Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson is touting a new ‘housing reset’ plan, in a bid to curb a growing affordability crisis and rental crunch.
While Robertson says the plan isn’t strictly about adding density, several of the strategy’s five key points focus on densification.
Vancouver’s five point housing reset plan
- Use city assets on six sites to create 3,000 homes.
- Increase supply and densification around transit hubs
- Put affordable housing on main routes to dampen speculation
- Add gentle density to residential neighbourhoods, such as adding one floor to walk up apartments.
- Add more townhomes and row houses to single family neighbourhoods.
Robertson says the city is looking to build more supply around transit hubs and adding duplexes and townhouses to single family neighborhoods.
“For density sake, [that] might give us more homes but they may be empty homes.”
He says the city also owns six sites which can be used to develop 3000 new units.
“We’re looking at the opportunity to take a set of city owned properties and to issue a challenge to the private sector, basically who can built the most affordable housing on this site.”
The city has set aside $80-million this year towards affordable housing.
Too little too late?
While he’s happy Robertson is promoting greater supply, real estate consultant Michael Geller says sadly, approval of projects on city land often takes longer than on private land.
The City touted 2016 as “a banner year” for rental housing approvals, with over 1,800.
But CMHC data shows Vancouver has actually added a mere 2,227 rental units over the past six years.
Neighbouring Seattle’s metro region has approved 10,000 units in each of the past two years, and some 14,000 apartment buildings this year.
One idea being floated by developers and commercial realtors to speed up the process is to do away with the city’s “rate of change” policy on rental building demolition in established areas.
With files from Emily Lazatin and Jon Meyer
This story originally stated Seattle had approved 10,000 units in each of the last two years; that figure applies to the Seattle Metro region.