So much of Vancouver was downzoned in the 70s that, in many neighbourhoods, it isn't feasible to build social housing without a rezoning.

Tonight is day 2 of public speakers on a proposal to allow 6 floors of social housing by-right in a few areas.
The first night was something. Leaders in providing & operating non-profit housing like @jfatkey, @wazaroff, David Eddy, and @thomjarmstrong showed up to support the motion. They spoke of what an obstacle rezoning is for social housing projects.
The opposition was from the usual suspects -- neighbourhood association types who frequently speak to council to oppose housing of all sorts.

Sometimes it's because the housing is too tall. Sometimes too ugly. Sometimes to this, or that, but there's almost ways something.
I know who I think is more credible when it comes to the merits of easing the barriers to building social housing.

We're starting off with questions to staff. Hardwick is at it, of course.
oh god no I wasn't listening, Hardwick isn't asking questions to staff, she's asking questions to the last public speaker from last night and he has come back just for this and his slides back up and I am very 🙄
Carr ALSO has questions for this guy, ofc she loves all this, says his presentation was "very interesting", she's asking him about building form (stacked townhouses vs rowhomes), this isn't a reasonable use of council time. Ugh. Maybe I will open up that bottle of wine.
I doubt the public valuein these lengthy 1 on 1 discussions with city councilors like this. Let people have their say, sure, but the Qs from councilors are almost always a total waste of time. Mostly grandstanding and signalling to their resident ass'n buddies.
Next up, another resident, opposing. "Slippery slope in increasing zoning", if passed 6 storeys new starting point for "developers", then "before we know it single family homes are sandwiched in between towers."

"Towers belong on corridors", not with single family homes.
"overshadowing" DRINK!

"parking" DRINK!!

(maybe don't, it would be really dangerous to play a game like that in a public hearing like this)
Now she's specifically talking about the risk of bringing "supportive housing" to her neighbourhood, worried that's where the talk on day 1 of "deeper affordability" might lead.

She's talking about the Kits residents she represents, dunno if she's here in some official capacity
Hardwick, ofc, has questions for her. She's doing what she frequently does -- use her 5 minutes of Qs to basically have a chat with housing opponents, try to paint their objections in the most flattering light, clean up the more blatant nonsense, etc
The speaker is totally baffled at the idea that she, as a resident, shouldn't have a say on each building proposed for her neighbourhood.

She's a lawyer, she says, complaining about the imprecise definition of "social housing". Hardwick: "I tend to agree. As a lawyer..."
She seems to have a profound misunderstanding of how this works.

Says that, if passed, this would create a "floor" of 6 floors. And that right now, the "floor" is 4 floors.

That is totally backwards. The floor, of course, is that nothing at all happens & status quo prevails.
Nobody is compelling the development of any site. The "floor" is literally nothing. And even if this upzoning does happen, it won't be a ban on building a single family home, or tiny cottage.

Zoning is the CEILING, because the demand for housing in this city is SO HUGE.
So yeah, she seems to have a completely upside down view of this. Real cities aren't built like in SimCity -- council isn't just plonking stuff down where it wants. Building & operating social housing is extremely difficult. This is about slightly reducing some barriers to it.
Fry is now in a discussion with this NIMBY about whether she understands the current zoning already allows 4 floors of supportive housing. She is saying the danger is that "supportive housing gets swept up into this bylaw".
well that was painful. We're half an hour into this and that was only the first speaker.

Sigh. Anyways, next up is someone who...supports this motion!!!! phew, great to have a supporter early in the evening!
Notes how many of the opponents talk about "character" of n'hood. He grew up in one of the n'hoods in this motion. The "character" to him was in the relationships. He's a teacher now. High land costs in Vancouver aren't going away; need to build up, not out.
Carr has a question for him. You've talked about growing up in n'hood, the people. Asks him how people of his generation, millenials, feel about the diff b/w 4 storeys and 6.

Spkr: Seen housing costs spiral out of control. We need housing. Discussion about height a luxury
"I've got no options." Can't find an apartment to rent in any of the n'hoods in this motion that are affordable to him, or up to code (think he's referring to substandard basement suites). Thinks 6 storeys is great.

That was great!
Next up -- sorry, I missed his name, but I think he's with Catalyst Community Development Society. Support! emphasizing the outreach they do to be friendly to neighbours. Rezoning takes time -- removing that can "significantly" contribute to affordability. Leads to real savings.
Not needing to go through rezoning also lowers risk. Makes funders more willing to sign on when don't need to rezone.

