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Regional News

January 1, 2000

May 5, 2020

Metro Vancouver – Regional Industrial Lands Strategy (RILS)

The draft RILS Final Report was reviewed by Metro’s Industrial Lands Strategy Task Force at their May 1 meeting. The Task Force asked for several clarifications and referred the RILS back to staff, and it will be brought back for approval at their July meeting. If supported, it will then go the Metro Board for final approval. If that occurs, there will be ten priority actions that Metro will begin implementing through new studies, consultations and the Metro 2050 Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) Review.

Metro is concerned that if nothing is done, the Region will begin running out of new vacant sites for industry between 2035 and 2045 because of the land constraints in the Lower Mainland. Before this occurs, industrial land prices and lease rates will continue increase as the industrial vacancy rate continues to shrink.  They are also concerned that builders, businesses and municipalities will begin looking to the Agricultural Land Reserve as a solution. 

UDI has participated on the Task Force, in several Metro consultations and met with Metro staff regarding the draft RILS. Our response to the RILS is included in the Report to the Task Force (see page 104). Metro staff recognize that stakeholders such as UDI and some municipalities have real concerns about a few of the 35 proposed actions, including an Industrial Land Reserve and restricting stratification on trade enabling industrial lands. As such, Metro will focus on ten priority actions over the next few years (see below).

  1. Define trade-oriented lands (2020) – These would generally be large sites near transportation infrastructure, which governments may seek to develop policies in the future to protect.
  2. Undertake a regional land use assessment (2021) – proactively, in collaboration with Metro’s municipalities, “… identify the ‘best’ locations for different types of land uses based on a set of criteria.”
  3. Strengthen regional policy (2022) – explore ways to further protect industrial lands through policies “… such as voting thresholds to amend regional Industrial land use designations, as part of the update of the regional growth strategy.”
  4. Seek greater consistency in local government zoning definitions and permitted uses (2022) – “stricter definition consistency of permitted industrial uses on industrial lands through municipal plans and bylaws, supported by guidelines and best practices.”
  5. Facilitate the intensification / densification of industrial forms where possible (2020) – Encourage “… multi level industrial buildings or other development forms, with either providing incentives or removing regulatory barriers like zoning height and density limits …”.
  6. Prepare bring-to-market strategies for vacant or under-development industrial lands (2022) – “proactively address issues preventing the development of vacant or under-utilized industrial lands, which may have unique site challenges, such as servicing limitations, soil qualities, and ownership assembly.”
  7. Ensure transportation connectivity (ongoing) – “that serves industrial areas for both the movement of goods and workers, through coordinated investment in the transportation network, implementation of the regional goods movement strategy, enhanced regional truck route network, efficient container drayage, and transit for industrial workers.”
  8. Coordinate strategies for economic growth and investment (2022) – “profile the importance of industrial lands for the economy, and link with municipal economic development objectives and the Metro Vancouver Regional Economic Prosperity Service, to attract investment to the region.”
  9. Improve data and monitoring (2020 + 2021) – “… update the Metro Vancouver Regional Industrial Lands Inventory to have a better understanding of the current land uses and supply, and conduct a survey of industrial businesses to better understand their employment needs.”
  10. Develop a framework for coordination (2021) – “… for cross-boundary economic and land use planning matters, work with the neighbouring regional district of Fraser Valley and Squamish-Lillooet as well as the Province, to advance further linkages through coordinated infrastructure investments, land use planning, and economic development initiatives.”

 

UDI will continue to keep members informed about the Regional Industrial Lands Strategy and the Metro 2050 RGS Review as both of these critical initiatives move forward.


 

April 7, 2020

Metro Vancouver Updates

Input needed: Metro 2050 – Regional Growth Strategy Update

Metro Vancouver is updating Metro Vancouver 2040: Shaping our Future, the regional growth strategy. The updated strategy will be called Metro 2050 and will extend growth projections to the year 2050, align with Transport 2050, incorporate both a climate and social equity lens, and update the strategy’s policy actions.

To help shape the future of the region, all stakeholders, agencies, partners and residents are encouraged to complete a Comment Form on the Metro 2050 website.

Please click here to view the Metro 2050 comment form.

Additionally, following the Metro 2050 Dialogue series, which was held earlier this year, Metro Vancouver has made all of the presentations available for review.

