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Our City, Our Future

Our City is failing its residents. On housing affordability, on homelessness. On transparency and listening to the people. On efficient and fair regulation. Many people feel that there’s special treatment for certain developers and that too many decisions are made behind closed doors. Public trust is broken.

Public interest must come first. As Greens, we’re committed to a better future for our city: an inclusive, equitable, and sustainable future. We’re committed to a City that values our residents, our communities, our economy, and our environment.

Over the last decade and a half, the developer-backed Vision and NPA parties have promoted a style of market-driven urban development that has encouraged the worst kind of city building: profit-maximizing rezonings and densification that result in speculation and displacement, the hollowing out of neighbourhoods, and the pricing out of small businesses.

What good are slogans like “Greenest” and “Most Livable” city if we are squeezing out the people who live and work here? Vancouver Greens are guided by values that include sustainability and ecological balance. Those concepts of equilibrium that apply in nature apply equally to human communities and city building. 

Better Governance and Better Government

A New Deal, A Fair Deal for Housing

People as Priority

Building a Smart, Sustainable City

Protecting Small Business and Local Arts

 

Download a PDF copy of this platform >> 

Better Governance and Better Government

The Green Party is Vancouver’s only elected party that doesn’t take developer donations. Electing a second Green to join Councillor Adriane Carr means Green motions can be easily seconded and publicly debated. This strengthens the opportunity to introduce new city policy, and increases public accountability and participatory democracy.

Dominated by the two big developer-funded parties, City Council often descends into toxic, partisan bickering. Our current elected Green, Adriane Carr has a well-earned reputation as a Councillor who listens to constituents and puts public interest ahead of petty politics, but she’s alone and she needs help.

As the only Green at the Council table and as partisanship has intensified at Council, Adriane Carr is finding it increasingly hard to find a seconder for her motions. The idea of a seconder is critical: without a seconder, motions are not allowed to proceed to debate. Without another Green to second her motions, some — like tying a definition of affordable housing to local incomes, pursuing slum landlords, whistleblower protection for city staff, making it easier to legalize secondary rental suites, and asking the federal government to investigate the role of foreign investment in our local housing market — have been blocked, derailed, or watered down.

The October 14th by-election gives voters the chance to get a more balanced and honest City Council, and to better keep the two big money developer-backed parties in check. Another Vision Councillor means more of the same. Another NPA Councillor grants that party power to block critical finance votes, as they recently attempted to do on the life-saving emergency opioid overdose crisis budget vote.

Electing a second Green Councillor is the logical choice for better governance and better government.

 

A New Deal, A Fair Deal for Housing Platform Summary

We need to shift development in Vancouver. As a city, we must ensure that we are building more housing that’s affordable for local people instead of for the luxury market and speculators.

Ultimately this means using the city’s power over land use decisions to prioritize purpose-built rental on City and public lands that is truly affordable to local incomes; and on private lands increasing the amount of developer cost levies and contributions to support affordable housing or extracting publicly owned housing outright.
 
But while other parties continue to call for solutions that ultimately require the support of senior government to change tenancy laws, property taxation or invest in public housing. We’ll advocate to senior government for those kinds of actions, but we need to get started right here and right now in our city with things we can actually do.
 
These Five quick start actions the city can do immediately will help get us there and address the urgency of our housing crisis:
 
1. Change city by-laws to make affordable mean affordable: fixing housing prices to local incomes, not market rates.

Adriane Carr put forward a motion to fix the City’s definition of "affordable housing" to local incomes, but to get it seconded it was weakened to only require only a staff report, not the actual change. With another Green on City Council, we can second this motion and introduce it for public debate under its original intent.
 
2. Call for a one-year moratorium on demolition of purpose-built rental housing, and strengthen the Tenant Relocation and Protection Guidelines.

During the moratorium the city will work on a plan to both retain and restore older affordable apartment buildings as well as build and maintain new purpose-built rental through funding that Greens have been pushing for including re-instating federal tax incentives and creating a new Vancouver Carbon Trust. Update the Tenant Relocation and Protection by-law to ensure landlords aren’t using loopholes to renovict and displace tenants and that residential tenancies are protected city-wide. 

3. Protect and increase secondary and basement suites by making it easy to legalize them.
 
Protect neighbourhoods and affordability while giving new life to old buildings. Secondary and basement suites make up some of Vancouver’s most affordable rental housing. Amend the Secondary Suite Program to encourage secondary suites as incentives for retaining character homes, as opposed to multi-conversion dwelling process typically done by developers under the current framework.
 
4. Launch a city-wide plan to involve citizens in deciding how to add density, affordability and “missing middle” housing into their neighbourhoods.
 
