NPA City Councillors call on the Mayor and Vision Vancouver to do more to tackle Vancouver’s housing affordability crisis

Increased pressures on young families and millennials are making it harder for middle class residents to continue to call Vancouver home

Vancouver, B.C., May 17, 2016 – NPA City Councillors are calling on the Mayor and Vision Vancouver to do more to tackle Vancouver’s housing affordability crisis following a staff report presented today at Council.

According to the report, Vancouver has the highest housing prices and rents, but the lowest median incomes among Canada’s major cities. The report also states that “affordability challenges” have become more prevalent since 2011, despite the efforts of the City, and that it has become even harder for residents to find and maintain affordable housing in Vancouver.

“The Mayor and Vision are attempting to give themselves an ‘A’ with this housing report card, but Vancouverites know housing affordability and access to rental units has gotten worse, not better, over the last eight years,” said NPA Councillor George Affleck. “The City needs to reassess its housing policies because those policies aren’t working, especially when it comes to encouraging the creation of housing – including rentals – families and middle class Vancouverites can afford.”

A recent study by VanCity highlighted the high cost of living in Vancouver and the impact it is having on millennials in particular. The study shows that the wages of Vancouver millennials have stagnated to the point where their average household income is now the second lowest in Canada.

“It’s become clear that affordability in Vancouver is about more than just home prices, it’s also about creating economic opportunities,” said Affleck. “City Hall needs to focus on attracting jobs that will let young Vancouverites stay in the city and ensure that Vancouver remains a vibrant city.”

According to real estate records, the benchmark price for detached homes in April 2016 rose 30.1 percent from just a year ago to a new high of $1.4 million. April 2016 was also the highest selling April on record for homes in Metro Vancouver.

“Vancouver is one of the best places in the world to call home,” continued Affleck. “But if current housing and employment trends continue, living in our beautiful city will become increasingly out of reach for the average family. Vancouverites deserve an opportunity to work hard, provide for their families and stay in this great city. Vision is making that impossible.”

The staff report presented at Council today notes that “affordable housing” for Vancouver families must be of sufficient quality, with the right number of bedrooms to meet the needs of residents, and be found within neighbourhood locations that have access to transit, schools, childcare, as well as cultural and community centres.

The staff report goes on to state that “Attracting and retaining families is an important part [of] being a healthy, diverse and economically vibrant city,” and that many Vancouver families “still aspire to the Canadian dream of owning a home.”

NPA Councillor Melissa De Genova’s recent call for an Affordable Home Ownership Program was also noted in the report, along with Council’s support for an Affordable Home Ownership pilot program: “I was pleased that City Council supported for my Affordable Home Ownership motion last June. Hopefully it will lead to the creation of new housing stock in Vancouver that everyday families will be able to afford, while being respectful of taxpayer dollars,” said De Genova. “The NPA is committed to finding innovative, market based solutions to the affordability issue in Vancouver, and we hope our colleagues on Council will join us in making real affordability for families a priority.”

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Media please email media@npavancouver.ca

Call by NPA City Councillor George Affleck for quarterly release of Mayor’s office expenses receives unanimous Council support

Vancouver, B.C., May 3, 2016 – A call by NPA City Councillor George Affleck for the quarterly release of all expenses from the Mayor’s office budget, including expenses from the Mayor’s discretionary fund, received unanimous support at today’s Vancouver City Council meeting. Affleck says he is “pleased to receive full Council support” for his motion today.

“After four years on Council, I have made it a priority for City Hall to be open and transparent. Today’s decision is one more step towards that goal. I hope the Mayor and Vision Vancouver will continue to support my calls for openness and accountability,” said Affleck.

Expenses from the Mayor’s office budget have not previously been released to the public, either through the City’s online Open Data Catalogue Dataset or in a formal report to Council. Information detailing expenditures from the Mayor’s office “discretionary fund” for 2015 was recently released to the public through a protracted Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

Affleck points Toronto and Calgary as examples of major Canadian cities that already exhibit exemplary openness and transparency best practices, including the proactive public release of Mayor and Councillors’ office expenses on a quarterly basis, along with detailed office budget information posted annually. The City of Toronto also posts PDF copies of all contractor and supplier invoices.

