Won’t this increase land prices?
We want to unlock the potential of Vancouver’s streets, allowing many more people at every income level to live there, and making those streets much more pleasant and liveable. But when you allow a piece of land to be used more productively, sometimes, the price increases. This so-called land lift is an inevitable side-effect of improving a city.
But with land value capture tools, we can put that new value to work for people - investing in affordable and non-market housing.
Will this crowd out access to public services? Won’t Vancouver get too crowded?
No. In fact, much of Vancouver is seeing a population decline, with the problem most urgent in the city’s most expensive and exclusive neighbourhoods. This is not a surprise: young families cannot afford the West Side. Left unchecked, this population decline will undermine local public services and amenities, leading to shuttered businesses and closed community centres.
We can reverse this trend by allowing rental units and new development everywhere in the city, breathing new life into aging neighbourhoods and ensuring that children fill their schools and playgrounds once again.
Isn’t the Vancouver Plan enough?
There is a lot to like about the Vancouver Plan, but it falls short when it comes to urgency and ambition.
The Vancouver Plan does not, by itself, legalize any kind of housing. It is a long-range strategic document. There will still need to be an area planning process, and detailed zoning work, before a single shovel is in the ground.
Further, in much of the city, only ‘multiplexes’ — house-shaped buildings with very few units — would be permitted. While these multiplexes would be more attainable than the luxury low-rise housing they would replace, more and more affordable options are needed.
B.C. needs to build nearly a million new housing units in the next eight years to restore housing affordability. We cannot wait decades for a city where everyone belongs.
Aren’t speculators to blame for Vancouver’s housing crisis? What are you doing about them?
Vancouver’s housing crisis has many causes. According to the CMHC and most leading economists, the primary cause is a lack of housing supply — driving up rents. Any tenant who has recently looked for housing knows that it is true.
But land speculation and land hoarding still needs to end. We can end it by ensuring that people aren’t prevented from living on much of Vancouver’s land by ending the apartment ban. And we can capture the increase in land values through land value capture tools.
We also support further action, like increasing the empty homes tax. Homes are for living in - not a financial asset.
Why six floors?
Six floors is the minimum height for purpose-built rental buildings to be economically viable. Further, six floors is the maximum allowable height for wood frame construction. If a developer wishes to build higher than that, they must use concrete, which is much more expensive.
There are many reasons why rental units must be six floors today, when in the past, fewer floors were economically viable. But the primary reason is that today, land in Vancouver is much more expensive than it was in previous decades, leading to a profoundly unequal society where some people live in mansions on quiet side-streets and others in too-expensive rental on noisy arterias.
Renters deserve to live in every neighbourhood in this city — in quality housing. To build more of that housing, we need to allow six floor developments everywhere.
Why do non-profit and cooperative buildings get to be higher?
Nonprofit buildings and co-ops must also be economically viable. But because they include a percentage of below-market units, their costs are higher than their market-based counterparts.
The City can help reduce those costs by allowing co-ops and non-profits to build higher and denser than their for-profit equivalents — allowing them to secure larger development loans, achieving economies of scale and ensuring that below-market housing actually gets built.
This will give non-profits and co-ops a significant advantage over for-profit buildings. We make no apologies for this. Vancouver needs more than fancy condos. Non-market housing is how we will build a city where every neighbourhood is for everybody.
Why do you want to give right of first refusal to non-profits and co-ops? What about middle class people?
Non-profits and co-ops are not just for people who need support. They are for everyone: true mixed-income communities that build social connection and solidarity.
We believe that while market housing is important, new non-profits and co-ops are critical to ensure that workers, renters, students and young people can live everywhere in our city.
That’s why our plan is so focused on building new non-profits and co-ops, and why we let them build higher and faster.
Are we stacking the deck for social housing?
Yes. And we make no apologies for it.
This plan is all about renters. What about owners?
We believe that everyone deserves to live in Vancouver, including those who do not have the income to support a mortgage, or who simply prefer to rent. That said, aspiring homeowners also deserve to live in Vancouver and right now, the status quo prices them out as well.