Vancouver Mayor wants to remove renter protections amid COVID-19 pandemic

Update: 10:50AM PDT. Mayor Stewart has withdrawn the motion.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart will introduce a motion today to remove protections for renters facing evictions, even as the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates the city’s housing crisis.

Vancouver City Council is scheduled to take up Stewart’s Motion B4 “Rescinding Motion to Include C-2 Zones in Rental Housing Stock Official Development Plan”[1] today, which seeks to repeal rental replacement requirements for mixed commercial/residential zones adopted by the council last November[2]

Under the City of Vancouver’s rental replacement requirements mandates a one-for-one replacement of existing rental units, assistance with relocation and right of first refusal on the new units at subsidized rate for affected tenants.

Mayor Stewart notes in the motion that the replacement requirements, introduced as an amendment by Councillor Jean Swanson, did not take into consideration the impacts of rental protections on “land values and development”.

Councillors Melissa De Genova and Sarah Kirby-Young opposed Councillor Swanson’s amendment last year.

Mayor Stewart’s latest motion to repeal rental protections is very similar to the motion introduced by Councillor De Genova’s earlier in the year titled “Unintended Consequences: Reconsideration of a Council Direction That May Affect Housing in the City of Vancouver.”[3]

“The motion was moved and adopted without consulting land owners in these zoning districts, and, if enacted, the proposed by-law will have significant impacts on the land and development rights of these owners,” Councillor De Genova’s motion read.

Councillor De Genova withdrew the motion before it was put to a vote.

Vancouver’s property developers donated to the election campaigns of both Mayor Stewart and Councillor De Genova, prompting a critic to demand that they recuse themselves from public hearings related to land rezoning[4]

While corporate donations are banned in BC, A Vancouver Sun investigation found that 10 employees of Vancouver developer Wall Financial had donated to Mayor Stewart[5]

Mayor Stewart had promised to “better enforce existing right of first refusal and relocation policies,” during the election[6]

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