Update on developments that affect co-ops in the City of Vancouver

  18 June 2019

The following is a brief update on developments that affect co-ops in the City of Vancouver. Vancouver City Hall has been recently active on a couple of fronts.

1. Tenant Relocation Measures

The City is interested in increasing protections to renters. Particularly when relocations are required as entire properties are redeveloped. City staff drafted a report on this subject, which was adopted at the June 11 Council Meeting. You can find the background policy report here.

At the moment, few co-ops are directly affected. As time goes on and more co-ops turn their minds to possible redevelopments (full or partial), then the issue of what to do to avoid dislocating members will become more urgent. At the City’s request, a number of co-ops provided feedback on this subject. The final language of the report reflects the special nature of housing co-ops:

“[The] proposed policy will now require non-profit co-ops undergoing redevelopment to provide a resident relocation plan to the City. Non-profit co-ops have a distinct decision process for redevelopment, which includes the requirement for a member vote and approval of redevelopment proposals. Recognizing the uniqueness of co-ops, the City’s tenant protection and relocation approach for non-profits will be used as a set of non-binding guidelines to help inform non-profit co-op redevelopment.”

The City may require a plan. Howet the plan itself is not going to be pre-determined by those outside the co-op. The City’s guidelines are non-binding. The City definitely benefits from having co-ops included in the conversation. We appreciate how willing City staff have been to acknowledge our unique form of tenure.

2. Lease Renewal Discussions

Lease renewals haven’t been straightforward. Rest assured, CHF BC, co-ops on leased land, and the broader community of housing co-ops in BC are all committed to seeing progress, especially as the expiry dates for the shortest leases get closer.

We provided members with a detailed update at CHF BC’s semi-annual general meeting in late May. We recapped the history to date. This includes the pause in City discussions late last year and the sector talks that took place in January and February 2019. CHF BC subsequently had a constructive discussion with City staff to share ideas about how to move forward.

The City of Vancouver has had its own internal conversations during this period. They are now ready to re-engage with leasehold co-ops on City land. We expect that CHF BC and all affected co-ops will soon be asked to comment on some new options or proposals. We don’t at this time know what those new ideas might include.

Until we have a better idea about how the City is reframing its approach, we’re delaying the next sector-only meetings. We want to make sure that we are responding to the latest information and using our time together to greatest effect.

3. Housing Standards and Over/under-housing

It’s not a City of Vancouver matter, but you may have seen reports in local media recently about a housing co-op in Vancouver. The key issue the Supreme Court reviewed dealt with the co-op’s over- and under-housing policy and procedures. You can read a little bit about the case here. CHF BC is reviewing the case. We will have more to say about it and its implications for other co-ops in the coming months after we have consulted legal counsel.