Hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear about Vancouver’s miniscule rental vacancy rate. I’ve heard stories of bidding wars for apartments; rents are through the roof. A tenant I know in a 490 sf studio in a newer building in East Vancouver pays $1300 a month. Developers can’t keep up with the demand.
In response to this The City of Vancouver has a program with the awkward name “Interim Rezoning Policy for Increasing Affordable Housing Choices” which rewards developers who build new rental buildings with incentives, waivers of Development Cost Levies (DCLs), Community Amenity Contributions (CACs), and reduced off-street parking stalls.
So what’s the problem? As with anyone who supplies a commodity, developers are in the business of filling a demand, in this case for rental housing. And as previously stated, the demand is insatiable. This should be a business opportunity which is addressed by the free market. A few years ago these incentive programs may have made sense but in the current environment there is absolutely no justification for handing out these perks. We, the taxpayer are foregoing millions of sorely needed dollars. Wherever these projects are built they put pressure on infrastructure like streets, parks, community centres, schools and daycares. These levies are the only extra money available to at least begin to defray these pressures. It’s time to put an end to these subsidy programs, developers can manage quite well without them. Vision Vancouver, are you listening, or are your ears all plugged up with those developers’ campaign contributions?