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Events, decisions, and reports at City Council this week

November 28 2019 –

Vancouver City Council met this week to hear and deliberate a variety of topics during Council and Standing Committee on Policy and Strategic Priorities meetings.   

Tuesday, November 26, 2019 

Council began with a proclamation recognizing November as the Year of Indigenous Languages.  

Council approved several reports on consent: 

Council then received a presentation (7 MB) from staff on Rental Incentives Review Phase II Report Back (7 MB). After hearing from 23 speakers and asking questions of staff, it was approved with amendments. 

“I’m pleased that council passed my amendment to help extend rental replacement protection to renters living on arterials,” said Councillor Jean Swanson. 

“What thrills me the most in Council’s changes to Vancouver’s rental housing incentives are those that are truly seismic in scope:  some as simple as no longer using the adjective ‘affordable’ when referring to market rental rates; some giving totally new policy direction like my amendment to adjust our housing targets to truly proportionately match the ‘right supply’ of housing to real world incomes of Vancouver renters,” said Councillor Adriane Carr. “This will mean putting policies, partnerships and resources in place so that, for example, 50% of new rental housing is affordable for the 50% of Vancouver renters whose household incomes are below $50,000 a year. It’s exactly what we need!  I’m also super happy that we’ll be encouraging low carbon rental housing with policies to allow mass timber construction for buildings up to 12 storeys and a $3 million program for energy retrofits of older rental buildings.”

Unfinished Business, Safe and Inclusive Streets: Support for Community Crisis Management Through Understanding and De-escalation (26 KB) referred to the new year.  

Approval of Form of Development: 3430 East Kent Avenue South (9 KB) was approved. 

Council heard from two speakers on the Report Back on Review of Fairness and Effectiveness of the Empty Homes Tax (2.5 MB). A decision was referred to the Standing Committee on Policy and Strategic Priorities meeting on November 27.

Council approved several by-laws

Council motions

Wednesday, November 27, 2109  

On Wednesday a Standing Committee on Policy and Strategic Priorities meeting was held. 

Council received a presentation from staff and the Chief Medical Health Office on the Healthy City Strategy Action Plan (5 MB).

Agenda items

3123 West Broadway – Hollywood Theatres Ltd. Liquor Primary Liquor Licence Application Liquor Establishment Venue (475 KB) was approved on consent. 

Report Back on Review of Fairness and Effectiveness of the Empty Homes Tax (2.5 MB) was approved with amendments.

Increasing and Collecting Fines Related to Fighting and Disorder in the Granville Entertainment District (133 KB) was referred to the Council meeting on December 10, 2019, as Unfinished Business

By-laws to Reduce Single-Use Items (437 KB) was approved with amendments after a Council received a presentation (2 MB) from staff and heard from 15 speakers

“It’s heart-breaking as a City Councillor when I’ve received school children’s drawings of whales dying in a sea of plastic,” said Councillor Adriane Carr. ”It’s why I’m so proud of our City staff’s work and Council’s vote to ban plastic bags, single-use utensils and plastic straws. Our decision means a stop to the current 25 to 30 million plastic straws wasted in our city per year.”

Council heard from three speakers on Employment Lands & Economy Review – Update on Phase 1 and Next Steps (26 MB). Presentation, discussion and a decision was referred to a future Council meeting.

Council heard from six speakers on City of Vancouver Responsible Divestment From Fossil Fuels (51 KB). Discussion and a decision was referred to a future Council meeting.

Council will convene at a Special Council meeting on December 3, 2019. 

Amendments

Please see amended motions below. These are provided for your understanding and the published minutes will be the official record of the meeting.

Rental Incentives Review Phase II Report Back

A. THAT Council approve the amended Secured Rental Policy, generally as contained in Appendix A, with the sections proposing rental opportunities in RS and RT (Section 2.4 and Table 2), to proceed as a pilot on a time-limited basis with applications to be accepted until June 30, 2022 unless otherwise directed by Council, and that staff will report back to Council at that time with further recommendations, either as a stand-alone report or as part of the Vancouver Plan process.

B. THAT Council receives for information the Rental Incentive Programs Administration Bulletin, generally as contained in Appendix B. 

