letter. Residents can also register to speak at a public hearing and post on social media.
- Motion to give ABC Vancouver a chance to make good on campaign promise to streamline affordable housing approvals and to double the number of co-op homes in Vancouver
Proposed reform would reduce barriers and deepen affordability by:
- Speeding up timelines
- Reducing non-market housing builders’ borrowing costs
- Decreasing risk and uncertainty and increasing the likelihood of securing funding from senior levels of government
- Building more affordable homes, more quickly, for seniors, families, people with disabilities, and local workers.
What they’re saying about Councillor Boyle’s motion to build more non-market housing in Vancouver:
"Our community consistently tells us that the housing crisis forces people who experience gender-based discrimination into dangerous situations. During the election, we were heartened to see Mayor Sim and a majority of incoming Councillors commit to reducing barriers to providing non-market housing in our Hot Pink Paper Campaign. Passing this motion allows Council to start their term with concrete action on that commitment. In doing so, they will make Vancouver safer for those suffering the most because of housing scarcity." – Ash Peplow Ball, Executive Director, Women Transforming Cities
“Non-profit housing developments face three critical risk factors when they’re going through the municipal approvals process: time, cost and certainty of approval. This motion significantly reduces all three of those risks. The full support of Council would demonstrate they understand the urgency of the housing crisis.” – Jill Atkey, CEO, BC Non-Profit Housing Association
“Housing co-ops provide safe, secure, affordable housing for a broad mix of households and incomes in strong, diverse communities. While many would like to see more housing co-ops in Vancouver, it is very challenging to develop new co-ops, especially without the kind of financial support provided by the federal government in the 1970s and 1980s. This motion would make it significantly easier to build more new co-op homes in Vancouver by shortening approval times and reducing risk.” – Thom Armstrong, CEO, Co-op Housing Federation of BC
"Housing is a human right, and every day, we work to make that right real for Indigenous peoples and families. Councillor Boyle's motion would remove barriers to our important work - reducing risk, reducing costs, and bringing more of the housing that seniors, families, individuals, students, youth, those leaving care or fleeing violence, and LGBTQ2S, and workers need for every community in Vancouver. It is a critical part of a more affordable city where everyone can build a life, and we are pleased to support it." – Marcel Lawson Swain, CEO, Lu'ma Native Housing Society, and Kent Patenau, President, Lu'ma Native Housing Society
“Throughout my tenure at the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA), the lack of affordable housing was a constant refrain from the membership in their respective efforts to attract talent of all types and income levels. If Vancouver is intent on growing and diversifying its economy into the future, and be welcoming to all, its imperative that the City fully utilizes the tools in its box, and add more tools, to fast track the approval and construction of much more non-market housing. I’m pleased to throw my unconditional support behind Councillor Boyle’s motion.” – Charles Gauthier, MCP, Former (Retired) DVBIA President and CEO
“Arts workers are essential to a vibrant community. Arts workers are often self-employed or work for modest wages, even when they are highly skilled and educated. We need stable, affordable housing for arts workers and their families so that they can contribute in a meaningful way to our culture. Artists often make neighbourhoods hip, and then are pushed out as rents become unaffordable. Subsidized, (or geared to income) Co-op and not for profit housing provides an affordable way to keep creative people in Vancouver.” – Heather Redfern, Executive Director, The Cultch
“Access to housing for people with low income is an emergency in our city. Councillor Boyle's motion provides an opportunity to address housing shortages in a well-thought out, timely manner. The motion is in line with city commitments to climate change and equity, and will allow residents of Vancouver a chance to thrive. Kitsilano for Inclusivity wholeheartedly supports this motion.” – Serena Eagland, Director, Kitsilano for Inclusivity
“I have been a grocery store worker in Vancouver for the past 14 years. Both myself and many of my coworkers would love the opportunity to live in a co-op, but this is currently an unattainable dream. I'm fortunate to be able to both live and work in Vancouver but many of my coworkers are not so lucky. Jobs have gone unfilled because people simply cannot afford to live anywhere near where we work. We have several co-ops within walking distance of the store but their waiting lists are so long that we aren't even able to apply. The last one was built many decades ago and there has not been another one since. Vancouver needs more affordable, secure housing for the workers that keep the city moving and co-ops are a proven way to deliver it. We need them and we need them now, and I'm proud to support this measure to get them built quickly and affordably.” – Stefan Nielsen, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1518 Executive Board member and Vancouver resident
"It's well understood and appreciated that artists, performers and creatives bring life, vibrancy and innovation to our communities. It's unfortunate that so many who do such important work are being so squeezed by rising costs and the unavailability of housing in our city. I am fully behind a plan that will allow a long-overdue resurgence of non-profit and cooperative housing to be built with less hesitation and red tape. I trust that we'll be able to look back on this moment in a decade from now in gratitude with the hundreds of people who have been given a chance to stay and shape this city through celebration." – Andrea Curtis, Executive Director, Vancouver Mural Fest
“Abundant Housing Vancouver is happy to support social housing construction in every neighborhood, and this motion will make it feasible and faster to build. It’s an important step for more affordable housing.” – Jennifer Maiko Bradshaw, Director, Abundant Housing Vancouver
OneCity Vancouver communications committee
Women Transforming Cities: