Richmond City Council now requires a minimum 15% low-end market rentals

Developers will be required to provide increased rental housing supply in their planned developments in Richmond, either through an in-kind contribution that incorporates rentals into their project or a financial commitment to the city-led project pool of funds.

At a public meeting last week, Richmond City Council passed policies requiring a minimum of 15% low-end market rental residential floor area in multi-family projects with more than 60 apartment units under the City Centre Area Plan. This is an increase from the prior 10% policy.

Developers will be obliged to pay rental cash-in-lieu rates for new multifamily projects with 60 units or fewer, which will be revised every two years.

The new prices are divided into two categories: city centre and out of city centre. For single-family rezonings, they are $8 per sq ft outside of the city centre and $12 per sq ft inside of the city centre; for townhouse developments, they are $12 per sq ft outside of the city centre and $18 per sq ft inside of the city centre; and for apartment developments with 60 units or fewer, they are $15 per sq ft outside of the city centre and $25 per sq ft inside of the city centre.

This is an increase from the current citywide prices of $4 per square foot for single-family homes, $8.50 for townhouses, and $10 to $14 for apartments. These rates (last updated in 2017) are now outmoded in comparison to current home market conditions, according to city staff, with both building costs and average sale prices now much higher than they were five years ago.

According to the city, a review by consultant GP Rollo & Associates indicated that these higher charges are “acceptable” for most developments, even smaller-scale projects. The increases are unlikely to have a significant impact on market development or pose considerable financial concerns to developers.

The city council also granted a one-year grandfathering period for in-stream development proposals presently being assessed by the municipal administration, in order to ensure fairness for projects already under consideration. Eligible projects can continue to follow previous policies as long as their application is approved by city council on the first reading within one year of the amended bylaws’ approval.
The redevelopment of Vanprop Investments’ 50-acre Lansdowne Mall property is expected to be subject to the new restrictions. The high-density, mixed-use community is expected to provide up to 4,500 new houses for up to 10,000 people, making it a substantial supply of new rental housing.

At a later date, the city council will explore requiring multi-family complexes with more than 60 units to allocate 10% of their residential floor area to market rental flats.

Between January 2018 and August 2021, Richmond was able to secure an average of 118 units of low-end market rental housing and 142 market rental units under the prior policies.

In addition to market rental units generated through density bonusing, the policy modifications are estimated to increase typical yearly totals to around 180 low-end market rental units and 125 market rental units.

Since 2007, the city has acquired nearly 1,500 affordable housing units and $45 million in cash-in-lieu contributions through its Affordable Housing Strategy. Since 2018, the Market Rental Housing Policy has stimulated the construction of 568 market rental units.

Approximately a quarter of Richmond homes are renters, and approximately 1,000 households are on the BC Housing queue for affordable housing.

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