Rental and affordable housing strategy

Our Rental and Affordable Housing Strategy helps guide developers, community members, Council, and staff toward meeting the estimated demand for rental and affordable housing in the District.

The strategy — developed with input from residents, non-profit housing providers, housing agencies, and development industry representatives — provides additional detail that will inform the existing housing policies in our Official Community Plan (OCP), Centres Implementation Plans, and relevant corporate policies.

Download the complete strategy

A focus on low and moderate income households

A healthy community has a diverse selection of housing, to accommodate the needs of residents of all ages, incomes, abilities, and household sizes. 

This strategy is focused on the needs of low income households (earning 30% to 50% of median rental household income) and low to moderate income households (earning 50% to 80% of median rental household income). These households are most likely to face challenges in finding appropriate and affordable housing. 

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, as shown here.

Housing continuum
Housing continuum in the District

Estimated demand for housing

The 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. This translates to an estimated 60 to 100 affordable rental units per year. See how we're doing with this target.

Types of households that this strategy targets

Picture of a young family

Families

We need housing for families that can't afford to own a home, but need additional space for children or their extended family. In 2016, an estimated 1,495 District households were living in core need and spending at least half of their income on housing, and approximately 710 (47%) of these were family households.

Students reading books in a park

Young adults & students

The number of young adults aged 20-40 in the District is declining. At the same time, local businesses report challenges in attracting and retaining qualified employees given the high land values on the North Shore. Affordable housing choices are needed to ensure that young adults going to school, entering the work force, and starting to raise families can continue to live and thrive in the District. 

Senior couple standing in front of their home

Seniors

Seniors are projected to comprise the largest proportion of the District’s population in the coming decades. While the majority of seniors over 55 own their home and expect to be owning a home for the next 10 years, some lower income seniors are looking for low maintenance and affordable rental housing choices close to transit and other community amenities and services. 

Smiling young man in a wheelchair

People with disabilities

People living with cognitive or mobility disabilities are faced with tough challenges in finding affordable, barrier free housing. Some older purpose built rental units present limited options for persons with disabilities and an increased supply of affordable accessible designed units is needed. 

Man showing signs of stress

At risk of homelessness

While the numbers of homeless people have, in recent years, remained relatively constant, social service providers across the North Shore report a growing number of vulnerable populations at risk of homelessness, and wait lists for social and non-market housing continue to grow.

Key rental and affordable housing goals

The strategy contains a number of key goals and corresponding policies to guide rental and affordable housing in the District.

Goal 1: Expand the supply and diversity of housing

As we move towards 2030, we anticipate that the majority of new housing (75% to 90%) will be added in key growth centres (town and village centres), preserving the character and lower density of established neighbourhoods. Increased supply of housing in centres will increase the size and type of multi-family homes for District residents, and encourage competitive pricing.

Goal 2: Expand the supply of new rental and affordable housing

Low interest rates, higher rental returns, municipal incentives, and other factors have contributed to making the market rental housing more attractive to some developers. Municipal policy, partnerships, and negotiated approaches at rezoning are needed to increase the supply of affordable rental housing that the market will not ordinarily provide.

Goal 3: Encourage the maintenance and retention of existing affordable rental

Existing, older rental housing plays an important role in providing affordable rentals in the District, and provides a key source of more affordable housing for low to moderate income families and other households. These buildings need to be maintained and restored to extend their lives and to ensure they remain liveable.

Goal 4: Enable the replacement of existing rental housing with conditions

Even with regular maintenance, some major mechanical components of residential buildings may need to be replaced within 40 to 50 years. Higher maintenance costs associated with this work may be reflected in higher rents or sub-standard living conditions if maintenance is deferred. On a case-by-case basis, the condition of an existing rental building may warrant redevelopment.

Goal 5: Minimize impacts to tenants

Potential demolition of older multi-family rental buildings has raised concerns for displaced renters who may face significant challenges finding suitable affordable housing when vacancy rates are low. A Residential Tenant Relocation Assistance Policy outlines procedures to assist current tenants in finding alternative and affordable accommodation, such as providing advanced notice to tenants, assistance with relocation, moving cost allowance, right of first refusal in the new building, long term tenant bonuses, and other measures.

