Why is housing in Vancouver so scarce and expensive?
- Vancouver has lots of jobs and not enough housing: vacancy rates are near zero. So asking rents and prices rise to unbearable levels to push people out.
- Getting permission to build housing is very slow and difficult (“it’s easier to elect a pope”): there’s often vocal opposition from neighbours.
- VANA exists to support more housing (market and non-market), so fewer people will be pushed out, by counter-balancing opponents of housing.
The Vancouver Area Neighbours Association (VANA) is an informal but very active pro-housing group, centered around a Discord server. We speak to city council and city staff to encourage them to allow more housing, like low- and mid-rise apartments across the city.
We’re not sponsored by anyone – it doesn’t cost much to set up a website and hold social events. We’re mostly motivated by hearing what opponents of housing have to say! We’re quite loosely organized, and we’re always happy to have more people join.
If you’d like to know when something major is happening, please sign up for our mailing list at vaneighbours.substack.com. We send emails relatively infrequently, no more than a couple times a month.
If you’d like to get more involved, come to meetings, or volunteer, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Car Free Day on Main Street
We had a table at Car Free Day on Main Street, on Saturday September 16. Thanks to everyone for coming and talking to us!
The MacPhail Report
In September 2019, the BC and federal governments set up an Expert Panel on Housing Supply and Affordability in BC, headed by Joy MacPhail. The panel issued their final report (“Opening Doors”) in June 2021.
Highly recommended for anyone concerned about housing affordability in Vancouver and BC. Some key points:
- It takes a long time to build more housing in response to high rents (“supply responsiveness”), because of delays in getting approval from local governments. That’s the root cause. The report recommends setting time limits.
- Incentives for local governments are backwards. Any major project requires a rezoning, and they negotiate to get 70-80% of the increase in land value. This means that local governments benefit from keeping land prices high. The report recommends finding some other way to finance local governments.
- The report also recommends much greater federal funding for non-profits to buy and preserve existing rental units, which are older and therefore more affordable, to keep them from being renovated or replaced with more expensive units.
- City website: council meetings, rezonings, VanMap
- Vancouver Assessment Map, by Jens von Bergmann
- City Duo, by Darren and Hannah. They track upcoming projects, assessing the likely opposition.
- Abundant Housing Vancouver blog and mailing list
- morehousing.ca, a daily newsletter by Russil Wvong
- Columns by Helen Lui in the Georgia Straight
Urbanist YouTube channels:
- About Here, by Uytae Lee (Vancouver)
- Not Just Bikes (the Netherlands, originally from London ON)
- Oh the Urbanity! (Montreal)
- Paige Saunders (Montreal)