The Last LAP! What you need to know about the April 1st bylaw hearings

We’re calling on low-income residents, allies and supporters to speak at council again. As part of implementing the LAP, Council will be considering by-law amendments at a public hearing on April 1st starting at 6:00 pm. Speakers can register by email (publichearing@vancouver.ca) or phone (604.829.4238) before 5 pm on April 1st, or in person at City Hall from 5:30 – 6 pm at City Hall.

The by-law amendments aren’t online yet, but many of the same points so many people raised at the LAP meeting still apply.  You can read the draft amendments here. The amendments touch on these specific points: 

1. Zoning
We support the 60% social housing/40% rental housing zoning proposal for the Downtown Eastside Oppenheimer District. This zoning rule will keep land values lower, which will keep SRO hotel rents lower and make building social housing more of a possibility. We are not sure whether developers will be speaking at the hearing to oppose this proposal. 

2. Definition of social housing
A change in the definition of social housing is being proposed in a series of by-law amendments. For the Oppenheimer District, Strathcona, the Hastings Corridor, Gastown, Kiwassa, Victory Square [we think – although this still isn’t clear], and part of Thornton Park, one third of all “social housing” has to be at welfare or basic pension rate, which is now $375 and known as “shelter rate.” The other two-thirds can be any amount up to market rent.In Chinatown and elsewhere in the Downtown Eastside, one third of all “social housing” has to be at HILS rates, which means about $850 for a bachelor apartment in the neighbourhood right now. The other two-thirds can be at any amount up to market rent. In Victory Square, a developer can build a higher building than the maximum zoning height (up to 32 meters) if all units are “secured market housing.” In other words, high buildings with upscale rentals – and no social housing – are allowed.

CCAP and the Low-Income Caucus will be telling Council that social housing MUST be available to people on welfare and basic pension. 

3. SROs
The City is proposing to provide grants of $5000/door (up to $200,000) for SRO renovations. The City is not proposing to include in the amendment any guarantee that renovated SROs are at shelter rate. In other words, this amendment could mean that the City is subsidizing the gentrification of SROs. CCAP and the Low-Income Caucus will be telling Council that non-profit management and shelter rate rents should be a condition for each grant. 

4. Micro dwellings
The LAP also creates a new category of housing: “micro dwelling units.” The minimum unit size in the DTES before the LAP was 400 square feet, which could have been “relaxed” to 320 square feet if certain amenities were built.  Now with micro dwelling units, the minimum unit size could be as low as 250 square feet. CCAP believes that all references to micro dwelling units should be removed. We will continue to fight for liveable unit sizes for social housing.

We will be gathering at City Hall at 5:30 pm on Tuesday April 1st. We hope to see you there again for one last LAP lap!