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Critics call Ottawa's national housing strategy a 'band-aid solution'

Last Updated Nov 25, 2017 at 1:51 pm PDT

(iStock Photo)

Ottawa is promising $40 billion worth of housing commitments

Vancouver is looking to protect and increase rental stock in its own housing strategy

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It’s certainly been a week of big housing announcements. First, the federal government rolled out its national strategy on Wednesday, followed by the City of Vancouver just a day later.

However, organizers of a march being held today in Vancouver warn the proposed steps don’t go far enough.

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Promises are good, but what Kell Gerlings with the Vancouver Tenants Union really wants to see, is the cash to back them up. “Even though the federal housing budget has been released and they have this new strategy that came out, the money has not actually reached any of the social housing initiatives that we want to see.”

Her group is joining forces with a number of like-minded organizations for a march from the Downtown Eastside to Chinatown today. “The more that we can all stand-up and fight for the really vulnerable sites and the really vulnerable spots in our communities, the better everyone is going to be for it.”

A march held today took place at 58 West Hastings Street on the Downtown Eastside and ended at 105 Keefer Street in Chinatown.

Ottawa’s National Housing Strategy

The Liberals’ long awaited housing plan is worth $40 billion of commitments to create or improve affordable housing, and help struggling Canadians find a home.

“Even one Canadian sleeping in the street is one too many,” explains Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who added his government plans to build 100,000 new affordable housing units across the country over the next decade. He’s also promising to pump billions of dollars into repairing or renovating existing ones.

The government is also planning to create a new benefit to help low-income tenants pay the rent. “Over time, we expect this benefit to support more than 300,000 households across the country.”

While $40 billion is a lot of money, much of it won’t start flowing until after the 2019 federal election and Ottawa is relying on the provinces and private sector to pick up some of the tab. Reaction has largely been positive, but some groups are worried the funding won’t come for a couple of years, pointing out people need homes now — not later.

Vancouver’s proposed housing solution

The city has announced it’s taking aim at the single family home. Vancouver says its plan will see 72,000 new homes constructed over the next decade by increasing density in typically low-density neighbourhoods. “Census data released this year showed a decline in overall population and children in neighbourhoods like Dunbar, Kerrisdale and Arbutus Ridge,” says the city in a statement.

That means more townhomes, rowhomes, laneway homes and apartments in areas dominated by single detached homes, while maintaining and increasing the current rental stock.

What Vancouver plans to do next

  • Identifying areas close to parks, schools, public amenities and main streets for new townhomes and low-rise apartment developments
  • Expanding more affordable housing options in communities by initiating planning around shopping areas and neighbourhood centres
  • Providing more family housing options by exploring and promoting apartment developments with townhouses with front doors on the ground floor
  • Investigating regulatory changes and further incentives for diverse new developments through parking reductions and car sharing


A team has been assembled to review city-wide regulations while implementing zoning changes starting next year, allowing multiple homes to be built on a single lot including duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes, with multiple suites.