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Renters’ mayor or developers’ mayor?

Renters’ mayor or developers’ mayor?

Renters’ mayor or developers’ mayor? Kennedy Stewart is in a political pickle after homeless writer’s discovery

Tuesday (September 13) was supposed to be a good-news day for Mayor Kennedy Stewart.

He unveiled an ambitious housing plan promising 220,000 new homes over 10 years. That includes 140,000 market rental, below-market rental, social housing, and cooperative-housing units.

The rest would be new ground-oriented homes and full market condos.

Unfortunately for his Forward Together party, this announcement came on the same day that a homeless writer, Stanley Q. Woodvine, came across an astonishing document.

It lists 26 development-industry executives as “Captains” in a fundraising initiative. It shows how much money they’re expected to raise in 2022. Collectively, these development-industry executives have a goal of generating more than $300,000.

If this turns out to be a Forward Together party fundraising document, some of the prime beneficiaries of his housing plan are the very people passing around the hat raising money for his reelection.

Some of the “captains” identified in the document are likely to benefit from the Broadway Plan, which could lead to mass evictions in an area bounded by Vine Street, Clark Drive, 16th Avenue, and 1st Avenue.

Woodvine found the document outside a No Frills store on West Broadway.

Stewart’s party has not explicitly admitted that this spreadsheet was created by someone with Forward Together.

But there is certainly circumstantial evidence. The name “Neil” shows up, as do the initials “NM”. Stewart’s chief of staff is Neil Monckton.

There are also some names on the list with past associations with the NDP, which is a party that Stewart has represented in the past and which Monckton has worked very hard to elect.

They include former B.C. NDP presidents Moe Sihota and Craig Keating.

Lists like this have probably been created by many political campaigns over the years, including for rival parties of Stewart’s Forward Together.

But here’s where it’s going to get especially difficult for the mayor.

First off, the B.C. government introduced campaign-finance reforms that limit individual donations to just over $1,200 each year.

The Straight has already reported that family members of Stewart’s buddies in the development industry have donated generously to his campaign while remaining within the legal limit.

I predict that by the end of today, someone is going to demand an investigation into the Forward Together fundraising operation. Even if that probe finds nothing untoward, it will still leave a stain on Stewart’s campaign in what’s going to be a close election.

Here’s another problem for Forward Together. The document shows that many emails were sent. This suggests that there’s a paper trail that will help anyone investigating this situation.

There’s a bigger concern for Stewart and his team, though. And that’s if Elections B.C. forwards the file to the B.C. RCMP for an investigation. That’s what happened when there were allegations that a former B.C. Liberal MLA in Vancouver-Fraserview, Kash Heed, had done an end run around election-financing laws.

Heed was never charged. A special prosecutor cleared him of wrongdoing. But Heed was finished in provincial politics, serving only one term.

Only now, nearly a decade later, Heed is attempting a political comeback as a council candidate in Richmond.

The mere whiff of a police investigation during an election campaign can be devastating.

Former prime minister, Paul Martin, discovered this in late 2005 when the RCMP revealed that it was probing his government’s handling of income trusts. This investigation came as a result of complaints by opposition politicians.

Martin’s then finance minister, Ralph Goodale, was cleared of wrongdoing, but the Liberals were bounced out of office by the voters after 12 years in power.

Then, there are the optics. Stewart has positioned himself as the renters’ mayor. But it’s quite possible that in the wake of Woodvine’s discovery, he could be labelled as the developers’ mayor.

Cartoonists working for other campaigns might have a lot of fun with this.

That’s to say nothing of the impact on the B.C. Greens, OneCity Vancouver, Vision Vancouver, and the Coalition of Progressive Electors.

None of these parties fielded a candidate for mayor, creating a smoother ride for Stewart among progressive voters.

Stewart returned the favour by running a slate of six council candidates, including his wife and his communications staffer. It’s resulted in a more crowded field, making it harder for members of the B.C. Greens, OneCity Vancouver, Vision Vancouver, and COPE slates to get elected to council.

In fact, Stewart’s decision to run a slate of candidates could result in an ABC Vancouver majority on council because of vote splits on the centre-left and left.

Whoever decided to list 26 development-industry executives as “captains” on a party fundraising document—if that’s indeed the case—needs their head examined. It would be an incredibly stupid thing to do. Utterly asinine.

