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OP-ED: Why Does Vancouver City Council Hate Renters?

By Chris Gardner, President, Independent Contractors and Businesses Association. This piece first ran in The Province on July 8, 2019. 

In the race for worst city council in British Columbia, Victoria gets most of the media buzz.

It’s no wonder why, given Victoria’s debates over such stupid ideas as trying to ding veterans to pay for Remembrance Day, trying to ban the iconic horse-drawn carriages in Beacon Hill Park, cutting important police units to cover John Horgan’s employer health tax, or trying to get rid of poinsettias in city hall because they are somehow a “Christian” symbol. Times Colonist columnist Jack Knox isn’t kidding when he calls Victoria “Dysfunction-by-the-Sea”; this might be the one of the more polite things that town has been called lately.

Yes, Victoria is bad. But there’s another sprinter making up ground in this race to the bottom. Vancouver City Council may yet earn its spot as the province’s worst council. While Victoria’s dumb ideas are splashier, Vancouver’s blunders may have far worse effects long-term.

Last month, Vancouver council voted 7-4 to reject a 21-unit rental townhouse proposal for Granville Street in Shaughnessy. Their arguments to kill this development were preposterous.

Some councillors claimed the townhouses were too tall – but they were only three storeys. That’s very, very gentle density and obviously not a project that will tower over anyone. Others fretted over the excavation for underground parking, because the hole would initially cover the entire site. Does council now prefer people park above ground?

Truthfully, the council was scared off by a neighbouring hospice facility, which drove a number of protestors to the public hearing. The hospice – like every other NIMBY (Not In My BackYard) before it – claimed the rental townhouses would bring such a confluence of noise, traffic and view-killing 3-storey buildings that life in the neighborhood would be rendered unbearable.

So the plan was defeated. Now, the property owners have shifted gears and will build a 12,000 sq. ft. single-family mansion on the site. In a city crying out for affordable housing, Vancouver City Council traded 21 rental units to get a new mansion.

This isn’t the only recent debacle in rental housing. Dan Fumano of the Vancouver Sun reports that of the 20 proposals selected just last year for Vancouver’s affordable rental housing project, six have already withdrawn. More are likely to fall apart in the coming months.

A five-storey, 63-rental unit complex  proposed for Kitsilano is basically the second-coming of the Empire State Building and will crush Kits, if you believe the NIMBYs there.  The same arguments killed 105 Keefer in Chinatown. The word in the protest community is out: if you can get a couple of dozen people yelling and screaming that ‘the end is near’ to a public hearing, councils will fold like cheap suits.

Vancouver City Council has made quite a mess and they have only themselves to blame for it. The nexus between housing affordability and families looking to purchase homes at reasonable prices meets at City Hall and the results do not end well for homebuyers.

The City’s tax and fees on development are ridiculous. Close to 30 per cent of the cost of building a condo in Vancouver is now direct taxes, development cost charges, community amenity charges, and dozens of other fees paid to the city. That’s an unbelievable markup.

Vancouver takes too long to make a decision on these projects. The city council’s erratic handling of proposals is stunning – how did we get to a place where it takes longer to approve and permit a housing project than to build it.

When even the projects the city says it wants – like affordable rental housing – get defeated, it’s no wonder developers are walking away from Vancouver. The most recent provincial budget anticipates housing starts to drop by a third over the next two years, and the Conference Board of Canada now has “negative expectations” for Vancouver housing starts both short- and long-term.

A council attacking poinsettias and horse-drawn carriages is stupid. A council making it impossible to build rental housing is flat-out dangerous.

TRAINING THURSDAY: Construction Project Management

Looking to enhance your skills as a project manager? Check out our Construction Project Management workshop! The next one is July 18-19 in Burnaby, followed by October 17-18 in Kelowna and October 21-22 in Prince George.

Here’s just some of what you’ll be able to do by the end of this two-day session:

  • Understand the importance of project planning
  • Understand the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK 5th Ed)
  • Use the appropriate CCDC/CCA contract and/or Purchase Orders for the project
  • Use risk management tools and mitigate for risk
  • Understand the estimating process
  • Understand the importance of scheduling and use appropriate scheduling tools
  • Understand expectations management and adapt communication accordingly
  • Understand the components of projects – labour, materials and overheads – and use of techniques to maximize job profitability and minimize costs
  • Do post-mortem analysis after project completion
  • Understand the impact and methodology of construction cost control
  • Use of site and office project cost control methods
  • Use Construction Industry Codes to analyse costs vs budget
  • Adapt the project estimate to a project budget
  • Understand how job costing fits within the overall accounting systems
  • Understand Return on Investment (ROI) and how this impacts required project profit margins
  • Understand the contract process from bidding to project close-out
  • Use of job profit forecasting methods to integrate into company forecasting systems
  • Understand the importance of cash flow projections for construction companies

Plus, you’ll earn 32 CPD Points from BC Housing! Register for this or any of our other upcoming courses atwww.icba.ca/courses.