Swanson has Qs, about risk of displacement. Spkr noting only non-profits could take advantage of this rezoning. Wherever possible they will deliver affordability
That's interesting, in response to Q from Swanson sprk says in his experience, permanent modular housing not particularly cost competitive w/ regular wood frame housing.

(This is the Catalyt speaker, thanks!)
Carr up next, with Qs about definition of "social housing" in this motion -- min 30% HILS rate, 70% at other lvls of affordability. Asking him his thoughts.

He's explaining their mission is to deliver as deep affordability as possible. Will always do best. But...
...if they change this definition, then need ongoing funding from other levels of gov't. If you don't secure that funding, and change the def of "social housing" from what it is, you don't build ANY affordable housing.

Carr seems to get it!
He is specifically warning them against a limit of 2.5 FSR. Let the building design guidelines guide the project. More efficient designs would come in 2.8, 2.9 FSR.

Fry has a "big concern". uh oh. Yeah, it's about the definition of "social housing".
Yes, Fry is concerned about displacement. Think he's asking if Tenant Relocation Policy shld be amended to apply to non-profits.

Brown: a stretch for non-profits to buy an existing apt. Almost never happens. Usually redeveloping their own existing bldgs. That's hard enough to do
Basically, hard to imagine that could be a real problem, but should always have eye on TRP to keep it up to date and responsive.

Hardwick has Qs. Wants go to in a "different direction". Ok. Her question is about assessment of value of land, land lift.
Brown: valued at market value? 4 floors of condos, converted to social housing that must be owned/operated by non-profit, complying w/ current definition of social housing, value of land likely to go down. worth more as 4 storey condo than 6 storey social housing. I know that.
Hardwick: that is my main focus. land values. what would be impact on value of land.

As I understand Brown's response, he's basically saying this won't have any land lift impact. Restricting to non-profit social housing.
Hardwick brushed off his answer, said "we really need an answer to this", it "goes to the heart of the matter", she's looking at the "land inflation that is rampant in this city". Will this put more fuel on fire etc

Brown: I'm saying it will not. Absolutely not.
He is trying to explain that a 4 floor condo land is more valuable than 6 floor social housing land. So is 6 floor rental land. This motion will not have a land lift effect.

Hardwick can't credibly oppose this motion on the basis of land lift after this discussion.
Now SKY is asking about Brown's suggestion to increase FSR. He's explaining that in his experience can hit good spot of affordability/viability at 2.8 FSR while meeting design guidelines. Limiting it to 2.5 FSR, like this motion does, leaves affordable housing on table.
After that great speech from Robert Brown, we have another rep from a non-profit housing provider here to support! (I'm sorry, my dog needed attn, I missed her name and org 😭)
She wants to go through a real project, see how these changes would have helped if they existed 1 year ago -- the people it would have helped.

1885 E Pender in Grandview Woodlands. Currently zoned RM4 -- up for public hearing in a few weeks.
Existing building has 31 homes; trying to add 33. Conforms to density in existing community plan, but needs rezoning.

Over last year rezoning has directly led to $500k in costs (!!!!). In that time seen reduction in borrowing power; construction & wood price increases.
So rezoning had a total of $1,900,000 negative impact on these 64 homes. Directly led to increase in rent of $210/month/apt. Added 1 year to process.

And this is with land they already owned!
These homes won't benefit from this rezoning. Too late. But every tool made available to affordable housing community put to use.

Spkr: recent project is 20% shelter, 30% HILS, rest "low end" of market, income capped.
The mayor is now informing council that if we don't finish this motion tonight it will resume tomorrow night, which sigh isn't a good sign that we will finish up tonight.
Rohana Rezel is up...and he supports the motion!

And after that...another supporter! We're on a roll! Talking of the expensive, lengthy consultations and nitpicking that non-profit housing has to go through, from the public and this council specifically.
This speaker is going into how embarrassed council should be over some of the previous public hearing fiascos it has overseen. Mayor gently reminds him to stay focused on this particular project. He wraps up by talking about his family's struggles w/ housing, people need homes
Next up -- another supporter from the non-profit housing sector! (I'm so sorry I'm so bad with names!)

He's talking of the cost of rezoning, emphasizing the uncertainty when you need to rezone. Non-profit partners a cornerstone in providing affordable housing in city.
Non-profits have made good neighbours. Mission driven orgs.

Most of the existing social housing in city started off under mixed market programs. Common practice. Definition of "social housing" here is important. Rezoning only applies to non-profits.
Thanks!! Yes, that was great -- I really hope the opponents of this modest rezoning listen to the people who know what they're talking about!
Ok, next up, speaker 15 -- sigh, it's a rep from a Kits strata council (I think she said her building was the "Canvas"?) opposing.

Not enough consultation, of course.

