Affordable renting on council agenda
By Colten Kamlade, Staff Reporter
New Westminster may begin exploring options for increasing affordable housing in the city, after several council members expressed their support on January 8 for a recommendation outlining rental replacement and inclusionary housing policies.
New Westminster City Councillor Jaimie McEvoy expressed why he thought the issue was worth consideration.
“It’s important we protect rental housing in the city, and as I said on the previous issue, it’s important we do it in a proactive way, and that action come out of policy,” he said at the city council meeting. “When it comes to any kind of development that might involve rental properties, the city wants those rental properties replaced, and in the course of that replacement we want to have at least some discussion about the possibility of a somewhat-affordable housing component in that work as well.”
Mayor Johnathan Cote also voiced support for the recommendation, and referenced New Westminster’s past involvement tackling housing concerns.
“New Westminster really has been a leader with a number of policies and has led the region. Whether it’s our work with rental policy or our work with housing first and the creation of new transitional housing to address the homelessness issue,” he said during the meeting. “This is definitely an issue that is going to require all levels of government to be involved in, but there are specific tools that can be used at the local government level to address this matter, and I think a rental replacement policy and examining inclusionary housing policies are two very important policy tools that we have at our jurisdiction.”
Cote later expressed concern that if they did not explore housing options, the city might suffer for it.
“The rental replacement policy, I think, there’s got to be a recognition that we’ve done a very good job of setting up policies in our community that has not led to the demolition of older rental buildings in our community,” he said. “But at some point, some of those buildings are going to reach the end of their life expectancy and there will need to be a transition, and I think without this policy work, we’re not necessarily in the best position to ensure that the new housing is rental housing and that we have affordable components of that.”
Cote, despite his enthusiasm, acknowledged the need for more research before any action was taken.
“I’m really looking forward to the work being done. I think we need to do a lot of economic analysis and policy work before implementing it, but I really see these as being the two really big policy ideas that the City of New Westminster can be leaders in when it comes to addressing one of the biggest crises that Metro Vancouver is facing regarding housing affordability,” he said.