FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
West End Neighbours’ Supreme Court challenge to Vancouver’s STIR and Rental 100 programs results in bylaw changes
(Vancouver, November 12, 2013) In response to a B.C. Supreme Court challenge from West End Neighbours (WEN) to legislation underpinning the City of Vancouver’s Short Term Incentives for Rental (STIR) program and Rental 100, the City has agreed to make changes to the underlying bylaws.
In its September 20th petition to the Court, WEN challenged Vancouver City Council’s delegation of legislative decision-making power to the City Manager in determining what constitutes “for profit affordable rental housing,” as well as the lack of a clear definition of “for profit affordable rental housing.” After WEN’s communications with the City were ignored for months and then rejected, WEN received news from its lawyer [Nathalie Baker, of Baker & Baker] on Friday that the City now recognizes the claims in the petition seeking a judicial review of Bylaws No. 9755 and No. 9418, and the STIR and Rental 100 programs.
In 2009, with no prior public consultation, the City of Vancouver adopted the STIR program (replaced in 2011 with Rental 100). It granted developers incentives such as accelerated processing of applications, increased density (with no specified maximum limit), and a waiver of Development Cost Levies (DCLs) for projects to create for-profit market rental housing. WEN became concerned that STIR was offering excessively favourable incentives for developers, resulting in developments that were out of scale with their neighbourhoods. WEN also believed the City was failing to produce housing that was “affordable” by conventional definitions, and did not accept the City’s argument that new rental housing at market rates constituted “for profit affordable rental housing.”
The City’s use of DCL waivers also results in increased pressure on services throughout the City and a loss of revenue necessary to maintain existing infrastructure or to provide amenities in growing communities. This shortfall in revenues is redistributed to taxpayers and other developers. WEN estimates the value of DCL waivers to date, approved or in progress under STIR and Rental 100, at over $13 million.
The City’s Legal Department advises that, in response to WEN’s legal action, the City will amend the relevant bylaws, and will not process additional STIR or Rental 100 rezoning applications under the existing bylaws. City Council is anticipated to review the required bylaw amendments on December 3. The City’s response recognizes the valid concerns brought forth by WEN and other community groups, that the legislation supporting STIR and Rental 100 is flawed. The city’s commitment to take appropriate action now will help to restore some level of fairness and transparency for neighbourhoods and taxpayers, as well as other developers, in the creation of market rental housing. Please visit our website for more examples of projects in the West End, a list of projects citywide, past media releases, and previous correspondence with the City.
West End Neighbours, a non-profit society registered under the BC Society Act, is a coalition of volunteers who recognise the unique character of their community and strive to maintain the core assets and relationships within the neighbourhood.
A vast amount of background reading is available on the STIR and Rental 100 programs. Here are some selected web links, and further below, a list of projects to date.
WEN petitions Supreme Court challenging STIR and Rental 100 programs (media release announcing our court challenge, 20-Sept-2013)
Overview of STIR issues: https://westendneighbours.wordpress.com/stir/
WEN’s official communication to the City, which did not respond for nearly one year, at which point, after repeated reminders, simply rejected all of WEN’s points: https://westendneighbours.wordpress.com/stir/wen-challenges-stir-2/
Note that the STIR incentive package included:
- Rental property assessment (on rental units only)
- Development Cost Levy waiver (on rental units only)
- Parking requirement reductions (on rental units only)
- Discretion on unit size Increased density
- Expedited permit processing
WEN chronology, includes many points about STIR:
City of Vancouver official web page on STIR and Rental 100:
Debate erupts on Vision Vancouver definition of affordable housing. And City staff are overdue to report on STIR evaluation
Deconstructing STIR: Vancouver’s Tax-Cuts-for-Developers Housing Strategy
The Ugly Story of Short Term Incentives for Rental
LIST OF STIR AND RENTAL 100 PROJECTS TO OCTOBER 2013
(Note that after being rezoned, developers often apply for change of address. These we have noted in some cases below.)
Complete – Occupied
Permits Issued – Under Construction
1215 Bidwell (changed to 1221 Bidwell, in West End – Millennium Developments)
2750 E 41st Ave
2778 E Hastings
8495 Granville (Marpole Safeway – Westbank)
1401 Comox (changed to 1061 Broughton, in West End – Westbank)
2215 E Hastings
Rezoning Approved – Permits Pending
1600 Beach (Beach Towers, in West End)
4320 Slocan St
Rezoning Applications – In Process
1418 E 41st
963 E 19th Ave
1620 W 6th Ave
RENTAL 100 PROJECTS
Approved – Permits Pending
245 E Georgia St
Applications – In Process
1568 E King Ed @ Kingsway
333 E 11th (275 Kingsway)
3819 Boundary Rd
458 W 41st
2681 Main St