Would allow for buildings "twice the height" of most other buildings in n'hood, w/o rezoning.
Next up, attacking the definition of "social housing" in city by-laws. Fry had a motion last year or so to reconsider the definition, so this speaker is saying this rezoning shouldn't proceed until that is there can be MOOOAR CONSULTATION.
I have been informed that the strata we just heard from, who are opposing this motion, are also opposing the social housing at 8th and Arbutus.
Anyways, we're back after a short break. This spkr has presentation...and concerns. CONCERNS.

"Obviously I'm a big proponent of social housing, but in this case I'm opposed" you can't make this stuff up
I was going to comment more on this guy's presentation, but this gives you a flavour.

Hardwick, of course, has questions. "What you're saying here...the crux..." she's picking up on his argument that this motion would lead to a reduction of affordable housing.
Even Hardwick seems skeptical of his claims, which are of course totally contrary to what the people involved in actually building or operating non-profit housing have been saying.

This just isn't a good use of public time.
Aw that's too bad, @agcotter was registered, but looks like he couldn't make it.

But the next speaker is a supporter! Lives in one of the affected areas. But has seen how affordability has deteriorated. Lives in secondary market rental. Has decent income, so has some choice...
...but buying out of reach. Policies need to catch up to reality, make it easier to build mixed-market social housing.

This has been a democratic process. Very modest, baby steps proposal. Council should consider up to 8 floors. But this will help non-profits access prov $$.
Finds arguments this will lead to mass displacement specious. Very limited. Non-profits not swimming in cash, ready to buy up properties. Realistically limited to land they already own, or gov't land.
Points out she wasn't able to attend public hearing to comment when house torn down and replaced w/ more expensive house nearby. Yeah!

Next up: @KishoneRoy !!! This should be great!

"It makes me sad affordable housing is illegal to build in most of our city."
Angriest voices attract most attention. Some call that n'hood character. "I call it a lack of character." Character comes from whom you welcome in, not who you zone out.
Non-profits asked to cut entire floors of their housing. Hear about $$ from feds or prov. But where is it legal to build that housing? Legal in very few places.

Should be upzoned for social housing to 12 floors.
Why is it legal to build a new castle in the middle of the city, but not affordable housing?

Finds some of these hearings -- bldg by bldg by bldg -- harmful. Many comments are prejudicial, unrepresentative. We can do better. We have a right to build affordable housing.
YES Kishone works in a word he coined recently, zonelords, which I love
Make social housing legal. It cures harm, it doesn't cause harm. It is medicine for our society. Please take it when it is offered.

Just amazing stuff from @KishoneRoy, i haven't done it justice at all. "The need is great."
Sadly, he is followed up by David Webb, a Mt Pleasant resident who is opposed. Says this is about "expediency, expediency which benefits no one but developers", so that's where this is at.
He's concerned over existing housing stock in Mt Pleasant. Which look, I get. We need to protect our existing affordable housing stock. But that housing is only affordable b/c we built it 50+ years ago -- we won't get more of it by NOT building housing now.
If this guy was in charge then, that housing wouldn't exist today.

Wow, so now he's just directly attacking the character of non-profit housing providers, calling them "wolfs in sheep's clothing".
And it's @miraoreck here to support this motion!

Thanks staff for bringing this forward (staff did, not a councilor). This motion provides solutions. Allows non-profits to provide housing months sooner than they otherwise could.
Helps capitalize on political alignment that exists right now from senior gov't to fund non-profit housing.

Takes work away from planning, so they can focus on other priorities.

Only downside: doesn't apply to whole city.

Great stuff!
And next up is @nlamontagne , to provide his "hearty support" to this modest proposal!

Rezonings have become very common in Vancouver. But in this case works against public benefit. Maintaining rezonings for these social homes counter productive.
Just because no rezoning, staff isn't giving up oversight. Staff excellent at dealing with context specific issues. Many opportunities for local feedback, addressing local concerns.

Great stuff Neal!
Next up, @amoralorealis ... but looks like she couldn't make it.

Oh no hahaha now up is Bill Tielman, here to oppose hahahaha

Starting off with "despite what you've heard on twitter, I do support social housing"
Hardwick of course loves Tieleman's claims of NOT ENUF CONSULTATION. Asks him about his views on the definition of "social housing". He says the definition is a concern. "I am concerned of overheight of whatever nature it might be".