Planning by spot rezoning and density bonusing instead of a city-wide plan has driven speculation and skyrocketing increases in land prices. Why is Vision so opposed to a city-wide plan? Working collaboratively with communities and neighbours to create a city-wide plan is the only process by which residents can come together on decisions that affect growth, housing and affordability city-wide and in their own neighbourhood. 

5. Create a Renter’s Office at the City, to better protect and resource the over half Vancouverites who rent their homes.

Immediately create a department that can provide resources and support for the renters of Vancouver: to provide help with provincial tenancy laws, to ensure homes are safe and landlords adhere to our Standards of Maintenance bylaw, to stop bogus renovictions and to ensure renter’s rights are protected in an increasingly tight and exploitive market.


A New Deal, a Fair Deal for Housing Read Full Platform

We can’t just build our way out of the housing crisis or count on the market to build the right kind of housing. The City has to play a more direct role in building truly affordable homes for people who live and work here. There must be better protections for renters and rental stock; more public housing for people on social assistance and fixed incomes; and real long-term solutions to homelessness.

We can’t wait for senior levels of government to solve our housing crisis, either. We need to pursue the options available to City government. Through zoning and regulation we can prioritize development of the housing we want and protect the housing we need. We need to move assertively and immediately to strengthen advocacy and protections for renters.

The Vancouver Greens will work to deliver a new deal for housing: deeper levels of affordability and more units of social and truly affordable rental housing must dominate new construction. Affordability must be tied to the median local income, not the increasingly globalized market. We need to build more publicly owned housing. We need to protect and upgrade existing affordable purpose-built rental housing. We need to enable land trusts, not land grabs. We need to encourage the kind of density that builds community, not destroys neighbourhoods.

Public benefits that result from rezonings — including social and rental housing — are currently negotiated behind closed doors. Those benefits aren’t calculated based on the actual profits developers make from increased height and density, but they should be.

We need transparency to ensure the public gets its fair share of benefits from new development, and scrutiny to ensure there are no special deals for a select group of developer friends. We need a new deal for housing that shifts the priority to building for local needs, instead of building for global markets and speculator profits.

Vacancy rates are at record lows. We must incentivize and encourage new purpose-built truly affordable rental housing. Land use decisions must include strategies to protect or replace affordable rentals.

Over half the population in Vancouver rents. We must empower and support these residents by dedicating resources to tenants’ advocacy and support. We call for the creation of a City Tenants’ Office, to help identify legal options, offer support, and connect tenants with service and resource providers, including the provincial tenants’ support agency. The Office would connect with building permits and inspections to ensure that unscrupulous landlords aren’t using bogus or cosmetic refurbishments to renovict and price out affordable rentals, or convert them for short-term use.

We need to build or require developers to build, as part of new developments, much more public housing. We should create opportunities for investment in new public housing with municipal housing bonds and leverage the City’s existing surplus land holdings, while protecting existing public amenity spaces, like schools, parks and community centres.

We should streamline building codes and zoning bylaws to help develop “missing middle” ground-oriented homes. Creating more options to help young families get started and seniors remain in their communities is essential. This should include both character house retention through adaptive reuse and new multi-residential construction like townhouses, perimeter housing, freehold rowhouses, and low-rise apartments. through genuine consultation with communities.

While there is a housing crisis, the last thing the City should be doing is closing down liveable rentals. We should amend the Secondary Suite Program to allow two secondary suites as an incentive for retaining a character house, which would relax the Vancouver Building Bylaw while ensuring the suites are safe.This will also simplify the legalization of currently illegal suites, while making them safe for existing renters, since secondary rental suites in older homes are often the most affordable and are a large part of the city's existing housing stock.  

Demolitions of solidly-built older character homes should be avoided, in order to reduce waste, conserve resources, retain embodied energy, and provide more affordable housing choices while enhancing the character and heritage of our neighbourhoods. We can do this through conditional zoning that discourages demolitions and encourages multiple suites, laneway houses, and infill as an incentive for retention that fits well within existing neighbourhoods.

Building codes and bylaws need to be relaxed for renovations of character houses, and permit approvals for renovations and retention projects prioritized through a dedicated approval stream.

A city with Vancouver’s wealth should not have people sleeping on our streets, in doorways, or in parks. Safe and dignified housing for the homeless and most vulnerable must be a real commitment that we are actively working to address. Recent success with modular container housing for the homeless in Vancouver, should serve as an inspiration and model for attainable housing targets. More temporary housing on unused land, together with other initiatives including public housing and increased inclusionary zoning should all be part of our strategy to addresses homelessness.

