April 18, 2017 5:27 pm
Updated: April 18, 2017 11:25 pm

Housing affordability taking huge swipe at Metro Vancouver’s ‘missing middle’: Report

WATCH: The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade says construction across Metro Vancouver has to undergo a fundamental change to make housing more affordable and keep the economy moving. Nadia Stewart reports.

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Get ready… housing prices are expected to go up again in Metro Vancouver, according to a new report.

The report, which was released Tuesday by the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade (GVBOT) as part of their 2017 Housing Forum, says the recent correction in the housing market isn’t going to stick around much longer.

While there are plenty of detached homes and high-rise condominiums in Vancouver, what’s missing is a healthy supply of everything in between like duplexes, bungalows, co-ops, triplexes and laneway homes. It’s what the GVBOT report calls the “missing middle.”

READ MORE: B.C.’s economy to lose momentum: report

The “missing middle” also refers to people who are currently priced out of Greater Vancouver’s housing market — new families, middle-income earners, seniors and empty-nesters.

WATCH: New report calls for increase in ‘missing middle’ housing supply


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“A lack of affordable housing hurts our economy because local businesses are unable to attract and retain talented workers,” GVBOT President and CEO Iain Black said in a release.

“Housing affordability is not just a social issue, it’s also an economic issue. We urgently need to increase housing supply and introduce new kinds of housing options if we hope to attract 25- to 35-year-olds to our region — a key demographic that will drive our economy in the near future.”

READ MORE: Could a ‘third housing sector’ help keep the middle class in Vancouver?

Those people caught in the middle like Sydney Botting, who has a good job in Vancouver and wants in the market, is reconsidering living in the city.

“I have lived in Vancouver as a renter for some years. This is my home, which is close to my tech sector workplace, my friends and my preferred lifestyle activities,” Botting said.

“Even with access to the bank of mom and dad, my common-law partner and I are unable to get into the market here. Like many others, we may be forced to reconsider our beloved Vancouver in exchange for a miserable commute. Our dream is to find a local, affordable, multi-bedroom townhome to raise a family.”

The board has made seven recommendations for municipalities to unlock the supply across the region which include:

  • Prioritize diversity in housing supply when considering applications and use the tools at the disposal of local governments to create a smart regulatory environment that encourages the addition of more supply and greater diversity in housing form and tenure, with a particular focus on the Missing Middle.
  • Prioritize the collection of information, in partnership with senior levels of government to identify local market gaps in housing supply and diversity in a regional context and compare timelines for development across the region.
  • Pre-zone for transit-oriented development during the planning process for new rapid transit investments.
  • End the practice of negotiating community amenity contributions on a project-by-project basis or waive or give credits towards community amenity contributions for developments that include purpose-built rental, or other forms of necessary and diverse housing.
  • Use density bonus zoning wherever possible and appropriate to encourage diversity and density.
  • Work to meaningfully reduce development timelines through concurrent permitting for housing types that introduce affordable and diverse housing supply.
  • Explore a region-wide accreditation regime that allows professionals involved in the development industry with proven track record to apply for accreditation and receive access to a fast-tracked process.

Black believes the local governments are the key drivers of this initiative and conversation because currently, the region is “at a crossroads.”

The City of Vancouver is looking to “reset” their housing strategy to better address the affordability crunch.

The plan is to increase supply to meet specific demands, which includes increasing density near transit hubs, streamlining the proposal process for developers, and giving away city land with an aim to build targeted housing, and building more affordable rental units for low-income earners and families.

“We have become one of the world’s most desirable places to live,” Black said.

“With a million more people expected to move here in the next two decades, it’s urgent that we start thinking outside the box, pursue new ways to increase density, and unlock housing supply across our region.”

~ with files from Jon Azpiri

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