Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Mayor's Housing Affordability Task Force

Yesterday the Mayor announced the composition of the Task Force he and Olga Illich will co-chair to explore how the City can address housing affordability. Below is the announcement and the names of the people who have been appointed. I am pleased to have been asked to chair a separate Working Group on how the form and design of new housing affects affordability, which will liaise with the Task Force.

As readers of this blog are well aware, this is one of the aspects of housing affordability that most interests me. As I mentioned to Bill Good this morning before our CKNW Civic Affairs Panel discussion, there are forms of housing being built in Richmond and Surrey that are not being built in Vancouver because of how Vancouver's Zoning Bylaws measure density, especially when it comes to above grade parking.

Similarly, there are forms of housing being built in Surrey, Coquitlam and Langley, such as' Fee Simple' row houses that could be more affordable than condominium row houses over time; however, Vancouver's Law Department would like to see the province make changes to the Land Title legislation, in order to ensure that the necessary party wall agreements can run with the land, without the city incurring future liabilities.

In Calgary, townhouses are being built with legal secondary suites (see image above). Why aren't we building them here? We should be, and could be with some simple changes to our zoning bylaws.

I now plan to seek input from Vancouver architects, engineers and contractors to identify other City zoning requirements and regulations that are unecessarily adding to the cost of housing. I would welcome input from readers of this blog and others who have ideas related to building design and construction that might help reduce the cost of housing. In the meanwhile, here's the Mayor's Press Release:

Mayor Robertson announces members of Housing Affordability Task Force
06 Feb, 2012
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Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson announced the members of the Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability today, having assembled a diverse team of industry and community leaders with expertise ranging from non-market housing and sustainable urban planning to finance and real-estate development.

“The members of the Housing Affordability Task Force bring a broad and diverse array of experience, leadership, and vision to our work on the pressing challenge of affordability,” says Mayor Robertson. “Vancouver must be a city where our children can afford to live and raise their families. This is not a simple challenge but it is one that we have to address – and I believe this Task Force has the ideas and expertise to provide new affordability solutions for Vancouver.”

Co-chaired by Mayor Robertson and Olga Ilich, a former BC cabinet minister with extensive experience in the real estate sector, the Task Force is set to identify ways the City of Vancouver can better protect existing affordable housing, as well as to enable and create new affordable housing stock in Vancouver.

The Task Force’s members include:

Alan Boniface Principal, DIALOG & Urban Land Institute BC Chair
Nathan Edelson Senior Partner, 42 Street Consulting
Leonard George Director, Economic Development, Tsleil-Waututh Nation
Marg Gordon CEO, BC Apartment Owners & Managers Association
Mark Guslits Architect, Principal, Mark Guslits & Associates Inc.
Colleen Hardwick Founder and CEO, New City Ventures
Howard Johnson CEO, Baptist Housing
Kenneth Kwan Chair, Building Committee, SUCCESS
Michael Lewis Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Community Renewal
Eric Martin VP, Bosa Development Corp.
Karen O’Shannacery Executive Director, Lookout Society
Al Poettcker President & CEO, UBC Properties Trust
Peter Simpson President & CEO, Greater Vancouver Home Builders Association
Bradford Tone President, Tone Management

As well, there will also be a separate working group working with the Task Force on how the form and design of new housing affects affordability, led by local architect and planner Michael Geller.

“To address a challenge as complex as affordable housing, we need a team that is representative of all of the stakeholders in Vancouver’s housing industry,” said Task Force Co-Chair Olga Ilich. “The members of our Task Force bring a variety of perspectives and backgrounds, which is essential if we are to address the challenge of Vancouver’s affordability crisis.”

The creation of a Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability was the first order of business for Mayor Robertson at the start of his second term of office.

The Committee will provide an interim report by March 12, 2012. To ensure the greatest amount of input from citizens, the interim report will seek public input March through to May. A final report will be completed by June 30, 2012 or earlier.

To view the motion that created the Housing Affordability Task Force, click http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20111213/documents/motionb1.pdf


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