KENNETH CHAN (DAILY HIVE) - The results of a survey independently conducted by Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart find strong support for rental housing density in the city’s neighbourhoods.
According to Stewart’s released findings this week, 80% of respondents indicate they support the construction of a six-storey rental building in their neighbourhood.
Support levels were also consistent on two other queries; over 84% said they support the construction of duplexes, four-plexes, townhomes, and three-to-four storey apartments in single-family neighbourhoods, and 87% noted they support the municipal government’s incentives to builders to construct more rental housing.
“As your Mayor, I will continue pushing for the changes needed to deliver more rental homes, especially for those households earning less than $80,000 annually,” reads an email newsletter.
“From advocating for more private and public rental housing investment, to encouraging policy changes that will accelerate construction of a significant number of rental units over the long term, every day I am working to take on the challenges and seek out solutions to the housing crisis.”
This comes just weeks ahead of city staff’s release of the rental incentive review report on existing and new measures that will catalyze more rental housing construction.
By the municipal government’s own admission earlier this month, it is falling far behind its 10-year goal of approving 20,000 secured market rental units between 2018 and 2027. To date, just 2,502 secured market rental units have been approved since the strategy came into force last year.
Over the first three quarters of 2019, city council approved 687 market rental units, which is a third of the annual target of 2,000 units. Two thirds of these units relied on various city rental incentive programs, such as Rental 100 Secured Market Rental Housing Program and the Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program.
But in their approval streams through city council, they were also dogged by controversy over the level of incentives to developers and the perceived unaffordability of market rental rates.
In fact, one councillor — Jean Swanson — has voted against all 13 market rental housing projects considered by city council to date. And in April, after much debate, city council voted 8-2 against Swanson’s motion of culling the financial incentives of the Rental 100 program.
At the moment, Vancouver’s rental vacancy rate is hovering below 1%, with the resulting supply shortage pushing up rental rates.
Stewart says his survey was conducted online and attracted 1,700 respondents. It should also be noted that this was a non-scientific survey.
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