06/26/2012 12:06 EDT | Updated 08/25/2012 05:12 EDT

Affordable Vancouver housing task force reports

Strategic building of row housing and the creation of an affordable housing authority are among the key recommendations in an interim report from a task force initiated by Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.

The Task Force on Housing Affordability report, released Monday, also suggested making transit hubs the priority for locating major new affordable housing developments and creating incentives for other newly built housing to be “suite ready,” increasing the potential for new secondary suites.

Robertson told a news conference marking the report’s release that the solution lies in building more than just highrises and houses.

"The term that came up repeatedly was "gentle" density and making sure that we use new forms of housing like stacked townhouses, row houses," Robertson said.

The townhouses and row-homes could be placed in “transition zones,” to have better neighbourhood continuity between large towers and single-family homes, the report said.

Robertson said Vancouver can also look at creating more affordable rental units on city owned properties.

"We want to look at how we renew the housing on the existing city assets and whether there is an opportunity to add more in some place and certainly to refurbish housing stock that is in decline."

Private-public partnership

The report suggests actual building on public land would be carried out by private sector partners, but the sale price of units would be considerably lower because of the subsidized property costs.

Former mayor Sam Sullivan said Monday doesn't think much of the "gentle" density concept and wants to see more areas made as dense as possible, as soon as possible.

"It [would] improve the city, bring down prices and will definitely improve the environment," Sullivan said.

Task force contributor and developer Michael Geller said Robertson’s vision is a step in the right direction, but just a step.

"It won't create an affordable Vancouver, which is the title of this report, but it may create a more affordable Vancouver," Geller said.

Nearly 40 per cent of households in the city spend more than one-third of their income on housing, and many don't have incomes to even buy a modest condo, the report said.