Motions for COPE’s Platform on Housing:
Submitted by Marion Jamieson Monday, March 5, 2
The following is in response to COPE’s invitation to members to submit policy resolutions. As the focus of the
AGM and the Policy Conference is on housing, these comments are in reference to COPE’s Platform on
1) COPE will end the influence of real estate corporations at City Hall by banning corporate donations.
Comment: This policy needs to be updated & fleshed out in light of recent Provincial regs.
Recommended Policy: Corporate & union donations banned as well as a cap on individual donations & total
donations to electoral organizations (total dollar amounts and other measures to be determined).
2) COPE will build a Vancouver Housing Authority that will:
a) Make use of the strong private market and direct CACs and DLCs toward the social and affordable housing.
Comments: If COPE ends building replacements that cause tenant evictions (ie all current construction) this
will sharply decrease CACs & DLCs . Existing regime of CACs & DLCs deeply flawed – giving approvals
away with no benefits to citizens
Recommended Policy: CACs and DLCs to be increased to reflect true benefits to developers and all loopholes
and sweetheart deals that reduce revenues to City for much-needed amenities closed.
b) Implement a luxury housing tax through a Charter amendment and/or property tax increase supplemented
with grant/rebates for value of homes under $1.5M.
Comment: Since most homes are now over $1M, this amount should this be increased. Average homes = $1.5-
$3million – expensive = $4M; luxury = >$5million.
Recommended Policy: Implement a luxury housing tax through a Charter amendment for homes over $5M
and/or property tax increase supplemented with grant/rebates for value of homes under $2M (or similar
3) COPE will implement an immediate moratorium on condo development in the DTES and stop gentrification
Comment: Why only DTES? Gentrification and displacement is city-wide.
Recommended Policy: COPE will implement an immediate moratorium on demolition of existing rental
housing in single and multi-family zones to stop gentrification and displacement.
4) COPE will approve at least twice as much floor area of new rental housing construction in its first term of
office as City Council approved between 2008 and 2014. dates need to be changed).
COPE will increase rental-housing construction enough to ensure that the residential rental vacancy rate is at
least 2% by 2018, and the median real rent paid by tenant households is lower in 2018 than in 2014 (dates need
to be changed).
Comments: All the proposed rent controls will discourage rental building. How will COPE encourage all this
new rental construction? Will the deeply flawed Rental 100 Program be retained, scrapped or replaced with
something with more teeth?
Recommended Policy: All new buildings over 4 units must have 50% rental (or something along those lines)
Comment; How will locations for these be determined? Will COPE implement Vision’s existing policies that
mandate Rental 100 projects on all arterials regardless of appropriate fit with neighbourhoods?
Recommended Policy: The location for new rental construction be determined through neighbourhood
planning involving meaningful participation and consultation with residents.
5) COPE will stop issuing demolition or renovation permits that result in renovictions.
Comment: This should include RS zones & basement suites.
Recommended Policy: COPE will stop issuing demolition or renovation permits that result in renovictions in
all single and multi-family zones.
6) COPE will apply strict rent controls to all new large housing developments, using the City’s zoning and
housing agreement powers.
Comments: What defines large? Why only large?
Recommended Policy: COPE will apply strict rent controls to all new housing developments, using the City’s
zoning and housing agreement powers.
7) COPE will create a Landowner and Landlord Registry database that will: Create incentives for property
owners to register and rent-out suites and rooms legally.
Comments: First priority is to stop the disappearance of affordable basement suites by rescinding recent Vision
policies for RS zones that encourages basement suites to be changed to Multiple Conversion Dwellings,
upgraded and sold rather than rented.
Second priority is to remove barriers to creating & registering suites in the City Building Code in the form of
a)Create incentives and remove barriers for property owners to register and rent-out suites and rooms legally by
amending the City Building Code to make it easier to have suites approved.
b) rescind policies for RS zones that encourages basement suites to be changed to Multiple Conversion
Dwellings, upgraded and sold rather than rented.
c) allow laneway houses only if original house is retained and only allow to be rented not sold.
D) allow additional secondary rental suites in residential zones if original house is retained.
To get other parties behind it and elicit broader public support the platform should have broader appeal. The
current housing platform will benefit income earners who are most in need of support which is admirable and
necessary. However, most voters vote based on self-interest. In order not to alienate all homeowners, or about
40% of voters, a luxury tax on homes should target only the wealthy not most homeowners.
Many voters in the RS neighbourhoods are concerned about the loss of neighbourhood character & livability. If
COPE rescinds re-development of RS zones for multiplexes as in Vision’s top-down policies regardless of
appropriateness or impact on neighbours this would appeal to many voters in RS zones.
There is no part of this platform that addresses how decisions will be made with regard to development of
neighbourhoods. Policies on consultation with neighbourhoods for meaningful, collaborative neighbourhood
planning would have broad appeal.
