Non-binding assent voting questions

When you vote in the 2018 election, you’ll not only be asked to select your choices for mayor, council, and school trustee, you’ll also be asked to vote 'yes' or 'no' on two non-binding questions.

This is called 'non-binding assent voting,' and Council will be using your responses to help guide decision-making.

A closer look at assent voting

Assent voting is sometimes referred to as a plebiscite or a referendum.

Certain matters require local governments to conduct assent voting before moving forward with a decision. The outcome of the vote in these specific cases is binding, which means the result must be enacted. These matters include:

  • the incorporation of new municipalities
  • the amalgamation of existing municipalities
  • reducing the size of council

Non-binding assent voting

Assent voting can also be non-binding, which means that acting on the result of a vote is left to the discretion of council. A municipal council may use non-binding assent voting to gauge public opinion and understanding of a specific matter.

Non-binding assent voting is often used if the matter is significant in scale or impact, controversial in nature, or requires a significant contribution of taxpayers’ dollars. For example, a council may use non-binding assent voting to:

  • secure elector approval for long-term borrowing
  • establish new services
  • enter into a partnership agreement

What questions are we asking?

On the ballot where you vote for mayor, councillors, and school trustees, you will see these two non-binding questions:

  1. Do you support the establishment and funding, not to exceed $100,000, of an advisory body comprised jointly of residents of the City of North Vancouver and residents of the District of North Vancouver to investigate the costs, benefits and potential implications of reunifying the two municipalities?
     
  2. Do you authorize the District of North Vancouver to spend up to $150 Million to create not less than 1000 units of non-market housing, to be constructed not later than January, 2029

Learn more about the reunification question

Do you support the establishment and funding, not to exceed $100,000, of an advisory body comprised jointly of residents of the City of North Vancouver and residents of the District of North Vancouver to investigate the costs, benefits and potential implications of reunifying the two municipalities?

Why are we asking?

Council wants to know if the public would like to investigate the costs and benefits of reunification, so that citizens at some future date can make a fully-informed, evidence-based decision about the issue for themselves.

After receiving the staff report with the results of the reunification public engagement conducted in early 2018, Council directed staff to return with a proposed ballot question on the formation and funding of a Citizen’s Assembly to investigate the costs and benefits of reunification.

What will happen?

If District citizens vote ‘YES,’ the subsequent Council will understand that citizens wish to set up an  advisory body comprised jointly of residents of the City of North Vancouver and residents of the District of North Vancouver to investigate the costs, benefits and potential implications of reunifying the two municipalities.

The decision to move forward with establishing the advisory board will lie with the next Council.

Where will the funding come from?

The decision to move forward with establishing the advisory board and sourcing its funding will lie with the next Council.

Take a closer look at the issue

Council has explored reunification through research and public engagement.

Engagement and surveys

This research and engagement has included a phone survey, online survey, and staff report.

Learn more about the results of this engagement

Background reports

District staff have prepared several background reports that explore the experiences of other municipalities who have amalgamated (or plan to), and evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of a District/City amalgamation.

Learn more about these reports

Learn more about the non-market housing question

Do you authorize the District of North Vancouver to spend up to $150 Million to create not less than 1000 units of non-market housing to be constructed not later than January, 2029?

Why are we asking?

District Council wants to hear from the community whether or not the District should spend up to $150 million on not less than 1000 units of non-market rental housing.

Council has endorsed a Rental and Affordable Housing Strategy based on an assessment of need from the community to provide additional housing in this form.

Council wishes to better understand funding approaches and the community’s views regarding funding of non-market housing.

What will happen?

If District citizens vote ‘YES,’ the subsequent Council will understand that citizens wish to spend up to $150 million on creating at least 1000 units of non-market rental housing. The vote is non-binding. Council will deliberate on the input received from citizens before making a decision.

Where will the funding come from?

The decision to move forward with this initiative, including sourcing funding, will lie with the next Council.

Take a closer look at the issue of housing

What is non-market housing?

Non-market housing is housing provided outside of the private sphere. Rents may be subsidized or set below-market level for those who have no source of income or who have a source of income but cannot afford market rents.

Non-market housing can include emergency shelters and transitional housing, supportive housing, and social and co-op housing.

Learn more about the different types of housing

Current non-market housing in the District of North Vancouver

Research estimates a demand in the District for affordable rental units in the next 10 years to be between 600 and 1,000 units.

Since 2011, 305 non-market housing units have been built or approved in the District of North Vancouver. Currently, 376 non-market housing units are under application for development. Of these units currently under application, 270 are occurring on District-owned land and the remainder are delivered by a non-profit housing provider on their own property.

Where does funding come from currently?

Funding for non-market housing currently comes from a variety of sources including the provincial and federal levels of government, required contributions from developers, non-market housing providers, churches and other places of worship, and the District of North Vancouver through leased-land.

How we're addressing housing affordability

The District is addressing housing affordability through several guiding strategies:

Official Community Plan

The Official Community Plan sets the direction for future growth and change in the District through 2030, as guided by the community's vision. Increasing housing choices to meet the diverse needs of residents of all ages and incomes is a key objective in our Official Community Plan (OCP).

The OCP also identified the need for a rental and affordable housing strategy to address the housing needs of low to moderate income earning households. This strategy was approved in 2016.

Review the Official Community Plan

Rental and Affordable Housing Strategy

Establishing additional non-market housing is a priority of the District’s Rental and Affordable Housing Strategy (RAHS). Adopted in 2016, the RAHS focuses on the needs of low and low-to-moderate income earning households that are most likely to face challenges in finding appropriate and affordable housing.

These households are largely renters earning an estimated 30-50% and 50-80%, respectively, of the District’s median rental household income.

This area of focus roughly coincides with the social housing, low end market rental, and market rental housing segments of the District’s housing continuum.

The Rental and Affordable Housing Strategy estimates that the demand for affordable rental units for low and low to moderate income households in the next 10 years is between 600 to 1,000 units.

Review the Rental and Affordable Housing Strategy

Housing Continuum

The housing continuum includes all the types of housing expected to be found in a healthy community, as households at all income levels can find and secure housing, as demonstrated in this video.


Non-market housing, in the form of social and co-op housing, is a key area of focus in the Rental and Affordable Housing Strategy. The other areas of focus, low end market rental and market rental, exist within the market housing end of the housing continuum.

Chart showing the housing continuum from emergency shelters to market home ownership
This chart shows the housing cotinuum - from emergency shelters to market home ownership - and the households we are focusing on with our rental and affordable housing strategy