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Letters: More affordable housing options needed in Richmond

Metro Vancouver's population is expected to increase to 3.8 million by 2050
Storeys, supportiv housing, is a partner of Turning Point.

Dear Editor,

We are in an affordable housing crisis.  Solutions require planning, increased density and secure rentals including options for low and moderate income families and our most vulnerable populations.

Not enough purpose built rentals exist now and Metro Vancouver’s population will increase from 2.75 to 3.8 milllion by 2050.  Richmond is a leader in implementing the Low End Market Rental (LEMR) program and the Affordable Housing Reserve, funded by development contributions. Results include much needed supportive housing (Storeys, Kiwanis…) and about 2,400 rental units in Richmond since 2007. Yet, more needs to be done.

Cities have policy tools available to encourage private investment and housing options, including purpose built rental buildings. Recently, I proposed two amendments to incentivize such rentals in Richmond and council supported both unanimously.

The first amendment lowers parking requirements for new purpose built rental buildings. We’re limited to 45 metres in height and can’t dig too deep. People have fewer cars and more transportation options including the Canada Line. More homes and fewer empty parking stalls will benefit our community and our environment.

The second amendment considers waiving Development Cost Charges (DCC) for purpose built rentals. These are collected from developers to help pay for sewers, sidewalks, etc.  Used strategically, this approach should encourage needed rental construction despite a cost to the city.

The Canada-BC Expert Panel on Housing Affordability report includes recommendations on rezoning, development permit processes and multiple forms of increased housing density.  Partnerships with senior governments, CMHC and BC Housing are crucial to address affordable housing.

Providing more affordable housing options is necessary to keep Richmond a sustainable, thriving city in the future.

Andy Hobbs