VANCOUVER, B.C. (Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Territory) — One year out from the next municipal election, OneCity Councillor Christine Boyle and School Board Trustee Jennifer Reddy are announcing their plans to run for re-election alongside a strong and diverse team of OneCity candidates next year.Read more
Like so many of you, we are spending September 30 bearing witness to the atrocities of colonization and of residential schools, and reflecting on our responsibility as elected officials to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.Read more
OneCity Councillor Christine Boyle has submitted a motion that would reduce barriers to building non-market, co-op and social housing in more neighbourhoods across Vancouver, and would permit those buildings up to 12 stories in certain neighbourhoods.
It builds on a unanimous vote at a Public Hearing on April 20th that allowed community housing providers to build projects up to six stories in several areas without the need for costly and lengthy rezoning processes. Experts told City Council the move was a good start but the city needed to be bolder to address Vancouver’s housing crisis.
“Vancouverites are struggling to pay their rent,” said Boyle. “Council should reduce barriers for non-profit housing providers, to permit more affordable homes for more people who need them, in more places across the city.”
Without rezoning processes that can take over a year, and cost $400,000-800,000, community housing providers could afford to build more homes per project and begin construction faster. That means they could offer lower rents or use the savings for additional projects.
City staff found half of recent social housing developments required rezoning through a public hearing while less than a third of market condos had to go through the process. Single detached homes do not require a public hearing, even when a new detached home is significantly larger and more expensive than the one it is replacing.
“It should not be harder to build social housing in Vancouver than it is to build million dollar homes,” said Boyle. “Especially not when so many of our neighbours are being priced out of the city.”
Council is expected to hear from speakers about the motion on Wednesday, May 19.
Reducing Barriers and Deepening Affordability for Non-Profit, Co-op and Social Housing in Every Neighbourhood
Submitted by: Councillor Boyle
An increasing number of residents in Vancouver are struggling to find stable, secure housing at a rate that is affordable for local incomes. Renters, including seniors, people with disabilities, single parent (often female-led) households, youth, and Indigenous communities are particularly squeezed by this housing crisis, and are in even greater need of being able to access secure, affordable housing.
In addition, the need for accessible and adaptable rental housing for seniors and people with disabilities, at prices that are affordable to middle and low-income residents, is significant and will increase even further over the next two decades.
Vancouver’s housing market has seen significant increases in land values and housing costs, pricing a growing number of residents out of the housing market. The escalation of home prices has also led to significant displacement, particularly of renters, and low- and middle-income residents.
Complete, walkable communities rely on essential workers such as health care workers and grocery store clerks, who should have the opportunity to work near their jobs, rather than having to commute long distances to get to their jobs. Research suggests that mixed-income communities have better outcomes for all residents (not just low-income residents) because of a greater access to services.
The Housing Vancouver Strategy (2018-2027) includes a target of 12,000 new social, supportive and co-op homes by 2027. As of Q4 2020, the City has approved new development applications to meet 47% of this target. The City is also committed to partnering with urban Indigenous organizations to deliver culturally appropriate housing developments. The high number of households in Vancouver paying over 30% of their income in rent indicates that more non-profit, co-op, and social housing is needed.
The City’s definition of social housing in the Zoning and Development Bylaw requires the housing be owned and operated on a not-for-profit basis by non-profit housing societies, co-op, or government agencies. And that at a minimum 30% of the units are occupied by households with incomes below Housing Income Limits set out by the Province. Many new developments rely on mixed-income housing models, with a mix of affordability levels to cover costs, typically with affordability deepening over time or deepening through access to senior government funding.
The Community Housing sector, made up of non-profit and co-op housing providers, is an important partner in the provision of affordable non-market housing across Vancouver, and the sector’s capacity in Vancouver has grown significantly over recent years.
Housing created in partnership with the community housing sector is “speculation free” housing because of the requirement through the CRA to maximize affordability, and because of the ability to place covenants on non-profit buildings that prevent sale for profit.
City staff analysis has demonstrated that half of recent social housing developments have required rezoning through a public hearing process, compared to less than a third of market condominium development. Single detached homes do not require a public hearing, even when a new detached home is significantly larger and more expensive than the one it is replacing. The added time and cost of requiring a public hearing impacts what type of housing gets built, and it is currently not aligned with what type of housing is most needed.
Rezoning for a non-profit typically takes a year or longer, and can add approximately $400,000-$800,000 onto the cost of a project, as well as requiring significant municipal staff time. This results in rents that are higher at occupancy and/or means that limited capital subsidies from senior levels of government get expended more quickly, meaning less housing overall. Reducing the cost, time and risk required to build non-profit and coop housing will result in savings for residents and deeper affordability in the new housing created.