Expenses incurred by members of Vancouver City Council while conducting business on behalf of the City are already released to the public on a quarterly basis through the City’s online Open Data Catalogue Dataset, and annually in a formal report to Council. The release of Mayor’s office expenses will add a new layer of transparency and accountability to Council operations.

Affleck’s motion specifically calls for the quarterly public release of all expenses from the Mayor’s office budget, including expenses from the Mayor’s discretionary fund and copies of all contractor and supplier invoices (consistent with appropriate privacy protection legislation), beginning with expenses for the current 2016 Budget year.

His motion also calls for expenses from the corresponding office budget for City Councillors be released on a quarterly basis, along with line item details for the annual Mayor’s office budget and Councillors’ office budget to be included in all future City of Vancouver Budgets.

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Media please email media@npavancouver.ca

 

NPA School Board Trustees disappointed by tonight’s VSB Budget Vote

Previous Vision-dominated boards were unable to make the tough facility decisions needed to keep teachers in classrooms and support staff working with students

Vancouver, B.C., April 28, 2016 – All four NPA Vancouver School Trustees are expressing disappointment at the result of tonight’s 2016/2017 budget vote; the Vancouver School Board voted 5 to 4 to reject the budget. By failing to pass a balanced budget, the Minister of Education could potentially dismiss the Board and appoint an Official Trustee to conduct the affairs of the district.

Although the next step is unclear, NPA School Trustee Stacy Robertson says he and his fellow NPA Trustees put students first in voting to pass the balanced budget recommendations brought forward by VSB staff. The NPA’s first priority is students and working to ensure that they continue to get the world class education they deserve.

Robertson says he hopes the Minister will consider “ways to work with the elected Board to find reasonable solutions to the district’s systemic budget issues.”

He adds that he and his NPA colleagues heard the heartfelt outpouring from parents, students and other engaged citizens about the 2016/17 budget and that they take the job losses and impacts on programing and students very seriously; but he adds that the Vancouver school district is in this situation because the two previous Vision-dominated school boards were unable to make the tough facility decisions needed to keep teachers in classrooms and support staff working with students.

“Instead of looking at facility needs, the Vision trustees prioritized paying for empty space over paying for teachers and support staff, and now it’s our students who are going to suffer as a result,” said Robertson. “While other school boards around the Lower Mainland have made the tough decisions and acted responsibly in the best interests of students, Vision chose to blame others and refused to take responsible action, leaving the Vancouver School Board in the difficult position it is in now.”

Over the past 10 years, the Vancouver school district has seen a decline of almost 8,000 students and has approximately 30 percent more space per student than any other district in the province. Maintaining that empty facility space costs money; money that is then unavailable to pay the cost of teaching and support staff positions and programs.

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Media please email media@npavancouver.ca

NPA City Councillor Melissa De Genova says action toward an Affordable Home Ownership Pilot Program is “a step in the right direction.”

Vancouver, B.C., April 21, 2016 – Vancouver City Council took an important step forward last night toward an Affordable Home Ownership Pilot Program in direct response to a motion brought forward last June by NPA City Councillor Melissa De Genova.

De Genova says it’s “a step in the right direction.”

“The program will provide affordable home ownership opportunities for people who would not otherwise be able to afford to purchase a home in Vancouver, especially young people and young families,” says De Genova. “I’m looking forward to staff returning with a Pilot Program proposal, and I’m hopeful that the affordable home ownership program will eventually be expanded city wide, with a greater number of affordable homes made available for purchase.”

De Genova points to a few hurdles that have yet to be overcome before the Pilot Project becomes a reality, such as amendments to the Vancouver Charter. However, she says if we don’t take action now, Vancouver will continue to become less affordable every day.

“Affordable home ownership was one of the first motions I brought forward when I was elected to Council just over a year ago. Vancouver’s unaffordable housing market affects everything from our city’s economy, to rental stock, to the liveability of our city. Vancouver should be a city that everyone can call home. I wish Vision had taken steps to make home ownership more affordable and attainable sooner, but I’m pleased that we all took a step in the right direction last night.”

