Housing-related issues have been milestones every year on the Chronology since 2015, when the #DontHave1Million campaign ignited heated debates over affordability and land use policies. As the focus of housing policy shifted from homelessness and heritage protection to housing for all, the city repeatedly revised city policies, plans and regulations in an effort to reshape Vancouver’s housing stock. In 2019, the federal government joined the fray to confront the intractable problem of making housing accessible for families, low-income residents and all others who live and work in the city.
After a 26-year absence, the federal government became involved once again in support for housing, unveiling plans to spend $184-million on construction of 1,100 units on nine city-owned parcels of land in Vancouver as part of a national housing strategy. The City’s contribution is worth around $96-million in land, development-cost-levy waivers and grants. The BC government in 2018 announced its plan in support of housing across BC that included support for 10 sites in Vancouver.
As housing supply received a boost from new government support, City Council opened up more land for social housing and purpose-built rentals, approving changes to single-family zoning to permit construction of modular housing and, in Grandview-Woodland, to enable a five-storey rental building mid-block on a street of single family homes. Meanwhile Metro Vancouver moved ahead with a study of transportation-oriented housing.
- The federal government announced that a 140-unit co-op housing development in southeast Vancouver would be its first project under its multi-billion dollar National Housing Strategy Investments.
- Metro Vancouver approved phase 3 of its Transit-Oriented Affordable Housing Study, an initiative begun in 2017. Phase 2 of study, unveiled in April 2019, emphasized the necessity of identifying a champion to carry the initiative forward across the region among its account of feedback from engagement. So far, no municipality has taken on the task.
- The BC government announced its strategy for housing, called Homes for BC: A 30-Point Plan for Housing Affordability in BC, in 2018.
- The City loosens restrictions on single-family zones, enabling temporary modular housing to be built in single-family neighbourhoods and permitting a five-storey purpose-built market rental in mid-block in a single family zone. The building will replace four single-family century old homes with 35 condos.
Previous housing-related milestones on the Chronology
- City endorses Making Room Housing Program and Affordable Housing Delivery and Financial Strategy
- City amends Rental Housing Stock ODP
- City creates Vancouver Affordable Housing Endowment Fund
- City approves Cambie Corridor Plan Phase 3
- City approves Development Contribution Expectation in Areas Undergoing Community Planning
- City permits duplexes, triplexes, townhouses as well as “tiny homes,” infill housing, collective housing and expanded secondary suites in single-family zones.
- Council approves a new 10-year Housing Vancouver Strategy with a goal of creating 72,000 new homes for renters, families and vulnerable residents, replacing a 10-year housing strategy
- Vancouver City Council offers four city-owned sites to senior levels of government and a land-trust foundation for housing for families and low-income workers.
- A pilot project is unveiled for 40 suites in modular housing at 1500 Main Street, slated to open in February 2017.
- City Council in November 2016 begins a review of temporary modular housing definition, regulations and amendments to existing City-owned CD-1 sites, and design guidelines.
- Plans for 250 rental units on City-owned land unveiled for seniors, families and workers with low-to-moderate income in the River District in southeast Vancouver. Construction was to begin in 2017.
- Construction begins on 358 rental and co-op homes on City-owned lands under an agreement with the governments of Canada and British Columbia, Vancity, equity investor New Market Funds, and a group of co-op and non-profit housing organizations, including Fraserview Housing Co-operative, Sanford Housing Society and Tikva Housing Society.
- The City will provide 99-year leases on four City-owned sites: 1700 Kingsway in Kensington Cedar Cottage, 2780 SE Marine Drive, 2800 SE Marine Drive and 2910 East Kent Avenue South. The project will provide 182 two and three bedroom homes for families and 108 homes for seniors. The rental and co-op units will be at an average of 76 per cent of market rent across the four sites. The City-owned land was assessed at $24.7-million.
- The City has a target of providing through partnerships 5,000 units of social housing and 5,000 units of secured market rental housing by 2021.
- new family housing policy was approved requiring 35% of all homes to be two- and three-bedrooms. This policy sets new standards, up from 25%, and increases the supply of family homes in new strata and rental buildings with a focus on creating much needed 3-bedroom houses.
- 2014 – City Council approves creation of the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency.
- 2012 – Final report from the Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability, “Bold Ideas Towards an Affordable City,” includes recommendation to enhance the City’s capacity to deliver affordable rental and social housing.
- 2011 – City Council approves the Housing and Homelessness Strategy 2012-2021 with a three-year action.
Prepared by: Robert Matas, Vancouver City Planning Commissioner
Last Updated: October 31, 2019