The re-zoning and development of St. John’s Church on Broughton and Comox into a 22-storey rental tower in 2012 was controversial.
But it was done under the premise that ‘The Lauren’ would create more affordable housing units in the West End.
However a recent Craigslist ad for a two-bedroom unit is going for over $3400 dollars a month, almost double the anticipated rent when the project went up.
Vancouver City Councillor Geoff Meggs says the power to control rent outcomes is in the hands of the province.
“We don’t have the legal authority under the Vancouver Charter to control the rents long term. It would be great if the province gave us the tools or used the tools themselves to stop rents from accelerating like this when tenancies change. Right now, there’s nothing really to stop a landlord from putting the rent as he or she feels is possible when the tenancy is over.”
He adds the Renters’ Advisory Committee is helping create a dialogue with the province to improve renters’ rights.
Rent at The Lauren was supposed to range from as low as $860 for a studio to a little over $2500 for a three-bedroom townhouse.
Meggs says there’s no system in place for Vancouver to enforce rent outcomes.
“When the tenancy turns over, the bylaw can set a new rent. It’s regrettable that they jump so high, but it’s a sign of how bad the vacancy rates are.”
He would welcome the tools to keep rents low, but Meggs says the city can’t subsidize them and rent control is ultimately a provincial responsibility.