TRAINING THURSDAY: Change Order Management

In this episode, Jordan and Kerry talk change orders – and a new laundry service.
 
Change is inevitable but change orders can be managed! Check out our Change Order Management course in Burnaby on July 17 and October 23 in Prince George.
Unnecessary project disruptions, cost increases and schedule delays can result from change orders not being managed well. This course will provide participants with best practices for successfully navigating this complex project management challenge.
Here are just a few things that participants will learn:
– How to identify changes from the original contract
– How to document the changes
– How to price changes fairly and realistically
– How to present and negotiate changes collaboratively
– How to understand the importance of early detection of change orders
– How to negotiate delay claims caused by changes
– How to understand the wording within commonly used contracts eg., CCDC 2 and CCA 1
– How to develop a change order process for a construction company
– How to issue a notice of dispute
– How to proactively negotiating fair time and material rates at the bidding stage of a project.
 
You’ll earn 1 Gold Seal Credit and 7.5 Group A CPD Points at this course! For more information and to register, visit www.icba.ca/courses.
If you can’t make it on July 17, we will also be offering this course in Burnaby on November 19.

ICBA PARTNER: LodgeLink Offers New Worker Housing Solution

ICBA is proud to partner with LodgeLink, the presenting sponsor of our Breakfast with Rex Murphy series and other events. Looking for accommodation for workers? Check them out at www.lodgelink.com.

Construction companies know that premier accommodations are key for recruiting and retaining top talent, as well as increasing morale and productivity. The B.C. construction marketplace is competitive, and retaining highly-skilled, dependable staff can be a challenge. Especially when you consider that once again in 2019, a little more than half of B.C. construction companies are experiencing more work this year than last, and 45% are hiring new staff. However, a tight labour market may mean that companies could have difficulty in finding the workers they need to scale up their business. Combine that with an added emphasis on work-life balance and the need to find the right accommodations that fit your workforce has become increasingly important. Employers must account for their crews needs as they manage their travel and provide the best experience for all parties involved.

Long gone are the days of spending hours searching various websites, calling different hotels and lodges, and referencing maps to determine what properties work best for your teams. With LodgeLink, you’ll benefit from enhanced search functionality, access to hundreds of hotels and camps on one platform, reduced room rates, mobile capability, and a booking process designed specifically for work crews. Our simplified payment methods and invoicing will reduce headaches at month end, and powerful reporting features will provide you the visibility to manage your entire project.

LodgeLink is an online marketplace that helps workforce travelers find accommodations in the places they operate. With LodgeLink you can get closer to your project worksite, helping keep you and your crew happy and safe. With more than 700 hotels and remote lodges listed throughout Canada and the United States, LodgeLink is the largest database of hotels and lodges under one roof.

LodgeLink is proud to partner with the ICBA to provide a one-stop shop for your crew accommodations needs. You’ll gain access to hundreds of properties online, receive discounted room rates, reduce administrative effort processing multiple vendor invoices, and consolidate all of your travel details in one interface, saving you time and money. We’re here to help, every step of the way.

Check them out at www.lodgelink.com.

TRAINING THURSDAY: Rigging Fundamentals (Fulford Certification)

Do you rig loads for lifting by cranes or other hoisting equipment? Our Rigging Fundamentals (Fulford Certification) course will help you identify safe rigging practices, understand basic rigging principles, and more.

Here’s what’s covered in this one-day course:

  • Rigging terminology
  • Determining load weight
  • Locating the load’s centre of gravity (COG)
  • Communicating with hand signals
  • Knot tying
  • Inspecting slings and hardware
  • Using rigging working load limit charts
  • Application of common hitches
  • Basic lift planning
  • Rigging and signaling lifts

Our instructor is Fulford certified, so you will be trained to the highest standards, and you’ll receive 16 Group A CPD Points from BC Housing! You’ll take home a Rigging Fundamentals Manual, Lift Planning Guide, and a Rigging Fundamentals wallet card that is valid for three years.

Our next session is July 11 in Burnaby, and then July 25 in Kelowna and August 29 in Prince George. Register for this or any of our upcoming courses at www.icba.ca/courses.