A few says ago I wrote a piece about Cllr. Hardwick’s Motion to recalibrate the Vancouver Housing Strategy which is, at this time, operating with faulty assumptions and creating bad policy, exacerbating an already bad housing crisis in the city. I have today written Council in support of the Motion:
This email is to support Councillor Hardwick’s Motion to recalibrate the Vancouver Housing Strategy.
For many years the City of Vancouver has approved the building of far more housing units than those required by even the most liberal reading of both Provincial and StatsCan population growth estimates for the city. This was pointed out to the previous Council and City staff as far back as 2016 when building approvals (and subsequent construction) exceeded those of the growth estimates of the Regional Context Statement by many thousands of units. A number of reputable peer-reviewed studies have confirmed those observations.
These warnings were ignored by the previous majority, and their refusal to recalibrate at that time led directly to the empty homes scandal that still plagues us and, indirectly to the elimination of the previous majority party from civic government at the last election.
The explanation given before – and still percolating among too many groups, including some close to City Hall – is that these huge and unnecessary amounts of supply will somehow create affordable housing. The facts over the last decade have proven that to be entirely wrong, and Vancouver is now one of the least affordable cities in the world.
It will be argued by some (notably those with a pecuniary interest) that this Motion seeks to create an upper limit to the amount of new housing units to be approved and built in Vancouver. I don’t see it as such. There is no doubt that we need to build a lot more PBR and other genuinely affordable housing units (unlike the vast majority of approvals to date) and I for one will continue to lobby for that.
However, what this Motion and the taxpayers do demand is (a) that the City’s Housing Strategy be informed by nationally accepted population estimates, and (b) that the City be totally transparent with the data citizens need to track and understand the housing policy and approvals going forward.
The Motion comes before Council tomorrow though, as the final Motion on the agenda, it probably won’t be debated until Wednesday. I hope that many of you will support this Motion either by writing to Council and/or agreeing to speak (remotely from home by telephone) when the Motion is brought forward.