Vancouver approves new protections for renters; adds new rental supply

Gregor Robertson
Photo by Chandra Bodalia

VANCOUVER City Council on Tuesday night at a public hearing adopted new measures to protect existing rental housing, and approved three new rental housing projects – including one from the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency – which will collectively provide 120 new rental homes.

As part of the implementation of the Housing Vancouver Strategy, Council approved new policies for the Rate of Change by-law, which will provide better protections for more than 4,500 existing rental homes. Under the previous policy, rental buildings with five or less units were not required to be replaced with new rental housing. The new policy moves the rental replacement trigger from six to three, and requires that 35 per cent of the replacement units are suitable for families.

“The City is aggressively working to address our rental housing shortage, by expanding protections on existing rental apartments while incentivizing new rental homes to be built,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Our rental supply is far outstripping the rest of the region, and with the B.C. government recently bringing in new legislation to allow for rental-only zoning, we can do even more to ensure new rental homes are being built all over Vancouver.”

The report to City Council also outlined how Vancouver is leading the way on adding new rental housing supply. In 2017, 80 per cent – up from 50 per cent  previously – of all new rental housing in the Metro region is being built in the City of Vancouver, due to the Rental 100 incentive program as well as the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency.

The new projects approved by Council include:

  • a six-storey building from the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency, using City-owned land to deliver 58 affordable rental units for seniors as well as a new seniors’ center. The project is a partnership with the Community Land Trust;
  • a six-storey rental building at Kingsway and St Catherines with 50 rental units;
  • a four-storey rental building at Rupert and East 29th with 12 rental units.

These approvals build on recent steps taken by the City of Vancouver to increase affordable housing supply and ensure that housing is for homes first, not just treated as a commodity. The City recently announced that it had awarded seven sites of city-owned land – worth $130 million – to the Community Land Trust, to build more than 1,000 affordable rental and co-op homes. This is the biggest investment into non-market housing by any city in Canada.

The reports that went to public hearing can be viewed here.