Jay Mcinnes

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Vancouver's Potential Mayors on Housing

Vancouver’s Potential Mayors on Housing

On October 15th, locals will take to the polls to determine who will be Vancouver’s next Mayor. Just as a reminder, you can vote in advance should you not be available that day (I’ll post a link below to various resources.)
So what are each of the candidates saying about the housing market?
Well before we get quite into it, let’s get one thing straight. This is just a discussion on each candidate's housing platform. I won’t be going into their agenda on Safety, Transport etc. So please, do your own research when it comes to these matters as we will not be covering them all today.
So let’s start with some good news. On a general level, I feel the candidates are pretty aligned in some of the issues we are facing in Vancouver with regards to Housing. That’s a huge breath of fresh air. Federal elections tend to be a bit more wishy washy, understandable considering the same message cannot satisfy such a large variety of areas, so with that being said, a more broad approach is usually distributed, regardless of your party alignment.
The nice thing about this local election is Vancouver’s candidates seem dialled into the various Housing issues - supply, or lack of it, permitting wait times and other factors we are genuinely seeing on the ground. That should be a huge relief to Vancouverites. The difference now just comes to HOW each would like to handle it. So let’s see what each candidate is saying, and then we will round them up at the end.
Kennedy Stewart - Forward Together:
  • 220,000 Homes in the next 10 years
  • A mixture of market & below market rentals, condos, social housing, Co-Ops
  • Ground Orientated Homes for the middle class (defined as those household earning $80,000 - $120,000 a year)
  • Extend rental protections, permanent vacancy control, keep Empty Homes Tax
  • Address Permit process
  • Create dedicated teams for big impact projects
  • Speed up the implementation of the ‘Vancouver Plan’ approved in July 2022

Ken Sim - ABC Vancouver
  • Implement 3x3x3x1 Permit approvals, meaning renovations approved within 3 days, townhouses & single family homes within 3 weeks, multi family/mid rise buildings within 3 months. Finally large scale projects/high rises within a year
  • Community Amenity Contributions (In kind or cash contributions provided by city developers)
  • Reviewing the cities housing strategy towards the middle class
  • Pre approving Laneway home Templates
  • Support Empty Homes Tax
Colleen Hardwick - TEAM Vancouver
  • Build various housing (Co-Ops, Apartments, Multiplexes) with a focus on working with local residents to get their input 
  • Use city owned land for affordable housing
  • Stop spot rezoning without neighbourhood input - WOW….
  • Change regulations to make it easier to add laneway homes & secondary suites

Mark Marrisen - Progress Vancouver
  • Build 136,000 homes over 10 years
  • 12 Point housing plan including zoning changes, more multi unit development, 
  • New team dedicated to mixed income housing
  • Surcharge on luxury homes
  • Permit seniors housing in all neighbourhoods
  • More Multi family units around parks, schools etc
  • Use vacant land for outdoor shelters and building more housing for the homeless
  • Hoping to renegotiate with Victoria and Ottawa for more Social Housing funding

Fred Harding - NPA Vancouver
  • Reduce permit wait time
  • Setting supply targets based upon immigration numbers
  • Flat rate community amenity contribution payments
  • Build communities around transit hubs
  • Pre zone supply targets to end building to building resistance within city hall
  • Cap permit wait times
  • Incentivize private sector builders
  • Get more investment from senior levels of government into the city
  • Work with Finance providers on First Time Home Buyer schemes

Remember how we said that it’s a good thing each candidate tends to see the issues we are facing in Vancouver, however it’s how they are going to handle it that makes or breaks them… Well in my opinion, Kennedy Stewart is failing here. Take a look around the city at what’s happened during his term. Essentially if you want more of the same then he’s a good option. A large amount of the population will agree he has not helped at all since 2018, as the housing sector has become severely more volatile in his tenure. His policies are also very broad, which never inspires confidence, and are designed to be ‘buzz phrases’. “Addressing the permit process” - How? What are you going to do? What are the targets? How much will be invested? What is the end result? There are no metrics involved so an impossible thing to achieve, yet also so broad a phrase, impossible to fail. Vacancy Control will destroy renters in Vancouver and more. Investment in rentals will be extremely reduced and that means renters will see the knock on effect (very, very severely). In a city that typically has around 1% vacancy for rentals, it won’t be expensive rent you’ll deal with, there will just be no available rentals. 
A lot of talk is being said on Co-Op housing, which frankly I’m surprised to hear as an answer to our housing crisis. Co-Op housing is notoriously difficult to get into. Currently 1 group (if I remember correctly) are offering finance on Co-Op properties, and they typically require a minimum 30%+ as a down payment and interviews to be passed. 20% is already a very difficult achievement for most buyers and the usual pre-approvals don’t work. With that being said, this is a really questionable one from me?
A note on Colleen Hardwicke and her stopping of spot rezoning without local input. This is another crazy one. Vancouver NEEDS, and I repeat NEEDS, these Mom & Pap developers. The everyday couples/families who decide to purchase land and change it into something more. We’re not building enough as is, so adding another barrier to entry seems an extreme step in the opposite direction. I’m afraid a large part of her platform for Housing seems very backwards. The constant input and ‘permission’ she seeks to obtain from locals will be a constant uphill battle. Residents are naturally focused on preserving their particular neighbourhood, not moving Vancouver forward for the masses.
On a positive note, there are a good number of measures being looked at from most candidates on permitting times. Specific processes in place with Ken Sims 3x3x3x1 plan, Fred Harding capping permit times. As to how feasible these are, only time will tell, but it’s good to see active plans in place with specific targets laid out. Much more reliable than broad phrases such as “address permitting process” etc. Other good standpoints are pre-approval of construction such as Laneway Homes, Secondary Suites and such. I imagine this would work in a similar, but in a more modern fashion, to the ‘Vancouver Specials’ back in the day. Finally, it’s really nice to see (personally) the embracing of multi-family homes being a priority, and incentivizing more builders to develop in the city. This will be key to really helping Vancouverites, and is a genuine step forward.
So overall some really good ideas, mixed with some worrying ones. Based on Housing alone, personally I don't want Kennedy Stewart or Colleen Hardwicke in the driver seat. Their policies are not sustainable and will actually move us backwards, that or I just don’t believe they will help based on track record. That’s just my opinion though, and I’m basing that purely on their Housing agenda.
Of course it’s very difficult to agree with ALL of a candidate's platform, but hopefully this has shed some light on each candidate's Housing policy ideas. Of course take a look over their other topics. Below is a quick link where you can see each candidate/teams approach to the various topics:
As well as the above, take a look at the link below for all information on how to vote:
As always, thanks for joining me. I’ll be back soon to keep you in the know of everything Vancouver Real Estate!