 

New GHG Target Established

On February 28, 2020, the Metro Vancouver Board amended its Metro Vancouver 2040: Shaping Our Future Regional Growth Strategy to include updated Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets, so they align with their Climate 2050 Strategic Framework and with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C. Metro Vancouver is committed to making the Region carbon neutral by 2050. They have established an interim 2030 target of reducing GHG emissions by 45% (from 2010 levels). 

 

Metro 2040 Urban Centre and Frequent Transit Development Area (FTDA) Policy Review:

As noted in previous newsletters, Metro Vancouver is developing a new Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) – Metro 2050 – which is an update of the Metro 2040 RGS, noted above. As part of this work, Metro staff have recently completed a Metro 2040 Urban Centre and FTDA Policy Review.  Urban Centres and FTDAs are the areas that are the focus of growth in the Region because of their proximity to transit. The Review includes “Five recommendations that have been brought forward for consideration in the development of Metro 2050.” They are:

  1. Update Centre and Frequent Transit Development Areas typologies by creating additional subtypes to further differentiate the Centres and FTDAs;
  2. Update and refine regional targets – 2006-2051 to include sub-regional or municipal growth targets as well as adding new metrics such as jobs+people/hectare, rental housing unit growth, and intersection density;
  3. Introduce requirements / criteria for consideration of Urban Centre or FTDA reclassification that Metro Vancouver would use to review applications and approve changes (e.g. not allowing Centres or FTDAs in flood hazard areas and mandating that they be close to transit);
  4. Update Urban Centre and FTDA policies to include issues such as:
    1. “… Limiting the proportion of the area within an Urban Centre or FTDA designated for single detached housing and highway-oriented commercial forms of development;”
    2. Identifying lands for new affordable housing;
    3. Buffers and mitigation strategies for air quality, noise and vibrations;
    4. Additional risk management strategies for flooding and sea-level rise;
    5. Green infrastructure;
    6. Climate adaptation and resiliency;
    7. Additional child care spaces;
    8. Managing the supply of private vehicle parking;
    9. Improving bike parking standards
    10. Developing tenant protection and relocation policies;
    11. Establishing dwelling and employment growth targets; and
    12. Potentially mandating that “A parcel of land equivalent to (minimum) one quarter of the area to be identified as an Urban Centre that was previously designated General Urban is redesignated to Conservation & Recreation, Industrial, or Agricultural.”
  5. Integrate Frequent Transit Corridor Network Geography (FTCN), which would be introducing “… a new geography into the regional growth framework…,” and would include areas near SkyTrain stations, RapidBus stops/corridors, and the Frequent Transit Network (but excluding areas such as agricultural, environmental, industrial, rural, parks, and hazard lands). The FTCN would be used to determine future FTDAs.

There is still more work and analysis that needs to occur before these policies are adopted in Metro 2050. Metro Vancouver is now seeking comments from stakeholders through its Metro 2050 Comment Form. If you have any questions or comments, please contact Cassandra McColman at 604.661.3032.


 

February 11, 2020

Dialogue Series – Metro 2050: Planning Now for Future Generations – February 2020

Metro Vancouver is updating Metro 2040: Shaping our Future, the regional growth strategy. Metro 2040 is the regional federation’s collective plan for managing growth in the region – including containing and focusing growth, and protecting important lands like greenspaces and employment lands. This update to the regional growth strategy, referred to as Metro 2050, will make it more effective and resilient to change. It will also do more to consider social equity and climate change in our communities, the impacts of growth policies, and how to better protect the places we care about.

Wednesday February 12 – Planning for healthy, complete communities and greenspaces.
Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier, 138 Victory Ship Way, North Vancouver
Time: Noon –2:00 p.m. (lunch served 11:30 a.m. – noon)
Speakers:

  • James Stiver, Division Manager, Growth Management and Transportation, Metro Vancouver
  • Laurie Bates-Frymel, Senior Planner (Environment), Regional Planning Services, Metro Vancouver

Thursday February 20 – Planning for affordable housing in transit corridors.
Segal Building, SFU, 500 Granville Street, Vancouver
Time: 7:30 – 9:00 a.m. (continental breakfast available at 7:00 a.m.)
Speakers:

  • Heather McNell, General Manager, Regional Planning and Housing Services, Metro Vancouver
  • Susan Haid, Deputy Director of Planning – Long Range and Strategic Planning, City of Vancouver
  • Lee-Ann Garnett, Assistant Director, Long Range Planning, City of Burnaby

