A Victoria request for provincial changes that would let the city mandate more protections for renters displaced by development has been shot down.
The city wanted to require developers and property owners to follow its Tenant Assistance Policy (TAP) and tie this mandate to the issuance of building and development permits.
TAP is applicable to rezoning applications seeking to redevelop or demolish any building that results in the loss of occupied rental units. The policy gives developers and property owners guidelines on providing additional support, beyond provincial requirements, for displaced tenants. However, the city lacks the legislative authority to require that TAP be followed.
The request for mandating that policy buy-in from developers and owners came in a March letter penned by Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps to Housing Minister David Eby. Such a request requires the province to amend legislation on the authority given to local governments.
Victoria highlighted how around 60 per cent of its residents are renters, but much of the city’s rental stock is starting to age after being built in the ’60s and ’70s.
“When the owners of these older buildings choose to make capital improvements that require eviction or redevelop, their property tenants are displaced and face the prospect of a highly competitive rental market where the cost of rent is significantly higher, or they are forced to uproot their lives and relocate,” Victoria’s letter stated.
In a response letter, Municipal Affairs Minister Nathan Cullen said the province understands the need to protect renters, especially the most vulnerable ones in society. Cullen’s letter goes on to signal the legislative changes Victoria asked for aren’t imminent as it reiterates that municipalities lack the authority to require tenant protections at the permit issuance stage.
The minister then pointed to tenant protection measures brought in by B.C. last July.
Under the province’s updated rules, a landlord wanting to demolish, renovate or convert units must meet four requirements to be able to apply to end a tendency. If all the requirements are met, an arbitrator is assigned to the case and if they side with the landlord, the tenant must leave the rental within four months.
Cullen’s letter said ministry staff have spoken with city planning staff to better understand the issue and the province will look to collaborate with Victoria as a review into the development approval process continues.
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