Developers, academics, operators to work at producing interim report by March 12
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has drawn deeply on all sectors of the housing industry to represent his new "housing affordability task force" in the hope of finding realistic solutions to the city's housing problems.
From developers and builders to academics, housing finance groups and operators of not-for-profit housing, the 14 members will assist the mayor and co-chair Olga Ilich to try to find ways to soften the effects of the city's systemic housing afford-ability crisis.
They will prepare an interim report by March 12, which will then be opened for public consultation. A final report is due June 30.
Robertson announced the task force in December as his first order of business after his Vision Vancouver council was returned with a majority in the civic election.
At the time he said Vancouver faced extraordinary challenges in creating affordable housing and he wanted the task force to look at ways to both protect existing housing and to create more. The city has a 10-year housing and homeless strategy of creating 38,000 new affordable homes, including 5,000 new purpose-built rentals and 20,000 new housing units.
Over the years, successive councils have grappled with the seemingly intractable problem of stimulating affordable housing without destabilizing the existing stock. In the 1980s, as rental buildings once seen as stable stock were torn down to fuel the strata development industry, the Gordon Campbell administration brought in restrictions on demolitions and also set aside city land in an ill-fated effort to create purpose-built rental units.
Subsequent councils also brought in bylaws restricting the rate of change in neighbourhoods, and also further limited the conditions under which landlords could apply for demolition permits as developers continued to try to gentrify low-income areas.
But with Vancouver remaining one of the most expensive places to live in the world and facing geographical constraints in where it can build, finding affordable housing remains a barrier to the city's economic and social growth, Robertson said.
On Monday, he announced the list of volunteers who will sit on the task force. In addition, Michael Geller, an architect, planner and former president of Simon Fraser's UniverCity project, will chair a separate working group that will examine "how the form and design of new housing affects affordability," the mayor said.
"Vancouver must be a city where our children can afford to live and raise their families. This is not a simple challenge but it is one that we have to address," Robertson said in an emailed statement.