The mayor of Vancouver set out a foundation on Wednesday to address the housing crisis in the city, while reducing barriers to building and streamlining regulations.
Ken Sim released a seven-point motion going before council that would direct city staff to prioritize new housing construction, allow for increased density around transit hubs, speed up a plan for 26 villages in the city and increase enforcement of short-term rental regulations.
“There’s an affordability crisis going on in the city of Vancouver,” he said. “And we have a supply and demand imbalance in the city of Vancouver, and how we address that over the longer term is we build more housing.”
The mayor said residents should expect to see more “bold motions” coming from council in the upcoming weeks to cut delays for building more homes.
He said his team is completing a deep dive into redundant bylaws and guidelines with the goal of cutting the red tape that is holding up the delivery of homes.
While there’s no estimate of how many homes could be built with the changes, Sim said accelerating the implementation of the villages from the Vancouver Plan will bring more homes, ranging from single-family townhomes to multiplexes and three- to six-storey apartment buildings.
“This will allow residents who want to downsize to stay in their neighbourhoods, while also ensuring that young families can build a future in the city of Vancouver,” he added.
The city will also look into housing density near transit hubs, which the mayor said is lacking in some areas.
“And so when we think about it, it makes a lot of sense, more homes attached and surrounding a SkyTrain station means a smaller carbon footprint for the area. And it also means a more interconnected city,” said Sim.
The announcement came on the same day the city released a digital process that helps applicants navigate the construction of laneway homes, and helps homeowners fast track the permit process if their projects are under $95,000.
Coun. Mike Klassen said when the original Expo Line was built in the 1980s, a lot of the neighbourhoods along the line didn’t have the housing density.
He said stations, such as Renfrew, Rupert, 29th Avenue and VCC-Clark, have “great opportunities” to build more housing.
The motion will go before council next week and is expected to pass as Sim’s ABC Vancouver party has the majority on council.
Also within the proposal is a plan to increase enforcement of short-term rentals. Coun. Lenny Zhou said he’s had conversations with provincial government officials and believes legislation will be coming soon to further enforce the short-term rental restrictions.
Zhou said the city is also committed to cracking down on illegal short-term rental units.
“I’m really optimistic that all levels of government are taking this issue very seriously. As I mentioned before, every single unit matters,” said Zhou.
Coun. Adriane Carr, a Vancouver Green Party member, said the city was already on track to increase housing, but there isn’t consideration of housing affordability in Sim’s plan.
“So I’m very worried about the fact that our plan has been to date to prioritize the housing that is most desperately needed, which is for people who are lower incomes. And I’m not hearing that, not seeing that in the information that I have received today,” she said.
On the question of affordability, Sim said the city don’t control macro economic issues or interest rate hikes, “you have to talk to the Bank of Canada about that. But what we can control is creating an environment where more homes can be built.”