Last night I attended a WEBEX forum on social and co-op housing in Grandview Woodland put on by City of Vancouver Planning. The purpose was to “update residents on proposed actions to create and encourage social and co-op housing development.” This meeting was one of a series of such forums they have been having in various neighbourhoods where they wish to encourage this development.
The proposal they discussed follows on from the 2017 Vancouver Housing Strategy and, for us, includes the recommendations in the Grandview Woodland Community Plan. Definitions given by CoV Planning were that the proposal was for housing singles earning $50,000 or less, and households earning $80,000 or less.
The proposal is that for developments that are 100% social or co-op in the areas currently zoned as RM-4 or RM-3A (currently zoned for 3-4 storey apartments) will be allowed to build up to 6 storeys without having to go through a re-zoning process at City Hall. CoV Planning estimates that this will reduce project times by about 12-18 months.
Each project would still have to complete a development permit application and thus some community consultation will be enabled.
Interestingly, they appear to be encouraging building in wood. They said that 6 storeys is about the upper limit for wood construction. Building in wood is environmentally superior to concrete, for example, and probably cheaper to construct.
They hope to bring the full set of proposals to a Public Hearing in Q2 2021.
One interesting statistic emerged. CoV Planning say that 15% of Grandview housing units are currently social or co-op housing, compared to 2% across the city.
I have no real problems with the proposal; I have pushed for a long time for a serious increase in affordable housing, and the shortage is well known:
However, this was not a particularly deep meeting and, cynic that I am, it seemed like they were simply ticking the box that said “community engagement”. I was also surprised that there were only a dozen participants (including 4 from Planning). My surprise comes because I was told on social media earlier in the week that some folks had applied to be part of the forum only to be told that it was “sold out.”