Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart has previously vowed to build 85,000 new rental homes over the next 10 years, but data analyst Jennifer Bradshaw of Abundant Housing Vancouver argued that the city does not even have enough land remaining to make the additional housing a realistic prospect.
“The city does have quite a bit of land that they could certainly, with non-profits, build on,” Bradshaw told CBC News. “But I do think they would perhaps have to go buy more, especially on the West Side.”
Stewart stated that 60,000 of the units would be rentals, but Bradshaw stressed that this is not remotely achievable due to the proliferation of increasingly dense areas such as the downtown core and Chinatown.
“We’re going to have a Burnaby model where you are going to have to demolish those buildings and then build new developments on top of that, which is really not ideal,” Bradshaw said. “We want to keep those affordable rentals and we want to build elsewhere.”
More importantly, even the tens of thousands of additional affordable units won’t contribute much to driving down rents in an already tight market.
“It will have some downward pressure but really, most people in Vancouver, are living in market rentals.”
Urban Development Institute chairperson Jon Stovell agreed that the plan won’t contribute much to improving affordability.
“Without any land cost at all, the cost of a 600 square foot studio would be $1,800 to $2,000 a month,” according to Stovell, who is also president and CEO of Reliance Properties.
“That just barely clicks in at 30% of somebody making $80,000 a year but that’s at the very top end of this affordability range that they’re looking for.”
Stovell noted that Stewart’s promise seemingly ignores one crucial fact: that the other costs associated with construction and development are “very, very high right now.”
“Processing is slow and costly. You’re paying property taxes while you’re waiting. A lot of these things are working against even creating that affordability.”
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