Vancouver continues to face a shortage of affordable market housing and in many neighbourhoods a home seems far out of reach for anyone with less than a six-figure salary.

What are the solutions?

In October 2014, the Vancouver Board of Trade decided to find out by hosting 'Why we can’t afford to live in our own city,' with a panel of five experts.

 

Robert Fung, President, The Salient Group
Why Vancouver is unaffordable: There are many factors that affect prices, affordability and ability to create supply, but overall house prices go up with demand. Red tape adds huge costs to development. Vancouver is not as open-minded as some municipalities which don’t mandate the form of housing and instead relate it to market needs.         

The solution: we need more certainty around the ancillary costs of housing and we need to respond to market need instead of political voices.  If you allow developers more creativity to respond to the need, you’ll get a better product.

     
 

Rob Macdonald, President, Macdonald Development Corporation
Why Vancouver is unaffordable: we need to have a broader, more honest conversation with Vancouver residents to understand what our city looks like and whether we want it to share it with 200,000 more residents. Then we need to model this to see where density goes. In the Lower Mainland we could easily create 100,000 more units.

The solution: We need to build a strong economic vision and plan that is linked to a housing strategy. Ad hoc planning won’t get us there.

     
 

Cameron Muir, Chief Economist, British Columbia Real Estate Association
Why Vancouver is unaffordable: we’re constrained by land supply so housing prices will go up in face of even modest population growth. If we attract high paying jobs and double the amount of residents, where do we put them all?  

The solution: we need a region–wide economic growth strategy.  Then the housing strategy should follow. We have to streamline the process and create enough supply that is diversified in terms of housing types.

     
 

Bob Ransford, Communications Consultant and Urban Designer, Counterpoint Communications
Why Vancouver is unaffordable: we’re not meeting the demand and whole segments of the market aren’t being served. There is resistance to density in neighbourhoods by the very residents who will need it to stay in their communities as they age. As well, it takes up to seven years to get a condominium development built – five years for approvals and then two years to build it. 

The solution: more diverse housing stock with secondary suites and laneway housing and a relaxation of rules so laneway houses and secondary suites can be owned separately from a principal residence.

     
 

Jon Stovell, President and CEO, Reliance Properties
Why Vancouver is unaffordable: constraints include land supply and municipal regulatory requirements and costs which amount to about $50,000 per unit. Micro-suites are permitted in Vancouver only under special circumstances and there is resistance to trying these new types of housing units.

The solution: reduce municipal costs and unnecessary regulation on developers.