OneCity Vancouver's 2014 Election Platform
Housing is more unaffordable than ever, and existing affordable rental housing is being lost. New developments are not affordable nor do they meet the needs of families and working people. A vibrant and inclusive city requires affordable housing for middle- and low-income residents.
In order to address the affordable housing crisis, Vancouver needs a comprehensive strategy that includes:
Inclusionary zoning: 25% of units in new market developments are reserved for middle- and low-income households at affordable rates
Reining in rampant speculation driving up housing cost and demolitions through a flipping levy
Protecting existing rentals and stopping renovictions
Protecting supportive housing and preventing homelessness
Enabling and supporting successful affordable housing models, including co-ops and community land trusts
Advocating for a National Housing Strategy and long-term federal and provincial support for affordable housing
20 Over 5 Housing
The 20 Over 5 Housing policy to combat the out-of-control costs of living, working and raising a family in Vancouver. Twenty per cent of the living spaces in all new market developments over five units, right across the city, must be be reserved for low- and middle-income households.
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, OneCity believes we need 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.
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.
That Flipping Levy
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.
Vancouver needs to curb rampant speculation with a Flipping Levy, a policy being used in cities around the world facing out-of-control housing costs: Singapore and Hong Kong.
The Vancouver Flipping Levy would apply 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.
Specifically, OneCity’s proposed Flipping Levy would 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. OneCity defines affordable as housing that costs no more than 30 per cent of a household’s monthly income.
Protect Existing Rentals and End Renovictions
City Hall must also amend the Rate of Change bylaw that is supposed to replace rental units lost to redevelopment, making sure it applies to all zoning types, replaces bedrooms on a one-for-one basis, and that rents increase by no more than five per cent.
In Vancouver, "renovictions" are increasingly common practice when a landlord uses renovations as a means displace the existing tenants and charge a higher rental rate. This shameful practice must come to an end by City Hall acting before development permits are issued, giving existing tenants rights of first refusal and again limiting rent increases.
Protect Supportive Housing and Prevent Homelessness
City Hall should close the loopholes in bylaws that are supposed to protect low-income and supportive housing and prevent homelessness.
The City needs to actively enforce the Building Maintenance and Safety Bylaw to protect renters from poorly maintained buildings, especially single room occupancy hotels (SROs) that are being neglected despite past commitments and promises.
We need to strengthen the Single Room Accommodations Bylaw to stop developers who are converting existing single-room accommodations into condos, sitting on empty dwellings, or worse, demolishing them and shipping the waste to landfills.
Enable and Support Successful Affordable Housing Models
City Hall needs to provide leadership in encouraging and supporting the development of creative and successful affordable housing models, including co-ops, community land trusts, and mutual housing associations. These models have been tested in Vancouver and in cities across the world to deliver affordable housing for families, seniors, middle and low-income households, while ensuring that affordability is preserved in perpetuity.
Vancouver currently has 5,654 housing co-op units in 105 non-profit co-ops. Many of these affordable units are threatened as operating agreements with the federal government expire and senior levels of government refuse to renew their commitment to affordable housing. City Hall needs to work closely with the co-op and non-profit housing sectors to advocate for a National Housing Strategy and the need for federal and provincial involvement in affordable housing.
Some housing co-ops lease their land from the City of Vancouver at a nominal rate. But these co-ops face uncertain futures because City Hall has not renewed land leases that will expire over the next ten years. City Hall needs to renew these land leases and enable these affordable housing co-ops to plan their financial future with certainty.
OneCity also calls on City Hall to allocate a budget line for grants to co-ops to assist with necessary maintenance and energy efficiency improvements. A specific portion of the Capital Plan and/or the Property Endowment Fund should be dedicated to land contributions for new or expanding housing co-ops.
OneCity advocates for:
Immediate city-wide transit system improvements
A Pedestrian Advisory Council to improve public health and safety, social equity and strengthen our local economy
A diversity of transportation alternatives, including public transit, walking, cycling and car-sharing options
For a growing city, transportation is key for affordability and social equity, a sustainable local economy, and addressing the climate crisis. Buses and SkyTrains are at capacity. Pass-ups are common. Fares keep rising.
Everyone agrees we need better – and more affordable – public transit now, but the combination of an unaccountable Translink board, the expensive privatized delivery of rapid transit, and the lack of provincial leadership have stalled necessary transit expansion and tied the region up in knots.
We need leadership from the City of Vancouver to insist on immediate public transit system improvements and a diversity of transportation alternatives, including walking, cycling, and car-sharing. While a solution to the Broadway corridor is crucial, Vision Vancouver's priority is an expensive subway line that will not address the system-wide improvements that are necessary. City Hall needs persistent and independent voices to demand better public transit in all neighbourhoods – not just a single rapid transit project.
