British Columbia

'Stark choices' for Vancouver if housing models don't change, expert says

Former Vancouver city planner Larry Beasley says if the city doesn't secure dedicated housing for middle income residents, there will eventually no longer be a middle class in the city.

Former Vancouver city planner says city needs secure housing for middle income residents

Former city planner Larry Beasley says Vancouver should do more to secure housing for middle-income residents. (David Horemans/CBC)

A former city planner warns if Vancouver doesn't start protecting dedicated housing for middle-income residents, there won't be a middle class left in the city in the future.

"The estimates are by 2030, if you're a Millennial household with about $72,000 to $75,000 in your income, you won't be able to be in this housing market at all. In fact, it would take all of your income to buy a very modest place," explained Larry Beasley, who is currently a professor with the University of British Columbia's School of Community and Regional Planning.

Beasley says the solution to the problem is to create secure middle income housing.

"We have a low-income sector that's all owned by government and it's basically rental and we have a market sector for all the rest," he said.

"We need to protect a middle income sector of housing ... It would be protected from being in the open market where it could sell at any price and rent at any price ... It would be delivered, either rented or sold, time and time again to middle income people."

Although some middle income people get help from their parents, buy further away or buy smaller places, he said, this cushion won't last forever and eventually middle income residents will be completely shut out of the city's real estate market.

If you rule out the middle class, you rule out the potential of creativity.- Larry Beasley

"It doesn't matter how much you save and it doesn't matter how much you borrow from government, you still won't be able to get into the market. People will face some pretty stark choices."

Doesn't have to be fully government funded

Beasley said this protected middle income wouldn't necessarily be fully funded by the government.

He points to developments in the Netherlands and Spain where private investors help develop and contribute to non-profit home ownership models.

"In Rotterdam, for example, they have non-profit development companies that develop all housing and they take their profits and they put that into a range of housing," he explained.

Other private developers could be given incentives like development opportunities if they invested in middle income housing, he said.

"If you rule out the middle class, you rule out the potential of creativity. You rule out the people who are doing the jobs everyday and you rule out the people who are driving the day-to-day economy."

With files from The Early Edition

To listen to the interview, click on the link labelled Secure housing for middle income Vancouverites or face dire consequences, former planner says