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Urban Living

Ken Sim and ABC Vancouver Release Housing Plan, “3-3-3-1” Permit Process

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A Better City (ABC) Vancouver and their mayoral candidate, Ken Sim, has released their full party platform, with just under two weeks left before Election Day.

ABC Vancouver’s full platform includes 94 points, some of which are not action items, and all of their action items are qualified with the requirement of an ABC Vancouver majority on city council, but the platform is nonetheless comprehensive.

About 20 of those points are directly related to addressing Vancouver’s well-documented housing crisis, split between actions geared towards “social, supportive, and non-market housing” and those geared at “market housing.”

For social, supportive, and non-market housing, ABC Vancouver says it will:

  • Shift the City’s social and supportive housing strategy to focus on the delivery of quality, livable housing units;
  • Increase the City of Vancouver’s social and supportive housing investments in line with the consumer price index (CPI) every year;
  • Double the number of co-operative (co-op) housing units in Vancouver within the next four years;
  • Pilot housing for youth and youth ageing out of care in partnership with BC Housing;
  • Pilot a culturally appropriate, Indigenous-led supportive housing and wellness centre project;
  • Pre-identify locations in the city where density bonuses can be given to developers to accommodate the construction of additional non-market housing;
  • Champion the role of non-profits in the delivery of housing and strengthen protections and supports for Vancouver’s existing market and non-market housing rental stock;
  • Develop an overarching 20-year social and supportive housing plan for the City in partnership with BC Housing and other housing partners within two years;
  • Reopen and then update the DTES Area Plan in partnership with community members;
  • Encourage the construction of community-directed, culturally appropriate housing for seniors and develop concrete strategies for ageing in place;
  • Collaborate with providers to deliver additional housing units for those living with developmental disabilities;
  • Negotiate with the Federal and Provincial governments to remove GST, PST, and other development-and-construction-impacting taxes, like the property transfer tax for purpose-built rental housing, social housing, and supportive housing.

For market housing, ABC Vancouver then says it will:

  • Work with senior levels of government to incentivize the construction of more purpose-built rental units;
  • Establish a predictable CAC [Community Amenity Contributions] formula(s) citywide;
  • Re-focus development fees to support the creation of a greater supply of affordable rental housing stock;
  • Pre-approve five standard laneway home designs to speed up laneway home construction;
  • Initiate a review of the City’s “missing middle” housing strategy to better address the City’s shortage of missing middle housing supply in Vancouver;
  • Continue to support the Empty Homes Tax while initiating a review to better identify residents unintentionally captured by the policy (e.g. those waiting for renovation or re-development permits);
  • Eliminate the city’s housing construction backlog (which will help increase the supply of market, non-market, and supportive housing) with a 3x3x3x1 permit approval system, whereby it will take:
    • Three days to approve home renovations (including renovations to accommodate mobility and accessibility-related challenges)
    • Three weeks to approve single-family homes and townhouses
    • Three months to approve professionally designed multi-family and mid-rise projects where existing zoning is already in place
    • One year (down from six years) to approve a high-rise or large-scale project

The actions are certainly comprehensive, addressing the issues the City of Vancouver has been facing from a multitude of angles, and many of which ABC Vancouver mayoral candidate Ken Sim has discussed previously at the two mayoral election debates that have taken place in the past week.

The housing crisis has been recognized as the top issue amongst the general public and politicians, by a noticeable margin, and politicians are rightfully emphasizing their respective housing plans. Earlier this week, for Minister of Housing David Eby unveiled a comprehensive housing plan of his own, as he runs to succeed John Horgan as the next BC NDP Leader and Premier.

READ: Vancouver Election: Housing Among Top Key Issues With Public, Politicians

Born and raised in Vancouver, Sim is an entrepreneur, co-founding Rosemary Rocksalt — a bagel chain — and Nurse Next Door — a senior home health service that operates in Canada, the United States, and Australia.

He is running for mayor for the second time, first running in 2018 with the Non-Partisan Association (NPA), but ultimately losing to Kennedy Stewart by less than a thousand votes.

READ: Rival Candidates Pick Apart Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart’s Housing Plan

Sim then left the NPA in 2020 to start ABC Vancouver, which, in addition to him, is also running seven candidates in the election for city council, seven candidates for the park board, and five candidates for the school board.

This time around, Sim is once again viewed as a strong contender to succeed Kennedy Stewart, with at least one poll finding him at just 5% behind Stewart, who is still considered to be the frontrunner. The other candidates are Colleen Hardwick (TEAM), Mark Marissen (Progress Vancouver), and Fred Harding (NPA).

Election Day in Vancouver — and across British Columbia municipalities — is Saturday, October 15.

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