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Real Change or Strictly Political? Converting Single Family Homes to a Sixplex

Vancouver’s Mayor Kennedy Stewart has been pushing for a way to bring housing to the middle class in Vancouver, by converting single family homes into 6 strata lots. A covenant would be placed on one or two of the six units in perpetuity to prevent them from being sold at market value, by keeping them affordable to a household earning $80,000 to $100,000 per year. Alternatively, the developer of the six strata lots could pay a fee to the city to provide the affordable units based on square footage.

What do I think of this plan? 

I think it is severely flawed. I don’t believe that it goes far enough. It is purely a political move by the mayor by ignoring the real problem - the broken planning and approval process.

What do I mean by this?

Well, with construction costs and land costs at all time highs, the end cost to the developer will be too high to make the project feasible. By the time the developer gives up one or two of the units to “affordable” housing, the remaining 4 will just be too expensive. Not to mention given the "City of Vancouver's notorious delays with processing, reviewing, and approving development permits," (BC Minister of Housing) the time to get the approval on such a project will be so drawn out it will eat away any potential for profit. Remember, time is money.

Here is what I think needs to be done:

  • Cut red tape and the time to approve development applications
  • Allow for row townhomes or even 4 story buildings in single family areas
  • Waive or cut Community Amenity Contribution fees
  • Allow the free market to value land and provide housing

What do you think of this policy change? Do you think it has merit? Feel free to comment below.

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