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Richmond councillor flips vote to push for more affordable housing

'Richmond is doing more (on affordable housing) than any other city out there,' mayor claims

Unanimous support for Richmond’s increase in affordable housing requirements dropped by one vote as city council tallied its final vote on the issue.

Coun. Michael Wolfe reversed his original support for raising the affordable housing requirement from 10 per cent to 15 per cent in City Centre after listening to delegates at a public hearing on the issue, saying it wasn’t moving fast enough to address the need.

This elicited criticism from Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie at the negative feedback on the issue, saying “I think that Richmond is doing more than any other city out there.”

“If others care not to support that because somehow the world isn’t changing fast enough, that’s up to them,” he added.

This was in response to Wolfe who said he’d been “wrestling” with the decision throughout the day.

“I sometimes vote against things, not because they’re wrong or they’re not going in the right direction, but they’re not going fast enough and they’re not meeting the priority that we previously set out,” Wolfe told council after the public hearing. 

Two members of the Richmond Poverty Reduction Coalition (RPRC) spoke at the public hearing about the need for more affordable housing in the city.

De Whalen, RPRC chair, noted the waitlist for BC Housing is well over 800 in Richmond.

She also criticized the method by which Richmond allows a variety of groups, including private companies, to manage the affordable housing that gets built in Richmond.

She further criticized what she called lack of oversight and said the system now is like a “dating service,” matching a developer with an operator to manage the housing units.

Whalen said RPRC doesn’t take a stand on whether the percentage is correct.

“What we know is this strategy is not working the way that we need (it) to and it’s not filling the need that our population has and the people that we serve,” Whalen said.