Port Moody to study state of local rental stock for future affordability strategies

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Port Moody will be gauging the status of its rental market and policies to better maintain its affordable housing stock.

Couns. Amy Lubik and Samantha Agtarap brought forth a motion on May 23 requesting staff report back on the issue of dwindling rental housing in the city.

“By the end of 2022, vacancy rates were near zero, I don’t think it’s gotten any better,” Lubik said. “These are our neighbors who are deserving of houses that they can afford.”


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Staff will be returning with data on rental replacements, renter protections and displacement, and the status of rental only policies zoning laid out in the 2022 Affordable Housing Action Plan and the 2020 Affordable Housing Task Force Report.

They will also be reaching out to staff at the cities of Richmond and New Westminster to gather information on their own rental only zoning, as well as the local MP, MLAs and non-profit housing providers on the issue.

Roughly 20 percent of renters face an affordable housing crisis, which eats up over half their monthly income, according to a recent study cited in the motion.

The city’s own 2021 housing needs assessment found: “rental prices are increasing while stock of purpose-built rentals is decreasing.”

While market rentals are important, new builds often price out those in lower income brackets or those with larger families, the motion stated.

The priority populations identified in the housing needs report are low to moderate income families, single people, newcomers to Canada, seniors and people with disabilities.

Many of the older, more affordable buildings are being lost to redevelopment, according to the motion.

“Household incomes have stagnated growing only six percent in the last 10 years, while rents have increased about 65 percent,” Lubik said. “Across the region, we’re losing a lot more affordable rentals due to renovation and demoviction.”

Lubik also cited recent news reports that Metro Vancouver is leading the country in no-fault evictions, classified as “reno-victions” and “demovictions.”

She said the region is losing more affordable units than are being built.

The motion requests staff provide an update on its current affordable rental projects, to explore ways to support and strengthen the city’s goals.

In 2020, the Affordable Housing Task Force recommended strengthening the city’s policies around the tenant relocation, displacement support, right of first refusal, and rental replacements.

Some of these recommendations were taken in Burnaby’s own housing task force, which has been described as one of the best in Canada.

Port Moody’s 2022 Affordable Housing Action Plan recommended expediting the creation of non-market housing built and funded by senior governments and non-profits, and exploring a rental retrofit pilot program to encourage renewal of the existing rental stock.

There are also new provincial rental protection funds, and rental-only zoning the city could explore, according to the motion.

“It’s important that council knows the status of these projects,” Lubik said, adding that the City of Coquitlam is already exploring ways of protecting tenants in certain buildings from displacement.

By working with the local representatives, and organizations like the BC Non Profit Housing Association and the Co-operative Housing Federation of BC, the motion suggests the city could identify and secure affordable housing in perpetuity that could be lost.

Lubik said the motion would come at minimal cost to the city, primarily just staff time.

Agtarap said the city needs to have a better understanding of what tools and bylaws are available for use, as well as the experiences and approaches of other municipalities.

Coun. Diana Dilworth said she was thankful for the motion, stating the city needs an update as municipal planning around affordability have changed in the last three years.

“There are some really good strategies taking place across the region,” Dilworth said, referencing Burnaby’s “strong approach” to rental-only zoning. “Burnaby …  looked at every piece of city land that they could designate for rental only.”

Port Moody did consider a rental-only zoning three or four years ago, according to staff, but it did not proceed.

Coun. Callan Morrison voiced concern about how much time and work the motion would require of staff, noting that every new project council adds knocks something else down in priority.

Staff said they would come back with a proposal, which would indicate what other project would be impacted.

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