Tuesday February 25 – Planning to integrate growth, land use and transportation.
Surrey City Hall, 13450 104 Ave, Surrey
Time: Noon–2:00 p.m. (lunch served 11:30 a.m. – noon)
Speakers:

  • Heather McNell, General Manager, Regional Planning and Housing Services, Metro Vancouver
  • Patrick Klassen, Community Planning Manager, City of Surrey

Thursday February 27 – Planning for employment growth and transportation.
Executive Plaza Hotel Metro Vancouver, 405 North Rd, Coquitlam
Time: Noon–2:00 p.m. (lunch served 11:30 a.m. – noon)
Speakers:

  • Erin Rennie, Senior Planner, Regional Planning Services, Metro Vancouver
  • Andrew Merrill, Director, Development Services, City of Coquitlam

 

January 14, 2020

Regional Transportation Development Charges

In effect January 15, 2020

TransLink’s Regional Transportation Development Cost Charges (DCCs) came into effect in 2019 and will be applied and collected by municipalities on developments in TransLink’s Transportation Service Region starting January 15, 2020.

The DCC will assist in paying for eligible projects in the Mayors’ 10-Year Vision transit expansion plan. With more than one million people moving to Metro Vancouver in the next 30 years, delivering the 10-Year Vision is critical for keeping the region moving and livable.

Important information on the rate types and timing of collection is available on TransLink’s website.

TransLink Contact

For more information, please contact Jagdip Mann, Senior Advisor, Revenue Contracts and Fare Infraction at 778.375.6937 or jagdip.mann@translink.ca.

 

Metro Vancouver Climate 2050 and Clean Air Plan

Metro Vancouver has released three discussion papers to support its Climate 2050 and Clean Air Plan initiatives. They are on Transportation, Buildings, and Industry. The papers include information, targets and strategies for both reducing emissions and climate adaptation measures.

Last year, Metro Vancouver developed a Climate 2050 Strategic Framework for the Region. Under the Strategy, Metro is committed to “Creating a carbon neutral region by 2050…”. To do so, they will be developing Roadmaps (strategies and actions) for ten issue areas:

Metro Vancouver is also developing a new Clean Air Plan to support Climate 2050 that will be the Region’s “… fourth air quality and greenhouse management plan,” which will be focused on seven issues:

  • Buildings;
  • Transportation;
  • Industry and Commerce;
  • Waste;
  • Agriculture;
  • Nature and Ecosystems; and
  • Measurement, Monitoring and Regulation.

In the Discussion Paper on Buildings. Metro is considering a target of having zero emissions from heating and cooling for all buildings by 2050. By 2025, they are considering having target that all new replacement heating and hot water systems be zero emissions. The strategies they are reviewing include:

  • Electrifying Buildings to achieve the emission reductions;
  • Restricting residential wood burning; and
  • Using benchmarking and performance requirements to reduce emissions in existing buildings.

In the Transportation Discussion Paper, Metro is considering road pricing and incentives for zero emission vehicles.

UDI will be participating in a Regional Forum regarding the discussion papers on January 21, 2020. If you have any questions, please contact Cassandra McColman at 604.661.3032.


 

December 23, 2019

Metro Vancouver Updates

Walkability/Parks: Dr. Larry Frank of the University of British Columbia’s (UBC’s) Health and Community Design Lab has been conducting the Where Matters: Health and Economic Impacts of Where We Live study for Metro Vancouver “… to quantify the health and economic benefits of walkable communities and access to parks.” The study demonstrates “… a clear association between the most walkable communities in Metro Vancouver and lower levels of chronic diseases.” A summary of the findings of the Study can be found in Metro’s staff Report to their Board. Dr. Frank has also created a Walkability Index for Metro’s 2040 Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) monitoring program, which includes maps.

Metro 2050: The last newsletter included an update on TransLink’s Transport 2050 Strategy. At the same time, Metro Vancouver is moving forward with its update of the RGS. Metro has released a feedback form. Early next year, they will be hosting a Metro Community Dialogue Series, and by mid-2020 an Online Open House will be launched.

Transit-Oriented Affordable Housing (TOAH): As noted in previous newsletters, UDI has been participating in a Metro Vancouver TOAH Study with several other stakeholders and government agencies “… to better understand the opportunities and constraints for building new affordable rental housing in transit-oriented locations across the region.” This work has now received a national Gold Roof Award for Housing Research Excellence from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Child Care: Metro Vancouver has recently released a Survey of Licensed Child Care Spaces and Policies in Metro Vancouver. The Survey includes a summary of the policies adopted by local governments to increase the number of child care spaces in their communities, including identifying child care facilities as a community amenity in the development approvals process (see Appendix B).”


