Vancouver City Council voted Thursday to postpone hearings on the controversial Historic Heights Report which would have recommended higher density zoning for the Downtown Eastside and Chinatown.
The hearing, scheduled for 2 pm Thursday afternoon, would have allowed Council to hear reactions from affected groups and residents of the communities concerned.
Councillor Andrea Reimer told reporters in front of Council Chambers that they were postponing hearings and a vote on DTES rezoning for higher density in order to conduct social and economic impact studies first. The portion of the report that makes recommendations for zoning in Chinatown will be brought before council at a later date, perhaps in February.
At long last, the federal government has decided to seriously address the housing price bubble that has increasingly concerned Canadians.
On the heels of multiple warnings from the Bank of Canada that Canadians have taken on too much household debt for comfort (we hold the dubious distinction of having the worst consumer debt to financial assets ratio among 20 OECD nations), the federal government announced three moves. It will reduce the maximum insurable amortization period from 35 years to 30 years as it scales back both home equity loans and the amount homeowners can refinance. With these changes, we are about half way back to where the CMHC lending standards stood in 2006 when the Harper government significantly loosened them.
From 2002 to 2008, the counted number of homeless in Metro Vancouver increased 137 per cent, from 1,121 to 2,660. What is equally important, from 30 to 50 per cent (with some estimating as high as 70 per cent) of the homeless population in Vancouver have mental health concerns. An unfortunate result of de-institutionalization is that the burden of mental healthcare has fallen on the police and general hospitals. To solve homelessness, we can't just build homes. We must also successfully address the mental health concerns of the homeless.
The City of Toronto faces a massive housing crisis. Shelters are bursting at the seams (see OCAP's recent shelter stats statement) and the waitlist for social housing is over 10 years long. Since the Harris government eliminated rent control in the 1990s, the cost of housing has skyrocketed. Welfare rates remain so far below the poverty line that decent housing is out of reach for people on social assistance. The average cost of a bachelor apartment in the City is $837/month while the maximum amount on a single welfare cheque is $626/month.