Working with the new Green-backed NDP provincial government and the federal government, we must develop effective strategies to: address speculation by reforming land value, property, and transfer taxes; control global capital investment and speculation in local real estate; reform local political campaign financing; build more public housing; and provide tax incentives to build and upgrade purpose-built rental housing.

 

 

People as Priority Platform Summary

The vitality of our city is our people. But our communities are under threat. From Chinatown to Dunbar, from the Punjabi Market to the West End, local business districts are being hollowed out, neighbours are being displaced, and residents don’t feel meaningfully engaged in City decision-making.

Your Vancouver Green Councillors will work to: 

  • Create democratic and inclusive City-funded neighbourhood councils, allowing communities to provide input at the start of land use and development projects.
  • Move for the development of a city-wide plan: the only process by which residents can come together on decisions that affect the city as a whole and on multi-neighbourhood issues like transit and equity.
  • Expand public amenities and services — like community centres, neighbourhood houses, parks and recreation, childcare, libraries, and police and fire services — to match the pace of development and population growth.
  • Support investments in arts, culture and public spaces.
  • Provide resources and money to tackle the opioid crisis.
  • Expand opportunities for treatment on demand and housing outside the Downtown Eastside.

People as Priority Read Full Platform

The vitality of our city is our people. But our communities are under threat. From Chinatown to Dunbar, from the Punjabi Market to the West End, local business districts are being hollowed out, neighbours are being displaced, and residents don’t feel meaningfully engaged in City decision-making.

We will move to develop a city-wide plan. Health, safety, well-being, strong inclusive communities, and quality of life should be at the core of all City decisions.

The power to shape the future of our city should belong to the people, not private interests.

In other cities, residents play a much bigger role in city planning. We will move for democratic and inclusive City-funded neighbourhood councils, allowing communities to provide input at the start of land use and development projects — not at the end when it’s too late to make meaningful changes.

We will move for the development of a city-wide plan: the only process by which residents can come together on decisions that affect the city as a whole and on multi-neighbourhood issues like transit and equity.

Vancouver Greens will push to expand public amenities and services — like community centres, neighbourhood houses, parks and recreation, childcare, libraries, and police and fire services — to match the pace of development and population growth. We will also support investment in arts and culture, and public spaces that nurture the heart and soul of a city.

Empowered and engaged communities are more resilient and responsive. Nearly half a year after the Provincial Health Officer declared a public-health emergency, did the City moved to recognize the opioid crisis in a hastily crafted budget amendment. Strong communities actually help our city run better through enabling timely information flow and decisions.

Strong and empowered communities are the foundation of an inclusive city that supports cultural and social diversity and meaningful reconciliation.

Putting people as our priority means ensuring everyone has quality housing they can afford, providing resources and money to tackle the opioid crisis, and expanding opportunities for treatment on demand and housing outside the Downtown Eastside.

 

Building a Smart, Sustainable City Platform Summary

We need a nimble, efficient, and flexible regulatory framework able to adapt to changing climate, technology, and economic trends. Red-tape, permit delays, unregulated short-term rentals, traffic congestion, and lack of a city-wide plan cost us all.

A smart, sustainable City enables all modes of transportation to function efficiently and ensures there is affordable and convenient zero-emission public transit throughout the city. A smart, sustainable City mitigates climate change with practical measures that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and also save people and businesses money.

Your Vancouver Green Councillors will work to:

  • Reduce the red tape currently bogging down thousands of small- and medium scale city-building projects.
  • Vigorously enforce the Standards and Maintenance bylaws to prevent health and safety emergencies such as the residents of the Balmoral were subject to.
  • Move more quickly to update regulations with respect to short-term rentals and ride sharing, equipping bylaw officers with the resources needed to adapt to rapidly changing technologies and to work in multiple languages.
  • Create a city-wide plan to reduce traffic congestion without sacrificing the safety and convenience of walking, cycling and public transit.
  • Establish a Vancouver Carbon Trust that would use carbon offset revenues to help building owners retrofit energy-leaking buildings.

Building a Smart, Sustainable City Read Full Platform

We need a nimble, efficient, and flexible regulatory framework able to adapt to changing climate, technology, and economic trends. Red-tape, permit delays, unregulated short-term rentals, traffic congestion, and lack of a city-wide plan cost us all.

A smart, sustainable City enables all modes of transportation to function efficiently and ensures there is affordable and convenient zero-emission public transit throughout the city. A smart, sustainable City mitigates climate change with practical measures that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and also save people and businesses money.

Vancouver is in the midst of a building boom, but thousands of small- and medium-scale city-building projects are bogged down in red-tape. Vancouver is ranked worst in the region for how long it takes to get a building permit.

These delays cost builders, businesses, and ultimately consumers tens of millions of dollars a year. Sensible regulatory reform, more efficient field permit reviews, and better staff resources could dramatically decrease these inefficiencies.