While there’s no indication at this stage that any illegal acts occurred, it might not matter anyway. Especially if it contributes to the end of Stewart’s reign as mayor after just a single term in office.

All Mayoral Candidates Debate Cancelled

All Mayoral Candidates Debate Cancelled

All Mayoral Candidates Debate Cancelled

Decisions by Forward Vancouver’s Kennedy Stewart (incumbent) and ABC Vancouver’s Ken Sim not to participate in the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods’ mayoral candidate debate scheduled for Monday September 19, has led CVN to make the difficult decision to cancel the event just one week before the event.

Monday, September 19, at 7 to 9 pm

Britannia Community Centre (Gym D) 1661 Napier St.

More info here: https://coalitionvan.org/posts/2022-08-24-mayoral-candidate-forum-19-sept/

Senakw rental housing Project

Senakw rental housing Project

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau commits $1.4 billion in construction financing for Senakw rental housing

Kenneth Chan, Daily Hive | Sep 6 2022

 

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Nearly three years after Senakw was first publicly revealed and self-approved by the Squamish First Nation, construction on the massive rental housing project officially began today, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in attendance to mark the historic occasion.

Trudeau was also on hand to make a federal announcement to support the project, which is being billed as the largest Indigenous-led housing and retail development in Canada.

Senakw’s first two phases — 3,000 homes or 50% of the project’s units — will benefit from low-cost construction financing through the federal government’s Rental Construction Financing Initiative. This is a loan that will eventually be repaid by the Squamish First Nation and development partner Westbank.

The total value of the federal financing is $1.4 billion. This is the largest loan ever offered in the history of the federal government’s Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

Trudeau called the federal government’s support through construction financing is “reconciliation in action.”

Senakw is located on the 10.5-acre reserve of the Squamish First Nation at the south end of the Burrard Bridge in Vancouver.

A total of 11 towers up to 59 storeys will generate 6,000 secured rental homes, with about 4,800 market rental units and approximately 1,200 below-market rental units. Senakw’s total residential floor area will reach 3.8 million sq ft, while the total floor area for office, grocery store, and retail and restaurant spaces will reach 171,000 sq ft.

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The entire project will be built in four phases. Site preparation, such as clearing works, have been underway throughout the summer.

The first phase currently under construction is a reserve parcel on the west side of the bridge, containing 1,411 rental homes including 282 affordable units. The remaining phases are located on the east side of the bridge, with each phase carrying a similar number of units.

Construction on the first phase is scheduled to reach completion by 2025/2026. By 2033, all remaining phases will reach full completion.

The entire project will be built in four phases. Site preparation, such as clearing works, have been underway throughout the summer.

The first phase currently under construction is a reserve parcel on the west side of the bridge, containing 1,411 rental homes including 282 affordable units. The remaining phases are located on the east side of the bridge, with each phase carrying a similar number of units.

Construction on the first phase is scheduled to reach completion by 2025/2026. By 2033, all remaining phases will reach full completion.

 

Description of the Vancouver Plan

Description of the Vancouver Plan

 

The Vancouver Plan includes new development building typologies applied throughout the city without applying neighbourhood-based planning principles or responding to local context.

The 230-page report effectively changes housing and development across the whole city

  • Significantly increases higher density development across the city
  • New regional designations for Major Transit Growth Corridors along existing bus routes
  • Expanded transit development corridors and areas
  • Development growth targeted near neighbourhood centres up to 12 storeys on side streets
  • 12 -18 storeys close to stations with high towers +25 storeys on stations and major projects
  • Multiplexes are allowed throughout RS and RT zones covering the rest of the city
  • Little to no reference to neighbourhood character or heritage buildings
  • Incorporates major plans such as Broadway Plan, Jericho Lands, etc.
  • Overrides Community Plans and Visions
  • Unrealistic growth promoting housing targets that are not based on transparent data evidence

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THE PROVINCE INTENDS TO PROCEED WITH HARMFUL CONGREGATE HOUSING

THE PROVINCE INTENDS TO PROCEED WITH HARMFUL CONGREGATE HOUSING

 

 

This is very serious if the province is ordering the destruction of scientific data.

