New measures approved to boost rental housing production
Together, these policies could help build upwards of 8,000 new rental homes over the next seven years, including nearly 5,000 homes geared to middle-income households, helping more of our friends and neighbours stay in Vancouver.
Mayor Kennedy Stewart
Vancouver City Council has approved a series of recommendations that will enable rental apartments to be developed faster, and in more areas of the city.
Approved measures include rental-only zoning, allowing up to six storeys in commercial zones, a new family-friendly housing pilot program for four to six storey buildings close to schools, parks and shops, as well as policies for increased affordability and a partnership with CleanBC that will enable reinvestment in existing buildings while keeping tenants in place.
“Vancouver residents told us loud and clear to take action on the housing crisis so that's exactly what we've done,” said Mayor Kennedy Stewart. “Together, these policies could help build upwards of 8,000 new rental homes over the next seven years, including nearly 5,000 homes geared to middle-income households, helping more of our friends and neighbours stay in Vancouver.”
The City will implement rental only zoning for the first time, allowing six-storey rental buildings in commercial districts not already covered by community plans. Additionally, rental development in these areas will no longer be required to go through a rezoning process, so it will create a more streamlined and predictable process for developers and communities.
Council also approved measures to further enhance renter protections by adding these commercial zoning districts to the Rental Housing Stock Official Development Plan, the City’s primary tool to protect existing rental housing units.
Rental-only zoning will also be used as part of a pilot in areas off of main arterial roads that are close to schools, shops, and parks. While these projects will still need to go through a rezoning process, they will use a standardized template for buildings, which will shave six months off of the rezoning time.
“All parts of the City organization play a role in addressing the housing crisis in our community,” said City Manager, Sadhu Johnston. “Council's support for this package of initiatives to increase rental production and support energy upgrades on existing buildings with a focus on keeping tenants in their homes, demonstrates our collective commitment to tackle this challenge head-on.”
Energy Retrofit Reinvestment pilot program
Council also approved an Energy Retrofit Reinvestment pilot program, which is a three million dollar partnership with the Province’s CleanBC program, Landlord BC and our partners in Sustainability. This pilot is designed to support landlords in existing rental housing with major high-cost structural and green building upgrades while keeping tenants in place.
The pilot will document best practices for proactive reinvestment without tenant displacement.
Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program
Other approved measures include incentivizing more rental housing for households that earn less than $80,000 per year, by continuing to process and evaluate applications under the Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program.
“These policies are designed to generate more rental homes in neighbourhoods across the city and make the process to develop new buildings faster and more predictable,” said Gil Kelley, General Manager of Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability. “Creating housing solutions for our residents is one of the building blocks of the Planning Vancouver Together process, and City staff will work collaboratively to ensure that policy updates and community feedback on our housing policy informs the long-term Vancouver Plan – and vice versa.”
Below-Market Rental Housing Policy
A new Below-Market Rental Housing Policy for rezonings will also consider modest increases in height and density to deliver lower unit rental prices, focusing on areas already identified for growth in previous planning processes.
Supporting the climate emergency response
All of these new rental housing policies support the climate emergency response by promoting wood-frame construction, lower embodied emissions, and meeting green buildings standards to reduce energy needs for the building through its lifetime.
The rental only zones are also located near shops, amenities, and services, creating lower carbon emitting, walkable communities where residents are close to their daily needs.
City staff will now develop further strategies to support the delivery of affordable rental housing in the public and non-profit sectors, including seeking new partnerships and funding opportunities, and to work with Council Advisory Committees, including the Seniors Advisory Committee and People with Disabilities Advisory Committee, to address specific housing needs.
The following are estimated targets for the next phase of work:
- Q1 2020 – public consultation on amendments to the Zoning and Development Bylaw
- Q2 2020 – report back to Council with amendments to the Rental Housing Stock ODP, for referral to Public Hearing
- Q2 2020 – report back to Council with detailed amendments to the Zoning and Development Bylaw for consideration and subsequent referral to Public Hearing
- Q2 2020 – Report back to Council on Phase I of the Vancouver Plan process, including recommendations for Action While Planning initiatives to advance Housing Vancouver implementation and the response to the Climate Emergency