Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Metro Vancouver Regional District looking to strengthen affordable housing requirements

Every member jurisdiction in the Metro Vancouver Regional District must align their Official Community Plans to the Regional Growth Strategy; Langley City’s current and future Official Community Plan must align with the Regional Growth Strategy.

Each municipality’s Official Community Plan must contain “regional context statements” that bind its Official Community Plan to the Regional Growth Strategy. The statement must be truthful and accurate. For example, if the Regional Growth Strategy designated an area for Industrial uses, the Official Community Plan and Zoning must also designate the same area for Industrial uses.

Because 21 municipalities must adopt the Regional Growth Strategy by consensus, significant updates to the strategy only occur around every 15 years. The regional district is currently updating the Regional Growth Strategy, which will be called Metro 2050.

One of Metro Vancouver staff’s goals is for municipalities to provide more diverse and affordable housing choices. Affordable housing is a significant challenge in our region.

The proposed updated Regional Growth Strategy will require municipalities to update their Official Community Plans to include regional context statements that:

  • Increase the supply of below-market rentals and affordable ownership housing
  • Increase housing tenure options such as ownership, rental, co-op, rent-to-own, and co-housing
  • Increase density, including allowing ground-oriented townhouse, “plexes,” and infill housing such as granny flats, in single-family areas
  • Increase affordability by ensuring people can realistically walk, cycle, or use transit to reduce the need for privately owned vehicles
  • Focus on creating below-market rentals near SkyTrain and along frequent and rapid bus routes
  • Enable the redevelopment of ageing purpose-built rental buildings to market and below-market rental buildings while protecting existing tenants.
  • Protect and renew existing affordable housing
  • Obtain 15% affordable rental units within a municipality in town centres, and along SkyTrain and frequent/rapid bus routes
  • Show how municipalities will work with the federal government, provincial government, and non-profit sector to ensure supportive housing options are available to help people transition from homelessness

I’ve only highlighted some of the updates that will enable the regional goal of creating more diverse and affordable housing in Metro Vancouver.

If the updated Regional Growth Strategy is adopted, these requirements will become binding for all municipalities in Metro Vancouver.

Affordable housing for our region means that households with a total income of $85,000 would spend no more than 30% of their income on housing costs and utilities.

For more information, please read the May 7th Regional Planning Committee agenda.

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