Goal 6: Partner with other agencies to help deliver affordable housing

The day-to-day operation of affordable housing, and provision of services to tenants, is often managed by non-profit housing providers. Capital grants or other financing from provincial and federal governments can make affordable housing projects more economically feasible. Strategic use of District owned lands, which may involve a long-term lease, can help leverage senior government funding.

Implementing the strategy

To successfully implement this strategy, we will regularly collect and monitor data to ensure alignment with changing community needs.

A reporting framework will provide consistent and comprehensive tracking of important housing metrics, and may be used to inform future adjustments for Council’s consideration.

Implications to the existing funding levels will be considered with the long-term funding strategy. 

Download the complete strategy

Background: How we created this strategy

These are the steps we took to develop this strategy.

November 28, 2016 — Strategy approved by Council

At the Monday, November 28 regular Council meeting, Council approved the Rental and Affordable Housing Strategy. At the same meeting, they also approved the Residential Tenant Relocation Assistance Policy.

You can review the documents from this meeting in the 'Related Council documents' tab.

November 15, 2016 — Council workshop discussion

Council met with members of staff to continue their discussion of the goals and policies in the draft strategy.

July 26, 2016 — Council workshop discussion

Council met with members of staff to continue their discussion of the goals and policies in the draft strategy.

July 11, 2016 — Council workshop discussion

Council met with members of staff to continue their discussion of the goals and policies in the draft strategy.

July 5, 2016 — Public opinion survey results presented to Council

Staff attended a Council Workshop to present the results of the affordable housing survey that was conducted between May 18 and June 3. They also received feedback and answer questions from Council about the Rental and Affordable Housing Strategy.

You can view the survey findings in the 'Related Council documents' tab.

May 18 to June 3, 2016 — Online questionnaire

We wanted to know about your preferred approaches to creating and maintaining affordable housing options, as well as your own experiences and needs related to affordable housing. We made an online questionnaire available, which was a condensed version of the survey that was conducted by phone and in person at District facilities.

May 18 to June 3, 2016 — Community input

We retained NRG Research Group to learn more about residents' opinions of, and need for, affordable housing in the District. This outreach included telephone surveys and in-person surveys at District facilities such as libraries and community centres. Residents who were asked to take the onsite survey, but didn't have time, had the option of completing it later online. The data gathered from this outreach will be used to further develop the policy framework. 

November 2, 2015 to May 3, 2016 — Staff presentations to Council

Between November 2015 and May 2016, staff met with Council a number of times to discuss their progress in developing the draft strategy. Here is a brief summary of those meetings.

Meeting date Purpose of presentation
May 3, 2016 Present the results of stakeholder feedback on the draft Rental and Affordable Housing Strategy and outline the proposed public engagement strategy.
March 29, 2016 Receive Council's feedback on the proposed Tenant Assistance Policy.
March 7, 2016 Seek Council direction regarding developing policy to assist tenants in aging multi-family rental buildings displaced by new development.
February 15, 2016 Establish a policy framework for the Rental and Affordable Housing Strategy.
January 25, 2016 Confirm the goals and targets for the draft strategy. 
December 8, 2015 Explore the draft goals, objectives, and demand estimates for the proposed strategy.
December 1, 2015 Overview of the rental and affordable housing regional context.
November 2, 2015 Review a rental and affordable housing green paper, including housing inventory, issues and challenges for housing in the District, and potential tools for addressing rental and affordable housing.

Related Council documents

Council documents

November 28, 2016

Staff presented the strategy to Council for their consideration, along with the Residential Tenant Relocation Assistance Policy.

Download the meeting agenda and staff report

July 11, 2016

Staff met with Council to discuss the draft strategy. 

Download the draft strategy document, updated in June 2016 

July 5, 2016

At the Council Workshop on July 5, 2016, Council received information on the results of the Affordable Housing Survey that was conducted between May 18 and June 3, 2016.

Download the survey findings 

November 2, 2015 to May 3, 2016

Staff have prepared a number of reports and presentations related to this strategy for Council. You can find all of those documents on our Council documents search page. 

Find affordable housing Council documents

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