Council update: Beach Tower rezoning approved with a stipulated on the starting rents

Vancouver City Council today approved the rezoning of 1600 Beach Avenue with a stipulation that the starting rents be regulated by contract in a “Housing agreement” between the city and the owner of building.

Cl. Stevenson moved the motion from the staff report recommending that Council approved the rezoning and seemed to take the point on pushing this project through the public hearing process. The surprising moment from this meeting came when Cl. Louie who moved a amending motion to the staff report, asking staff to regulate the starting rents in the new units in negotiation with the owner of the building.
This is a good step for Council to be directing staff to stipulate starting rental rates. While Council Louie’s amendment is vague on details in terms of setting “affordable” rates it is a move in the right direction.

Here is an unconfirmed copy of the amended motion:

i) a rent roll indicating the initial monthly rents for each rental unit

ii) a covenant from the owner securing those rents for the first 12 months of occupancy at the initial montly rents, after which time the rental rates will be subject to the provisions of the provincial residential tenancy act.

iii) A covenant from the owner to, prior to issuance of an occupancy permit, submit a finalized rent roll to the satisfaction of the managing director of social development and director of legal services that reflect the rental rates in the housing agreement on either a per unit or a per square foot basis in order to address potential changes in unit mix and or sizes between the rezoning and development permit stage.

iv) Such other terms and conditions as the director of legal services may request and the owner agree.

While it is unclear at this point on what the rents will be, it seems that the rents will set a the price that is state in the staff report which is between $2.60 and $3 a square foot. This would mean that studio would rent between $1,225- 1,340, 1 bedroom $1,390- 2,600 and 2 bedroom $1,900 – 2,700. There where no prices state for the town houses on Beach Avenue. Unfortunately, these price would be well be the household income many residents in Vancouver and the West End. It important to remember that the average income in $34, 000 in Vancouver and 38,000 in the West End.

The majority on Council have tried to make the argument that going forward in the future these units would be affordable, which can be describe as “time-machine” policy making. Residents need affordability rental units now.

The central question is on the distribution of the benefit from the rezoning, if 133 units are not affordable then they are not equal accessible to a majority of residents in Vancouver. This makes the rezoning problematic.

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