Vancouver must speed up housing development process: Greater Vancouver Board of Trade

Vancouver must speed up housing development process: Greater Vancouver Board of Trade

The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade is tackling housing affordability in an effort to retain workers it says are necessary to drive the region's economy forward.

CEO Iain Black says the housing affordability crisis in Vancouver is making it hard for businesses to attract and retain a particular demographic — 25 to 35 year olds with young families.

"This is the key demographic for keeping our economy going forward," Black said.

The board will be discussing ways to prevent this out-migration at a forum today, and Black said the focus will be on the "missing middle."

The "missing middle" not only refers to the missing demographic, Black explained, but a type of smaller and mid-sized houses like duplexes, townhomes and laneway houses.

The board's main solution is to increase the supply of this type of housing.

"There's only so much you can do on the demand side," he said. "But if you have 10,000 units available tomorrow, without question you're going to see the price go down."

Black says developers should be encouraged to build those types of housing by pre-zoning for density around transit. He said the city should also speed up the development permit process.

"Right now we've got development permits and building permits that in some instances can take between 5 and 7 years to roll out for a developer. That's a period of time in our history during which we've entered into and won a World War," Black said.

"We can do a lot better than that."

Black says these steps are part of Vancouver's evolution as a city.

"We have to really fundamentally change the way we think as a region — it's a big step in becoming a truly international city like Paris, Rome, London or Los Angeles."