 

December 9, 2019

UPDATED: Transport 2050

On December 4, TransLink released the Phase One Report for its Transport 2050, which is the “… strategy for transportation in Metro Vancouver for the next 30 years.” It is occurring at the same time Metro Vancouver is updating its Regional Growth Strategy. For Phase 1, TransLink focused on values and ideas to develop a vision. Over 4,000 ideas were generated from 31,000 surveys, and respondents:

  • highly valued parks and natural areas;
  • Wanted convenient neighbourhoods;
  • Wanted to arrive at their destinations on time;
  • Made transit expansion/improvement a top priority;
  • Wanted an efficient, cost effective and environmentally friendly transportation system; and
  • Were concerned about housing affordability; and
  • Were concerned about congestion.

Phase 2 (Consider ideas and trade-offs) begins in Spring 2020, and a draft Regional Transportation Strategy will be developed in Phase 3 (Fall 2020). UDI will keep members updated on this critical infrastructure plan for our Region on an ongoing basis.


 

November 25, 2019

Metro Vancouver Industrial Lands Strategy

Metro Vancouver through an Industrial Lands Strategy Taskforce, several studies and stakeholder meetings has been developing a Regional Industrial Lands Strategy. Metro Vancouver, the Port and some stakeholders are concerned with:

  • The region’s low industrial vacancy rate (1.4%);
  • Rising industrial land costs (which have doubled in the last five years);
  • Increasing lease rates (that have gone from an average of $8 per net square foot per year in late 2014 to $12 in early 2019);
  • The loss of industrial land as just over 2,000 Ha of the region’s total of 11,331 Ha of industrial land are vacant and undeveloped; and
  • The current supply of industrial lands running out between 2035 and 2045 under current absorption trends.

A draft Regional Industrial Lands Strategy was released for the November 21 Industrial Lands Strategy Taskforce. The report includes four “Big Moves”:

  • Protect Remaining Industrial Lands;
  • Intensify and Optimize Industrial Lands;
  • Bring the Existing Land Supply to Market and Address Site Issues; and
  • Ensure a Coordinated Approach.

Under the Big Moves there are 35 recommendations – some of which will have significant impacts on industrial land owners. They include:

  • Conducting a Regional Land Use Assessment;
  • Strengthening Metro’s Industrial Land Policy by:
    • Increasing the voting threshold for changing the designations of Industrial/Mixed Employment sites to General Urban;
    • Establishing a “no net loss of land”, so any industrial land that is removed would have to be offset by land swaps;
    • Having clearer and consistent definitions of and permitted uses for industrial lands; and
    • Potentially allowing residential in mixed employment areas near rapid transit and if existing industrial spaces are preserved or expanded;
  • Having more zoning consistency for industrial lands in all Metro municipalities, which would limit what uses would be allowed in industrial areas (although new industrial uses may be allowed as well);
  • Protecting Trade Enabling Industrial Land (large parcels near transportation infrastructure) through:
    • An Industrial Land Reserve;
    • Changes in the upcoming updated Regional Growth Strategy;
    • Develop Trade Enabling Zoning that municipalities could utilize in key areas; and/or
    • Seek legislative power from the Province to restrict the stratification of Trade Enabling Lands (i.e. similar to the recent Residential Rental Tenure Zoning power);
  • Encouraging the intensification of industrial lands (e.g. additional floors) through more flexible zoning and incentives;
  • Providing greater clarity on Agri-Industrial uses in the Agricultural Land Reserve;
  • Ensuring consideration of Industrial Lands and Assets in a Regional Flood Management Strategy;
  • Reviewing the impact of Tax Assessment on Existing Industrial Uses;
  • Managing conflict through buffering policies;
  • Seeking Provincial approval to allow municipalities to warn of nuisance impacts on land title;
  • Adopting the Railway Association of Canada and Federation of Canadian Municipalities Guidelines for New Development in Proximity to Railway Operations;
  • Developing Local Bring-To-Market Strategies for Vacant Industrial Lands;
  • Improving transportation connections between Industrial Areas;
  • Improving data sharing; and
  • Better coordinating with neighbouring regions in Southwestern British Columbia.

UDI will be participating in a Metro Vancouver workshop on the draft Strategy on December 10, and will be organizing a meeting for the development industry with Metro Vancouver in January.