FURTHERMORE THAT Council direct staff to report back to Council with the projected number of secured rental tenure homes the Rental Incentive Review Phase II recommendations are projected to deliver. 

AND THAT Council also direct staff to report back to Council in biannual memos with updates including how Rental Incentive Review Phase II recommendations are meeting the goals and targets set out in “Housing Vancouver”.

C. THAT Council direct staff to prepare a report for consideration for referral to a public hearing proposing amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law to add a definition of “residential rental tenure” in Section 2 and to limit residential dwelling units in new buildings above 4 storeys to 100% residential rental tenure in the C-2, C-2B, C-2C, and C-2C1 zoning districts generally as shown on the map in Appendix C;

FURTHER THAT the Director of Legal Services be instructed to prepare the necessary amending by-law, to be considered by Council at a future public hearing. 

FURTHER THAT council direct staff to report back on a commercial replacement policy that could include incentives for landlords to provide units at non market rates, first right of refusal and to provide commercial tenants with the same or similar rent on return.

D. THAT Council direct staff to consider opportunities for rental enabled under the Affordable Housing Choices Interim Rezoning Policy (AHC IRP) into the Secured Rental Policy as a pilot on a time-limited basis with applications to be accepted until June 10, 2022,  and formally close the AHC IRP to new applications, and prepare a report for consideration for referral to a public hearing proposing amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law to create new standardized zoning districts for residential rental tenure, for use future rezoning applications for RS and RT zoned sites in low density transition areas that are on and near arterial roads and close to parks, schools and shopping areas, as generally described in policy 2.4 of the Secured Rental Policy, contained in Appendix A; 

FURTHER THAT the Director of Legal Services be instructed to prepare the necessary amending by-law, to be considered by Council at a future public hearing.  

FURTHERTHAT staff monitor and report back regularly to Council on any  impact proposed new zoning districts for residential rental tenure will have on renter displacement, land economics, including land assembly for applications for multi-residential secured market rental.

FURTHER THAT the staff will assess the risk of tenant displacement in multiple conversion dwellings in the low density transition areas and provide this information to Council prior to the referral to the public hearing.

E. THAT Council approve amendments to the Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program, generally as contained in Appendix E, to extend the timeline of the pilot to enable consideration of new project proposals until January 1, 2021 while maintaining the limit of up to 20 total rezoning applications, to add a new parameter for large developments including those on sites 8,000 sq. m (1.98 acres) or larger to enable consideration of additional height and density depending on the site, and to update information related to program administration and available incentives. 

F. THAT Council approve the Below-Market Rental Housing Policy for Rezonings to consider modest increases in height and density to deliver increased affordability, focusing on areas already identified for growth in previous planning processes, generally as drafted in Appendix F. 

G. THAT Council approve a $1.5 million grant to LandlordBC to implement the Energy Retrofit PLUS Reinvestment Pilot in partnership with a matching $1.5 million contribution from the Province’s CleanBC program, generally as contained in Appendix G, 

Source of funding to be: 

  • $1 million from the approved multi-year capital budget for the NonCity Building Emission Retrofit Program; • $0.5 million to be added to the 2019-2022 Capital Plan for Deep Emission Building Retrofits. The proposed grant requires 8 affirmative votes of Council per section 206(1) of the Vancouver Charter. 

FURTHER THAT Council direct staff to work with LandlordBC to consider any impacts the Energy Retrofit PLUS Reinvestment Pilot may have on renter displacement, non-profit organizations operating housing and households earning $30,000-$80,000.

H. THAT Council instruct the Director of Legal Services bring forward for enactment amendments to the Vancouver Development Cost Levy By-law and the Area Specific Development Cost Levy By-law, generally as contained in Appendix H, and to be effective as of September 30, 2020. 

FURTHER THAT Council direct Staff to refrain from referring to new market rental housing seeking a DCL waiver as “affordable,” except as required by the Vancouver Charter.

I. THAT Council instruct the Director of Legal Services to  bring forward for enactment amendments to the Utilities Development Cost Levy By-law to remove the waiver for “for-profit affordable rental housing,” generally as contained in Appendix I, and to be effective as of September 30, 2020. 