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Media please email media@npavancouver.ca

NPA City Councillor Melissa De Genova thrilled by City’s official recognition of “Little Italy” on Commercial Drive

Vancouver, B.C., April 6, 2016 – NPA City Councillor Melissa De Genova says she is thrilled that the City of Vancouver has agreed to officially recognize eight blocks of Commercial Drive as “Little Italy” in time for this year’s Italian Day on the Drive community event in June.

Official recognition of “Little Italy” is the result of two motions brought forward by De Genova, the most recent of which was passed unanimously by City Council today to expedite the designation process and separate it from the Grandview-Woodlands planning process where it had been embedded last June.

De Genova states: “It’s a wonderful day for the Italian community in Vancouver. For many years this stretch of Commercial Drive has been unofficially recognized as Little Italy, but today it’s official. I’m looking forward to seeing the special ‘Little Italy’ banners and painted crosswalks that the community has planned and will begin to roll out quickly. I really have to commend our City staff for expediting the process and making sure the official designation will happen in time for this special event in June. Vancouver prides itself on its multicultural character, and we are fortunate to have Chinatown, Little Saigon, and the Punjabi market as cultural hubs in our city. Today we can add ‘Little Italy’ to the list.”

The motion to formally designate a portion of Commercial Drive as “Little Italy” was originally brought forward by De Genova last June following Italian Day on the Drive in 2015.

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Media please email media@npavancouver.ca

NPA City Councillor Melissa De Genova calls for Moratorium on Medical Marijuana-Related Business Development Permit Applications

“… Council has said no to ride-sharing services such as Uber, claiming that the Provincial government doesn’t have any regulations in place yet, but Council is willing to say yes to marijuana businesses even though the Federal government doesn’t have new regulations in place yet…”
– Melissa De Genova –

Vancouver, B.C., January 31, 2016: NPA City Councillor Melissa De Genova is calling for a moratorium on Medical Marijuana-Related Business Development Permit Applications until such time as the Government of Canada enacts legislation to legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana and implements a new regulatory framework and system for marijuana sales and distribution. A motion brought forward by De Genova is on the Vancouver City Council meeting agenda for this coming Tuesday, February 2, 2016. Read more

NPA School Trustee Stacy Robertson discusses VSB Long Range Facilities Plan with CKNW’s Jon McComb

STACY ROBERTSON - NPA SCHOOL TRUSTEEIn case you missed it yesterday, NPA School Trustee Stacy Robertson was on the Jon McComb Show on CKNW  discussing the Vancouver School Board’s Long Range Facilities Plan.

The safety of students and staff is of the utmost importance to everyone in Vancouver, and the Long Range Facilities plan is intended to be a framework that looks at how to achieve that goal through seismic upgrading of schools,

The Long Range Facilities plan is also intended to ensure that Vancouver schools are located where they are needed to meet future demand.

The report was discussed by trustees and stakeholders at the VSB’s Planning and Facilities Committee last Wednesday, January 20, 2016, and is being presented to the Board for consideration at a public Board meeting this coming Monday, January 25, 2016. The plan will then be submitted to the Ministry of Education by January 31, 2016.

Here’s a link to the podcast from the Jon McComb Show.

 

NPA and Green Party City Councillors will continue to freely represent all residents of Vancouver

Councillors from both parties plan to boycott
Vision’s process to list preferred neighbourhoods

January 20, 2016, Vancouver, B.C. — NPA City Councillors George Affleck, Elizabeth Ball, and Melissa De Genova, along with Green Party City Councillor Adriane Carr, say they will continue to freely represent, and be accessible to, all residents of Vancouver and will boycott Vision’s process to list their preferred neighbourhoods for liaison positions.

The contentious plan, which runs counter to the spirit of Section 138 of Vancouver Charter, and attempts to skirt the Charter’s intent and wording, was pushed through by the Vision majority on Council late this afternoon; without any specific public consultation on the issue.

Section 138 of the Vancouver Charter states that Councillors are to be elected at large to represent all citizens of the city, and any transition to a system of “neighbourhood constituencies” or “wards” requires Council to pass a by-law that must also be approved by the Province’s Lieutenant Governor.

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Media please email media@npavancouver.ca

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