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Council gives Cote good grades for rental report
Jonathan Cote's homework has received good grades from his fellow New Westminster city councillors.
As part of the urban studies program he is taking at Simon Fraser University, Cote produced a report entitled Worth Saving: Changing the Economics of Rental Housing. In it, Cote made five recommendations to encourage the building of rental projects in Metro Vancouver which the rest of council endorsed after he presented them his report June 18.
"It's one of these issues that is not exciting or catches a lot of headlines, but it is one of those looming issues that are increasing over time," said Cote.
He says his recommendations "to address the financial gap that is creating a barrier to the development of new purpose-built rental units in Metro Vancouver," will only be effective if implemented as a whole.
The recommendations are for municipalities to:
• implement policies to limit non-rental development opportunities on sites currently occupied by purpose-built rental units, such as rental land banks, replacement policies or rental zoning;
• allow owners of existing rental properties to sell their unused density to neighbouring developments. This would significantly reduce redevelopment pressures because excess density entitlements don't exist on rental property;
• eliminate minimum parking requirements for rental projects that are within 800 metres of a frequent transit stop ("By allowing the market to determine the appropriate amount of parking for a site, the financial viability of a rental project would increase substantially");
• reduce development fees and levies to the minimum levels needed for municipalities to cover processing and essential servicing costs;
• create separate density bonus fee structures for rental projects, but only in areas that have already been pre-planned for increased density.
In the report, Cote said rental housing is needed for low and moderate income earners in the region.
"Failure to address the financial gap between purpose-built rental and market condo projects will result in demand for rental housing exceeding supply in Metro Vancouver. The social and economic consequences of this could be very detrimental to the region. To address these challenges, municipalities need to implement policies that will make the development of new purpose built rental projects financially feasible."