J. THAT Council instruct the Director of Legal Services to  bring forward for enactment amendments to the Utilities Development Cost Levy By-law to include a waiver for  rental housing owned and/or operated by registered non-profit housing providers.” and to be effective as of September 30, 2020. 

K. THAT Council instruct Staff to prepare a report for consideration for referral to public hearing to amend the Rental Housing Stock Official Development Plan to extend rental replacement requirements to C-2, C-2C, C-2B and C-2B-1 zoning districts city-wide.

L. THAT Council direct staff to engage with the Seniors' Advisory Committee and the Person’s with Disabilities Advisory Committee  to explore accessible housing needs and housing models that could best meet their housing needs in relation to rental incentives, including staff consideration of the potential for a seniors housing strategy and any implications of policies such as the Secured Rental Policy that could directly affect seniors and persons with disabilities.

M. THAT Council direct the Mayor to write to appropriate Federal Government ministers and representatives for the housing and finance portfolios to ask for the removal of the GST on new purpose-built market rental, below-market and not-for-profit rental projects, with the goal of helping enable the delivery of needed rental housing in Vancouver and across the country.

N. THAT Council direct Staff to report back with recommendations to urgently address the climate emergency through removal of barriers to encourage low carbon rental housing development, including:

  • amendments to the Building By-law to permit mass timber construction up to 12 storeys, modelled on the proposed 2020 National Building Code, by Q1 2020;
  • amendments to planning by-laws, policies, and guidelines, such as minor height relaxations or simplifications of building form, to accommodate cost-effective wood building designs, by Q1 2020; and
  • Further opportunities to amend City by-laws, policies, and guidelines to remove barriers and encourage mass timber development in appropriate locations, by Q4 2020.

O. THAT Council direct staff to monitor the DCL waivers, the results and the effectiveness of the new rental incentives and Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program, including the number of new rental units, their sizes and affordability, and to what degree they are achieving the “right supply” of rental housing especially for renter households with annual incomes below $50,000 , and report back preliminary findings in 2021. 

P. THAT Council direct staff to review the Housing Vancouver Strategy (2018-2027) and report back at the 2020 Housing Vancouver Strategy update to council with adjusted targets to match the “right supply” of housing proportionately to the income distribution of renter households; and develop strategies including rental incentives, city-initiated housing development, partnerships, especially with the non-profit and charitable sectors, resources and timelines, to achieve the new targets.

Q. THAT Council direct staff to report back on additional Rental Incentive Programs that are focusing on publicly-owned non-market opportunities and strategies to supply affordable purpose-built rental housing, including:

  • Analysis of housing forms and rents that can be supplied by the publicly-owned, non-market, and market respectively by Q2 2020.
  • Finance mechanisms, project viability and theoretical pro formas to build, own and operate publicly-owned purpose built rental housing by Q2 2020.
  • Legal considerations and risk analysis to build, own and operate publicly-owned purpose built rental housing by Q2 2020.
  • Potential partnerships and funding opportunities to build, own and operate publicly-owned purpose built rental housing - including but not limited to capital borrowing and housing authority bonds - by Q2 2020.
  • The possibility of using zoning similar to the DEOD zoning (60% social housing and 40% rental for anything above 1 FSR) to depress land prices so it will be cheaper to buy for non market housing.

Report Back on Review of Fairness and Effectiveness of the Empty Homes Tax

A. THAT Council approve amendments to Vacancy Tax By-law No. 11674 (the “Vacancy Tax By-law”) as described in this report and instruct the Director of Legal Services to bring forward for enactment a by-law to amend the Vacancy Tax By-law generally as set out in Appendix A.

B. THAT Council receive for information the results of the Empty Homes Tax consultation with key experts, stakeholders, and members of the public as contained in Appendix B.

C. THAT Council receive for information the 2018 Empty Homes Tax Annual Report, including key impact indicators and a summary of expenditures to date, as contained in Appendix C, with future Annual Reports to be posted on the City of Vancouver website. 

D. THAT Council instruct staff to request an information sharing agreement between the City and the Province, as represented by the Ministry of Finance, pursuant to the provisions of the Provincial Speculation and Vacancy Tax Act.  

