WVD-SUBSIDISED HOUSING – 2195 GORDON
In 2014 the Municipality bought the site at Gordon Avenue ( West of Kiwanis and North West of the Recreation Centre) for around $16 million. Per the Municipality this site now has a market value of $80 million if zoned for strata condominiums ( this may be high today given recent real estate activity).
The proposal from Staff and our Mayor and Council is for the Municipality to develop this site to provide 170 reduced rental subsidized housing units for those of “moderate” income to address a need for more affordable housing options for those working in West Vancouver.
To qualify for rental of these units you would need to be earning $50,000 for a studio apartment up to $125,000 for a three bedroom unit. The Municipality would be foregoing a potential gain of $60 million in providing the 30% rental subsidy.
This at a time when we know from recent budget presentations that the Municipality faces a significant deficit each year going forward for maintenance of our facilities and over the next decade will require around $200 million to replace some existing facilities.
In fact at a recent Council meeting , perhaps facetiously, when staff were asked about how the annual deficits could be funded a casino was mentioned as one of the alternatives!!! The proposed use for subsidized rental housing may well be the best use for this very unique and valuable site.
The real questions are how do we know that it is the best use, what due diligence was done by staff and Council on this alternative and other possible alternatives and that the Community support use of this site for this purpose as opposed to any other? The consultation meetings and the survey that residents could complete really outlined this use as the sole use of the site and did not present any other possibilities to residents for consideration and input. The consultation period was very short and rushed and occurred during the B Line debate when residents were engaged fighting their own Mayor and Council. Good governance should have provided to Mayor and Council from staff a range of options for use of this site , the pros and cons of each and the financial consequences to taxpayers. This ought to have been made public and some of the alternative options should have been presented for consideration by the public during the consultation process.
In addition , for the recommended option , additional data ought to have been provided to demonstrate appropriate due diligence( eg Rental market survey to get a complete picture of rental units available in West Vancouver today together with prices, rental units coming on and likely to be coming on to the market in the next 2-3 years, understanding our businesses and what types of employees they struggle to recruit and whether they have incomes to qualify for the proposed 170 units etc)
Ambleside and Dundarave Residents Association ( ADRA) and other groups, residents and businesses made the points above and requested an extension of the Consultation period to the fall of 2019 and a broadening of consultation to include alternative uses for this very unique and valuable site.
ADRA is not necessarily against the currently recommended use but feels strongly about the importance of full and appropriate consultation and diligence on such a significant financial investment by the Municipality. Alas ,given decisions at the recent Council Meeting on April 29th , it seems that citizens will not be provided with any information that would allow for consideration of alternative uses for the site or evidence of due diligence completed on the recommended use. This on one of the largest single investments made by the Municipality for many years.