We are in a window of strong alignment between Federal and Provincial governments in terms of developing affordable and non-profit housing. Some of these senior government funding programs require approved zoning for eligibility. Having appropriate municipal zoning in place allows non-profit and co-op housing providers to access this senior government funding much more easily, speeding up timelines and achieving deeper levels of affordability.
Major redevelopments still include opportunities for public engagement. Even when they don’t require a public hearing, the Development Permit process includes public notification and opportunities for comment, and could still require a Development Permit Hearing process, providing residents an opportunity to address the Development Permit Board in a public meeting.
There are currently about 526 non-profit and government owned housing properties in Vancouver, serving 26,000 households. 107 of those properties are in the RM-3A, RM-4 and RM-4N zoning districts.
Vancouver’s Tenant Relocation and Protection Policy, updated by Council in 2019, outlines specific protections for tenants in the case of a redevelopment for non-profit social housing. These protections are more stringent than for for-profit market development, and include:
- Ensuring permanent rehousing options that limit disruption to residents;
- The alternative accommodation option provided must be affordable based on income; and
Support with relocation and consideration of special circumstances.
At Public Hearing on April 20th, 2021, Council unanimously approved recommendations to allow development of up to six stories in the RM-3A and the RM-4 and RM-4N zoning districts where 100% of the residential floor area is developed as social housing, or social housing in conjunction with a child day care facility.
- At the above Public Hearing, numerous local experts in non-profit and co-op housing expressed a need for Council to be more ambitious in terms of both height and FSR to give non-profit housing providers the flexibility to optimize the number and affordability of new homes possible on each site. In response, City legal and planning staff outlined that significant amendments at the Public Hearing stage are not ideal, and that if Council wanted to be more ambitious in this regard, a preferable route would be through a separate Council motion.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED
THAT Council direct staff to bring forward recommendations for Council to consider referring to Public Hearing that would allow development of up to 12 stories (with a corresponding increase in FSR) in the RM-3A and the RM-4 and RM-4N zoning districts where 100% of the residential floor area is developed as social housing, or social housing in conjunction with a child day care facility.
THAT Council direct staff to report back with considerations and recommendations to allow additional height and FSR in other zoning districts (including RS, RT, RM, and mixed commercial-residential zones) where 100% of the residential floor area is developed as social housing, or social housing in conjunction with a child day care facility, and any corresponding improvements in the TRPP that staff would recommend. Consideration should be given, but not limited, to:
- Options that could be incorporated as part of current work on the Secured Rental Policy, including additional height and density specifically for social housing in new standard rental district schedules intended to streamline future site-specific rezonings in RS and RT zoned areas, with a report back to Council targeted in Q3 2021; and
- Options, including City-initiated zoning changes, that would enable more social housing projects to proceed without a rezoning, that could be delivered as part of longer-term work through the Vancouver Plan, as well as through the Broadway Plan.
On March 9th, 2021, Councillor Boyle will introduce a motion on Implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) in the City of Vancouver.
The motion has been developed in collaboration with a working group of Indigenous community leaders, and has been reviewed and supported by the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.Read more
Over the past few months, many of you have reached out to share your thoughts about the School Liaison Officer (SLO) program in Vancouver schools. The SLO program involves 17 Vancouver Police Officers and 1 RCMP Officer who are funded by the Vancouver Police Department and RCMP, and have office space in 18 secondary schools. They interact with upwards of 48,000 children in their daily K-12 education.
I am writing to provide an update and tell you more about how you can have your voice heard on this issue.
Back in June 2020, I voted to suspend the SLO program. I listened to hundreds of parents and students describe how having police officers in school made them feel less, not more, safe. I had serious concerns about the presence of police in schools undermining the Access Without Fear guidelines (pdf) for families with uncertain immigration status, the VSB’s affirmation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the history of policing failures for Indigenous and Black students and families.
The VSB did not suspend the program and instead proceeded with an external review of the program. A report from that review is scheduled to come back to the Vancouver School Board Policy and Governance Committee on March 3 (TODAY). I look forward to hearing that review with an open mind even though I am deeply concerned with the lack of transparency and accessibility in the review process.
The trustees will discuss the report at the March 8 School Board meeting. I’ll be looking for trustees around the table to listen to young people’s voices, especially Black and Indigenous students. I will be calling on trustees to do more than pay lip service to anti-racism and success for each student - I will be looking for them to do the harder work of actually living up to those commitments. For more on this topic, read this excellent op-ed by Jamie Smallboy, Krista Sigurdson and Kyla Epstein.
