Tackling the Housing Crisis on the North Shore
Housing on the North Shore is unaffordable and not feasible – especially for our existing rental population and families wanting to live here. Municipal policy must focus on who we are building for and what we are building for. We can target this issue by creating a defining guideline on what is ‘affordable housing’ so policy changes can be made.
How should we define affordable housing?
When an individual household spends less than 30% of their income on appropriate shelter accommodations.
This definition creates an overarching guideline that tackles the questions of:
- WHO we are building for?
- WHAT we are building for?
It is under the council’s purview to ensure adequate, affordable housing inventory for all. Knowing who and what we are building for can guide council on deciding zoning new developments.
We can enact this vision for our current zoning and development practices, by expanding the purpose of the Affordable Housing Reserve Fund to include ways to help incentivize more developers to build apartments and condos that are focused on the City’s Mid-Market Rental Housing.
Currently, council policy only applies Mid-Market Rental Policy to rental developments that are seeking a density bonus. A policy change needs to occur of which our housing policy ensures that this type of housing stock is built and made available in all rental buildings.
A PDF is available on the City of North Vancouver site for more details on the Definition of Affordability Updated 2012.
What is gentle densification?
Creating avenues to transition single family homes into multi-family lots without losing the essence of the neighbourhood.
A policy change to ensure adequate affordable housing, is to utilize gentle densification within the City of North Vancouver.
The city’s vision of a “dense, complete community” reduces the need for a car, and puts most amenities within walking distance.
Gentle densification could be a welcomed addition to our city’s growth, allowing us a flexible option to focus on optimizing our single family homes. While there are policies that allow homeowners on single family plots to renovate, upgrade and build secondary suites, laneway coach houses, or multi-plexes; there are no policies that both assist and incentivize homeowners to transform and/or re-design their plots.
The current city’s Housing Initiatives Grant is too small to incentivize those who wish to help with the affordable housing crisis. Expanding the Housing Initiatives Grant with more funding and expanding the scope of the grant would further encompass and align more homeowners with the City’s vision of ‘dense, complete communities.’
We will need engage with our senior levels of government to help fund and incentivize homeowners and developers who wish to develop on the City of North Vancouver.