Where will Metro Vancouver’s next 1 million residents live?

Benjamin Tal, CIBC economist, speaks at the 2016 Vancouver Real Estate Forum

Real estate industry panel discusses how to handle population growth

Whither the next million Vancouverites? With the Lower Mainland’s population set to increase 35 per cent by 2040, it was a conundrum tackled at the Vancouver Real Estate Forum held Wednesday, a conference for industry professionals that drew around one thousand attendees. “We have to make our land work harder,” said panellist Jon Stovell, a developer and president of Reliance Properties, suggesting that by removing constraints on supply—parking restrictions and minimum lot frontage—cities like Vancouver could open the way for more density in their neighbourhoods.

The panel also discussed more creative ways to fund transit. Perhaps cities should put half of the funds they receive through community ammenity contributions, the developer fees known as CACs, toward public transit. Alternative models for funding transit capital projects—like letting developers pay for stations near their projects (see Onni’s proposed Canada Line station near Oakridge) could be used to fund ambitious transit projects like the Broadway subway line. “Densification along the corridor could pay for the line,” suggested Stovell.
Much of the conversation focused on what the region did right since its population grew from 1.6 million in 1986 to 2.64 million today. Greg Moore, mayor of Port Coquitlam, cited Metro Vancouver’s regional growth strategy as an important parameter for past development by concentrating construction in nodes (Metrotown, Surrey City Centre) has kept the costs of providing municipal services low. Stovell, speaking as a developer, said that the same policies provided long-term certainty for developers by creating pre-zoned master plan communities that “bring on supply over the course of decades.”
But when it turned to affordability, there was less agreement. “Everybody’s in favour of affordability, but they want density elsewhere,” said Tsur Sommerville, a professor who specializes in real estate market dynamics at UBC’s  Sauder School of Business. One frequently floated proposal, the construction of townhomes in the city of Vancouver, is nearly impossible he said, when the cost of a single family lot  makes redevelopment into townhomes prohibitive.

Read elsewhere 
Is Airbnb displacing Vancouverites? The city is looking into it, but at least one columnist thinks it might be wreaking havoc upon our fair city. (Vancouver Courier)

Perhaps it’s household formation, not speculation, that’s driving up Vancouver real estate prices. (CBC)