Council affirms that public benefits accrued as a result of growth contribute to the city’s livability.
VANCOUVER, B.C. – On Tuesday March 10, 2020, Vancouver City Council voted to pass Councillor Pete Fry’s motion aimed at achieving a more equitable, transparent, and timely process for the distribution of public benefits in line with the addition of new density regardless of ownership, strata or rental tenure.
Public benefits related to growth are typically funded by Development Cost Levies (DCLs) and Community Amenity Contributions (CACs). Until now, a needs assessment was typically determined on a four year cycle.
“This is a game-changer because we’ve directed staff to give a clear accounting of any public benefit deficiencies where we are landing new density, so we can plan in line and in time with the developments we are approving, not four years later.”
DCLs and CACs are the main source of funding for public benefits and community amenities. DCLs help fund City facilities such as parks, childcare, and social and non-profit housing, while CACs help fund affordable housing, parks, community centres, transportation, as well as arts and culture spaces.
However, the City of Vancouver incentivizes the building of new purpose-built rental and social housing through a variety of policies that exempt CACs on rezonings and/or waive DCLs on new developments.
“We need to balance growth with livability.” said Fry. “I don’t believe you can have one without the other.
“As a city we’ve done a lot of work incentivizing the building of affordable housing, I want to ensure that it doesn’t come at the cost of complete communities and accessible, equitable public good.
“When DCL-waiver projects are approved and built, it reduces the amount of money available to build public amenities. The need for public benefits and community amenities does not diminish when rental or social housing is built in communities.”
Fry’s motion aims to address concerns that there is a trend of DCL waiver projects, and thus additional density, emerging in East Vancouver neighbourhoods such as Kensington, Cedar Cottage and the DTES.
“This is first and foremost about equity. We can’t continue to pile on density to neighbourhoods that are already overstressed and underserved when it comes to public amenities.
“The motion also directs staff to report on community needs even if they are outside of our purview, like schools for instance,” explains Fry. “We need to be sure we are making informed decisions about any gaps in local services when we add new density.
“Tonight’s resolution aims to ensure that there is a clear process around how public amenities are funded and distributed, and that the neighbourhoods who are receiving the majority of affordable housing are also receiving the public amenities that density necessitates.”
Fry’s motion was approved without amendments.