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Three housing affordability motions coming to Vancouver city council this week

Vancouver City Hall will welcome three motions this week, all focused on housing affordability.

The mayor, ABC councillor Lenny Zhou, and OneCity councillor Christine Boyle are expected to present motions that they say will help address the lack of housing in key areas around the city.

Boyle will bring forward a plan to target the Shaughnessy neighbourhood, which is lined with mega-mansions on massive lots, many of which have gone untouched for decades.

If her motion is passed, Boyle says it would direct staff to create a plan to add rental and family-sized housing, as well as shops and services, to bring the neighbourhood's density up to the city's average by 2050.

"Over my lifetime, the population of the City of Vancouver has grown by nearly 60 per cent, while the population of Shaughnessy has shrunk," said Boyle.

"It's not good for the health of a centrally located neighbourhood, and it's not fair to every other neighbourhood across Vancouver."

Boyle went on to say that maintaining Shaughnessy's exclusionary land use is leading to inequality, and says the motion will direct staff to balance existing heritage protections with efforts to meet the city's housing, climate and equity objectives.

Just after the one-year anniversary of Ken Sim becoming the 41st mayor of the city, he is also expected to table a motion to help construct more housing.

In a social media post, he wrote that the motion is to empower the new Vancouver Housing Development Office with an expanded mandate to unlock more middle-income housing.

"This office will help deliver on all fronts by identifying more housing opportunities throughout our city. Stay tuned," reads his post on X.

While details are limited, Sim's ABC councillor, Lenny Zhou, told CTV News on Sunday that he too will unveil a motion to council.

His motion will revolve around affordable housing and its direct impact on declining enrolment at local schools.

According to the Vancouver School Board, from 2011 to 2021, it has seen approximately an 8.4 per cent drop in enrolment, resulting in about 4,400 fewer students.

Zhou says a further decline is expected in the future, especially in neighbourhoods on the city's west side.

This is why Zhou is calling on staff to look into this further and report back on how to bring housing density to neighbourhoods in need.

"So many families cannot afford to live in the city," said Zhou.

"This motion is about bringing the affordability, bringing the family-oriented housing options to the neighbourhood they can live in."

University of British Columbia associate professor at the Sauder School of Business, Tom Davidoff, who monitors the trends in the Vancouver housing market, says the average home on the west side of Vancouver hovers around $2 million, which is far from affordable for the average family.

He believes that converting properties into four units is a possibility in some areas that have height restrictions, and the addition of towers near transit will make a dent, but more construction is necessary to see a significant impact.

"When you have prime neighbourhoods, and you're building new homes, is that where we put the affordability?" said Davidoff.

"One way to do that is to say, 'Yes developers, you can build taller, but you have to turn some of the units over to a lottery so that low-income, moderate-income and upper-middle-income families have a shot at them," said Davidoff.

He went on to say that politicians looking for ways to chip away at the housing issue is promising, but the likelihood of it meeting the surge in population and the growing demand for homes, is low.

All three motions are expected to be voted upon on Tuesday. Top Stories

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