West End residents gather to voice concern over STIR program
Gregor Robertson’s Vision Vancouver party was voted in 18 months ago on a series of great goals: ending homelessness, increasing EcoDensity and increasing the supply of rental housing stock throughout the city, to name a few.
To achieve this last objective, Vision pushed the Short Term Incentives for Rental Housing program (“STIR”, for short) through council. Essentially, STIR provides a series of incentives to real estate developers to build rental housing and encourage projects where up to 100% of new multi-residential rental housing units are secured for the life of the building. The STIR program also waves development cost levies to encourage the building of rental stock.
Before going any further, let me just say that Vision Vancouver’s serious push to make good on its promise to voters to expand Vancouver’s very narrow rental market is commendable. It is true that Vancouver is suffering from a rental shortage and purpose built rentals is a good way to fix that. But, not to the detriment of community and liveability i.e. not at all costs.
In Vancouver’s West End, several proposed STIR projects (tearing down a church at 1401 Comox and putting up a 22 storey building, adding a sixth tower to the Beach towers complex, to name a couple) would do just that. These projects would entail radical rezonings producing huge increases in population density, traffic, and stress on overstretched amenities. (Incidentally with no development cost levies, dealing with these pressures falls to the taxpayer.) With no indication coming from council that these proposals will be rejected, concern among West Enders is mounting and neighbourhoods are coming together in a lot of creative ways to voice their opposition.