He's just embarrassing himself.
I left for a moment and oh god Hardwick is still at it with Tieleman. now they're talking about the broadway plan (Bill had suggested this motion should wait till its done), he's complaining how people don't know about it, blah blah
Unfortunately, I sometimes worry that Tieleman doesn't just reflect the past of the BC NDP, but the present: NIMBY, pastoralist, fundamentally not prepared to grapple with today's challenges, let alone tomorrow's.
Thankfully Bill is followed up by someone who actually does support social housing! Talking of the benefits of this motion in increasing amount of non-profit housing that could be built in the city.

Hardwick has a question. "Land, it's the only thing that matters" she says.
Wants this public speaker to answer her question about impact this motion would have on land lift. She already heard a conclusive and authoritative answer (this will not cause any land lift), but anyways, she's obviously not letting go of that.
Hardwick is saying something about council "sprinkling our magical rezoning dust" and the fact that anyone thinks she's a serious councilor with serious ideas about housing and affordability, and not just an avatar of the status quo brigade is a bad, bad joke.
Hardwick used her full 5 minutes on this speaker. god this is such a sloooooow process, and Hardwick is a big part of why these hearings get so dragged out. remember this stunt?
Here's the current speaker -- thanks for the info!
And that's the end of the speaker's list. I was thinking of calling in but I don't have anything to add, other than "LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE WHO KNOW WHAT THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT!". Let's hope council does the right thing and passes this motion.
Hooray, @yvryimby from @ahvancouver is up! He's here to support, but also critique. This motion applies to areas that have already been asked to accept all new housing in this city for decades. Right next door, the RS1 (detached house) n'hoods are untouched.
If we want to fight displacement, the answer is easy: put housing of any sort, market or social, where there aren't many tenants right now. And we know where that is: low density, RS1 areas. That's where we should be putting new housing.
Tells his story. Lives in a 100+ year old market rental building, has for 20 years. But it's for sale. Easy answer to minimize risk it will get redeveloped: legalize housing in low density areas.
This is a modest motion, but has one radical idea: if we want affordable housing, can't give a veto to people who oppose it. People most affected by new housing aren't the people who live nearby, but the people who live in it.
We shouldn't be fooled to think that scale doesn't matter. Without sufficient housing, of any sort, just means unaffordability or wait lists. Asks council to dismantle the veto system we've built.

I always really dig @yvryimby's contributions!!
And that's it for public speakers, back to staff. Dan Garrison is up. Heard concerns. Reiterates that, from staff's view, this is a very small step. Really just a change in implementation to make it easier for non-profit housing providers to deliver housing.
Staff also heard from public that this doesn't go far enough. Staff are recommending against that: council legally could increase height from initial proposal, but staff recommend against doing so; instead, should be brought back for new public hearing.
Look, I frequently defend staff, but contrary to the conspiracy theory element in vanre, my view is staff is institutionally conservative.

Anyways, staff are saying that if council does want to be more ambitious, increasing to 3 FSR is a better option than increasing height.
Re geography, staff acknowledge this is limited to existing apartment areas, but any expansion of that should come through other planning processes like Broadway Plan or City Plan. (Like I said: institutionally conservative.)
Swanson asking if a profit-making dev could partner w/ a non-profit and use this to build market housing that could be bought and sold.

Staff: 100% must be non-profit owned and operated.
Bligh: re democratic process, asks about development permit process. basically, soliciting an explanation of the lengthy dp process, the many opportunities the public has to provide feedback and be consulted as part of that process, etc
SKY following up on the suggestion for an incrased FSR. I hope she does that. This council has been mostly dysfunctional and ineffective during their term, and a big part of the problem is constantly referring things back to staff rather than making real decisions.
So while I definitely agree with Atkey and others that this motion should be more ambitious and eg allow 12 floor social housing projects, I'd rather council pass this motion, then bring a fresh one to go further, than refer this one back to staff. I'm sick of stalling and delay.
Staff also explaining that this motion wouldn't change the "highest and best use" in the rezoned areas, since that would remain 4 floors of condos.

Hardwick is next, and she wants evidence to support that claim.
Hardwick has some questions about social housing "jumping the queue", clearly on the hunt for grounds on which to oppose this motion.

Wants staffs views now on democracy, says this would erode democracy on land use.
Garrison: common practice for a council to consider a district-wide zoning change. This has been a standard, neighbourhood-based consultation, during a pandemic. We're at a public hearing now. Rezoning would mostly just allow social housing already allowed by community plans
Garrison: so not unusual to consider rezoning that applies to more than one site.

Hardwick: not unusual to do a rezoning in a pandemic???? SHOCK HORROR!

