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Letter: Municipalities play key role in unlocking more housing

Each municipality has 'serious problems' in housing its low-income residents, says Community Housing Action Committee chairman
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

Dear editor:

In May, 2018, the provincial government passed the Housing Needs Amendment Act requiring local governments to collect data, analyze trends and publicize housing needs reports that describe current and anticipated housing needs in their municipalities.

These requirements were brought into force in April 2019.

The reports were considered essential, so the province offered grants to municipalities to assist with the cost of research and preparation.

Each of the North Shore municipalities has long since presented their HNR data to both their local councils and to the government (deadline was April 16, 2022).

While each municipality on the North Shore has a unique history, culture, income and demographics, to name just a few, each seems to have serious problems in housing its low-income residents: seniors, youth, families and especially those identified in the reports as living in “core housing need” – that is, households that spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing.

In many municipalities, we can actually identify those in “extreme housing need,” or households spending more than 50 per cent of their income on housing that is appropriate, adequate and affordable.

These numbers are distressing, to say the least. What else did these HNRs reveal to local councils, and to the government, especially about the state of housing their lowest income residents?

In the District of North Vancouver in 2016, some 1,610 households (27 per cent of all renter households) were in core housing need.

And, in the City of North Vancouver in 2016, the number in core housing need was 4,545 households. Or, put another way: in total, some 72 per cent of all households in core housing need are renters.

In West Vancouver the same year, there were 2,432 households in core housing need. Or, still another way: some 8,587 North Shore households are in core housing need.

Clearly, all three municipalities are desperately in need of more rentals.

Next Monday, West Vancouver council will vote on the Park Royal small suites project on Clyde Avenue, an opportunity for the municipality to add 201 more rental homes in a superb location: walking distance to extensive transit service, shopping and services, beaches and more. All helping to reduce the growing car congestion.

For our Community Housing Action Committee, our hope is that West Van council will take much-needed action to address housing need in the community. And no need for provincial intervention!

Don Peters
North Vancouver

Don Peters is the chairman of the Community Housing Action Committee, run through North Shore Community Resources.

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