 

October 29, 2019 

Translink – Transport 2050
As noted in previous newsletters, UDI has been participating in TransLink’s new Regional Transportation Strategy – Transport 2050. The Phase 1 of the consultation process, “Share values and ideas, develop vision” has concluded. UDI wrote the attached letter to TransLink regarding:

  • The need to link land use decisions with transportation investments; and
  • The need to involve the building industry in any futzure discussions about land value capture or increasing the TransLink DCC.

Phase 2, “Consider ideas and trade-offs”, begins in Spring 2020. It is expected that a draft Regional Transportation Strategy will be released a year from now. UDI will keep members informed regarding this important regional planning and infrastructure investment initiative.

Metro Vancouver – Regional Growth Strategy


At the same time TransLink is developing its Transport 2050 plan, Metro Vancouver is embarking on its Regional Growth Strategy update. According to Metro, “The update is being undertaken to extend the regional growth strategy to the year 2050, to consider significant drivers of change, to integrate with Transport 2050 (TransLink’s new Regional Transportation Strategy), and to implement policy improvements in a number of areas.” UDI has already participated in several Metro Vancouver events during the first phase of the process, “Review and Setting Direction”, which will continue into mid-2020. The Plan Development phase will begin then and last until mid-2021. It is anticipated that the new RGS will not be approved until 2022. Again, UDI will continue to participate in and update members about this critical regional planning initiative.

 


August 6, 2019 

Mayors’ Council Advances Surrey Skytrain Extension

On July 25, the Mayors’ Council voted to proceed with the next step towards extending the Expo Line along Fraser Highway through Surrey and to the Langley City and Township. TransLink Staff will now proceed with preparing the detailed business case which is expected to be complete in early 2020, and if approved, construction on the extension could begin in early 2022. However, according to updated TransLink estimates, the current approved budget will only get the new trains as far as 166th Street in Fleetwood, including seven KMs of track and four stations for a cost of $1.63 billion. The proposed extension past 166th Street is unfunded and will require further financial contributions from regional and senior levels of governments.  


 

June 24, 2019 

Recycling and composting in the Fraser Valley

The Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) is implementing new sorting requirements for recyclables and compostables. The new regional requirements will apply to all sectors across the region. Following the public consultation coordinated by the FVRD and municipalities, the proposed bylaw was approved in the Fall 2018.

Bylaw 1495, please see: https://www.fvrd.ca/assets/Government/Documents/Bylaws/Other/Bylaw%20No.%201495,%202018%20Regional%20Solid%20Waste%20Removal%20Regulations.PDF

Public information and resource materials (i.e., guides for various sectors, sample signage, tenant letters, etc…) in support of the requirements are under the regional “Waste Wise” initiative and posted here: https://bewastewise.com .

Prepare to #sortitout

The new FVRD requirements come into effect on April 1, 2020 and they will not change diversion programs already in place. The new bylaw is meant to increase the amount of material diverted from the landfill since it will apply to everyone–residents of single and multifamily buildings, businesses and institutions. All sectors (except for those exempt under the regional solid waste management plan) will be required to separate recyclable and compostable materials from the garbage stream.

The FVRD is working closely with waste management service providers in the region, and providing them with resources to inform customers about setting up sorting systems that will ensure compliance on or before Spring 2020. Commercial and institutional customers can speak with their hauler about the services available in support of the requirements.

Additionally, the Recycling Hotline of BC (1-800-REC-YCLE) is ready to answer questions about the new FVRD sorting requirements.


 

May 13, 2019

Transport 2050 Plan Launched

TransLink has launched its Transport 2050 engagement plan to shape a new long-range strategy to guide their work over the next three decades. They are gathering input through an online survey which is now available at Transport2050.ca.

 

Lower Mainland Local Government Association (LMLGA) Conference

On May 8 – May 10, Mayors and Councillors from the lower mainland region met in Harrison for the annual LMLGA conference and AGM. The following Resolutions were endorsed for the Union of British Columbia Municipalities 2019 AGM consideration – See here for the Annual Report and full text of resolutions and Comments section:

 

R25 Extension of Vacancy Taxation Authority to Local Government 

Whereas the Province of British Columbia responded to a housing affordability crisis in 2016 with legislation empowering the City of Vancouver to introduce a surtax on vacant residential properties, resulting in $38 million in revenues for that community in 2018 and creating a strong disincentive to leaving properties vacant;

And whereas communities across British Columbia face housing affordability pressures, while a portion of the housing supply in all communities remains vacant;

Therefore be it resolved that the UBCM call on the Province of British Columbia to extend the authority to introduce a surtax on vacant residential properties to local governments across British Columbia, providing communities with the discretion to decide whether to introduce an additional tax to discourage vacant and derelict buildings, and encourage the occupancy, maintenance, and improvement of buildings to address housing affordability and public safety.