THE PROVINCE INTENDS TO PROCEED WITH HARMFUL CONGREGATE HOUSING FOR W7TH/W8TH AVENUES AND ARBUTUS, GOING AGAINST EVIDENCE AND DEMANDING THE DESTRUCTION OF A CRITICAL DATABASE 

 

BC Housing and the province chose to commence five large, congregate housing projects in Vancouver, instead of evidence-based “recovery-oriented housing” recommended by SFU researchers shown to better address homelessness, mental health, addiction and community safety

 

Vancouver, B.C. (June 28, 2022): Over nearly twenty years, the provincial government built a first-class database with an internationally recognized team of experts in addiction, mental illness, and housing at SFU. The resulting body of work shows how best to deal with the complex interactions between crime, addiction, mental illness and homelessness. The province not only ignored that evidence, it also ordered the destruction of the database.

 

Going against high quality evidence, BC Housing and the City of Vancouver announced their “congregate housing” model last year. The international body of evidence favouring recovery-oriented housing includes major research conducted in B.C. using linked multi-ministry data. One week after receiving a proposal to use the same data to evaluate provincial action to reduce homelessness, an inter-ministry committee ordered the database be destroyed, eliminating the opportunity to promote transparency and continuous improvement.

 

A City of Vancouver public hearing is set to begin tonight on the rezoning for one of the province’s congregate buildings. BC Housing’s application at W7th/W8th Avenues and Arbutus is for a 13-storey tower with 129 single-occupancy suites in Kitsilano.

 

For years, the value of the data available in B.C,’s Inter-Ministry Evaluation Database (IMED) was acknowledged and cited in 30 provincial government-commissioned reports and over 60 peer-reviewed publications. The data show the clear benefits of recovery-oriented housing in which vulnerable people exiting homelessness make up no more than five per cent of a building’s residents and get the support they need. Results show this to be preferred by more than 80% of people who are homeless, and far more effective than gathering large groups in a congregate housing setting, which has shown significantly poorer outcomes for both residents and surrounding communities.

 

“The evidence from the IMED forms the most authoritative account of the costs of homelessness, addiction and mental illness in B.C. and shows the comparative effectiveness and costs of current versus alternate approaches to solve these challenges”, said Dr. Julian Somers, SFU Distinguished Professor and Director at the Center for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction (CARMHA). Dr. Somers worked with service organizations across the province to develop a proposed Call to Action, which was presented to two government ministers including Housing Minister David Eby. To date, Dr. Somers has received no response, apart from the order to destroy data.

 

In their February 2021 announcement, BC Housing and the City of Vancouver rejected the recovery-oriented housing approach and announced a “Permanent Modular Supportive Housing Initiative” with five large-scale congregate housing buildings. All would be on city-owned land, funded by BC Housing and operated by supportive housing operators also chosen by BC Housing.

 

“The work of Dr. Somers and his research team at CARMHA confirms that our concerns as local residents and neighbours are valid,” said Karen Finnan, spokesperson for the Kitsilano Coalition. “It is shocking that Dr. Somers’ Call to Action, which is the result of over $120 million dollars in taxpayer-funded research, would be ignored in favour of embarking on a large scale, costly construction initiative. The data is clear that the proposed projects will NOT achieve good outcomes for residents of the buildings in terms of their challenges with mental health and addiction. The projects will also compromise the safety and wellbeing of the residents by exposing them to far higher rates of criminal convictions than what is being observed in recovery-oriented housing,” said Finnan.

 

“Taxpayers need to ask why the City of Vancouver, BC Housing and provincial leaders are inflicting hardships on people with mental illness and addictions, and shortchanging taxpayers by continuing to implement an inferior model of housing,” states Finnan. “The current model for housing those with serious mental illness and addictions clearly doesn’t work. Vancouver City Council must reject the rezoning application put forward by BC Housing for W7th/8th Avenues and Arbutus, and ask BC Housing to choose, in consultation with the neighbourhood, a housing model that will result in better outcomes for all concerned.”

 

References :

https://www.sfu.ca/carmha/publications/c2abc.html

https://www.kitsilanocoalition.org/blog/housing-yes-warehousing-no

 

About Dr. Julian Somers

Dr. Somers completed his clinical training at the University of Washington, Seattle’s Harborview Hospital, and BC Children’s Hospital, specializing in the treatment and prevention of addiction. The Somers Research Group is an internationally recognized initiative that includes large-scale randomized trials, multi-site interventions, and population-level studies.

