Ample Housing Supply At Public Hearing

I was watching last night’s public hearing from home, when Rob Bottos messaged me and encouraged me to come down to City Hall. He had seen my video about the Appian-Whiting pocket neighbourhood (posted below) and thought I should definitely speak about it. Rob was going to speak about the massive Fraser Mills Development with over 5000 projected homes, a school and shops that had a first reading today followed by a public hearing. Rob spoke quite well about the lack of rentals and especially below market rentals required by the project. For those that don’t know Rob, he is a tireless voice for housing at all levels in the community. Earlier tonight he was encouraging me to read the February 22nd Housing Need Report from the city which indicated an overwhelming need for below market rental units in our city.

Two interesting comments were made by council during the hearing on the Appian-Whiting pocket neighbourhood discussion. First, Mayor Stewart responded to a speaker that asked about mandating a certain percentage of below-market rentals. In his reply he referred to the speaker’s idea as an inclusionary zoning policy, and said that Coquitlam has been more successful in building rental, and below market rental by using an alternative incentive program which includes bonus density. The Mayor also claimed that inclusionary zoning policies create a cross-subsidy in which middle and higher income people pay more in order for the lower income people to pay less. Councillor Marsden made a comment to the peanut gallery (the general area around Rob,) that the Fraser Mills development was the very best we could hope for in terms of affordable housing – that there would be over 400 rental units, and the biggest win was a contribution of $5,000,0000 to the affordable housing reserve fund – which he pointed to as a very large contribution to a fund which he estimated to be worth $25,000,000 in total. Councillor Marsden also said that Coquitlam and The Province of British Columbia were contributing adequate funds for affordable housing, but that they were waiting on the federal government. He did mention several affordable housing projects that were built with the use of this fund, including the YWCA building at Burquitlam station.

I would like to hear what housing advocates have to say about Coquitlam’s approach to affordable housing. Are the affordable housing incentives and the affordable housing reserve fund really a more successful program than inclusionary zoning? Is Mayor Stewart right about the problem of cross-subsidy? And should councillor Marsden be so excited about the $5,000,000 contribution, that will represent about 0.1% of the gross sales on the project?

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