REAL ES­TATE

COPE, the Greens, and Onecity Van­cou­ver have pro­posed far-reach­ing poli­cies in their hous­ing plat­forms.

The Georgia Straight - - Contents - By Char­lie Smith

Over the past five weeks,

Ge­or­gia Straight the has pub­lished ar­ti­cles out­lin­ing the hous­ing plans of five lead­ing Van­cou­ver may­oral can­di­dates (Hec­tor Brem­ner, Ken Sim, Kennedy Ste­wart, Shauna Sylvester, and Wai Young). This week, we’re fo­cus­ing on three pro­gres­sive par­ties that are run­ning can­di­dates for coun­cil.

Coun­cil can­di­dates with a fourth party, Vi­sion Van­cou­ver, are run­ning on their record since 2009, which has in­cluded cre­at­ing more than 2,000 new laneway homes and ap­prov­ing more than 1,000 new rental units per year since 2012.

Vi­sion Van­cou­ver also played an in­stru­men­tal role in the launch of the Van­cou­ver Rent Bank, which of­fers short-term loans to low-in­come renters fac­ing evic­tion. Vi­sion Van­cou­ver can­di­dates Diego Car­dona, Heather Deal, Cather­ine Evans, Tanya Paz, and Wei Qiao Zhang sup­port the Mak­ing Room pro­pos­als, which al­low du­plexes in sin­gle-fam­ily neigh­bour­hoods across Van­cou­ver. COALI­TION OF PRO­GRES­SIVE ELEC­TORS Van­cou­ver’s old­est left-wing party has re­fused to en­dorse ei­ther of the so-called pro­gres­sive may­oral can­di­dates—kennedy Ste­wart and Shauna Sylvester—be­cause they haven’t en­dorsed two key pil­lars in its hous­ing plat­form. Coun­cil can­di­dates Der­rick O’keefe, Anne Roberts, and Jean Swan­son are call­ing for an im­me­di­ate four-year rent freeze, which would be reg­u­lated by a new mu­nic­i­pal rent-con­trol board. The trio prom­ise to pres­sure the prov­ince to ap­ply rent con­trol to hous­ing units rather than ten­ants, which would pre­vent land­lords from jack­ing up the cost of hous­ing for new oc­cu­pants.

These three can­di­dates claim that a rent freeze can be im­ple­mented through the Van­cou­ver Char­ter on all new hous­ing de­vel­op­ments as a con­di­tion of is­su­ing a devel­op­ment per­mit. “All new devel­op­ment per­mits for rental hous­ing should re­quire hous­ing agree­ments that main­tain rents at cur­rent lev­els for the next four years,” COPE states on its web­site.

The other ma­jor hous­ing plank that isn’t be­ing sup­ported by Ste­wart or Sylvester is a one-per­cent tax on home val­ues over $5 mil­lion and a two-per­cent tax on amounts ex­ceed­ing $10 mil­lion. COPE says this “man­sion tax” will gen­er­ate $170 mil­lion per year, which can be used to build so­cial and co-op hous­ing and to re­turn land that was stolen from Indige­nous na­tions.

GREEN PARTY OF VAN­COU­VER Its four coun­cil can­di­dates (Adri­ane Carr, Pete Fry, Michael Wiebe, and David Wong) want the right to hous­ing rec­og­nized in the Van­cou­ver Char­ter, which would re­quire the prov­ince to amend this leg­is­la­tion. The Greens also ar­gue that the city by­law def­i­ni­tion of “af­ford­able hous­ing” should be a thresh­old of 30 per­cent of gross in­come on rent. In ad­di­tion, Carr, Fry, Wiebe, and Wong are promis­ing a city­wide goal of in­cor­po­rat­ing 50 per­cent be­low­mar­ket-rate hous­ing units in all multi-unit projects.

The Green plat­form pledges to force de­vel­op­ers to give lo­cal buy­ers pref­er­ence over for­eign pre­sales as a con­di­tion of ap­proval for build­ing per­mits. An­other Green prom­ise is to con­duct an­nual re­views of tax­pay­er­sup­ported hous­ing—in­clud­ing rental units cre­ated through Vi­sion Van­cou­ver–sup­ported den­si­fi­ca­tion like STIR and Rental 100—to en­sure the ini­tial goals are be­ing met. Last month, Carr voted against the Mak­ing Room pro­gram, at­tract­ing crit­i­cism from Yes Van­cou­ver and Vi­sion Van­cou­ver cam­paign­ers who favour al­low­ing more peo­ple to live in sin­gle­fam­ily zones.

ONECITY VAN­COU­VER Like Ste­wart and Brem­ner, this party has set tar­gets for con­struc­tion of new hous­ing. In Onecity’s case, it’s 25,000 non­mar­ket units over five years at rents no more than 30 per­cent of a ten­ant’s in­come. Onecity’s two coun­cil can­di­dates, Chris­tine Boyle and Bran­don Yan, are propos­ing a sur­tax on homes val­ued at more than $4 mil­lion, which they say will bring in $262 mil­lion per year to build non­mar­ket hous­ing.

They’re also call­ing for a land­value cap­ture tax on gains by prop­erty own­ers around the six pro­posed Broad­way sub­way sta­tions, with the funds be­ing in­vested in tran­sit ser­vices and tran­sit projects. In ad­di­tion, they’re call­ing on the city to work with the prov­ince “to cre­ate a madein-van­cou­ver so­lu­tion for a land value cap­ture to be ap­plied to re­zon­ing and other land value gains”.

“To put this in per­spec­tive, if a mere 1 per­cent of B.C.’S land value in­crease over the past ten years had been taxed, gov­ern­ments would have had an ad­di­tional $10 bil­lion they could have in­vested into af­ford­able hous­ing,” the party states on its web­site.

That’s not all. Onecity is also de­mand­ing that the former Lit­tle Moun­tain so­cial-hous­ing site near Main Street and East 33rd Av­enue be zoned en­tirely for rental hous­ing. Boyle and Yan want the num­ber of so­cial-hous­ing and non­mar­ket rentals to in­crease be­yond the 282 that have been promised by the de­vel­oper, the Hol­born Group of Com­pa­nies, and B.C. Hous­ing.

Most of the COPE, Green, Onecity, and Vi­sion Van­cou­ver coun­cil can­di­dates have been en­dorsed by the Van­cou­ver and Dis­trict Labour Coun­cil. The ex­cep­tions are Paz, Roberts, Wiebe, and Wong.

“New devel­op­ment per­mits for rental [should keep] rents at cur­rent lev­els for…four years”

– Coali­tion of Pro­gres­sive Elec­tors

Three pro­gres­sive par­ties hope to shake up the sta­tus quo on real es­tate. The Greens’ David Wong is call­ing for 50 per­cent be­low-mar­ket-rate units in multi-unit projects; Onecity’s Chris­tine Boyle wants a land-value cap­ture tax; COPE’S Der­rick O’keefe (Ge­off Webb photo) pro­poses a rent freeze.

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