 

About the Kitsilano Coalition

We’re a community-based coalition of individuals and organizations that care about their neighbourhood and city. The Kitsilano Coalition is focused on promoting and protecting inclusionary housing. We believe that residents of neighbourhoods who are affected by policies and plans have the right to be heard. We support open and inclusive policy making that is evidence-driven and accessible to citizens. We recognize that Governments and Municipalities have human rights obligations. In making decisions, Govt & Municipalities must ensure they do not violate human rights codes and health and safety. Statistics show that supportive housing rules leave people isolated and put them at higher risk of harmful outcomes as a result of the restrictive environment.

We believe a better alternative is small scattered-site housing with supports rather than an unnecessary level of institutionalization imposed on people living in our neighbourhood, City and Province.

 

-30-

 

Media contact:

Trevor Pancoust

tpancoust@pacegroup.com

604.386.0843

 


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Census Data should inform Vancouver planning

Census Data should inform Vancouver planning

Census data should inform Vancouver planning

The 2021 Census confirms Vancouver is building more new units than required for population growth

Downtown Vancouver is now the densest in Canada according to the 2021 Census | Photo: Submitted

The recently released 2021 Census data confirms that there is more housing supply being built than required by population growth in Vancouver.  This needs to inform the major planning initiatives currently underway across the city.

Population growth continues at about one percent per year, at 4.9 percent over the last five years 2016 to 2021, increased to 660,000 people, consistent with the pace over the last 40 years. Yet dwelling growth over the last five years has increased 6.1 percent.  Vancouver continues to have over 23,000 empty dwellings unoccupied by usual residents.

The built housing supply is 20 percent higher than the rate of population growth. However, the cost of housing over that same period has continued to escalate, demonstrating that just adding more supply will not make housing more affordable.

In fact, if growth is not done carefully, it has the unintended consequences of inflating land values and making the situation worse, as we are currently experiencing.  Development in the approval pipeline is already decades ahead of population growth, contrary to the supply deficit narrative.

Downtown Vancouver is now the most densely populated in Canada with 18,837 inhabitants per square kilometre in the 2021 Census. For comparison, Manhattan, New York, is 28,668 in 2020. Other top place Canadian cities are Toronto, 16,608; Montréal, 8,367; Calgary, 7,778; and Hamilton, 6,939.

The densest cities also tend to have more extremes in poverty and wealth and gaps in infrastructure.

Vancouver neighbourhoods are already having amenity deficits. Many local schools are at full capacity, such as downtown. Competition for entrance by lottery, often forces unlucky students to commute across town.

The city has not kept up with promised amenities for rezoned areas such as Norquay, Fraser Lands, and Marpole. The Cambie Corridor doesn’t have enough servicing , such as sewers, for the rezoned capacity. There are billions of dollars of infrastructure and amenities required for even what has already been rezoned, plus what is proposed.

The Broadway Plan and Jericho Lands are well beyond what is required for population growth without consideration of impacts on local context.

Other rampant spot rezoning policies also have no local area planning attached to them as they are broad and random. This includes the recently approved rental rezoning policies for on and off arterials citywide. Same with the mayor’s recently proposed 6 strata units on all RS lots pilot for 2000 projects of 10,000 units.

Development only covers a small percentage of the actual costs of related infrastructure. And in the case of rental housing, most development fees are reduced or exempted. So most of these costs must be carried by property taxes and capital debt financing. Taxes contribute to the costs of living.

Increasingly, the city is also having to cover responsibilities of the provincial and federal governments for underfunded housing and social programs, with policing and emergency services filling the gaps.

These impacts will increase the denser the city becomes, with more people being displaced,  as we are experiencing downtown and other upzoned neighbourhoods.

While growth is inevitable, there is a choice as to how this is done. The challenge is to do it in a way that provides the needed housing, without overwhelming  existing infrastructure. This requires incremental growth at a scale that new needed infrastructure can be affordably provided without inflating land values.

These are the fundamentals of planning for a livable, affordable and sustainable city, not just unlimited growth promotion. Shifting from the Livable Region Strategic Plan to the Regional Growth Strategy in 2011, was a mistake as things have deteriorated exponentially since then.

There are limits to growth and this needs to be discussed. Not the polarized all-or-nothing labeling of NiMBY vs. YIMBY narrative that shuts down rational thinking.

Instead, we can have more multiplexes in a form that suites each neighbourhood, ensuring that the needed amenities and services are provided with it.

