Put housing on the ballot in 2008

Sullivan proposes new regional solutions to GVRD Mayors

Mayor Sam Sullivan is calling on Mayors in the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) to put the issue of municipal funding for social housing on the ballot in the next civic election in 2008.

“If we are going to find long-term solutions to the housing crisis facing our region, it is clear we need to support a sustainable plan that will provide new funding for us to partner with the Province,” said Mayor Sullivan. “By putting a housing question on the ballot, we will give every citizen and business owner in the GVRD a chance to voice their support for our most vulnerable living throughout the region.

“Mayor Sullivan also highlighted several components of a motion that will be brought forward by Councillor Kim Capri at the next GVRD Housing Committee meeting. This includes the establishment of a new Provincial/Municipal Social Housing Protocol. This Protocol will serve to clarify what role, given the limited tax base of cities, municipalities can play to facilitate the development of social housing within their communities.

Mayor Sullivan is also urging the GVRD and all its member municipalities to support Councillor Capri’s motion and immediately respond to the homelessness crisis by:

  • Making available a site within six months for supportive housing for persons with mental illness, addictions and at risk of homelessness and undertake, in partnership with BC Housing, the preliminary design and zoning for a supportive housing project to be developed on the site (noting that smaller municipalities may want to partner in such a project);
  • Supporting a regional Housing Action Plan that would establish targets (number of units) at regional level and sub-regions for market rental housing, social housing for families and seniors, supportive housing for the mentally ill, addicted and others at risk of homelessness, and provide the context for each municipality to develop their own Housing Action Plan;
  • Supporting a unified approach to changes to the Local Government Act and the Vancouver Charter to enable municipalities to manage affordability issues such as the rate of loss of rental or other affordable housing, accessing the value generated by rezonings to pay for affordable housing;
  • Providing more flexibility on impediments to new social housing development such as current parking requirements;
  • Supporting increases in immediate shelter capacity (with operating funding to be provided by the Province) noting that housing and not shelter is the long-term solution to homelessness;
  • Participating with the City of Vancouver, BC Housing and CMHC in a comprehensive study of market rental housing in the region with the purpose of determining what needs to be done to ensure that sufficient market rental housing continues to be available in the region; this would include a review of the current restriction on strata properties that restrict rental units;
  • Supporting a meeting with the Provincial Minister responsible for housing once the GVRD has developed a draft partnership framework; and,
  • Supporting a unified call for the Province to allow all municipalities in the region (and BC) to use Development Cost Charge revenue to develop affordable housing.

“It is clear that municipalities alone cannot do it all when it comes to solving the social housing crisis,” said Mayor Sullivan. “However, we know that our citizens are telling us we need to step up to the plate and work more closely with the Provincial Government to remove any burdens and impediments to developing new social housing.

“Vancouver City Council recently adopted a series of measures that will help to increase shelter capacity, fast-track the development of three sites slated for social housing in downtown Vancouver, and provide for flexibility in the size of new social housing units as well as minimum parking requirements.

“We all need to work together to develop solutions and look at what we can do as a municipality and as a region to help solve the homelessness crisis,” said Councillor Kim Capri. “By supporting this upcoming motion, the municipalities in the GVRD will be reinforcing to senior levels of government that we are concerned about homelessness and are willing to think outside the cardboard box.”