City of Walkers: Establish a Pedestrian Advisory Council
Walking as a mode of transportation is central to public health and safety, economic development, and social equality and inclusion. But in its rush to develop pockets of the city, Vancouver is falling behind other jurisdictions that have made walkable, connected neighbourhoods a priority. According to Statistics Canada, commuting by foot in Vancouver is stagnating, remaining at 6.3 per cent since 2006 (compared to 71 per cent who commute by car and less than 2 per cent who bike).
OneCity believes a Pedestrian Advisory Council, based on successful models such as Portland’s PAC, is the best tool to address City Hall’s current stop-and-go approach to walkability. The council will be volunteer-based and made up of representatives who reflect the diversity of Vancouver and its pedestrian potential, including seniors, neighbourhood and business improvement associations, and city agencies such as the fire and police departments and the housing authority.
The advisory council will help the city better integrate pedestrian and walkability policies, programs and plans as Vancouver evolves. It begins with putting the safety of our walkers first, breaking down barriers to walking such as land-use patterns, and building truly connected communities where people are allowed the choice of getting to their destinations on foot. By addressing the affordable housing crisis in Vancouver, more people will be able to walk to work, shopping, and entertainment.
Affordable Child Care
Accessible, affordable child care is not available for thousands of families in Vancouver. Child care costs are among the highest in Canada, forcing families out of the city. JL Aquino and her spouse, OneCity's 2014 council candidate RJ Aquino, spend more each month on child care for their two young children than they do on rent. And rent is not exactly cheap in Vancouver.
Public school enrolments decline as families are driven to the suburbs, fuelling unnecessary and unsustainable suburban growth. Vancouver’s neighbourhoods are vibrant because of families and children.
OneCity advocates for:
A $10-a-day child care program
Prioritizing new early childhood education programs in underserved areas with growing populations
A moratorium on corporate child care operations
OneCity believes it's time for Vancouver to take the lead and implement the $10-a-day plan in a Vancouver neighbourhood that desperately needs it. The $10-a-day plan is a made-in-BC solution from the Coalition of Child Care Advocates in partnership with the Early Childhood Educators of BC.
The OneCity plan calls for the $10-a-day funding formula to be put into practice in a demonstration project in co-operation with a neighbourhood-based, non-profit organization. This one-neighbourhood pilot will allow us to gather data about demand, assess up-front costs, and track the impact of the $10-a-day plan for families facing a child-care crisis right now in our city.
Vancouver’s child-care program is currently focused in areas with new developments instead of responding to existing needs. Renfrew-Collingwood, South Vancouver, Hastings Sunrise, Kerrisdale, the West End, and Cedar Cottage are among the many neighbourhoods that have growing populations of children and simply not enough child care. The plan is to start with an area that is under-serviced and, with support from senior levels of government, expand the program throughout Vancouver.
We need a moratorium on for-profit child-care operations. We need to ban corporate child care that puts caring for our kids in the profit margin and show Canada and the world a real alternative that families can afford.
Building a Sustainable Economy
An equitable, vibrant, and inclusive city depends on a diverse local economy where independent businesses can thrive and residents have decent, living wage jobs. Development policies are eroding affordable retail spaces and skyrocketing rents are threatening local businesses as well as the the artistic and cultural sectors. Climate justice requires preserving industrial land and creating jobs in Vancouver to reduce unnecessary transportation across the region.
OneCity supports local economic development that will make Vancouver a true leader in sustainability — and a place where workers earn enough to live and pay their bills.
OneCity advocates for:
A sustainable living wage economy
Prioritizing building deconstruction, not demolitions
Putting our industrial lands back to work
A green building retrofit program and good jobs
A Living Wage Economy
To create a sustainable economy, we need less money going out of households and the local economy and more money coming in. The City of Vancouver must catch up to New Westminster and pay its employees and contractors a Living Wage. Workers need to be paid wages that cover basic living costs such as food, shelter, and child care. The Living Wage for Families Campaignsets the 2016 rate for Vancouver at $20.64 per hour.
OneCity also believes City Hall can help create a critical mass of Living Wage employers by establishing a Living Wage Zone in the False Creek Flats. This innovative approach to neighbourhood development would utilize business licensing and zoning measures to ensure that a Living Wage is paid to everyone involved in new construction, employees in False Creek Flat industries, and contract employees who are the most precarious workers.
Vancouver can send a strong message across Canada and the world that decent, living wage jobs are a priority and necessary to tackle the growing social divide in our cities.
Sustainable Retrofits, Good Jobs
Buildings account for roughly 40 per cent of greenhouse-gas emissions and there are thousands of multi-unit residential buildings (MURBs) in this city that need attention and work. To make a meaningful difference in the fight against climate change and create and support local jobs, the City of Vancouver needs to improve its support for energy efficiency.