Structural issues that led to the recent emergency at the Balmoral Hotel—forcing the evacuation of 150 residents—didn’t happen overnight. The Standards of Maintenance Bylaw, including inspections and penalties for infractions, must be rigorously enforced and strengthened, so people’s health and safety aren’t at risk.

Regulations around short-term rentals and ride hailing have been capturing a lot of attention and are overdue, yet the City has been slow to act. In fact, ride-hailing and short-term-rental apps in languages other than English are proliferating city-wide.

Our regulatory framework should not be Anglo-centric; rather, it should be responsive to the needs of our diverse and multicultural city. Bylaws and enforcement should be nimble and City staff supported to respond to rapidly changing technology and situations.

Traffic congestion is bad for business and frustrating for everyone. We need to develop a plan to reduce it, without sacrificing the efficiency and safety of walking, cycling, and transit. Collaborating with residents and businesses on a city-wide plan would help achieve buy-in on growth targets and development, and improve planning for transportation and public amenities, including a well-connected cycle network throughout the city.

A smart, sustainable city is impossible if we don’t mitigate climate change and its effects, to reduce or avoid its potentially devastating impacts like we saw recently in Houston, Texas.

Green Councillor Adriane Carr, has already been proposing smart climate solutions, such as creating a Vancouver Carbon Trust. The Trust would collect and use carbon offset revenues to help building owners retrofit older energy-leaking buildings. Unfortunately, because there was no second Green on Council when she introduced it, her motion is still in the limbo of staff referral.

Everywhere Greens are elected (including many cities where Greens hold the majority of seats), people count on them to lead solutions for smart growth and sustainability. That’s why Vancouver needs another Green Councillor.

 

Protecting Small Business and Local Arts Platform Summary

Small business and the arts contribute to a strong, diversified economy. We need to develop and enhance tools to manage empty storefronts, to protect small business and creative production spaces from skyrocketing land values and taxes. We need to strengthen policies to support local community economic development.

Your Vancouver Green Councillors will work to:

 

  • Create a strategy and an office for small business - a strategy to enhance our local economic security and connect Vancouverites to good jobs, creating stronger businesses and building thriving neighborhoods across our city.
  • Protect and incentivizing local and culturally significant small businesses in rezoning packages, where applicable.
  • Expand the Vacant Homes Tax to also target empty commercial space being kept off the market for speculative and tax purposes, creating a blight on commercial districts and depriving local entrepreneurs of affordable commercial space.
  • Ensure the arts funding benefits the wider population and not just developer interests. Arts production spaces must be affordable to local artists.
  • Move to attract investment in the emerging green economy.
  • Protect our economy and environment against the threat of bitumen pipeline and tanker expansion though our local waters.

Protecting Small Business and Local Arts Read Full Platform

Small business and the arts contribute to a strong, diversified economy. We need to develop and enhance tools to manage empty storefronts, to protect small business and creative production spaces from skyrocketing land values and taxes. We need to strengthen policies to support local community economic development.

Housing affordability and scarcity impact small business as it becomes increasingly difficult to attract and retain employees who can afford to live here. Property value increases, particularly in rezoned industrial areas, are forcing local manufacturing and production jobs out of our city and decreasing availability of arts production spaces. Regulatory red-tape and inflexibility add considerable costs to business startups and creative studio spaces.

We should be developing an official strategy and office for small business, a strategy to enhance our local economic security and connect Vancouverites to good jobs, creating stronger businesses and building thriving neighborhoods across our city. Working with our small business community can improve our collective success and prosperity. At the same time, and where we can, the City should get out of the way of small business success.

Local and culturally significant small businesses should be treated as public assets and, where applicable, even incentivized as such in rezoning packages. Vacant storefronts are a blight on commercial districts and for some speculators are more valuable as an empty tax write-off than occupied. The empty home tax should be expanded to target empty commercial space.

Funding for arts and cultural services has been stagnant for too long, and availability of affordable studio space is decreasing. Increased arts funding should come with increased scrutiny and valuation of public benefits, so that arts funding benefits the larger local population, as opposed to developer interests. In most new buildings, designated arts and production spaces are too expensive. Like small businesses, arts production spaces should be treated as a public benefit contribution.  

Vancouver already has thriving high-tech, tourism, and creative sectors. We need to quickly move to attract investment in the emerging green economy: for example, manufacturing of doors, windows and other components needed for the passive house building standards we’ve recently put into our building code.

We also need to protect our economy. That’s why the Greens are active in fighting against the expansion of a bitumen pipeline and tanker traffic through our harbour and past the world-renowned Stanley Park, a jewel in the crown of our tourism assets and our community.