Should some city land in Vancouver be labeled as 'rental only’?


In a recent article published by CTV, it was discussed that Vancouver’s mayor is asking the province to grant him the power to designate certain areas of the city as 'rental-only' zones.


This was stated to be a part of a ‘ten year housing strategy’ and it also calls for the construction of approximately 72,000 new units of housing. It seems the plan is for two-thirds of the new units to be available for rent with nearly half the units geared towards households with less than $80,000 in annual income.


The authority to create rental-only areas currently comes from the province, not the city, and their hope is that if they have rental lots reserved near transit hubs then condominiums won’t crowd out the rental buildings.


Despite more than half the city renting their current living space, purpose-built rentals are few and far between with the vacancy rate near zero.


As anyone who is a current renter knows, it is a struggle to find space to live in Vancouver and most of the Fraser Valley. It is also becoming exorbitantly expensive in Vancouver, with the average rent of a two-bedroom apartment shooting up to around $2,500-$4000 a month. When compared to 2016, according to research done by the Canadian Housing Observer, the rental prices have gone up considerably.


Finding anywhere to rent is both stressful and pricey if you're trying to get a quality space without breaking the bank. Rental prices are even becoming alarmingly close, or reaching, the same cost per month as a mortgage payment.


The article mentions that one factor behind the ‘pricey pads’ is decades of too little rental housing being built in the city. There is a supply shortage of rental spaces, which leads to higher rental costs. People are forced to accept those costs if they want to rent a place to live. 


Condo marketer Bob Rennie also embraces the idea of rental zones. He says suitable areas could possibly include False Creek Flats, which is an industrial and educational area along Great Northern Way and that rental housing would nicely complement the students and workers in the area.


Other areas in the region that would make sense are Metrotown, Brentwood and Lougheed in Burnaby, neighbourhoods that already have a huge number of condos. There are commercial-type uses near transit that could be rezoned. He also suggests Surrey, which is currently planning and developing the region's second metropolitan hub at Surrey City Centre.


Housing Minister Selina Robinson told reporters last week that rental-only zones were one solution being discussed. The city will also provide a dedicated “Renters Protection Manager,” who can help renters understand their rights; allow six or more unrelated roommates to live together; demand replacement of any rental unit demolished; and continue to give extra height to rental-only buildings.


We definitely need more affordable spaces for renting in the Lower Mainland, but would ‘rental only’ designated land stand the test of time as a large part of the solution to the high rental costs?


Let us know what you think!




Until next time,



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