E. THAT Council direct staff to further explore the creation of a new category of residential property under the Vacancy Tax By-Law for split-class buildings where the residential portion of the buildings is classed as class 1 residential and designated as Single Room Accommodation (“SRA-designated”) under the SRA By-law, and report back to Council on this potential amendment to the Vacancy Tax By-law in a future report back on the SRA By-law.

F. THAT Council direct staff to further explore the creation of a new category of residential property under the Vacancy Tax By-Law for split-class property where the residential portion of the property is classed as class 1 residential which includes improvement over land, and the remaining portion of the property is classed as class 8 recreation/non-profit which includes, in whole or in part, some form of community garden or public park space, and report back to Council on this potential amendment to the Vacancy Tax By-law. 

G. THAT Council instruct the Director of Legal Services to prepare a further amendment to the Vacancy Tax By-law to be brought forward for enactment in Q1 2020 to increase the rate of the Vacancy tax to 1.25% for the 2020 tax year and, following the results of additional monitoring, increase the rate to 1.5% for the 2021 tax year, and to 1.75% for the 2022 tax year. In addition, staff use any additional revenues to increase the focus on compliance as recommended by the housing policy experts, work with the province on enforcement and data sharing, and invest in housing for households with an annual income of less than $50,000.

H. THAT Council direct staff to further explore and report back on options to enhance the clarity and transparency of EHT information on the City of Vancouver web site.

I. THAT Council direct staff to further explore and report back at an in camera meeting on options with respect to late declarations made in good faith after the normal deadlines to initiate an appeal and/or hear complaints and reviews have passed.   

By-laws to Reduce Single-Use Items

A. THAT Council approve, in principal, proposed amendments to the License By-law No. 4450 and Ticket Offences By-law No. 9360, as set out in:

i. Appendix A, concerning plastic straws;
ii. Appendix B, concerning single-use beverage cups;
iii. Appendix C, concerning single-use utensils; 
iv. Appendix D, concerning shopping bags;
v. Appendix E, clarifying the term “food vendors”; 
vi. Appendix F, establishing fines for ticket offences consistent with recommended fines for similar offences; 

FURTHER THAT the timeline for the single-use utensils by-law be moved to in line with the plastic straws by-law to ensure that the communication material can be coordinated;

AND FURTHER THAT The City of Vancouver provide upon request to businesses that are required to comply with the by-laws for plastic straws and single-use utensils with a toolkit that will include sample “accessible straws”, zero waste business support materials and training guidelines for their employees, as well as provide detailed information on alternatives on the City of Vancouver website.

B. THAT the Director of Legal Services be instructed to bring forward for enactment by-laws generally in accordance with Appendices A though F.

C. THAT Council direct staff to work with organizations representing the interests of marginalized residents in 2020 to identify opportunities to address potential negative impacts associated with the by-law changes for shopping bags contained in Recommendation A (iv).

D. THAT, notwithstanding the Council Resolution entitled Single-Use Item Reduction Strategy adopted on June 5, 2018, Council endorse:

i. A requirement for paper shopping bags to contain at least 40% recycled content as part of the by-law changes contained in Recommendation A (iv);
ii. Regulation of compostable single-use items according to the restrictions in the by-law changes contained in Recommendation A (i) through (iv); and
iii. Regulation of disposable cups and plastic shopping bags according to the by-law changes contained in Recommendation A (ii) and (iv).

E. THAT the Mayor write to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy on behalf of Council to request that the Province develop standards relating to the use of compostable, biodegradable, oxodegradable and photodegradable plastics, align standards for certified compostable plastics and compost facilities in British Columbia, and require Extended Producer Responsibility for all compostable packaging wastes generated by residential, industrial, commercial and institutional sectors, as well as the public realm.

F. THAT council direct staff to report back on a single-use-item-free policy for council consideration for all civic facilities and events.  

G. THAT Council direct staff to 1) include in the development of educational materials and resources for food vendors information to shift our waste culture that encourages vendors to offer reusable cups as a first choice and 2) provide supporting materials such as signs and decals that would be available for in-store use that encourages customers to bring reusable cups or request one, instead of using a single-use beverage cup.