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Vancouver to thank Coleman for housing investment

12th & Cambie
gregorcoleman
Mayor Gregor Robertson has agreed to write a letter to Housing Minister Rich Coleman to thank him and his government for investing money in housing in Vancouver. Photo Dan Toulgoet

Hey, Housing Minister Rich Coleman, have you checked your mail lately?

Apparently, Mayor Gregor Robertson — on behalf of city council — has written a letter to you that contains some kind words for you and your government’s commitment to housing.

No joke.

Council unanimously approved a motion at a public meeting last week to have the mayor spend some quality time with his typewriter and knock out what should essentially read like a thank-you note.

I should tell you this wasn’t exactly Robertson’s idea. It was the work of NPA Coun. Melissa De Genova. Yes, this is the same Melissa who belongs to the same party that likes to pump your tires whenever the mayor and his Vision crew go about deflating them.

After some back-and-forth with the mayor and others, De Genova successfully got the following amendment to a motion unanimously approved: “That the mayor write a letter on behalf of council to Minister Rich Coleman, the minister responsible for housing for the province of British Columbia, and notify him of council’s formal endorsement of the regional affordable housing strategy and thank the provincial government for the funding B.C. Housing has invested in Vancouver. Furthermore, this letter will also express the City of Vancouver’s ongoing commitment to work with B.C. Housing to increase affordable housing in the City of Vancouver.”

The regional housing strategy she made reference to was the one presented to council earlier in the meeting. This is the one that comes with five goals. You’ve probably been briefed on them but not all my regular readers have. So here they are:

·        Expand the supply and diversity of housing to meet a variety of needs.

·        Expand the rental supply and balance preservation of existing stock with redevelopment while supporting existing tenants.

·        Meet housing demand estimates for very low and low income earners.

·        Increase the rental housing supply along transit routes.

·        End homelessness in the region.

Yes, that last goal is kind of ambitious, as the mayor learned last year when he failed to deliver on his promise to end “street homelessness” by 2015. Not to be a nattering nabob of negativism, but when you consider 1,847 people in Vancouver were counted in March without a home, and homelessness is growing in the region and on Vancouver Island, that goal seems lofty.

Anyway, that’s a conversation for another day.

My purpose here was just to let you know about that letter coming from the mayor. Interesting timing, right? It was only last week that I wrote a piece in this space about you being frustrated with the mayor for calling news conferences to announce plans to build subsidized housing — and then saying at the same news conference that he needed money from you and your government.

Remember?

This is what you said: “They always go out and just announce stuff before it’s all finalized. So I don’t really get into [the mayor’s] announcements. They do this every once in a while, where they make an announcement and say we’re here but we want somebody else’s money.”

Then you said: “The one thing I always say to [the city] is, ‘You might want to start off by saying that we’d like to thank our most significant partner in housing, who’s paying 90 per cent of the bills.’”

Well, I guess Melissa heard you loud and clear.

So check your mail.

But don’t expect such a letter to silence the mayor. Here’s what he told me the day after he agreed to write you a letter: “They have primary responsibility for housing and our expectation is that they follow through with that.”

mhowell@vancourier.com

@Howellings