 

R26 Development Cost Charges Legislation

Whereas the Local Government Act currently restricts the collection of Development Cost Charges to areas of sewage, water, drainage, roads and park land;

And whereas new development creates capital cost burdens on municipalities in other areas, such as, but not limited to, emergency services, artificial sports fields, and recreation and cultural facilities:

Therefore be it resolved that that LMLGA direct UBCM to lobby the provincial government to conduct a holistic review of the Development Cost Charges legislation and update the Best Practices Guide to address the outdated provision regarding eligible costs for Development Cost Charges.

 

R28 Broaden the Allowable Uses of Parkland Development Cost Changes

Whereas the BC government has determined that Parkland Development Cost Charges (“DCCs”) cannot be used to fund sport‐related park infrastructure such as synthetic turf fields, tennis or basketball courts, water spray parks, swimming pools and arenas;

And whereas municipalities can use Parkland DCCs to provide fencing, landscaping, drainage and irrigation, trails, rest‐rooms, changing rooms and playground and playing field equipment and there is tangible evidence that new development directly impacts the demand for sport‐related park infrastructure through increased attendance at municipal recreation facilities and increased demand for playing time on municipal sports fields:

Therefore be it resolved that the BC government be requested to approve an amendment to Section 935(3) (b)(ii) of the Local Government Act to include sport‐related park infrastructure as an applicable Parkland DCC capital cost.

 

R30 Varied Tax Rate for Residential Class

Whereas the Province of British Columbia through the BC Assessment Act–Prescribed Classes of Property Regulation B.C. Reg. 438/81 specifies that there is one assessment class for all types of residential properties and the Community Charter outlines that a municipal bylaw to establish the property value taxes each year under section 197(3) specifies there is a single rate for each property class;

And whereas the assessed value of multi‐family housing and single family housing appreciates at vastly different rates, leading to large fluctuations and tax rates swings year‐to‐year between these housing types:

Therefore be it resolved that the Province of British Columbia amend the BC Assessment Act and the Community Charter to allow the residential class to be split into two distinct residential classes so that a different rate may be applied to each type of residential property to allow for better tax planning, and a more consistent application of property tax changes, for all residents no matter their housing type.


 

April 1, 2019

Metro Vancouver Transit-Oriented Affordable Housing (TOAH) Study

UDI has been working with Metro Vancouver and several other partners, including the BC Non-Profit Housing Association, BC Housing, TransLink, Vancity, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation on a TOAH Study. Phase 2 of the work will be going to the April 5 Regional Planning Committee (see section 5.2).

Two issues were reviewed in this phase. The first is the potential of adopting the TOAH Fund model in Metro Vancouver. TOAH Funds have been used in several U.S. communities. They are blends of different sources of private, charitable foundation and public sector capital that are used to offer attractive loan products to affordable housing projects in transit-oriented locations.

The second report going to Regional Planning Committee is Reducing the Barrier of High Land Cost: Strategies for Facilitating More Affordable Rental Housing Construction in Metro Vancouver by Coriolis and Wollenberg Munro Consulting Inc. The efficacy of several planning tools to encourage TOAH projects are examined in the Report, including:

  1. Using non-profit and public sector lands;
  2. Community Amenity Contributions and Density Bonusing;
  3. Inclusionary Zoning; and
  4. Using the recently approved rental residential zoning tool available to municipalities.

 

The Report includes several important conclusions:

