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Letter: All municipalities need to pull their weight on housing

When only some local governments are delivering new homes, they absorb demand from other communities, writes North Van city Mayor Linda Buchanan
Originally proposed in the fall of 2021, a plan for 201 studio rental units in West Vancouver will go to a public hearing on March 6. | DA Architects + Planners

Re: North Shore rents among highest in Metro despite almost 1,200 new units

Dear editor:

We have all felt the pressure of the housing crisis. Whether it is finding the right home for your aging parents, or watching your children struggle to afford staying in the community, or trying to find a home in the community where you work – everyone has experienced challenges.

For too long, all levels of government have not been well-coordinated on delivering housing. As the North Shore News correctly points out, four municipalities in the region were responsible for 87 per cent of new rental homes. But it falls short in making the connection that when only a handful of municipalities are delivering new homes, they absorb the demand from other communities. This has a direct impact on housing affordability. Imagine if every municipality was meeting targets and delivering rental homes. There would be enhanced affordability in every community in every corner of B.C.

The communities that are delivering housing do have lower rents, as evidenced by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp. Rental Market Report. We know that rents are lower in the city compared to other communities on the North Shore. When you build housing options, you are keeping rents lower than they would have otherwise been.

In the City of North Vancouver, we have been a leader in building rental homes that support all people. Delivering more than 650 rental homes in a one-year period, we are building the most rental units per capita, according to Make Housing Central. The city is far from done on housing and affordability. But we cannot continue to climb this mountain alone. All municipalities and senior levels of government need to redouble efforts when looking at innovative housing solutions.

The Lower Mainland is in desperate need of additional investments from the Government of Canada. We know that B.C. will be welcoming tens of thousands of newcomers in the coming decade. Our strength, economically and socially, has always come from our diversity. As we welcome more people here, we must be able to house them.

We do not have the luxury of shutting the door on the generation behind us. Our mark of success as a community is if our children and grandchildren are afforded the same opportunities as our predecessors left us. The policies and projects we move forward today are what will determine if we are a province where young people can raise families, where jobs can be filled by skilled workers and where seniors can age in place. We have to work together to chart a path forward. I invite everyone – municipalities, the province, the government of Canada, non-profits, the private sector and others – to find their seat at the table.

Mayor Linda Buchanan
City of North Vancouver

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