26 January 2019
GRU #290
Government Relations Update #290
Mark Sakai, Director of Government Relations

Twitter: @Mark_GVHBA 

Happy Australia Day! I wish I was celebrating in Whistler with all the other Aussie ex-pats!

Today's GRU comes to you from the heart of the Canadian Rockies, where I am attending the Banff Western Connection conference as part of my duties as a Public Director for the BC Real Estate Association.

Although this topic doesn't really affect us in the housing sector, the scandal playing out in Victoria over the Legislative Clerk and Sergeant-at-arms is fascinating stuff for us political wonks. 

For Your Information

  • At Vancouver's Regular Council meeting of 29 January, Cllr. De Genova's Motion  on 'Deterring and Preventing Money Laundering and the Business of Organized Crime in the City of Vancouver' is on the agenda as 'Unfinished Business'. On the same agenda, under the Bylaws section is this Zoning and Development Bylaw Amendment "regarding miscellaneous amendments to address floor area exclusion for high performance exterior walls, and housekeeping amendments" ( Item 1 in this bylaw package).  As well, Gil Kelley will be providing Council with an update on the 2019 Housing Work Plan.
  • At Vancouver's Policy and Strategic Priorities Committee meeting of 30 January, the Granville Street Connector  Public Engagement plan is on the agenda. If you're thinking that the entire width of the bridge will be preserved for auto use for the indefinite future, think again. Also on the agenda is the staff report  on Rapid Transit from Arbutus Street to UBC. 'Appendix C' in the agenda package is the same McElhenney Technical Report linked in the item on the TransLink Mayors' Council meeting below under the 'Regional, Provincial and National' section below.
  • Looking at the agenda  of Burnaby's Planning and Development Committee meeting of 29 January, there appears to be a substantial amount of support for expanded basements, secondary suites and laneway homes. 
  • On Burnaby's Regular Council meeting agenda  of 28 January is a staff report titled: "Proposed Solution to Burnaby's Rental Housing", referencing a message from a resident suggesting a secondary suite in every single family home (pages 110 - 112). Coincidentally (or not), a report immediately following in the agenda recommends Council direct staff to prepare a Zoning Bylaw amendment to enable construction of full cellars in one and two family dwellings (pages 113 - 125).
  • Here's an article  about Burnaby's continued expansion of its financial reserves (now up to $1.7billion), and a bit at the end that hints of changes coming to the way that the City deals with its density bonus program. 
  • The sole item on the agenda  of New Westminster's Public Hearing of 28 January is the Zoning Bylaw Amendment regarding Multi-Family Residential Rental Tenure. The intent is to apply rental-only tenure to 18 specific properties (12 city-owned, and 6 privately held). This item is also on the agenda of the Regular Council meeting immediately following for third reading and adoption. Here's a question: if city councils want a percentage of the 'land lift caused by rezoning' as their CAC, will they pay a 'reverse CAC' to landowners whose property values decline due to a downzoning? A report at this Regular meeting asks Council to endorse the priorities of the OCP Implementation Work Program for 2019 (pages 250 - 261 of the agenda)  
  • At Richmond's Regular Council meeting of 28 January, the City Centre District Energy Utility Bylaw Amendment is on the agenda (pages 95 - 105).  
Opportunities to Act

  • The City of Vancouver's Regulatory Redesign Team is holding two Open Houses, on Tuesday 29 January, 5 - 7pm; and Saturday 02 February, 1 - 4pm; both days at the Town Hall Meeting Room in City Hall. RSVPs are not required. If you want to learn more about this important initiative, or would like to contribute to the conversation, I highly recommend that you attend one of the sessions. For more info about Reg Redesign, visit the City's web page.  Also, if you have thoughts about the initiative, but cannot attend either session, please send me an email, and I will forward your comments to the Committee.


For Your Information

  • You saw this item last week, but just another reminder of Coquitlam's Public Hearing of 28 January, where the Mechanical Equipment  in Residential Side Yards Zoning Bylaw Amendment is on the agenda. It is also on the agenda for the Regular Council meeting immediately following, for second, third, fourth and final readings. 
  • At Maple Ridge's Regular Council meeting of 29 January, the various amendments to create the new R-4 Residential Infill zone are on the agenda  to receive third reading (pages 56 - 63) . As well, the amendments to pass the RT-2 zone to allow triplex, fourplex and courtyard housing are expected to be adopted (pages 75 - 87). Unless someone who works out in Maple Ridge tells me otherwise, I'm thinking these are very good steps forward by Council to help keep ground-oriented housing affordable for young families.

