British Columbia

Vancouver hosts international housing summit

Hundreds of experts from around the world gather in Vancouver to explore ways to increase housing affordability in cities throughout the week-long conference. Meanwhile, the city of Vancouver revamps its housing strategy.

500 experts gather Oct. 24-29 to explore ways to increase housing affordability in cities around the world

Global experts are in Vancouver this week to explore ways to increase housing affordability in cities around the world. (Greater Vancouver Board of Trade)

Experts are in Vancouver this week to explore ways to increase housing affordability in cities around the world.

The Re:Address Housing conference is premised on the idea that Vancouver — along with cities like New York, London, San Francisco and Sydney — is facing rapidly increasing housing prices making it increasingly difficult for residents in those cities to find safe, affordable housing.

"We're attracting so many people to our cities, our economies are booming, and they're very livable cities, so we're growing beyond our ability to increase supply," said Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson.

Robertson added the supply coming in is not necessarily accessible for people in lower or middle income ranges.

"We have doubled our supply since 2011 [in Vancouver], and it's been inadequate to deal with the crisis … We're building way more rental housing than we did for decades ... that's still not enough to keep up with the demand," he said.

Revamping local strategy

The City of Vancouver is in the process of re-launching a new housing and homelessness strategy.

Robertson is promising two major actions in the coming months: the empty homes tax and regulations on short-term rentals.

Robertson said a tax on empty-homes would kick in next year, which he believes will create more rental stock in the city, as will regulations on short-term rentals.

Homelessness in the city is at a 10-year high, despite a promise from Robertson to end street homelessness by 2015. Robertson has blamed the failure to end homelessness on the inability of three levels of government to work together.

Today, Robertson said the city is looking into developing modular housing as one way forward. The Main and Terminal site will open this winter for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

The housing summit will take place from Oct. 24 - Oct. 29, 2016.

With files from The Early Edition

To listen to the interview, click on the link labelled Gregor Robertson on Re:Address Housing Summit


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