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West Vancouver to revisit protection for renters in Ambleside area

West Van council is considering new rules that could force developers to make relocation plans and offer first right of refusal to existing tenants
New rules being worked on by staff could protect renters in the Ambleside area. | Nick Laba / North Shore News

Renters in Ambleside facing future threats of displacement as their buildings are redeveloped could be getting more protection from the district.

West Vancouver council unanimously passed a motion Monday that will have staff develop policy to address tenant lease rates, relocation and other support related to redevelopment of existing purpose-built rental buildings.

In November, council voted to reject rental-only zoning in the Ambleside area, opening the properties to be redeveloped as strata and potentially losing that rental housing stock for good. But there has been significant blowback on the move since then, which led to Monday’s motion.

Part of the new motion allows for more density on the existing sites, which will allow for the addition of strata. This provision will allow the district to secure rental supply, while developers can offset associated costs with that additional strata, explained senior community planning manager David Hawkins.

Coun. Christine Cassidy asked for Hawkins to elaborate on the renter protection aspect.

Should there be redevelopment, as part of that process the developer would have to indicate how to handle tenants’ potential relocation, rent back or first right of refusal of new units once built, Hawkins replied.

“So should I be a renter, and my landlord wants to develop the building, potentially my landlord will be responsible for paying the cost of my relocating to somewhere else,” Cassidy said. “And then I would have first right of refusal to move back into that building at the same rent that I would have been paying prior to the redevelopment?”

Mayor Mark Sager said that’s the intention of the new rules that will be drafted.

“That’s exactly what this bylaw would require,” he said.