For Your Information

  • Here's a story from CBC.ca on Surrey's 'infrastructure gap', with one community association chair saying that the city needs to "slow it (development) down".  However, a look at the city's financial statements over the past decade or so show that they collected some $564 million in DCCs and over $1.2 billion in 'Developer Contributions' from 2009 - 2017. The development industry doesn't make the decisions on schools, roads, community facilities or police stations - they simply provide a big chunk of the cash. 
  • At White Rock's Regular Council meeting of 28 January, a Notice of Motion recommends that staff prepare a report regarding White Rock's implementation of a Vacancy Tax, similar to Vancouver's Empty Homes Tax (page 7 of the agenda).  As well, a staff report (pages 29 - 66) outline the City's plan to repair the damage caused to the Promenade and Pier during the 20 December wind storm. The inability to conduct reconstruction work after 28 February ('the closing of the Fisheries Window') likely means that work will not be completed until late 2019 or 2020.
  • Surrey has a full slate of meetings planned for 30 January, but unusually, had not posted any of their agendas by GRU deadline (10pm Friday). Check their web page on the weekend, maybe it was just a glitch.  
For Your Information

  • The OCP Update is the sole item on the agenda  of North Vancouver District's Council Workshop of 28 January. In my opinion, it will be important for GVHBA members doing business in the District to provide feedback into the OCP Review, in order to ensure that they can continue doing business there.
  • As noted in GRU#288, there were two Notices of Motion (regarding the Provincial Spec/Vacancy Tax and School Tax) on the agenda of West Vancouver's 14 January Council meeting, that have now made their way to the 28 January meeting agenda (Items #7 and 8).  
  • Here's a story from the North Shore News on West Vancouver's plan to create more affordable rental housing.  Wouldn't it be nice if all those residents of below-market units also had a B-Line that they could jump on for frequent, fast and reliable transit?

For Your Information
  • On the agenda  of Metro Vancouver's Regional Planning Committee meeting of 01 February is a staff report titled: "Overview of the Transit-Oriented Affordable Housing Study" (pages 15 - 17, plus linked appendices). As well, there will be a verbal report of the Long Range Growth Scenarios - Overview and Update. 
  • There were two big items on TransLink's Mayors' Council meeting of 24 January. The Rail to UBC Report and Presentation (pages 12 - 25) of the agenda  and the separate Technical Report (yes, the same one referenced in the Vancouver item up top) as well as the Massey Crossing Review (pages 26 - 31). Speaking of the former, UBC now has a dedicated web page  for its campaign to get SkyTrain all the way to the campus. 
  • Here's the latest on the potential for a SkyTrain extension from Arbutus to UBC.  Almost everyone seems to love the idea, but where will the funding come from? 
  • Is parochial thinking amongst some Mayors in Metro Vancouver threatening to 'derail' plans for the big SkyTrain projects?  I've seen this movie before, back when then Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan collected a bunch of Mayors and almost killed the Canada Line (known as the RAV Line back then).
  • As with any other provider of multi-family rental housing, the Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation must have a policy to deal with Tenant Relocation due to Redevelopment. The staff report on this issue  is on the agenda of the Metro Van Housing Committee meeting of 30 January (pages 15 - 17). 
  • Don't forget about the next BC Housing Building Smart session: Mitigating Thermal Bridging, on Wednesday 30 January, 9am - 12noon. Register for either the in-person or webinar versions here.  

For Your Information

  • Justin McElroy from CBC.ca heads up the Sea to Sky Highway and files this report  on the Whistler Housing Authority's formula for providing affordable rental and ownership housing in the Resort Municipality. 
  • The Star Toronto congratulates the City for 'discovering' what virtually every other major city already knows --  that by utilizing its own land, it can create affordable housing. Well done, Toronto!
  • Here's an article  from Joannah Connolly on the Mortgage Professionals of Canada's report claiming that the Mortgage Stress Test has caused 200,000 Canadian families to have their 'housing expectations significantly reduced, or have been prevented entirely from buying a home'. In a related story, this Canadian Press story talks to housing experts about ways that Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau could help out potential homebuyers.  Certainly, the slight reduction in mortgage rates this week doesn't hurt.  
For Your Information

  • Here's an article by Peter Mitham  in BIV on the booming rental housing investment market.
  • This piece titled: "Want to Boost Transit Ridership? Try Making Women Feel Safer"  is unfortunately, spot on.
  • Fresh off a major donation announcement, the Vancouver Art Gallery releases the final design by herzog & de meuron for their new building. 
  • How about a little night skiing? Sure, but I don't think this  is what you had in mind. Some pretty trippy stuff.
  • So, you know the old "hit someone on the head with the wooden spoon" prank? This video is the funniest version of that prank I've ever seen - it doesn't even matter that it's in another language.

Please feel free to distribute this email to others in your office, if you think that they would benefit from the information. If you are reading this as a forwarded message from a colleague, you can get your own version, delivered directly to your mailbox. Just let me know, and I will be more than happy to add you to my list. And don't forget, the most recent issue of GRU is always posted on the Government Relations Page of gvhba.org.

As always, comments are welcome. If there is an issue or a website that you would like me to follow, please contact me at 778-373-9784, or via mark@gvhba.org

Mark Sakai
Director of Government Relations