Hardwick is so transparently an opponent of new housing I don't know how anyone fools themselves otherwise.
Anyways, after that round of posturing, Carr is up next. Has some question about the collection of data on different types of non-market housing in the city. Staff are basically saying they're working on it, but a challenging data collection problem.
I really hope council doesn't pull some stunt to delay or frustrate this! We saw this with the expansion of the rental transition areas. The NPA and Greens sent it back for more consultation a long time ago. It's still MIA.
MDG has some questions to staff, but I can't really figure them out.
Yes. This council has been pretty good on approving the individual housing projects that make it to them. But that's not good enough. The problem is how scared they have been to make any real decisions on policy.
Great point. We've heard the figure $500k/project when it comes to cost of rezoning process...being spent by non-profits! So that's mostly either donor or tax $$. Being blown on theatre to make NIMBYs feel like special zonelords.
Dominato has some interesting, well-thought out questions for staff on some of the technical aspects here. She's one of the only councilors I am confident actually does the homework to try to understand complex issues.
Fry is up next. He has questions about the definition of "social housing". Concerned about non-profit housing providers displacing renters. Wants to know the # of non-profits in Vancouver.

Staff confirming that dev permit process can provide oversight re tenant protection polcy
And that's it for staff, the question has been moved so time for debate and vote. SKY has an amendment, let's see...

...looks great! This is what Robert Brown suggested. Gives more flexibility to non-profits. But also w/i bounds of public hearing set by staff.
Staff are being asked why they didn't propose a 3.0 FSR.

Staff answer: saw this as quick step, were looking at what was already approvable. (My reading b/w the lines: we are so used to this council NIMBYing things up we are cowered and bring forward only the smallest steps)
Staff confirming that increasing FSR would just lead to more homes. Min unit size governed by BC Housing, so no change there. Bigger building = more homes.

(Housing opponents often make the contradictory demand of bigger homes + smaller buildings)
Ok here's a vote on the amendment! Should give us a flavour of how things will go...and it passes! Hardwick in opposition, jeez. That's bad, even for her.
Time for debate on the main motion!

Boyle is up first. Thanks the non-profit housing providers who showed up to speak and share their deep experience. Knows Vancouver needs more of these homes. Gives a great speech in favour of the need for housing in this city.
Boyle will bring a motion to deepen this and go further. Great stuff!

And from this council's best councilor, we go to it's worst: Hardwick. Says side-stepping democracy is the issue here. Huh? Says it's about saying the only voices we want to hear are those we agree with. HUHHH
"I mean, everybody wants to see social housing..." preparing to vote against allowing social housing [CITATION NEEDED]

Says not justified under Vancouver Housing Strategy, which she considers a "fundamentally flawed policy"

There's a Trumpian element to this, rehashing hits
lol Hardwick specifically brings up Bill Tieleman's opposition to this very modest zoning change that would make it slightly easier to build some social housing. Kinda funny, kinda sad, for the former NDP stalwart.
Swanson is up. Housing unaffordability the main issue in Vancouver, other issues flow from it. This council elected to make Vancouver more affordable. That's what this motion does, in a small way. Had worries about displacement, speculation, but satisfied.

She's a yes!
Swanson also not happy w/ definition of "social housing", it's been "foisted" on city by BC Housing. Stuck with it. But satisfied by the speakers from non-profits.

Carr next. Sounds like she's a yes too! (I had doubts.)
Carr says there's been fearmongering about this. Main effect will be to make it cheaper for non-profits to redev their own properties.

Carr is up there with Hardwick in terms of buying into that sort of anti-housing fearmongering, so it's nice to hear her reject it this time.
Kirby-Yung: also had concerns. But satisfied. Modest, in terms of heights. Helps build right sort of housing, get access to fed $.

Huh she seems to be acknowledging that council's main tool to achieve affordability are their policy zoning.
That seems like a pretty trite observation when you think about it -- zoning is the tool through which munis regulate land use, which is obv a tremendous power -- but it's all too rare to hear from powerful people.

Some would prefer to talk about pretty much anything else.
Dominato is up, she is also going to support! This is about reducing red tape, making it easier for non-profits. That sector is key partner in delivering social housing. They are doing the heavy lifting. This is a reasonable proposal.
Fry: save significant time and cost off new affordable housing. supportive from pure efficiency POV. Had some real high-calibre non-profit housing providers come to speak to us. But not all non-profits created equal. By time these built, HILS could be higher.
Fry sounds like he'll be a yes, but has some real doubts -- worried about displacement, destruction of existing rental housing.

Talking about apt he found in paper, 50x130 lot on sale for $3.3M. Seems reasonably affordable for non-profit. So potentially at risk.
Mayor is mindful of time (hard cut at 10 pm), so speaks briefly in favour. He is of course supportive, he and Boyle are the most reliable pro-housing votes. passes! lol Hardwick can't bring herself to vote for it
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