Join me in holding the VSB accountable
- The Trustees need to hear from students, parents, and community members as this report is heard and considered. We also need to be held to our highest values of equity, inclusion, and accessibility.
- If you are a parent, student, or former student with something important to say about the SLO program, sign up to speak to the VSB on March 8. The deadline is noon, March 5th and you can find out how to sign up here.
- If you are on a PAC, talk to your PAC about the SLO program and the review. Vancouver teachers (VESTA) and district parent reps (DPAC) have taken a position in favour of cancelling the school liaison officer (SLO) program and have provided feedback in the consultation process.
- Email the trustees to speak out on the SLO program, any concerns you have about the review process, and the values you’ll be looking for them to uphold.
- Watch the March 3 Policy and Governance Committee meeting (5:00 pm TODAY) and the March 8 School Board meeting (7 pm) (request by noon on Friday March 5th) . Links to livestreams are posted on the VSB Twitter page as well as through their online calendar.
Want to learn more?
- The Cops out of Schools group speaks out on this issue on Twitter and Instagram and has calls to action.
- The Tyee has covered the Vancouver SLO program. Read Katie Hyslop’s articles here and here.
- I participated in a webinar called The Case for Police-Free Schools. You can watch it here.
All the best,
OneCity is excited to begin recruiting for new volunteer positions -- these Coordinator positions will support OneCity Vancouver in their designated area. If you are interested in being part of the OneCity team, this is a great opportunity to do so!
At this time, we are looking for 3 Coordinators -- Digital, Communications and Research. We expect these positions to be 1-2 hour/week positions. Please see descriptions and application instructions below!Read more
VANCOUVER SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEE CALLS FOR BAN ON SALE OF SCHOOL BOARD’S PUBLIC LAND
January 20th, 2021, Vancouver, BC – On Monday, January 25th, OneCity Vancouver School Board Trustee Jennifer Reddy will introduce a motion calling for a ban on the sale of land owned by the Vancouver School Board.
Like so many of you, we’re shaken and saddened by the recent murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of US police officers. In Toronto, the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet are also deeply troubling. We are profoundly concerned by the ways white supremacy, institutional racism, and police brutality continue to thrive, though we are inspired by the protests and challenges to power that have been sparked by these horrific events.
Black lives matter. We stand in solidarity with those demanding justice for Black communities. We stand in solidarity with all Black people for whom institutional racism causes harm and deep pain.
We ask you to join us as we work to turn that fear and grief into action. Our response to violence and racism is to issue a challenge to them -- always. We must do this as individuals and organizations. We will continue to stand in solidarity with struggles for racial, economic, social, and environmental justice for Black communities. We see these endeavours as interconnected to all of our work for justice.
School Trustee Jennifer Reddy will continue to fight for equity in public education, including ensuring that our schools are places where Black students can learn in dignity and safety . Councillor Christine Boyle will continue to support anti-racism work by amplifying the voices of Black communities and leaders, and challenging the idea that policing is the solution to all of the problems our communities face.
As activists, and as a political party, we will continue to centre the voices of those our society marginalizes. We will foreground policies that ensure justice and dignity for all, and not just a few.
Please take a few minutes to check out this list of resources, including links to organizations fighting racism and supporting Black communities. You can scroll down to a list of Canada-specific organizations. If you would like to help Black communities in BC, please consider donating to the Black in BC Community Support Fund for COVID-19.
Dear Greater Vancouver Food Bank's Board of Directors,
We know that food banks have long been a critical source of support for those in need in this city. And this pandemic has shone a light on the importance of the social infrastructures that are in place to support those who are in need.
Equity and inclusion are part of OneCity’s core values as an organization. Our thousands of members and supporters across the city are working to build an equitable and inclusive city, where those who are marginalized, precarious and vulnerable can still feel supported and engaged. As you are well-aware, food security is a critical part of the social supports that help those who are most in need to participate and stay engaged in civic life.
For this reason, we are deeply troubled to learn about GVFB’s new policies for those in need to access food banks, including requiring proof of residency and proof of income from those hoping to access your services.
Research and evidence show that the majority of food bank users are legitimately in need. We’re deeply concerned that requiring proof of residency and income will discourage and keep those who are most in need from using food banks. This group can include those who are homeless, recent and non-status newcomers who lack documentation, and anyone who feels stigmatized for using food banks.
We urge the GVFB Board to heed the call from so many from the food security community, community groups, and residents, to revisit and remove the barriers that are being put in place for food bank users through these new policies. These changes will hurt those who are most in need.
Thank you for the work that you do. And we hope that the concerns raised by so many in the Greater Vancouver community will help improve the important service you provide.
Anna & Laura, Co-Chairs