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Vancouver real estate: 25-storey rental tower with no vehicle parking proposed

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One of the first development projects to be considered under Vancouver’s recently approved Broadway Plan will be a 25-storey tower proposed for the intersection of Main Street and East 5th Avenue in Mount Pleasant.

A rezoning application submitted to the city last month and currently open for public comments on the city’s website calls for the construction of the 77-metre (253-foot) rental tower at 2015 Main Street.

The site is currently zoned IC-2, an industrial designation that allows for a variety of uses, but not residences. The application would see it rezoned to CD-1, a comprehensive development district.

LOW CARBON PROMISES

Henriquez Partners Architects, which designed the proposed building and submitted the application on behalf of developer Westbank, describes the project as “a zero-carbon case study and prototype towards future sustainable projects.”

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The architect refers to the proposed tower as “Prototype,” a name intended to reflect the building’s potential replicability for future projects. The project is also referred to as M5, a reference to its position as the fifth building to be proposed on Westbank’s “Main Alley” campus.

“Our main focus for the M5 development is to find the most effective way to reduce both operational and embodied carbon, and to offset any residuals to ensure our investment dollars are having the greatest impact towards actual carbon reductions,” the application documents read.

“The ultimate goal for our net zero carbon lifecycle building is to have the same net impact on the environment as though it was never built.”

The architect describes the project as a “hybrid mass timber” structure, with the floors constructed from wood and held together by steel columns and beams around a “low-carbon concrete core.”

The application documents indicate that the developer intends to reduce the building’s carbon footprint by 50 per cent relative to standard construction, then purchase carbon offsets – a notoriously fraught proposition – to reduce its climate impact to net zero.

The architect describes the proposed building’s facade as “a latticework inspired by the woven pattern of traditional baskets.” (Henriquez Partners Architects)

BUILDING STATISTICS

The tower is intended to include 210 secured market rental units, at least 20 per cent of which would be “secured at below market rents,” and at least 35 per cent of which would have two or more bedrooms to accommodate families.

If completed, it would feature commercial retail space on the ground floor and a rooftop amenity space for residents. There would be no vehicle parking spaces. Underground floors in the building would be used for 377 bicycle parking spaces and resident storage.

Vehicle parking would be “provided elsewhere on campus as part of the overall campus parking strategy,” according to the application documents.

The architect describes the proposed building’s facade as “a latticework inspired by the woven pattern of traditional baskets.” (Henriquez Partners Architects)

Public comments on the application can be submitted through the Shape Your City website, and a virtual open house is scheduled for Nov. 7 through 27.

After staff review, the application and public feedback will be provided to Vancouver City Council for a vote.

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LACKIE: Only recent homebuyers feeling crunch of rising interest rates – Toronto Sun

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Holiday parties are back this year, baby.

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And while the novelty of having somewhere to wear my party shoes again has yet to wear off, the cocktail party conversations remain the same as they ever were: the weather, holiday plans, upcoming travel and, of course, the real estate market.

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This is Toronto, after all.

Would you believe me if I said there are people who, presumably in an effort to make benign small talk, ask me how the real estate market is and seem genuinely surprised to hear that things are rocky at the moment?

They indicate a vague awareness that interest rates are going up and slowing things down, but seem shocked to hear what that’s shaking out to mean in terms of the fall from February’s highs.

“It seems like things are sitting, huh?”

That was last night.

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  1. This illustration shows first-time homebuyers checking out a condo

    LACKIE: Buyers in driver’s seat as sellers ride out real estate rough seas

  2. Real estate for-sale sign.

    LACKIE: Good homes still selling amid turbulent real estate market

  3. Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark, address media outside of the Premier's office at Queen's Park in Toronto, Ont. on Monday, May 27, 2019.

    LACKIE: Can housing crisis be fixed by tapping into the Greenbelt?

Confirms what I have long suspected:

Firstly, that Twitter bears very little resemblance to real life. Amen. Because, of course, if one were to extrapolate the state of things based on my (admittedly real estate heavy) Twitter feed alone, one would likely feel certain the world was ending.

And second, that unless you’re a recent buyer with a variable rate mortgage feeling the crunch of the rising rates, you’re probably busy living your life.

Your house may be worth substantially less than it might have been valued at last winter, but to you that was never real since even with the correction it’s likely still up substantially from what you paid.

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Unless you’ve bought, sold or refinanced, that gain was entirely theoretical — you were living in your home, not tinkering with your net worth abacus in real time.

Based on what I can tell from a solid two weeks of mixing and mingling, the people who seem to be uncomfortably straddling the two worlds at the moment are the Boomers sitting with a substantial portion of their wealth tied up in their homes. For those whose retirement plans centred upon cashing out and downsizing, perhaps renting a nice bungalow somewhere, the outlook isn’t looking great.

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Now there’s an entirely uncertain timeline to contend with. We can’t be sure where the bottom is, when we might finally hit it, when the recovery might start to begin, and when, if ever, we might see prices like that again.

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The rental market is tighter than it’s ever been, making the prospect of making a move both daunting and unappealing.

And to add a whole other layer of complexity to the situation, given how unaffordable the market has been for first-time homebuyers, the number of their parents who have pulled equity to help out with a downpayment is probably not surprising at this point. So we’re not actually just talking about people sitting on pots of illiquid gains — they’re also sitting on liabilities.

So the question is what should they do and when should they do it?

Of course, the answer is that I don’t know — it really depends.