There are no measures to protect small businesses which is not exactly a housing issue, but is a neighbourhood
concern. There are tax fixes and design guidelines that would stop the gentrification & displacement of small
businesses that are important to walkable, livable neighbourhoods and prevent their replacement with large
Resolution from Anita Romaniuk and Alicia Barsallo
WHEREAS residents of many Vancouver neighbourhoods are alarmed at the City of Vancouver’s disregard for their vision of the needs and liveability of their local communities; and
WHEREAS progressive residents of Vancouver’s many neighbourhoods realize the necessity of all neighbourhoods sharing in the provision of affordable housing, adequate amenities, and access to public services;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that:
1. COPE stands for the development of a community-oriented humane livable city.
2. COPE stands for responsible and democratically-determined city development that is based (a) on a city-wide plan voted on, after well-publicized neighbourhood panel discussions where residents can hear pro and con speakers and can ask questions and express their views; and (b) on the implementation of that city-wide plan in each neighbourhood in ways that give each neighbourhood participation and control over how the city-wide plan is implemented.
3. COPE stands for a city-wide plan that determines the minimum number of rental and subsidized or below-market housing units; the minimum amount of park land, and recreation and community centres; the minimum number of childcare facilities, schools, senior centres, and libraries; the minimum amount of space for local shops; and the minimum number of public services such as health care and social support; that should be present in every neighbourhood.
4. COPE stands for an implementation of the city-wide plan that requires the participation of each neighbourhood — from providing direction, giving feedback, to approving or rejecting city planner proposals. COPE stands for the phrase “participation of each neighbourhood” to mean (i) the establishment of a conduit with societies and other groups representing the residents of each neighbourhood, so as to facilitate their input on the shape and location of the housing, amenities, and public services to be built within the framework of a liveable neighbourhood; (ii) in addition to the clear and thorough information and consultation, the organization of well-publicized and accessible pro and con panel debates, before the neighbourhood gets to vote on each proposal; and (iii) the right of a neighbourhood majority to send city planners back to the drawing board by voting “No” to a proposal.
COPE Housing Committee Moved by Anita Romaniuk Seconded by John Ames
That COPE endorse the use of co-ops as a means of community
building and to provide truly affordable housing.
Submitted by Team Jean
Vancouver City Council should officially request that the provincial government immediately set a 0% rent increase over the next four years.
Because the rental market in Vancouver is unique, the City should design a Municipal Rent Control Board, with tenant representation, to set local rent control mechanisms. The powers of the Municipal Rent Control Board should be added to the Vancouver Charter.
Under the Vancouver Charter, the City of Vancouver has the power to require that developers enter into a “housing agreement” as a condition of issuing a development permit. All development permits for rental housing should require housing agreements that maintain rents at current levels for the next four years.
Tie rent control to the unit
Strongly lobby the Province to modify the BC Residential Tenancy Act to apply rent control to the unit and not to the tenancy.
The City has the power to eliminate the incentive for landlords to renovict tenants by requiring, as a condition of issuing building permits, that landlords maintain rents at existing levels after work is completed. With its current powers under the Vancouver Charter, the City can institute a Rent Freeze in rental units that undergo renovations right now.
The City’s Tenant Relocation and Protection Policy provides monetary compensation to renovicted tenants but that doesn’t really prevent renovictions from happening. It’s just an extra cost landlords have to shoulder. The City can and should ensure that, as a condition of issuing a building permit or development permit involving rental units, landlords prove they have found suitable interim accommodation at the same rent for all tenants who will be displaced due to renovations; and that there is a signed contract that gives tenants the right to move back into their unit, or a new replacement unit, at the same rents they were previously paying once renovations are complete.
Improve rental conditions
The City needs inspectors to regularly check building conditions. If repairs are not done, the City needs to take the responsibility for carrying them out and bill the owner. This is in accordance with the section 23.8 of the Standards of Maintenance bylaw. If the owner doesn’t pay their bills or fines, the City will have the power to expropriate the building for our City-owned housing stock.
Moratorium on demolitions of rental buildings
The City should not issue any demolition permits for rental buildings when the vacancy rate is below 4% (it is currently below 1%). At other times, demolition permits should only be issued under a regulated Rate of Change bylaw (0% net loss of rental units) throughout the entire city. A strong tenant relocation policy must enforce Right of First Refusal at previous rents for all displaced tenants.
End discrimination against pet owners
City Council should build a public campaign to pressure the province to change the RTA to meet the requests of Pets OK BC.
Tax the Rich and Speculators to House the Rest of Us
There are more than 4,500 single family homes worth over $5 million in Vancouver. If we tax the value of homes over $5 million at an extra 1% and the value over $10 million at 2%, Vancouver will take in over $170 million every year. We can use the Mansion Tax revenues — $170 million per year — to end homelessness, build social and co-op housing, and start giving back land to indigenous nations.
Modular homes to end homelessness
The City should build 2,138 modular homes, one for each homeless person counted in Vancouver in 6 months. At $75,000 a unit, ending homelessness in Vancouver will cost $160 million – less than one year of Mansion Tax revenues.
