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Wednesday's agenda: parking requirements, Shaughnessy apartments
Plus ABC motions on schools and non-market housing
The agenda for tomorrow’s City Finances and Services meeting includes a number of potentially important items. If you’d like to submit a quick comment in support (or opposition) before 5 pm today, here’s the link. Just set the “Agenda item name” to the item you’re commenting on.
Report (1): Elimination of Minimum Parking Requirements. This staff report recommends that council approve in principle that minimum parking requirements be removed in the West End and Broadway Plan areas.
Developers can still include parking spaces if they think people want them (which will depend on the location and whether it’s strata or rental), but it won’t be mandatory.
The report notes that construction costs for each underground parking space are typically $60,000 to $80,000, so this would help with the cost bottleneck, making more projects economically viable.
Previous post: parking requirements are costly
Motion (2): Unlocking Shaughnessy. This motion is from OneCity councillor Christine Boyle, so I don’t know whether it’ll be supported by the ABC majority (perhaps with amendments). It asks staff to prepare a report by the end of 2024 proposing policies to allow more housing in Shaughnessy.
A blog post from Abundant Housing Vancouver explaining the reasoning, by Owen Brady: Vancouver Needs a Shaughnessy Plan… and So Does Shaughnessy! As he points out, Shaughnessy is centrally located - parts of it are walking distance from the Broadway corridor.
It used to be that the neighbourhood where wealthy people lived was the West End. Later on, they moved to Shaughnessy. Still later, they moved to West Vancouver. The West End densified, but Shaughnessy never did.
Besides their central location, properties in Shaughnessy have a number of advantages that make them better for building apartments.
“No assembly required”: Unlike East Van’s 33’-wide lots, lots in Shaughnessy tend to be much larger, meaning expensive and time-consuming lot assembly is minimized or even completely unnecessary.
Cheap land: Land on a per square foot (or per square meter) basis, the basis that matters, is some of the cheapest in the city. This is largely because of the large minimum lot sizes, which make it so only the very wealthiest can bid on the land.
Low risk of tenant displacement: Shaughnessy has only 1.7 rented dwellings/hectare, the lowest in the City. Compare that to the West End at 125 rented dwellings/hectare!
The Heritage Dilemma. Video by Uytae Lee, April 2023.
Big houses, big lots: Shaughnessy, Vancouver’s ultrarich, ghostlike neighbourhood, unlikely to change. Douglas Todd in the Vancouver Sun.
Adding family housing near schools
Motion (3): Enhancing housing density near under-enrolled Vancouver schools. By Lenny Zhou of ABC, so I expect it to pass easily.
I thought these two points were particularly important:
13. A known planning gap exists between the City’s growth plans and VSB land-use decisions whereby the VSB’s demographic forecasting does not effectively incorporate the City’s municipal growth projections and city land-use planning;
14. An 8.4 per cent decline in VSB enrolment over the last 10 years, which represents roughly 4,400 fewer students, threatens the health and vitality of Vancouver's neighbourhoods and communities and places valuable school sites at risk of being lost forever. Ensuring that our city has the right types of housing to support families is therefore vitally important to the success, sustainability, and ongoing vibrancy of our city and underscores the need for specific policy tools focused on increasing family-oriented housing density in proximity to under-enrolled Vancouver schools.
The specific direction is to propose ways to increase family-oriented housing near under-used schools, and to try to resolve the gap between Vancouver School Board’s projections of declining enrolment and the city’s housing projections.
THAT Council direct staff to engage with Vancouver School Board (VSB) staff to explore opportunities to increase family-oriented density in proximity to Vancouver school sites, in accordance with a variety of City of Vancouver planning objectives, with particular emphasis on Vancouver schools that are at risk of closure due to under enrollment and provide an initial report back to Council with recommendations by the end of Q3 2024;
FURTHER THAT Council requests the Mayor write to the Vancouver School Board (VSB) and the BC Ministry of Education requesting further consultation with the City of Vancouver regarding demographic projections for school enrollment to ensure that the projections account for any City planning and land-use changes.
Previous post on which neighbourhoods are gaining and losing children
Previous post on Vancouver School Board forecasts of declining enrolment
Motion (5): Delivering a new supply of middle-income housing in Vancouver. By Ken Sim, so it’ll pass easily.
THAT Council direct staff to expand the existing mandate of the newly created Vancouver Housing Development Office, which presently includes non-market housing delivery and oversight of the Vancouver Affordable Housing Endowment Fund (VAHEF), to include an additional responsibility to create and deliver middle-income housing on City-owned land other than VAHEF properties;
FURTHER THAT Council direct staff to facilitate the creation of new programs, policies, or mechanisms under the City’s Housing Development Office that will unlock the delivery of new middle-income housing in the city on City-owned land, and report back by Q2 2024 with specific opportunities to leverage the new Office to achieve this goal;
AND FURTHER THAT staff apply the following directions regarding the delivery of middle-income housing to achieve this new mandate, including:
i. identifying potential sites/land assets
ii. assessing the range of possible units achievable across the housing continuum
iii. exploring potential partnerships with First Nations, private sector/industry partners, other government agencies, non-profits and faith-based groups