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Vancouver Considers Easing Rezoning for Social Housing

The proposal would let non-profits build housing developments of up to six stories without a public rezoning process in mid-rise neighborhoods.
April 29, 2021, 8am PDT | Diana Ionescu | @aworkoffiction
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Vancouver's city council "is considering a staff proposal intended to make it faster, easier and less expensive to build social housing in certain mid-rise apartment zones" by allowing "non-profits to build social-housing developments of up to six storeys in these areas without requiring them to go through the expensive, time-consuming and public process of rezoning." As Dan Fumano reports in The Province, the proposal would add two stories to the height currently permitted in these areas and improve the permitting and construction timeline for social housing projects. While some of the city's housing advocates say the proposal doesn't go far enough to ease the city's housing crisis, critics "say [the changes] would also make the process less transparent and remove opportunities for public consultation."

"William Azaroff, CEO of the Brightside Community Homes Foundation, said while he supports the directions of these amendments, he would love to see them go both higher and broader, allowing eight- or 10-storey social-housing buildings and in more areas." Jill Atkey, CEO of the B.C. Non-Profit Housing Association, called the plan "a baby step in terms of improving affordability," adding that there is "nothing undemocratic" about upzoning. "People have attached this idea of attending a public hearing and voicing either their approval or opposition to the building that goes up next door as exercising their democratic rights," Atkey says, but "[w]e don’t have a constitutional right to determine who our neighbours are."

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Published on Monday, April 19, 2021 in The Province
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