City Hall must move immediately to retrofit all City-owned buildings to ensure they have mechanical insulation that meets best-practice standards, and require developers to build real energy-efficiency into their plans. The City should also create an interest-free loan program so that Vancouver residents and building owners can retrofit existing structures and homes. The costs of the program can be paid back quickly due to the significant amounts of money saved annually from energy-use reductions and increased efficiency.
Prioritize Deconstruction, not Demolitions
In addition to encouraging retrofits, the City’s building code must be amended to preserve existing housing by discouraging demolitions with strict penalties. When a building cannot be saved, Vancouver needs to learn from innovative cities around the world and encourage deconstruction, which means reusing and recycling materials when a building is dismantled instead of shipping everything to landfills. (In 2013, the City of Vancouver created 158,387 tonnes of demolition waste, more than a quarter of the total of municipal solid waste).
City Hall can prioritize deconstruction — and kickstart the local economy with new industries and employment — by seeding and supporting needed infrastructure such as exchange depots and by offering incentives to businesses and building owners who responsibly and sustainably deconstruct structures.
Put Industrial Land Back to Work
Out-of-control real-estate prices are being felt by Vancouver residents but also by small industries and businesses that are being forced to relocate. Vancouver needs to protect existing industrial and commercial land to ensure people in Vancouver can live close to where they work. And City Hall must move beyond its narrow focus on the high-tech sector by encouraging and seeding zero-waste industries on that land.
We know something is wrong with the relationships and connections between City Hall and what is happening in our neighbourhoods and communities. We need to change how we do politics in Vancouver to ensure that citizens drive local democracy – not money.
OneCity believes we need the following changes to our local electoral system to make City Hall more accountable to our neighbourhoods and communities.
Ward system. We need to change the way we elect our City Council. We need a ward system, with councillors representing neighbourhoods and constituents, and councillors who are directly accountable to the residents of their neighbourhood.
Campaign finance reform. Vancouver needs the right kind of campaign finance reform. We need strict limits on donations and strict limits on spending by candidates in the elections themselves. Once those donation and spending limits are in place, then we can ban union and corporate donations. You can find OneCity's complete position on this issue here.
OneCity believes that the campaign finance rules for the City of Vancouver are in desperate need of reform. Here is our submission to British Columbia's Special Committee on Local Elections Expense Limits outlining how we can achieve this.
1. Apply Two Fundamental Pre-Conditions
For reform to be effective, two fundamental principles need to be recognized: first, individual donations must be limited to a modest amount, allowing the majority of residents to participate in an equitable manner if they so choose. Second, while fundraising is one among many ways candidates and parties demonstrate their legitimacy, the total amount candidates may spend must be strictly limited to ensure that the ability to raise funds through donations is not the determining factor in an election.
Individual donations during the election period should be limited to $250. While many Vancouver residents would certainly find it difficult to afford such a donation (and therefore be unable to participate equally with their more privileged neighbours), $250 seems a reasonable compromise between affordability and inequality.
With respect to total allowable expenditures, OneCity recommends a limit for any political party of $1 in spending for every eligible voter. In Vancouver, that would generate a maximum of about $400,000.
However, candidates are entitled to run either as independents or with small political parties and should not be disadvantaged when they do so. If they are permitted to spend only a per capita amount based on the $400,000 maximum (about $15,000 per candidate) they would be hindered because they would not benefit from the economies of scale that are available to larger parties.
Therefore, OneCity recommends the guidelines for election spending permit individual candidates to spend a maximum of $25,000. Therefore, parties with 16 or more candidates (there are 27 positions available) would all have as their limit the maximum of $400,000.
2. Report Between Elections
Municipal political parties are currently only required to publicly report campaign-period donations, leaving three-plus years to stockpile unreported “dark money.”Such a situation contributes both to a lack of transparency for political parties and to growing cynicism among Vancouver residents.
Political parties should be required to disclose all non-campaign period donations and to do so on an annual basis.
3. Limit Third-Party Spending
Third-party advertisers have come to increasingly dominate elections, not only during provincial and federal campaigns, but also during Vancouver civic elections as well. This harms the political process.
Third-party spending in Vancouver elections should be limited to no more than $.25 per eligible voter. This would generate a limit of about $100,000 per third-party grouping.
4. Ban Corporate and Union Donations After Placing Strict Controls on Individual Donations
There are dramatic differences between corporate and union donations. The most important of these is that union donations are determined by democratic processes. Corporate donations, on the other hand, are determined by unelected decision-makers.
