COQUITLAM, B.C., Dec. 14, 2020 – More dedicated rental units, more below-market rental units, and strong housing partnerships are all being highlighted as Coquitlam marks the fifth anniversary of the City’s Housing Affordability Strategy (HAS).
Coquitlam is a leader within the Metro Vancouver region with the number of new purpose-built rental units underway. As of Aug. 31, 2020 there are 5,189 market rental units and another 985 below-market / non-market rental units in the development approval process.
Recognizing that housing continues to be one of the major challenges facing the region, the HAS aims to broaden the variety of housing types, sizes, prices and ownership available in Coquitlam. A recent progress report to Council reviewed the program’s accomplishments and laid out planned activities for 2021.
Funding to Support Local Projects
A cornerstone of the Strategy is the Affordable Housing Reserve Fund (AHRF), which acts as the key funding mechanism for affordable housing projects by leveraging a portion of density bonus contributions from development towards potential affordable housing options.
In 2020 two projects received a total of $4.09 million from the AHRF and this funding will help create 153 non-market rental housing units. This includes:
- Community Land Trust / Hoy Creek (132 units / $3.3 million)
- Vancouver Resource Society (21 units / $798,000)
In the five years since the HAS was adopted, more than $9.9 million has been allocated from the AHRF to support 378 new non-market and below-market rental units.
Adaptability is Key to Coquitlam’s Housing Success
Coquitlam’s Housing Affordability Strategy is unique within the region, bringing a proactive approach to addressing housing affordability. With more than 60 per cent of Coquitlam’s existing purpose-built rental stock constructed between 1968 and 1971, the City worked to create a made-in-Coquitlam approach that leverages the momentum of development through:
- Density incentives provided to developers to create rental units, and
- Density bonus payments to the Affordable Housing Reserve Fund from those development applications taking advantage of the City’s density bonus system.
The HAS is built on thoughtful and measured policy direction which allows the City to work within its municipal role and mandate on affordable housing, while leveraging strong partnerships with the development sector or senior levels of government. The adaptability of the plan means the City can adjust quickly to respond to new housing programs announced by senior levels of government, or adjust policy direction to meet the changing housing landscape. These elements have been and will continue to be key success factors.
2021 Work Plan Focuses on Partnerships and Filling the Gaps
The 2021 HAS work plan continues the implementation of the strategy while focusing on three key areas:
- Development Application Support – includes working with private sector developers to facilitate delivery of rental units based on HAS incentives. It also includes supporting non-profit housing providers through the development process and frequently includes working with applicants to prepare and submit an Affordable Housing Reserve Fund (AHRF) request.
- Policy Analysis and Process Improvement – includes reviewing policies such as the Tenant Relocation Policy and Rental Incentives Policy for Council consideration, and internal process improvements to support clearer communication with applicants.
- Education and Partnerships – includes implementing the recommendations from the 3030 Gordon Task Force, working with the Tri-Cities Homelessness and Housing Task Force, and implementing the partnership with BC Housing on the Below-Market rental option.
Priorities for the 2021 HAS work program include:
- Sydney Avenue Lands (former Burquitlam Lions Care Centre) – in 2021 the City will be looking for a non-profit partner to operate and develop a seniors’ housing project located near the former Burquitlam Lions Care Centre. This project will maintain the social legacy of housing in the area.
- Expanded Rental Incentives – the City will be looking at ways to expand rental incentives to encourage the development of more non-market and below-market rental units to provide greater housing choice in the community.
- Housing Needs Assessment Report – the City will begin work on a Housing Needs Assessment Report to better understand current and future housing needs while looking for projected gaps, which will help with future planning work.
To learn more about the Housing Affordability Strategy and implementation, view a snapshot of the Progress Report or visit www.coquitlam.ca/housing.
About Coquitlam’s Housing Affordability Strategy
Coquitlam’s Housing Affordability Strategy (HAS) was adopted by City Council in December 2015 to broaden the variety of housing types, sizes, prices and ownership in the city. Information about the Strategy, including the AHRF including qualification criteria is available at www.coquitlam.ca/housing.
Manager, Community Planning