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More three-bedroom rental apartments needed in Vancouver

City council approved 88 rental units, only 11 are three bedrooms

City council approved 88 rental units, only 11 of which are three bedrooms
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Reported by Danica Walker

The chief executive officer of a landlord advocacy group says the city needs to provide more incentives for developers to build much-needed three bedroom rental apartments in Vancouver.

Realty Realities

David Hutniak of LandlordBC said developers prefer to build one and two-bedroom units because it doesn’t make economic sense to include three-bedroom places in new buildings.

“The reality is, if you can build more smaller units, then the economics of building a rental building become more feasible,” Hutniak said. “The more three bedrooms you have, in many respects, the smaller the market.”

Last week, city council voted unanimously to approve the rezoning of a total of 88 rental units spread over two buildings: one at 5679 Main St., the other at 431-455 West King Edward Avenue.

Out of the 88 units approved across both developments, only 11 are three bedroom apartments, all of which are in the West King Edward Avenue development.

The buildings were approved under the City’s Rental 100 program, which provides developers with incentives such as additional density and reduced fees to build rental-only units.

Family Rentals Still Scarce

Vision Vancouver Coun. Raymond Louie said progress has been made to build rental units for families, but agreed more has to be done. Louie pointed out the West King Edward  Avenue development more than meets the city’s standards to create more family rental units.

“In some cases is it cheaper to build … small units but not in all cases,” Louie said. “Irregardless of that, the city has a requirement to build a defined percentage of family units.”

The percentage of family units required in rental buildings was raised last year from 25 per cent to 35 per cent, but these units need only be two bedrooms.

“Aggressive Disincentive”

NPA Coun. Hector Bremner said that not only were there no incentives for developers to build units over two bedrooms in rental buildings, it was significantly harder to build larger units.

“Developers are saying, ‘We would build rental if you would work with us,’” said Bremner, noting the city’s permit wait times are too long. “There’s absolutely an aggressive disincentive to not do it.”

Hutniak said he wants government to collect more statistics on the demand for three-bedroom apartments to understand how much supply is needed to find homes for families.

“You need really good data to have a sense for what the need is out there and I don’t deny that we need more family housing in rental but nobody knows exactly how many,” Hutniak said.

Bremner said the city is aware families are leaving Vancouver.

“We know that families are being squeezed out, we know that families are having to choose other communities even though they would rather stay here,” he said.

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