Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Metro Conversations Presents: Renewing rentals without kicking people to the street.

Metro Conversations 2: February 28, 2017

Metro Conversations are once again bringing conversations out of the big city and into the ‘burbs. This is the second event in a series of meet-up discussions aimed at creating a larger conversation, in person and online. Started by four like-minded young City Councillors, Metro Conversations offers a unique format bringing experts in the field together with citizens for two-way dialogue and discourse within a strict 1-hour time limit. Beyond a lecture, it is a sharing of ideas.

“This time we’ll be discussing options for revitalizing old apartment buildings that respect current tenants, and maintain affordability,” said Councillor Nathan Pachal, the main coordinator of this month’s event. The Langley event is the second in a series Pachal is organizing with Kiersten Duncan from the City of Maple Ridge, Mathew Bond from the District of North Vancouver and Patrick Johnstone of New Westminster. The group is continuing the ongoing series with similar events later in the year in their own communities.

“This issue isn’t restricted to Vancouver” noted Councillor Kiersten Duncan. “We lost over 50 low-cost rental units in Maple Ridge during the Sunrise Apartment Fire where 100 people lost their homes. We’re currently working with a developer to rebuild the affordable housing that we lost, but it’s challenging.”

Municipalities across the lower mainland are struggling to upgrade dilapidated apartments without negatively impacting current residents.

“Some of the older buildings don’t meet modern building codes for fire and safety such as mandatory sprinkling for condos four storeys and higher” pointed out Councillor Mathew Bond. “Our panelists include experts from Triple A Senior Housing, LandlordBC and a Professor of Community and Regional Planning. We’re excited to have such diverse expertise – it should make for a great exchange” added Councillor Patrick Johnstone.

Join the conversation with guests:

  • Marilyn Fischer, Chair - Triple A Senior Housing
  • David Hutniak, CEO - LandlordBC
  • Penny Gurstein, Professor and Director, School of Community & Regional Planning and Centre for Human Settlements - UBC

This free event will take place on Tuesday, February 28th from 7:00-8:00pm at the Douglas Recreation Centre in Langley City. Doors open at 6:30pm and everyone is welcome to come and take part in the conversation.

Seating is limited, so while attendance is free and open, we recommend that you reserve your seat.

Reserve your seat at Eventbrite

1 comment:

Ian McLeod said...

Thanks for taking this on, Nathan. I would really like to attend but have a regular booking on Tuesdays that I can't skip.

The proposal to restore vintage walk-up rental buildings rather than tearing them all down has merit. Community groups who are protesting against Metrotown renovictions have promoted this idea, without success as far as I know. The rental housing task force in the city of White Rock observed in their December 2016 report that there's been virtually no purpose-built rental construction in that jurisdiction since the 1970s, and the same is no doubt true for the 15+ other towns and cities in the Metro region. The task force warned of a potential "housing crisis" in White Rock if the walk-up buildings are demolished in an unplanned way.

At the same time, there's an obvious need to create new rental housing. The latest revision of the Metro Vancouver Housing Data Book http://bit.ly/2ljGiC7 suggests some progress in this area in the past couple of years. However, a lot of this has to do with better reporting on the addition of secondary suites. I guess I support secondary suites in principle, but they're often located away from frequent transit and walkable services.

Purpose-built apartment blocks adjacent to commercial areas are a better solution for renters and for local governments; unfortunately, there's still some resistance to rental construction from homeowners, who are a dominant interest at city hall. The data book shows that a third of Metro households are renting their living space, but in my view (as a homeowner) renters are too often treated as second-class citizens.

Finally, the federal government could assist with changes to the tax rules that would provide rental housing incentives to developers, like those that were scrapped in the 1980s. Major city governments across Canada have been advocating this step for years. It would be nice to think the current government in Ottawa might take action on this pressing issue.