Vancouver goes into overdrive to rein in runaway housing prices

By: Jessica Mach on November 28, 2017

Vancouver has established itself as Canada’s most aggressive city when it comes to housing regulations, with this week seeing yet another set of projects to further improve local housing conditions.

Both are part of the city’s ten-year Vancouver Housing strategy, the details of which are set to be finalized later this week.

The first part of the plan, announced Monday, aims to tackle housing speculation and reduce overall housing costs by introducing new requirements for developments, and working with the provincial and federal governments to stabilize investor demand and land values. These include the introduction of flipping and the Empty Homes tax, raising taxes on luxury properties, closing tax loopholes, and cracking down on the short-term rental industry.

The city will also explore Rental Only Zones, to ensure the availability of housing to those who do not own.

“The effects of speculation have caused significant consequences for housing in Vancouver, and has hindered many of our attempts to build affordable rental housing as the high cost of land make projects unviable,” says Gil Kelley, general manager of planning, urban design and sustainability.

“Our new Housing Vancouver strategy ensures that future housing developments across the city will provide the right homes for our residents, not investors.”

The second project underway is a set of 78 temporary modular homes, to be built at the Pearson Dogwood site in the Marpole neighbourhood of Vancouver.

On Monday, the homes received conditional approval from the city. Homeless individuals, people with disabilities and/or who are 45 years or older, will be prioritized for tenancy.

“Temporary modular housing provides safe and secure homes for our residents who have the greatest need,” says Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. “No person should be sleeping on the streets — or dying as a result.”

Kelley adds, “The City of Vancouver has a longstanding history of successfully integrating housing for vulnerable residents into neighbourhoods across our city; I'm confident this project will be no exception.”

Vancouver has been seeing its housing prices rise far faster and for far longer than any other city in Canada. But Toronto too is now dealing with its own stubborn bubble in prices — meaning the Ontario capital will be paying close attention to Vancouver’s new policies.