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Housing Supply and Affordability

By Mayor Malcolm Brodie

Published 11:47 PDT, Fri May 24, 2024

Richmond remains one of Canada’s most liveable communities. Our natural features, diverse cultural mix, strong business sector, prime location, and extensive municipal infrastructure and services have all supported continued growth.

With that growth comes the increasing need for housing, particularly affordable housing. And with Metro Vancouver residential prices being among the highest in the country, City Council is challenged to find ways to ensure an adequate supply for the entire community. We need to have a range of adequate housing for people of all ages and income levels.

Governments at all levels are actively seeking ways to increase the supply of housing, emphasizing the need for affordability and rentals. It also is important that housing policy reflect the needs of each community and the characteristics that make them liveable. 

Recently, the Provincial Government passed legislation focused on simply increasing housing supply, without any real public consultation. Essentially, the Province mandated that a four to six-plex can be built on any single family residential lot. This seemed to be based on the notion that increased housing supply alone increases affordability. This is wrong. In the past 10 years, the number of new residential units in Richmond has exceeded our population growth by over 50 per cent. In that same period, despite the increase in housing, average purchase prices for Richmond homes increased 77 per cent. This mandate will have a dramatically negative effect on many neighbourhoods. 

For decades, in order to densify housing near public transportation, Richmond’s growth has been focused on the City Centre and our main arterial routes. The new Provincial legislation stipulates no off-street parking for occupants of the new four or six-plex structures—leaving streets as the only parking option. This increased on-road parking will clog our streets even more. This is significant. For example, on a block with 10 houses, there could soon be up to 60 residential units. With the smaller lots, limited laneways and no parking requirements, such developments will likely create completely different neighbourhoods—with no option for local residents to share their concerns about the changes through public hearings. 

Richmond recognizes the reality and stresses of growth, affordability and the pressing need for creating more housing.  Council supports growth that maintains the character of neighbourhoods.  It works with the development community to provide the infrastructure necessary to build strong, safe and viable neighbourhoods. 

A “one size fits all” approach by the BC Government will erode the character of our neighbourhoods. Richmond City Council remains committed to working with partners, including all levels of government, to find solutions that will promote housing affordability while maintaining the characteristics of a desirable community. We urge you to contact your local MLA to share your concerns now before it is too late.

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