But I will say that like seemingly all else in this period of uncertainty, kicking the can down the road and hoping things will miraculously improve in the spring doesn’t seem particularly promising.

Bah humbug indeed.

@brynnlackie

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Fraser Valley housing market sees decrease in November sales: real estate board

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The Fraser Valley housing market is continuing to slow as the holiday season approaches.

The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) processed 839 sales in November in the communities of Abbotsford, Langley, Mission, North Delta, Surrey, and White Rock. Sales are down 6.9 per cent from October and 57.5 per cent from last November. according to the FVREB’s multiple listing service.

“The trends we’ve seen over the past several months will likely continue through to year-end,” said Sandra Benz, President of the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board, in a news release. “While rate hikes have effectively put many buyers and sellers in a holding pattern, we’re still seeing relatively quick turnover for all housing categories, indicating robust opportunities for properties that are strategically priced.”

The FVREB saw a 22.1 decrease in listings in November compared to October and an 18.8 per cent decrease compared to November 2021.

“The market continues to tighten in response to rising interest rates,” said FVREB CEO Baldev Gill in a statement “As a result, individuals are facing additional levels of uncertainty regarding the decision to buy or sell a home.”

The benchmark prices for apartments, townhomes, and single-family detached homes all decreased in November from the previous month. Single-family homes had a benchmark price of $1,404,900, townhomes were $799,400 and apartments were $518,400. Apartments and townhouses increased their price from last November by 5.2 per cent and 3.3 per cent respectively, while single family homes decreased by 6.3 per cent.

The average number of days to sell an apartment in the Fraser Valley during November was 27 days, while townhouses came in at 28 days and single-family detached homes averaged 34 days.

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Investments in Inuit housing inadequate to address human rights violations: watchdog

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From a family living for seven years in a condemned home that was meant to be temporary to people with disabilities having to be carried in and out of their bathrooms, Canada’s housing advocate says during a tour this fall of several Inuit communities she got a glimpse into the dire living conditions many have faced for years.

“The current levels of federal investments are not adequate to remedy the human rights violations caused by the housing shortage,” said Marie-Josee Houle.

The independent, non-partisan watchdog helps promote and protect the right to housing. Houle, who was appointed to the role earlier this year, travelled in October to Nunavut and Nunatsiavut, an Inuit region in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“The purpose is to really learn more about systemic issues in the North that need really serious attention and to listen to people with lived experience of their housing precarity and homelessness,” she said of her trip.

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“That focus on the North is also because people don’t go there or they don’t have the opportunity to go there.”

Among the biggest takeaways, Houle said, was that housing is in short supply. Housing that is available is not in a good state, with issues like mould, or is otherwise unsuitable for elders or people with disabilities or children.

“The government neglect and underfunding for Inuit housing has absolutely taken its toll over the years,” she said.

“Residents report a lack of trust in public institutions responsible for housing because the wait-lists are decades long and they’ve given up even applying for the housing programs.”

Houle said inadequate housing in the North has led to overcrowding, increased contact with the justice system, exacerbated mental health issues and tension among families. It also means many people are forced to leave their communities, which can result in isolation, racism and violence.

“If it’s not by choice, it can be a traumatizing experience for people,” she said. “There’s a lot of harrowing stories.”

The 2021 census found almost a third of the nearly 49,000 Inuit who live in Inuit Nunangat — or Inuit homeland in Canada comprising communities in Nunavut, Northwest Territories, Newfoundland and Labrador and northern Quebec — were living in dwellings in major need of repairs. More than half were living in crowded homes.

This is not the first time abysmal housing conditions have been documented in the North.

The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples released a report in 2017 detailing the severity of the housing crisis in Inuit Nunangat. Former Nunavut NDP member of Parliament Mumilaaq Qaqqaq documented “inhumane” housing conditions in several communities in March 2021.

The federal government said it has made several investments in housing across Inuit Nunangat over the years. That includes $256.7 million over two years in the 2016 budget, $400 million over 10 years in the 2018 budget and $845 million over seven years in the 2022 budget.

But Houle said there’s a need for more federal, provincial and territorial support, such as long-term funding and maintenance. She said it should respect Inuit self-determination and address unique northern challenges, such as the climate, short construction season, lack of transportation infrastructure and high costs.

In its 2022 pre-budget submission, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami said it would take more than $3 billion over the next decade to construct new housing, as well as maintain and repair existing homes in Inuit Nunangat.

Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok and representatives from Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in October to request $500 million in the upcoming budget to address the territory’s housing gap.

The Nunavut government recently announced a new plan to build 3,000 more homes by 2030, tripling the annual rate of new public housing units currently being constructed. Of those, 300 will be transitional housing units, 1,400 public housing units, 900 affordable housing units and 400 market housing units.

“It is ambitious, but I think if we stick close to the plan and things work out, it’s very achievable,” said Lorne Kusugak, the minister responsible for the Nunavut Housing Corporation.

Kusugak said the territory can’t continue to build homes the way it has in the past, where bids have come in at about $1,000 a square foot. He said instead of issuing annual requests for housing, the territory is partnering with the private sector to build homes over a longer period of time at a lower cost.

“We know this isn’t going to be easy and there will be a lot of criticism throughout the process, but we have to do something,” he said. “If we accomplish a few more houses each year by doing this … then we’re headed in the right direction.

“It’s going to be a struggle, it’s going to be a fight. We’re ready for that fight.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2022.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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