EDITORIAL: On purpose

We bring you the tale of three cities this week, each of them struggling with the rental crisis. West Vancouver council approved two controversial towers at Park Royal, which will house 203 rental suites. District of North Vancouver council spent hours in a public hearing pitting residents of Emery Village against Mosaic’s 411-unit condo/rental project.

The majority on City of North Vancouver meanwhile, said no to a 40-unit infill rental proposal on East Keith Road because it would have encroached on the “breathing space” of Victoria Park.

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Crisis? What crisis?

To its credit, the city has seen through the approval of a number of purpose-built rental projects in recent years, but we are coming off a 40-year drought in which the private sector stopped building rentals entirely. The result is a vacancy rate of less than one per cent and back-breaking rents. It’s precisely why the residents at Emery Village will find there is almost nowhere for them to go on the North Shore if Mosaic’s project is approved. And much of the remaining rental stock we have is old and under threat of redevelopment. We would argue rental projects that don’t displace current renters like the ones at Park Royal and East Keith should be bumped to the front of the line for approval.

Critics are correct when they say these new market rental units won’t be affordable to people making low- or middle-income wages. But, unless we’re willing to pony up subsidies, pretty much any new market rental units coming online will be at the high end of the market. We still need them.

It’s said that the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago and the second best time is now.

We’d say the same of rental housing.

What are your thoughts? Send us a letter via email by clicking here or post a comment below.

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