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Dan Fumano: ‘Postpone and delay’ — council defers rental incentives


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But council didn’t approve, reject or modify the proposed changes. Instead, they voted, 6-5, to defer the decision to some point in the future pending further consultation.

There was a stark difference in the way some councillors described the situation at the July 24 meeting, which ran until 10 p.m. on a Friday as council worked through several days of packed agendas before their August break.

For NPA Coun. Colleen Hardwick, things were moving too fast, she saying these changes shouldn’t be “rushed through.”

“There is no need to push this through now,” Hardwick said. “We are in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of summer, and many residents are not aware of the major changes being proposed here tonight.”

On the other end of the spectrum, Mayor Kennedy Stewart said this council is gaining a reputation for moving too slowly to address what most of them have described as a housing crisis.

“We’re criticized as a council for delaying, for being slower than most other municipalities,” Stewart told council. “I want to vote on this this evening, and I want to get on with building more rental housing in this city.”

As Stewart pointed out, in the commercial zones council was looking at, developers can currently build four-storey condo projects without seeking a rezoning. Stewart wants to push developers toward building more rentals, saying: “I cannot vote for more condos.”

Other councillors too insisted it was worth acting quickly. OneCity Coun. Christine Boyle, and NPA councillors Melissa De Genova, Lisa Dominato, and Sarah Kirby-Yung, also opposed the delay.



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Discounted housing scheme out of reach of most first-time buyers | Society


A high-profile housing scheme offering first-time buyers discounted homes will be unaffordable to the vast majority of workers on average or low incomes, it has emerged.

The First Homes scheme has been described by ministers as “genuinely life-changing for people all over the country”. However, new analysis suggests it will be out of the reach of average earners in 96% of England. The fresh concerns follow claims that the scheme will exacerbate the housing crisis by cutting the amount of scarce, more affordable social housing.

The scheme, which would see successful applicants given 30% off new-build homes, is aimed at military veterans and key workers such as nurses, police officers and firefighters, who will be given priority access to the properties.

But research by the charity Shelter found that, in almost all parts of England, someone on an average salary or lower could not afford to buy one of these new-build homes. It also shows that almost two-thirds (63%) of private renters in England have no savings at all for a deposit. New-build properties in England cost £314,000 on average. A 30% discount would offer a saving of £94,000, but would still require a significant deposit.

Writing for the Observer online, Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, warned the scheme was “a comfort blanket only, providing nothing for the people at the sharp end of the national emergency our housing crisis has become.

“At a time when we desperately need properly affordable housing, policymakers are looking to give a lucky few a 30% discount on what are still going to be incredibly expensive homes. And let’s be clear about who the lucky few are. Not those facing a monthly struggle to afford their rent.

She adds: “For those earning above the average, or with a helpful inheritance – people already on the cusp of home ownership in other words – this may get them over the line. There is nothing wrong with that, but it becomes a massive problem if it comes at the expense of social homes.”

The outline of the scheme was first announced during the election campaign. The Conservatives pledged that the discount would apply to about 19,000 homes by the mid-2020s. About 240,000 new homes are currently being built each year. However, a recent consultation on the programme did not contain any targets for the scheme.

Charities and unions have already raised concerns that it will end up reducing the amount of more affordable types of housing. The programme will be paid for through “Section 106” agreements, which require developers to build certain types of affordable housing as part of their building plans. Building more new-build homes for sale through this method could cut the amount of affordable homes for rent.

The supply of social housing, which is more secure than private rented accommodation and has rents on average 50% of the market rate linked to local wages, is already very low. Just 6,287 were delivered last year, with Section 106 agreements accounting for 57% of them. More than 1.15 million households are currently waiting for a social home in England.

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “First Homes will give tens of thousands of people the opportunity to buy a home in their local area with a saving of up to £100,000, turning the dial on affordability. The government has invested £9bn in affordable housing through our Affordable Homes Programme, which we are committed to renewing, and since 2010 has delivered over 464,000 new affordable homes.”



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B.C. notaries say first-time home buyers relying on bank of mom and dad


However, only eight per cent of first-time-buyer clients got more than half of their down payments from parents, compared with 19 per cent in 2015.

“While more first-time buyers are getting financial help, they appear to be getting a lower proportion of their down payment over the last four years,” the report states.

Fifty-nine per cent of notaries said their clients typically get less than 25 per cent of the down payment, while a third said their clients typically got between 25-50 per cent of their down payment.

The survey, released Monday, found 74 per cent of notaries thought house prices were an issue in their communities. Only notaries in northern B.C. and the Okanagan indicated “house prices were not an issue in their community.”

Notaries also reported increased mortgage restrictions and lack of supply were making it harder for first-time buyers than in previous years.

In the Fraser Valley, notaries reported more first-timers were buying strata units compared with other years.

Northern B.C. was the standout in the report, with 40 per cent of notaries saying there had been an increase in first-time-owner activity — provincially it was reported to be flat. This was attributed to resource sector growth. The multibillion-dollar Site C dam and LNG Canada projects are underway in northern B.C.

Northern B.C. is also expected to be one of the few areas in the province that will see climbs in assessed values when the 2020 assessment roll is released Jan. 1, 2020.

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Squamish Nation approves $3-billion housing project in Kitsilano


Squamish Nation voted 87 per cent in favour of moving ahead with the project in partnership with Westbank Development to build 6,000 rental housing units in 11 towers on a 11.7-acre parcel of land in Kitsilano.

The development of the reserve lands at Sen̓áḵw, which is adjacent to the Burrard Bridge and Vanier Park, represents the single largest development on First Nation lands in Canada, according to the Squamish Nation. The city of Vancouver will have no power to regulate what is built.


Artist renderings of the 6,000-unit Senakw development proposed for Squamish First Nation lands in Kitsilano adjacent to the Burrard Bridge.

Revery Architecture /

PNG

“The Squamish Nation Council is thrilled with the outcome of this referendum, which was approved by a landslide. This is truly a landmark moment in our Nation’s history. The Sen̓áḵw Project will transform the Squamish Nation by providing immense social, cultural, and economic benefits to Squamish Nation members for generations to come,” said Squamish Nation councillor Khelsilem, in a statement on Facebook.

Construction on the first phase is expected to begin in 2021.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said earlier this year that this is what reconciliation looks like, and that the prospect of new rental units in Vancouver is “exciting.”

There are two other major real estate projects in Vancouver in planning that involve First Nation groups: the 90-acre Jericho Lands in West Point Grey and a plan for 2,500 homes on 21 acres at the Heather Land in the Cambie Corridor.

In 2014, city council designated Vancouver as a City of Reconciliation and set as its goal the creation of “sustained relationships of mutual respect and understanding with local First Nations and the urban Indigenous community.”



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