Vancouver has been consistently ranked amongst the world’s least affordable cities. The developer lobby that dominates City Hall has promoted rampant gentrification, resulting in astronomically high rents, low vacancy rates, and insufficient social housing stock. Over the same period, wages and assistance rates for most have stagnated, while many essential services have been cut or made increasingly unaffordable.
To combat the housing crisis, COPE will establish a Vancouver Housing Authority to build affordable social and market housing, use permitting and zoning powers to impose strict rent controls on new large housing developments, and end the ‘renoviction’ of tenants by landlords.
COPE will propose to amend the city’s Charter to empower it to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour throughout Vancouver. We will also band together with other BC municipalities to advocate increases in pension, disability, and welfare rates, and the provincial minimum wage, all of which must be indexed to the cost of living.
To lower the rising cost of living, COPE will work to enhance essential services and make existing services more affordable. COPE will organize to freeze transit fares and improve service, while advocating for a free universal transit system. COPE will also develop a unified city childcare strategy to improve access to affordable childcare and early education.
How will COPE make Vancouver more affordable?
Build, Protect, and Maintain Affordable Housing in Vancouver
Housing costs in Vancouver are out of control. On its first day in office, COPE will declare a housing state of emergency and will use a variety of policy tools to increase public housing supply and lower rental costs. COPE will create a Vancouver Housing Authority that will build 800 units of city-run social housing per year, construct low-cost rental housing as needed, and lobby higher levels of government for matching funds.
COPE will protect renters from renovictions by refusing to issue demolition or renovation permits which will result in displacements, and apply strict rent controls on all new large housing developments. COPE will implement an immediate moratorium on condo development in the DTES, and stop gentrification and displacement throughout Vancouver.
Give Vancouver a Raise by Increasing Minimum Wage and Working toward Living Wage
In real dollars, Vancouver’s minimum wage has been stagnating or declining for over a decade. To address this, COPE will propose an amendment to the Vancouver Charter to empower the City to set a municipal minimum wage at $15/hour, to be indexed to inflation. COPE will also work with other municipalities to aggressively lobby the BC government to increase the provincial minimum wage to $15/hr. COPE will also implement a living wage policy for city workers and contractors. Read more about the minimum wage and living wage campaign.
Ensure The Right to Affordable Childcare and Early Education
Stratospheric costs and chronic under-capacity has resulted in childcare being either unaffordable or unavailable for many Vancouverites. COPE will establish a dedicated child care advocate and develop a comprehensive child care strategy to ensure that all Vancouver residents have access to childcare. COPE will also actively advocate for a voluntary, fully funded, and universally accessible Junior Kindergarten program for four-year-old children.
Develop an Affordable and Equitable Transit System
Already unaffordable transit fares continue to rise, with multiple rounds of fare increases passing unopposed by both Vision and the NPA. To achieve universal free transit, COPE will work to reduce transit fares toward phasing out fares entirely within 10 to 15 years. In the meantime, COPE will create a universal Vancouver transit pass, or V-Pass, for a dollar a day. Read more about the V-Pass for all for a dollar a day campaign.
COPE will use best practices, proven precedents, and intelligent planning to create a strong and cost-effective transit system that will serve both existing demand and expected growth. This will involve prioritizing lower-cost, more flexible bus or light rail transit service enhancements, especially along the Broadway corridor. We will also ensure all major transit projects involve public consultation and transparent planning.
We will dedicate parking fees and violation fine revenue to provide free shuttle bus services in key underserved transit areas, such as Stanley Park. COPE will insist that the Translink board be democratically elected and advocate the reduction of excessive executive and management salaries at Translink to control costs.
Enhance Food Security by Promoting Sustainable and Affordable Local Food Production
Despite the continued growth of urban agriculture, high costs make local, sustainably produced food out of reach for many people. COPE proposes to establish local Community Food Exchange Markets to complement and supplement existing Farmers Markets, providing a space for individuals, households, and community gardens to buy, sell, trade, and barter food. The markets will also promote the development of citizen-driven food production by providing a space for education, seed sharing, and connecting gardeners to privately and publicly owned land available for small-scale agriculture.
Protect and Enhance Affordable Public Health Care
Affordable public healthcare is increasingly under attack by wealthy business interests and free-market ideologues who are aggressively promoting price gouging for-profit private clinics at all levels of government. COPE can use the City’s zoning powers and public outreach processes to foster the development of not-for-profit health care and undermine the establishment of new private for-profit facilities. COPE will also engage with other municipalities to lobby the province to put an end to the growth of private for-profit medical facilities.
Lobby for Liveable and Humane Assistance Rates
Provincial assistance rates have been falling or stagnating in real terms for over a decade, causing unnecessary hardship to lower-income Vancouverites. COPE will band with other BC municipalities to advocate increases in pension rates, disability rates, welfare rates, and the minimum wage, all of which must be indexed to the cost of living.