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‘Decline in completions’: Vancouver misses B.C.-ordered housing target

The province wants at least 60 per cent of all the new housing to be studio or one-bedroom units

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More than six months after the B.C. NDP government announced ambitious targets to push municipalities to approve new housing over the next five years, Vancouver is so far coming up short.

The city was one of 10 communities initially tapped last fall to meet housing targets set by the province. They’re required to report their progress every six months for the first year, then annually after that.

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In its first status update to city council, Vancouver reported that 1,607 net new housing units had been completed in the first six months, from Oct. 1, 2023 to March 31, 2024. The city has been given a one-year target of 5,202 net new units and a five-year target of 28,900 net new units.

“Although it is common for completions to be lower in the first part of the year, we note a decline in completions over the last two years,” Dan Garrison, the city’s director of housing policy, wrote in the report.

But there are still signs of hope, Garrison wrote.

Despite the lagging rate of new builds, there are 31,300 housing units in the works for Vancouver, including 8,000 under construction and 14,600 that have been approved.

If the anticipated units are built before Sept. 30, 2028, Vancouver will exceed its provincial five-year target of 28,900 new housing units, the staff report states.

The province wants at least 60 per cent of all the new housing to be studio or one-bedroom units and 72 per cent to be rentals.

vancouver housing
Despite the lagging rate of new builds, there are 31,300 housing units in the works for Vancouver, including 8,000 under construction and 14,600 that have been approved. Photo by DARRYL DYCK /THE CANADIAN PRESS

But external factors “beyond the city’s control” could continue to compromise its progress, according to Garrison’s report.

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This includes developers putting projects on hold to wait for more favourable market conditions, and limited availability of labour and materials.

Vancouver isn’t the only municipality falling behind on targets.

Postmedia previously reported that Delta, Saanich and Oak Bay, have reported coming up short in their first six-month reports.

Victoria, however, has reported being on track or exceeding housing targets in six months. The city said it completed 753 net new units, exceeding its 659-unit target for the first year.

If municipalities don’t meet the targets within six months, the province can appoint an independent adviser to help them make progress. If that doesn’t help, B.C. will use its power to overrule the municipality and rezone entire neighbourhoods to create more density.

Last month, B.C. added 20 more municipalities to the list of those required to meet housing targets set by the province. They are Central Saanich, Chilliwack, Colwood, Esquimalt, Kelowna, the City of Langley, Maple Ridge, Mission, Nanaimo, New Westminster, North Cowichan, North Saanich, the City of North Vancouver, Port Coquitlam, Prince George, Sidney, Surrey and View Royal.

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The housing targets are part of legislative changes to increase housing supply, including a Housing Statutes Amendment Act that forces local governments to approve highrise buildings between eight and 20 storeys within 800 metres of rapid transit stations and 400 metres of bus exchanges.

The legislation also allows developers to replace single-family homes with up to six units in neighbourhoods close to transit stops. It will eliminate the need to hold public hearings for multi-unit projects.

Municipalities have until June 30, 2024, to update their bylaws to reflect the province’s new housing standards.

— With files from Katie DeRosa

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