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Does West Vancouver offer tenant protections?

Does West Vancouver offer tenant protections?
Does West Vancouver offer tenant protections?

The rules also require developers to demonstrate how additional density on rental properties will contribute to the district’s housing needs.

Renters in West Vancouver can rest assured that developers will have to make significant adjustments if their current homes are demolished and redeveloped.

During a meeting Monday night, the council unanimously approved a new policy for rent replacement and tenant assistance.

The final version of the policy includes a more tailored approach to tenant relocation plans than previous versions, taking into account factors such as the size of tenants’ units, the length of their tenancy and existing rents. The council also passed an amendment requiring developers to consider tenants’ physical accessibility needs.

When attempting to rezone a parcel, applicants for sites with more than four privately owned, purpose-built rental homes must submit a plan to council early in the process. There are currently 36 rental sites in the district with approximately 2,038 homes, according to a staff report.

These relocation plans must include at least four months of financial assistance matching the rent, three options for reasonable housing alternatives, coverage of moving expenses, the right of first refusal to move to the new development, and special provisions for tenants’ pets.

Applicants must also “demonstrate how additional living space or housing units (in addition to the replacement of existing rental housing) will contribute to the community’s need for rental and/or owner-occupied housing,” the approved policy states.

Last November the council was heavily criticised by the community when it rejected a proposal for an all-rental zoning scheme in the Ambleside area, which could potentially see properties that could be redeveloped as strata disappear and the rental stock lost forever.

But in February, council passed another motion directing staff to address residents’ concerns and come up with additional protections for tenants. Since then, district staff have been in contact with the Ambleside Tenants Association, which has provided feedback and input into the policy.

Councillor apologises to tenants who feared losing their homes

During Monday’s meeting, Councilman Scott Snider apologized to residents who experienced stress when the council previously rejected the rental-only zoning.

“There was a lot of concern among many of our tenants, including many of our seniors, who were going through a lot of anxiety and stress about whether this meant they were going to be evicted and their buildings were going to be demolished,” he said. “I want to reassure those people that this was never the intention. When that policy was overturned, it was to make sure that we came back and addressed this in an appropriate and responsible way. And I think that’s exactly what this does.”

Councillor Sharon Thompson said she appreciated the tenants’ association taking action.

“I’m not currently active in the rental market, but the stories we hear, not only about the vulnerability of losing your home, but also the impossibility of finding a good replacement, it just seems like an impossible situation,” she said.

Thompson added that the district would have to appeal to higher levels of government for funds to maintain the existing rental stock.

“Our older rental properties are really affordable for us,” she said.

One bright spot in this issue is the formation of the Ambleside Tenants Association, said Councillor Nora Gambioli.

“It’s really time,” she said. “I look forward to seeing them be part of some of the solutions and advocacy for tenants going forward.”

At the same meeting on 8 July, the council rejected the latest draft local area plan for Ambleside, which would result in significant changes to the coastal town’s zoning plans.

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