  • While efforts to maintain or replace existing affordable rental housing stock are an important element of a comprehensive regional affordable rental housing strategy … Without increased supply, there will not be enough rental housing to meet projected household growth, there will continue to be very low vacancy, and there will continue to be upward pressure on rent.”
  • For the foreseeable future, non-profit organizations and private developers will continue to provide a large share of total new rental housing construction in Metro Vancouver.  There is not enough government funding being put into rental construction to meet the entire need for new market and affordable rental units.” The consultant notes, “… land and construction for all the rental housing needed in this region will require about $2.5 billion per year. Again, depending on how rents are set, this could be recovered over the long term but it still requires massive borrowing or outlay of cash.”
  • There is a need to better utilize non-profit and public sector land;
  • There is a need for “Strategic land acquisition by local governments and by TransLink when land is being acquired for transit infrastructure.”
  • Making land (or more often density) available at no cost is a crucial element in achieving more rental housing, especially affordable rental.  This means increasing allowable densities and, when the density is used for rental, not requiring CACs in most cases.”
  • “… Because affordable rental is not financially viable on its own in most cases, there is a need for incentives. One of the best available incentives in this region is to make new residential strata density (and in some areas market rental density) available in exchange for affordable rental housing.”
  • The “… use of density bonusing and rezonings to achieve affordable housing via increased density can be expanded if local governments adopt area plans to designate lands for redevelopment, reduce uncertainty, and accelerate approvals to reduce cost.  The approvals tap must be opened much wider than it currently is in most communities in Metro Vancouver in order for new rental unit construction to keep pace with projected requirements based on growth in the number of households.”
  • Residential rental tenure zoning on its own will not result in a significant amount of new rental housing construction, unless combined with sufficient increases in density to enable rental projects to outcompete existing uses for sites. However, there will be many cases where even large increases in density will not make rental only projects financially viable, either because the necessary density can only be achieved in concrete (which is too expensive) or because the necessary density is too high be to acceptable.” 
  • Residential rental tenure zoning can prevent or postpone the demolition of older rental stock, by eliminating strata development as a potential use, but this does not contribute to increased rental supply. Applying residential tenure zoning to private sites, without extra density or incentives, also creates market uncertainty, can reduce market interest in new rental construction, and can reduce investor interest in owning rental property.”
  • Inclusionary housing requirements that specify rents or household income limits cannot currently be implemented by zoning alone in BC. Imposing such requirements, in the absence of incentives including additional density, would not help create new rental supply because the reduced net operating income from lower rents will create an even greater financial challenge for the construction of new rental projects.”
  • The best available zoning approach for local governments in Metro Vancouver to facilitate an increase in the supply of rental housing has three integrated components:  (a) create new density to accommodate affordable rental housing plus new density for strata (or in some cases market rental), (b) convert the value of the extra market density into affordable housing benefits (either affordable units or cash-in-lieu), and (c) use housing agreements to control rental tenure and rent rates.”
  • Local governments can help increase the supply of rental housing by reducing approvals risk and reducing approvals times. One way to reduce approvals risk and timing is to rezone land in advance, when a comprehensive planning process has identified appropriate locations for higher density, rather than requiring that rezoning proceed site by site.” The consultant also notes, “The non-profits generally find local government approval processes too long, too complex, and too costly.  They also sometimes find that local government expectations regarding design, construction quality, and servicing costs make it challenging for projects because of the extra capital cost.”
  • While addressing the land availability challenge is crucial, government agencies should not ignore the importance of other ways to address the financial difficulty of providing new rental housing. Steps such as reducing construction cost (e.g. reduced DCCs, reduced parking), continuing to provide financing at below market rates, and providing technical assistance to non-profits are important.”
  • Local governments can also help increase the supply of new rental housing by taking care in setting design and construction requirements for affordable housing, with an eye to the cost implications of these requirements. Reduced construction cost reduces the breakeven rent that must be achieved in affordable rental projects.”
  • Where the affordable housing obligation for a project is relatively small, local governments should consider the option of having the units provided off site or in the form of cash-in-lieu funds pooled to create public sector or non-profit projects.”
  • There is broad consensus among private and non-profit housing developers that stand-alone, self-contained rental buildings (with all affordable rental or a mix of market and affordable rental under single ownership) work better than buildings that have mixed tenure (strata and rental) or mixed ownership (via air parcels).”
  • Goals for transit-oriented affordable rental should not focus only on rapid transit stations. These areas are generally planned for densities that require concrete construction, which is expensive.  Frequent transit corridors, with good bus service and where the appropriate density can be achieved in wood frame construction, or the shoulder areas around rapid transit nodes can deliver more units for a given investment.”
  • Integrated planning for transit and land use in transit-oriented areas should plan for affordable housing from the beginning.”

 

March 18, 2019

Metro Vancouver Releases 2018 Regional Parking Study

TransLink and Metro Vancouver have funded a 2018 Regional Parking Study that went to Metro’s Regional Planning Committee on March 8, 2019. The Study is a follow-up on a similar Report that was completed in 2012. The findings in both studies are also consistent as well. Metro staff are suggesting that the information in the 2018 Study be used for municipal area planning, parking bylaw updates and rezoning/development reviews.

