It’s hard to believe it’s almost the end of 2016 – and what a year it’s been! From building thousands of new homes to meeting many of our Greenest City targets, I’m proud of everything we’ve accomplished together this year. We know affordability remains a top concern for many Vancouverites, and we’re struggling with a devastating fentanyl overdose crisis in our city, but we’ve got big plans for at City Hall in 2017. But first, let’s take a moment to celebrate some of the highlights from the past 12 months:
Affordable Housing and Support for Renters
Today City Council approved Vancouver’s 2017 Budget, which offers a broad range of services using a limited range of revenue sources. The 2017 Budget makes a record investment in affordable housing, provides new funding to improve city services like permits and licensing, and adds targeted funding to address the fentanyl overdose crisis that is putting a huge strain on City police and fire services.
Following Vancouver City Council’s decision last month to introduce an Empty Homes Tax, property owners will start receiving notifications by email and mail this week, outlining details of the tax. The City of Vancouver has joined with LandlordBC to offer support and information to the owners of empty and underutilized homes who wish to become landlords.
Council has approved two new rental buildings at 424-428 and 454 West Pender Street to deliver new, 11-storey mixed use buildings with 140 new rental homes. Made through two applications considered concurrently and proposed by Onni Development, it includes 25% (36) family homes and was considered under the Downtown Eastside Community Plan.
Vancouver will have an Empty Homes Tax effective January 1, 2017, with staff reporting on the Tax’s next steps to Council on Tuesday. Targeting the known 10,800 year-round empty and roughly 10,000 more under-occupied homes in Vancouver, staff are recommending that all non-principal residences (except those qualifying for an exemption) which are unoccupied for six full months of the year or more will be subject to a one (1) per cent Empty Homes Tax. Vacant residential land will also be subject to the Tax.
Council has approved rezonings to facilitate nearly 1000 new homes this week, includingmore than 200 new rental apartments, and a major project at South East Marine Drive and Fraser Street that will deliver 368 homes and 37 new childcare spaces. Also approved for rezoning was Japanese architecht Kengo Kuma’s 43 storey carved tower at Alberni and Cardero.