Friday, May 11, 2007

Workshop 2 - Planning and Policy Innovation

The afternoon workshop was on Planning and Policy Innovation for Affordable Housing. I was interested to see what other cities are doing to plan for afforable housing and how they are including it in their bylawa and plans.

The first presenter was Cameron Gray, Director of the Housing Centre for the city of Vancouver

Vancouver Notes:

- 1/2 of households in the city of Vancouver are rentals and the median new single family home price is $1.2m! (No wonder must of the households are rentals.)

- Secondary suites are now permitted in all residential zones. We just approved the same thing in GP.

- The city uses Inclusionary Zoning. 20% of new development must be "affordable", and 50% of that must be for families.

- Mayor Sam Sullivan has coined a new term: EcoDensity

- The city charges a Development Cost Levy[bylaw pdf] of $6/buildable sq foot on new construction. This money is used for a number of things including buying land or building new affordable housing and Vancouver has special permission from the B.C. government

Next up was Jay Freeman, Director of Housing for the City of Edmonton

Edmonton Notes:

- Edmonton is adding a focus on affordable housing to it's Municipal Development Plan but they are just in the process of changing zoning bylaws to allow secondary suites in more residential areads.

- Their target is to create 2500 new affordable housing units in 5 years.

- The city rebates of municipal fees on projects that are affordable, unless I'm wrong they do this for private development as well as non-profit projects.

Interesting to see that we are doing very similar things to the big cities. I'm pretty sure staff in Grande Prairie are looking at bringing forward suggestions on Inclusionary Zoning and we've already addressed the secondary suites. During the Q & A session there was a lady from New Zealand who said that they have moved on from having to face NIMBY to BANANA - Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone. Ouch.

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