Maple Ridge council has opted to send a condo project to public hearing that would include a cash-in-lieu contribution of $256,000 instead of requiring a housing agreement that would ensure the inclusion of 16 rental apartments for 20 years.
The complex consists of two buildings that will contain 153 condos at 11641 – 227th St.
Council voted Feb. 26 to send the proposal to public hearing.
Coun. Gordy Robson said that requiring cash-in-lieu contributions instead of requiring rental apartments to be built in projects will fund savings to help the city buy land so that purpose-built affordable housing projects can be constructed.
“I think it’s better for our community and better for our social housing policy … to build purpose-built [housing],” Robson said at the Jan. 29 meeting.
“I’d rather have the city buy land in perpetuity so we can put social housing on it. It won’t be long before we have a pretty good-sized building,” Robson added.
Coun. Ryan Svendsen said that getting a monetary contribution will give the city more options.
The original proposal required a housing agreement to be signed between the developer and the city requiring 13 market rental units and three affordable rental units, as part of a density-bonusing agreement. Those rental units would be guaranteed for 20 years.
Without the agreement, the developer instead would contribute $256,000 as cash in lieu.
As well, the developer would have to pay another $49,600 in community amenity contributions.
All told, if the project is approved, the developer will pay more than $700,000 in community amenity contributions and cash in lieu.
As well, the developer still plans on building 16 market rental units, but there will be no housing agreement requiring those units to remain rental.
Coun. Kiersten Duncan, though, said that council was giving up too much and that it’s more worthwhile to get rental units built now.
“We’re losing a lot when we could just opt to get the units actually built. By the time we build them, the costs will go up exponentially,” Duncan said at the Feb. 26 meeting.
“We need to get them built now.”
She added that the rental units should be required to remain for the life the building, otherwise the city could lose the rental units within 20 years.
Duncan also said that by not requiring 16 rental apartments be built and kept as such, the community could lose $4 million in investment in rental housing stock.
“We’re barely getting enough for one unit,” she added.
“I don’t know what their reasons are. It makes me really question if they value affordable housing.”
Duncan also tried to get council to consider a motion that would ask staff to report on what is fair market value for a cash-in-lieu contribution as opposed to a provision of rental units. However, that motion was not seconded.
A Feb. 26 staff report also notes that it’s difficult currently to determine if the cash-in-lieu contribution is “appropriate compensation” for the change in the project.
The proposal will be heard again at a March 19 public hearing.