Momentous WEN legal challenge against City of Vancouver goes to Supreme Court April 9 and 10

Demolition ball at 1401 Comox, 24-May-2011

Below is information about West End Neighbours’ legal challenge with the City of Vancouver. It goes to BC Supreme Court on April 9 and 10, 2014.

This could be momentous not only for the West End but for our entire city. Read on to see why.

We are also asking for citizens’ financial support to defray costs for us to win this case and make Vancouver City Hall more honest and to really do something more serious to create affordable housing. To donate online or by cheque, click here. (Everything we do is based on volunteer time, but we do need donations to pay legal costs.) For more information on donating or the details of the legal case, write us at

Since 2009 the City has been using the Short Term Incentives for Rental program (replaced by Rental 100) to give developers attractive incentives to construct rental units. They are supposed to be “affordable,” but the ones completed are not. Three high-profile examples in the West End are the 22-storey tower at Broughton and Comox, the 21 storey tower at Bidwell and Davie, and major development (approved but yet to happen) at Beach Towers. Many other projects have been approved or are in the pipeline all over the City.

Informal info session by WEN:
“Update on legal challenge, West End planning, etc.”
Where: Mini-park in front of Gordon House at Broughton and Nelson
When: 4 pm start, for 20 minutes, Sunday April 6, 2014

WEN argued several points in our legal petition, and already forced the City to acknowledge we were right on some of them. As a result, the City made some changes to bylaws in December, regarding administrative procedures, and were forced to define what they mean by “affordable” rental housing. The City’s definition is still unreasonable. WEN’s lawyer, Nathalie Baker, has maintained pressure on the City regarding the actual dollar values being charged for so-called “affordable” rentals — we still believe the City is giving special friends special deals so that they can get all kinds of relaxations of rules, build expensive units and then charge high rents. If we win, we could force the City to admit that it was wrong, stop making these special deals with developers, stop forcing the costs of these developments upon taxpayers, and start having an honest and more serious discussion about how to create affordable rentals. We have a good chance of winning. The implications would be momentous — showing how the City has been misbehaving.

For the latest news, see our media release of February 5, 2014.

Think about this:

  • Do you think that $1,800 a month for a 560 sq.ft one bedroom apartment (over $3 per square foot) is affordable? (e.g., Bidwell & Davie, built under the STIR program)
  • Do you support the out-of-scale construction programs disrupting neighbourhoods? (e.g., Bidwell & Davie, 1401 Comox, and many others around the city)
  • Do you support City incentives that allow developers to avoid paying development cost levies and community amenity contributions for infrastructure, parks, and community centres?

If you answered “No”, we need your help to put a stop to the STIR and Rental 100 programs that allow all this to happen.

An example of the type of housing that is being created is featured here:

Through documents filed with the BC Supreme Court, WEN is seeking to make the City of Vancouver operate within its own laws and to stop pretending that it is creating “affordable” housing, while actually handing out sweet deals for developers to build expensive market rental housing.

WEN hopes you will consider helping WEN with a donation – large or small. Together we can keep the City of Vancouver honest and equitable for all, and start getting serious about making housing affordable for real people. A link to the “how to donate” page is located here:

West End Neighbours (WEN) is a volunteer community- based non-profit group. We have the following mission: To enhance and celebrate the quality of life, the distinct, diverse character and the heritage of the West End, a livable neighbourhood between downtown Vancouver and Stanley Park. We accomplish this by influencing policy decisions and ensuring change is based on evolving community needs, is neighbourly and respectful and reflects relevant and timely engagement with residents.

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