Replace SRO hotels
The City needs to improve conditions of the SROs immediately, including through acquiring them. They should be declared a public utility, followed by compulsory purchase. Over the next 4 years, all 3,500 units should be renovated or replaced with self-contained homes, with a kitchen and a bathroom.
Social and Coop housing
We need to build low-rent social and cooperative housing to meet the need of 18,000 Vancouverites currently spending over 50% of their income on rent. The City’s Affordable Housing Agency must begin construction of 4,500 units for each of the next 4 years.
We also need to:
Repair the definition of social housing, so that low-income people can actually afford it.
Tie welfare disability shelter rates to actual Vancouver housing costs. If we want to end homelessness, this is absolutely crucial. The City has to make it clear that this is a top priority, and negotiate an agreement with the province.
Enact a moratorium on the loss of existing low-income housing units across the city by strengthening and expanding the Rate of Change bylaw.
Amend the Single Room Accommodation (SRA) bylaw so that landlords are penalized if they raise rents above welfare and pension rates.
Progressive commercial property tax
We need a progressive property tax system that protects small businesses like neighbourhood stores and taxes large corporations like big box stores. Using the definitions of business size from federal regulations, we propose a progressive tax with a:
Lower rate for small businesses with less than $500,000 active income,
Middle rate for medium-sized businesses with under 500 employees and more than $500,000 active income,
Higher rate for big businesses with over 500 employees.
Submitted by Tom Phipps
To achieve a direct response to regional rental housing shortages and affordability, resolved that:
All funds collected by the Province of BC under the ‘Foreign Buyer Tax’ be allocated to purchase for government ownership lands to be zoned for multiple residential housing and contracted for construction of permanent rental housing stock, of which a minimum of 50% be for subsidized rental, as may be determined year by year to meet deficiencies in affordability for average and lower income residents.
Submitted by Rider Cooey
Whereas from July 2016 to July 2017, annual median rent for a one-bedroom unit increased 20%— from $1,740 to $2,090
Whereas this exceeds $1,839/month, which is the income of someone working fulltime at minimum wage ($11.35/hour on Sept 15)
Whereas if rents continue to increase annually at 20% for the next four years, median rent for a one-bedroom unit by the time of the next civic election in 2021 will be $4,350 per month…
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED
That, if elected, a COPE Mayor and/or Councillors will submit and support motions
a) Asking the Mayor and Council to officially take the position that rents in Vancouver should be frozen over the next four years at zero-percent. The right of landlords to apply for a rent increase due to unforeseen circumstances would remain in effect.
b) Calling on the provincial government to set the maximum allowable rent increase for the next four years at 0% in Vancouver and lobby fiercely for this temporary relief for renters
c) Directing the City Permits department to issue renovation permits only when the landlord demonstrates that any tenants forced to vacate their homes will be allowed to return at the same rent.
d) To begin negotiations with the provincial government to
i) Ban “no-cause” evictions, and to prevent “renovictions” by tying rent increases to the unit, not the tenants
ii) Require automatic arbitration of all evictions, to combat the common occurrence of frivolous and harrassing eviction notices. Landlords would have to justify evictions, rather than forcing tenants to dispute them and try to prove “innocence”— that the eviction is not justified or legal.
e) Reforming the city property-ownership tax by making it progressive, like income tax, with higher value land taxed at higher rates:
i) An extra 1% tax on property valued between $5- and $10 million
ii) An extra 2% tax on property valued over $10 million.
Submitted by Michal Rozworski
That the city support VAHA by selectively and rapidly up-zoning lots it purchases or receives across all neighbourhoods in the city, thus enabling reasonable densification. Unlike luxury development, the supply of affordable, public, non-market housing open to all will counter displacement and support the growth of vibrant neighbourhoods.
Submitted by Patrick Condon
Policy proposal 1
The city under Vision has consistently blocked any attempt at a city wide plan. Vancouver is the only one of the 21 member municipalities of the Vancouver Metro planning district without a city plan. Instead the city, under Vision, has selected only certain areas to replan. These areas, such as Grandview Woodlands, Marpole,the Downtown East Side and the West End are already higher density than the average and are already predominantly rental zones. Why should the city only replan already high density predominantly rental areas, risking gentrification, while other parts of the city are ignored. We need a city wide planning process to work collaboratively with all 21 neighbourhoods, not just a few, with the objective of creating affordable housing for people who live and work in this city, while protecting the character of these districts for future generations to enjoy.
Immediately initiate a process for a community based city plan with the intent of solving the housing crisis.
Policy proposal 2
Working with the Federal and Provincial levels, the city can also contribute funds for non market housing placed in the hands of Co-ops, housing trusts, or other non governmental non profit organizations. The market has failed to provide housing for the majority of city wage earners and is unlikely to successfully do so through failing current strategies. Over 50 percent of wage earners in our city cannot access affordable housing. Under these circumstances the public sector must step in. By taxing market development for non market housing we both reduce rampant speculation on development land and provide funds to permanently provide housing protected from the failed housing market. Projects can be managed to recoup costs by calibrating financing for long term returns via reasonable rents.
Increase DCL and CAC charges to provide funds for non market housing.