OLYMPIC VILLAGE HOUSING
Today, City Council was given a late-distribution report on the Olympic Village housing in South East False Creek. Mayor Robertson announced that he will be supporting the staff recommendation to create a 50/50 split of affordable housing in the Olympic Village. Staff are recommending that of the 252 units of affordable housing, 50% of them be dedicated social housing, and 50% be rented at market rates with the units targeted as workforce housing for people who work in essential services in Vancouver. The report can be seen at: http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20100422/documents/penv6.pdf
Your COPE Councillors, David Cadman and Ellen Woodsworth, have a lot of questions and only two days before Council makes a decision on Thursday:
– What does "approximately" 50% social housing mean?
– What is the process for allocating the rental units earmarked for "essential service" employees?
– Who will be managing the social housing "core need" units? Who will be managing the rental units?
Is this 50-50 plan good enough? Tell us what you think by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and sign-up to speak at council by emailing email@example.com.
SOME MYTHS AND REALITIES ABOUT THE OLYMPIC VILLAGE HOUSING
There is a homelessnesss crisis in Vancouver. The City is in debt. These are realities. However, when it comes to the question of social housing at the Olympic Village, the facts are less clear.
Myth: We will get more social housing if we sell the units and build housing on other (cheaper) land.
Reality: This is fantasy. Sure, we might get some housing some time, somewhere. But how many times have we been told this line? We still don’t have a timeline for the 14 sites promised by the Provincial Government years ago.The Olympic village units exist. Other proposed social housing is either years away from completion or simply vague promises. Homeless people can’t wait. We were promised an Olympic Housing legacy — and it’s on this basis that many voted for the Olympics. The only housing legacy we may ever see will be the Olympic Village.
Myth: It will cost $600,000 to put low-income people up in each of these condos.
Reality: The real cost of these units is much less. All kinds of amenities are included in the calculation — parks, public space, etc. If we were to sell the social housing units off, we would be, in fact, subsidizing market sales. Affordable housing costs money. For example, the Short Term Incentives for Rental Housing (STIR) plan, passed by Council, gives developers substantial density bonusing, relaxations on community amenity contributions and tax forgiveness: All of this means a cost to taxpayers. And STIR only creates market (usually high-priced) rentals. When you are providing housing for the most marginalized in our communities, it costs money.
Myth: The units are waterfront.
Reality: The units aren’t waterfront.
Myth: Mixed income communities aren’t really necessary.
Reality: South East False Creek was designed with a mixed income community in mind. City planners and designers from around the world recognize that mixed communities are the healthiest ones. We can’t accept that social housing be forever relegated to the cheapest land in the cheapest communities. If that’s the case, all social housing would be built in McBride or Terrace or Tumbler Ridge. Then, Vancouver would become a city only for the very wealthy.
Myth: The homelessness crisis is dissipating and the situation is less urgent.
Reality: The City just completed a homelessness count and the numbers are up. While the Provincial Government’s decision to keep some of the emergency shelters open is better than closing all of them, it doesn’t address any of the structural problems. The Federal government must create a funded national housing strategy, but the City and the Province must also do their part. Shelters are not homes. Solving homelessness isn’t rocket science: it’s a matter of building homes and putting supports in them so that people can be successful.
COPE CALLS FOR SUPPORT FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION
“A heavy handed attempt to directly silence the Vancouver Board of Education’s education advocacy and to frighten other Boards into silence,” declared COPE Trustees Wong, Bouey and Blakey about the government’s appointment of a special advisor to examine the Vancouver Board of Education’s financial performance.
According to Trustee Jane Bouey, “We fully support the response of our Chairperson Patti Bacchus in rejecting the insulting comments of the Minister and in offering cooperation to the advisor who we are certain will uphold the Board’s assertions and the integrity of our staff.” Trustee Allan Wong continues, “The fact that the Minister informed the Board through the media first makes it clear that she is playing a political game. Our focus is providing the best educational future for the students in Vancouver schools.” “Rather than help by providing the necessary funding, the Minister is again displaying her ignorance of the open educational budget process in Vancouver and the legal responsibilities of the Board to it employees,” Blakey added. The Board has contractual obligations to begin lay-offs on May 1st. Finalizing a budget at the end of June would be in contravention of the VBE’s legal responsibilities and "create chaos in schools" according to Blakey.
COPE supports the decision to cooperate with the Special Auditor and hopes that if the auditor finds that, indeed, Vancouver is underfunded, the Minister will abide by the recommendations.
COPE calls for support for the Vancouver Board of Education and for public education in the province. Come out and show your support for public education:
Budget Hearing Wed April 21 VSB 7 pm 1580 W Broadway. See the budget process link below for info on how to send submissions, and further public meetings next week. Your COPE school trustees are scheduled to vote on the proposed budget Thurs April 29.
COPE PARK BOARD UPDATE
At last Mondays Park Board meeting, Brent Granby, of COPE’s Park Board Caucus raised the issue of reviewing the Concession Renewal Strategy. In the past month, the English Bay Bistro contract was awarded to Cactus Club and Watermark Restaurant in Kitislano was transferred to The Boat House. COPE hopes to review the Concession Renewal Strategy to expand the objective from one of only revenue-generation to include food affordability.
The Concession Renewal Strategy document proposes other changes to concessions in Park Board space and it is urgent that it be review before another proposal comes forward.
In 2006, COPE voted against the Concession Renewal Strategy and Commissioner Woodcock has consistently and strongly urged that affordability be a key element of any proposal that has come to the Park Board. The need for the review of the Concession is urgently needed now to ensure that future proposals are accessible to the needs of families, youth and low income residents.
At the Park Board meeting last night, COPE Caucus member Brent Granby requested that Park Board develop a policy to include affordability, ethical purchasing, fair trade and environmental business practice to reduce green house emissions through procurement practices and customer transportation strategies.
HOUSING SOLUTIONS FOR VANCOUVER : A COPE OPEN SOURCE FORUM
The housing crisis affects all of us – young people and families desperately in need of affordable rentals; people who work in Vancouver but can’t afford to buy a house here; our homeless and underhoused neighbours looking for social housing that doesn’t exist.
COPE is sponsoring a day-long discussion about SOLUTIONS to these problems. What can city government do? What can neighbourhoods do? What can non-profits do? What should we expect from the private sector? What about co-ops? What are the new and creative SOLUTIONS to the housing crisis?
Our panelists include:
Jean Swanson …. and more
If you have ideas you’d like to share, if you’re interested in the future of Vancouver, if you want to learn, if you want to talk about SOLUTIONS, then join us – Saturday, May 8 – 9:30 AM – 3:30 PM, 411 Seniors’ Centre, 411 Dunsmuir St. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.