City Hall Biggest Culprit in Housing Affordability Crisis
30 percent of new home costs attributable to City: Colleen Hardwick
TEAM for a Livable Vancouver mayoral candidate Colleen Hardwick says City Hall is the biggest culprit in Vancouver’s affordable housing crisis.
“When it comes to building new homes, City Hall takes too long and costs too much,” said Hardwick. “City Hall fees, charges, red tape and delays add as much as 30 per cent to the price of a new home.”
Hardwick said there are too many city politicians who claim to support affordability, then turn around and “keep adding red tape and costs” that make homes unaffordable for Vancouver families.
“But the good news is that because the problem is caused by city council, a new council can fix it,” explained Hardwick.
Hardwick says Vision Vancouver councils were “addicted to Community Amenity Contributions” (CACs) from developers and their projects, and that’s continued under Kennedy Stewart.
“Community Amenity Contributions were meant to fund local parks, pools, rinks and community centres, but city councils used the money to fund ideological pet projects rather than core services that benefit taxpayers,” added Hardwick. “We need to remove CACs from general revenue and use them exclusively for community amenities.”
Last week TEAM released its proposal for a $500 million co-op housing proposal, creating homes for over 4,000 people in up to 2,000 units on City-owned land. TEAM would hold a referendum for Vancouver voters to decide.
Hardwick said she also takes issue with the City “selling rezoning” as a revenue stream to fund so-called council priorities that have nothing to do with core services for Vancouverites.
“Rezoning is out-of-control in Vancouver, and that’s making housing less affordable,” added Hardwick. “Rezoning is all about increasing the value of a piece of land, including the value of nearby properties. That land inflation hurts housing affordability.”
“Over the past 10 years the value of land and the air above it in Vancouver has grown from $188 billion to nearly $500 billion. If we want housing affordability, we have to stop inflating land values, and it starts by slowing down the rate of rezoning.”
Hardwick said there were more than 250 spot rezonings approved by the current city council, with 100 more in the pipeline, all of them inflating the price of land and pushing up housing costs.
“Today, rezonings have more to do with a cash grab by City Hall than actually producing housing,” noted Hardwick. “Rezoning is a big revenue stream for a city council that keeps adding pet projects and costs that don’t serve taxpayers or provide core services.”
Hardwick says there is already plenty of zoned capacity in Vancouver to provide the housing the city needs for the years ahead.
“There is a lot of housing supply already in the pipeline, with more than 100,000 homes approved or in process,” noted Hardwick. “Those homes alone will accommodate over 200,000 new residents over the next 10-20 years and is more than double what we actually need when you look at population and growth trends.”
Hardwick argues that City Hall must also be more efficient and reduce the time it takes to process permits, while simplifying its complex building code that makes building in Vancouver more costly than other municipalities.
“A TEAM city council will put genuine neighbourhood consultation at the heart of planning and development, something that has been missing, particularly around major projects such as the Broadway Plan and Vancouver Plan,” said Hardwick.
“Vancouverites have been sidelined and ignored by a city council and city staff who think they know best. Our Vancouver neighbourhoods and the Vancouverites who live there need to be at the table when decisions are made about their city. Too often our citizens are treated as ATMs or impediments to the social engineering or political ideology of city council. That will stop with a TEAM city council, and Vancouverites will get their city back.”