The 2018 research involved three surveys (conducted between October 2017 and January 2018):

  1.   A Parking Facility Survey of parking supply and utilization in 73 apartment projects;
  2.   A Street Parking Survey of parking supply/utilization near the selected apartment projects; and
  3.   A Household Survey of the 1,500 households in the 73 apartment projects. 

There were several findings from the research. As in 2012, apartment parking supply substantially exceeds actual use across Metro Vancouver for both strata and rental projects – although parking supply is decreasing in newer projects. Parking supply exceeds utilization by 42% in strata projects; in rental buildings, supply exceeds utilization by 35%; and in mixed tenure and mixed rental buildings, the number is 41%. Metro’s smallest units (0 bedrooms or units less than 600 sq. ft.) have the largest oversupply of parking. Parking supply and use is lower for buildings closer to frequent transit, and transit use is higher (especially for rental buildings) when parking use is lower.

In mixed-use neighbourhoods, the issue of street parking is complex. Although, the over utilization of street parking was not common, it did occur. When it did, “Nearby non-residential trip generators, such as parks, restaurants, and other commercial uses appear to be one factor.”

The Study includes information about bike parking facilities as well. Approximately one-third of bicycle-owning households across the region do not use secured bike parking facilities because of concerns about safety and convenience. 

A link to the 2018 study can be found here.

 

Changes to DCC Waiver for Affordable Housing

Initially introduced in May 2018, Metro Vancouver has changed the conditions to qualify for a Development Cost Charge waiver on Affordable Housing Units.  Beginning May 1, 2019 this waiver will only be available for not-for profit housing providers and will no longer apply to For Profit Affordable Rental Housing. For additional information on the existing exemption qualifications and updated Bylaws please visit Metro Vancouver’s webpage.


 

February 18, 2019 

UDI Rental Housing Committee decries harmful use of Rental-Only Zoning

On February 13, the UDI Rental Housing Committee met to discuss the recent cases across of municipalities downzoning properties through the use of rental-tenure zoning, including New Westminster and potentially Port Moody. In New Westminster, Mayor and Council voted to rezone 6 active stratified-rental buildings into rental-only sites, prompting a devaluation of the properties. The move to downzone these properties through the use of rental-only zoning will likely result in a future decrease in housing options as builders pause in this uncertain climate.

Our members were supportive in principle of Bill 23, the Local Government Statutes (Residential Rental Tenure Zoning) Amendment Act when the Government introduced the legislation, as long as this new tool was used as an incentive to upzone property to stimulate the building of more rental homes. However, UDI continues to raise concerns about this new power being utilized heavy-handedly by local governments to arbitrarily downzone properties without compensation and due consideration. Unfortunately, up to this point, we are only aware of municipalities where this tool has been used to negatively impact properties.

UDI wants to hear from our members on the use of rental-only zoning. If you are concerns about the impact of this type of bylaw on your project in any municipality please contact Marissa Chan-Kent.

 

Mayors’ Council Endorses Skytrain as Preferred Technology to UBC

On Friday morning, the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation voted in favour of proceeding with planning for the future SkyTrain from Arbutus to UBC. The decision was in line with the recommendation made by Translink staff, and the subsequent Vancouver City Council endorsement in late January. The decision to approve SkyTrain technology triggers a $3-million early planning process over the coming year that will lead to the start of a business case process in 2020.


 

November 26, 2018

Update on Implementation of Regional Transportation DCC

The Mayors’ Council and TransLink’s Board have adopted the Phase Two Investment Plan.

  • The Plan includes the $29M/year (2020$) DCCs, as per the DCC framework, as a new funding source with collections starting on January 15, 2020.
  • The 12-month in-stream protection is expected to be in effect when the DCC bylaws are adopted. TransLink has set the initial DCC rates from January 15, 2019 to January 14, 2020 to $0 to ensure any development applications not covered by the 12-month in-stream protection are not charged a DCC prior to January 15, 2020.
  • The DCC rates effective January 15, 2020 will be imposed and collected on subdivision approvals or building permits, as applicable, starting that day for subdivision or building permit applications that were submitted in 2019 or that were not eligible for in-stream protection.

To support implementation, TransLink will soon be publishing all details on their website, and in the meantime, if you have any questions please contact Jag Mann at 778.375.6937.


 

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