The City of Vancouver is touting 2016 as “a banner year” for rental housing approvals, but take that with a grain of salt.
In the midst of a housing crunch, the City put out a news release over the holidays saying 2016 surpassed all previous years, with over 1,800 new rental units approved.
Release: 2016 surpassed all previous years for new rental housing approved by City Council. Preliminary year-end numbers show that more than 1,800 new units were approved this year, far exceeding past years.
“Vancouver is leading Metro Vancouver in housing supply, providing more than half of all new rentals in the region,” says Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Vancouver’s economy is booming and as we grow, we want to make sure families have a diversity of housing options to put down roots in the city. As Vancouver grapples with a shortage of rental housing, City Hall is doing everything it can to get more rental housing built and to market as quickly as possible.”
But how does that stack up?
David Goodman is a Principal at HQ Commercial and an author of the Goodman Report, he says developers are fed up with the bureaucracy at City hall and waiting three years for approvals.
“We want to know the actual hard supply is rather than what’s in the pipeline because half the time these buildings are never built. We are going to be having 35,000 people a year coming into the lower mainland and here the city is celebrating the approval of 1,800 units, it’s actually disgraceful.”
Mayor Gregor Robertson says City Hall is doing everything it can to get more rental housing built.
Principal at HQ Commercial David Goodman has been crunching the numbers for the Goodman Report since the 80s, and he disagrees.
“As an insider, we know what developers go through and how frustrating and difficult it is to deal with the bureaucracy at City hall, and they brag about turning out a couple thousand units a year when it should be at least 5,000 units.”
He says there are multiple issues.
“There’s zoning issues, there’s height issues, there’s density issues, the City is always very ambiguous and everything has to be negotiated and that’s probably one of the reasons developers throw up their hands and say ‘building rentals is serious brain damage’.”
Goodman points out that in Seattle, some 14,000 apartment building approvals were given this year.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation data, which Goodman says is the holy grail of data, shows Vancouver added 2,227 rental units over the past 6 years, a mere 4 per cent increase.
Goodman says the numbers don’t lie.
He says there should be at least 4,000 to 5,000 units approved like there was back in the 70s.