Importantly, union donations, having been arrived at democratically, are made in the interests of working-class and middle-class workers, their families and their communities while corporate donations are made to further those companies’ aims and objectives.
OneCity is proud that a number of unions chose to join many individual donors in supporting our candidate in the recent civic election. We have built our new party and policies around values we share with the trade union movement – workers’ rights and social justice.
The danger with currently popular calls for a ban on corporate and union donations is that such a policy will be introduced in the absence of low limits on individual donations and election expenditures. This would produce an even worse situation than that which currently exists. It would mean that wealthy and privileged individuals have free rein to spend on election campaigns while working- and middle-class individuals and families would have the formal right to do so, but would be inhibited by their financial capabilities.
If and only if strict controls are placed on individual contributions (as outlined under the first point above), OneCity recommends a ban on corporate and union donations. In the absence of such strict limits and guidelines, OneCity does not support a ban on union donations.
Many Neighbourhoods, One City
Neighbourhoods have lost trust in City Hall. People are frustrated. Thoughtful and engaged citizens take part in consultations and public hearings in good faith only to find that decisions are predetermined. Relentless condo development is eroding the affordability, character, and cultural fabric of our diverse neighbourhoods. But City Hall, under Vision Vancouver, is not listening.
We need City Hall to respect the local knowledge and concerns of residents and neighbourhoods. That's why OneCity endorses the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods' Principles and Goals for Neighbourhood-Based Planning.
Specifically, OneCity calls for:
Neighbourhood Councils. They must be democratically elected and funded by the city. And they must carry out real, meaningful community consultations that are listened to by City Hall. The voices of the neighbourhoods need to be heard loudly and clearly – many neighbourhoods, one city.
Integrated, city-wide planning. We need to apply decisions – for example decisions about development, about density and supportive housing, and child care – to every neighbourhood in Vancouver, not just one or two. City Council sets the general direction, the long-term plan, and then it is up to the neighbourhoods, through their councils, to decide how those decisions are carried out and implemented in their communities. We want to put into practice what the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods has set out in its Principals and Goals for Neighbourhood-Based Planning.
OneCity opposes the dramatic expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline.
Vancouver residents have an important stake in this issue and City Hall must represent their long-term interests and oppose Kinder Morgan’s expansion plan. It’s our port, our coastline and our families who will suffer if the plan goes ahead.
With a projected increase in tanker traffic from two per week to 10, sailing from Burnaby Westridge terminal right through Vancouver and then along our coastline, we cannot be complacent about the risks. It is impossible to prevent oil spills and those who claim otherwise have not looked carefully at the recent historical record.
Kinder Morgan’s plan is based on heavy oil supplies from the tar sands – oil that creates more carbon emissions than any other power source. Instead of tar-sands oil we should be focused on renewable sources of energy, and on reducing our use of energy.
VANCOUVER — With no notice and few public details, BC Housing has notified residents of Stamps Place in Strathcona that they are collecting expressions of interest to sell the properties to non-profit organizations.
OneCity fully supports residents of Stamps Place and other BC Housing projects, such as Nicholson Towers in the West End, who are calling for a halt to this process and for real consultations with affected communities, including First Nations.
We want these questions answered now:
1. What are the terms of the transfer of these lands and buildings to non-profits, and how is BC Housing valuing them? If it is highest-and-best-use valuation, given the current real-estate market in Vancouver, we have concerns about the amount of money this will generate for BC Housing without creating new living spaces.
2. Do all current residents have tenant agreements that set out their tenure of occupancy? If they do not, we need to give them time to renegotiate those agreements to guarantee they will have a home if and when the transfer is completed.
3. Will BC Housing continue to provide one central database for people who need supportive and affordable housing, including waiting lists? There should be one point-of-entry for people looking for homes they can afford and that meet their needs.
The Province and BC Housing are attempting to off-load their social housing properties, responsibilities and all the risk onto non-profits. This has the potential to be a lot of Little Mountains, right across Vancouver, and City Hall needs to speak up on behalf of residents who must be consulted, and for housing that low- and middle-income people can afford.
Hot Pink Paper
The organization Women Transforming Cities knows that women and girls are working for cities, but cities are not working for women and girls. For the 2014 municipal election, Women Transforming Cities' Hot Pink Paper Campaign put forward 11 issues and recommendations for concrete ways to address them: intersectionality (equity and diversity), transit, affordable housing, child care, youth, immigrants, aboriginal communities, violence, work and electoral reform.
City Council candidate RJ Aquino and OneCity endorsed these recommendations in the 2014 municipal election. OneCity is committed to designing ideal cities for women and girls. Find out more about Women Transforming Cities and read the full Hot Pink Paper campaign here.
Read an open letter from seven women under 40 who are founding members of OneCity about the importance of including and empowering women in our political system.