For example, zoning should be incentivizing more multiple secondary suites, duplexes, multiplex strata units and infill with character house retention like the RT zones. But it needs to consider each neighbourhood’s existing lot sizes, building types and related local context for conversions and new multifamily.

The census data confirms that population growth is consistently about one percent per year. That can easily be provided for at a livable scale that fits in every neighbourhood, including options for co-ops and social housing.

But there are no quick fixes. It requires doing the neighbourhood-based planning work with meaningful local community involvement, for a livable, affordable and sustainable future for all.

Elizabeth Murphy is a private sector project manager and was formerly a property development officer for the City of Vancouver’s Housing & Properties Department and for BC Housing.

info@elizabethmurphy.ca

 

13 stories on Arbutus-send your opinion

13 stories on Arbutus-send your opinion

2086-2098 W 7th Ave and 2091 W 8th Ave rezoning application

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We would like your feedback on a rezoning application at 2086-2098 W 7th Ave and 2091 W 8th Ave. The proposal is to allow for the development of a 13-storey residential building. The zoning would change from RM-4 (Residential) District to CD-1 (Comprehensive Development) District. This proposal includes:

  • 140 social housing units
  • A floor space ratio (FSR) of 4.42
  • A net floor area of 7,948 sq. m (85,551 sq. ft.)
  • A building height of 50 m (164 ft.)
  • 6 vehicle parking spaces and 154 bicycle parking spaces(External link)

The application is being considered under the Affordable Housing Policies(External link).

In response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), we will be holding an extended online question and answer (Q&A) period in place of an in-person open house for this project.

2086-2098 W 7th Ave and 2091 W 8th Ave rezoning application comments

Now that you’ve reviewed the application, it’s time to submit your feedback. What are your initial thoughts on the proposal?

You may want to consider:

  • How the proposal affects the immediate surroundings
  • The proposal’s fit with the City’s goals and priorities
  • Any changes you feel are needed to address your concerns

We expect everyone will refrain from using language or acting in a way that is discriminating, threatening, abusive, racist or otherwise disrespectful. Discrimination or abusive language of any kind will not be tolerated.

All fields marked with an asterisk (*) are required.

1

Your comments*

 

Questions can be asked through the “Ask a question” tab during the virtual open house

2

3

I would like to be contacted about this application in the future

  1. Yes

Privacy statement

Comments submitted here will not be posted publicly, but will be summarized and anonymized in a staff report for Council, which will be made public. At that time, any additional comments on the application may be submitted here prior to public hearing. For more information on engagement opportunities throughout the rezoning process, visit our rezoning applications and procedurespage.

A controversial rezoning proposal on Arbutus

A controversial rezoning proposal on Arbutus

We are a group of neighbours close to 3600 block Arbutus  We have recently learned that a developer (PCI) has made an application to the city to Rezone the 3609-3687 block on Arbutus Street from RS-1 to CD-1 Comprehensive Development. This is the west side of Arbutus between 20th and 21st Avenues. The rezoning application can be viewed at https://rezoning.vancouver.ca/applications/3609-3687arbutusst/index.htm.

This is of immense concern for us as the proposed project is for two 6 story rental units that would be completely out of character for our quiet neighbourhood. With 116 rental units and only 62 parking stalls for the residents, this will dramatically increase the traffic along Arbutus and the parking congestion in our and surrounding neighbourhoods.  This rezoning would set a precedent for future projects along Arbutus and quite possibly other locations in and around your neighbourhood in the not so distant future.  At this point, we have had no response from the city and have requested notice of any online Open House to discuss this matter.

Two of our neighbours have been canvassing in the general vicinity.  Some neighbours have sent letters to the city rezoning planner.  (james.boldt@vancouver.ca 604-873-7449) and many have left online comments at : https://rezoning.vancouver.ca/applications/3609-3687arbutusst/feedback.htm https://rezoning.vancouver.ca/applications/3609-3687arbutusst/feedback.htm

If you have had experience with rezoning and dealings with the city we would appreciate any advice and/or support to stop the city from dramatically changing the zoning in this neighbourhood

We plan to visit more neighbours to raise awareness of this rezoning application and hopefully garner more support.

We look forward to hearing back from you.

Jenny Chen (2159 W. 21st Avenue – 604-375-6182) and Sheila Vizi

Members of Arbutus Ridge Community Association