Home / World / English News / ABC defends axing Vancouver Renter Office, citing ‘duplication of service’ – BC

ABC defends axing Vancouver Renter Office, citing ‘duplication of service’ – BC

In a move condemned by Vancouver’s two Green councillors and single OneCity councillor, the reigning ABC party has voted to close down the city’s ‘Renter Office’ during a housing affordability crisis, citing concerns over its efficiency.

While it had no physical presence, the Renter Office had worked to advise tenants of their rights and was primarily funded by the Empty Homes Tax (EHT) at a cost of just over $1.8 million since 2019.

Read more:

Vancouver city council votes to close renter office 

Read next:

Air Canada says no, then gives customer credit after booking error

Despite staff recommendations, the ABC majority on council voted in favour of a late amendment Wednesday to end the initiative, which was launched through a 2018 motion from Green Coun. Pete Fry.

“This was a decision that was made in a back room to kill this office with no indication to the public that it was coming,” Fry told Global News in an interview Friday.

Story continues below advertisement

Click to play video: 'StatCan report shows home ownership down, rentals up in B.C.'

StatCan report shows home ownership down, rentals up in B.C.

The city’s Renter Office responded to an average of 372 inquiries per year in its first four years, and only 40 per cent of those were city-related.

The office had seven full-time equivalent staff for an average of just over one inquiry a day.

Read more:

Rents in Canada are through the roof. Here are the most expensive cities

Read next:

‘Scariest thing I’ve ever seen’: Edmonton-made horror film Skinamarink breaks a million at the box office

“The reality is, not only is it on average one call per day … 60 per cent were other issues related to other jurisdictions,” ABC Coun. Rebecca Bligh said Friday.

“We feel very confident that with our direction to staff to create a six month transition plan no renters will fall through the cracks.”

Staff told council the renter-inquiry line was only one access point of the Renter Office, which also engaged in research with renters to determine how the city can better respond to their concerns.

Story continues below advertisement

Click to play video: 'Report says Vancouver rentals still most expensive in Canada'

Report says Vancouver rentals still most expensive in Canada

Fry argued the Renter Office was also looking at the bigger picture surrounding land use and development permits, and driving significant policy decisions around the Vancouver and Broadway Plans which will impact tenants.

“Yes, we had a front-facing ‘answer the phone’ kind of component, but more importantly this was about policy and direction,” he said.

Read more:

Prices up, vacancy down: Report paints grim picture for Greater Vancouver renters

Read next:

Toadally huge, potentially record-breaking cane toad found in Australia

“We know that we have a scourge of illegal renovictions that happen in our city, we have conversions to short term rental — this knits all those pieces together.”

Bligh said ABC heard from the public that the Renter Office was directing residents to the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) and non-profit groups like the Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre or TRAC, for legal support the city is not able to provide.

Story continues below advertisement

“I think that there was quite a bit of duplication of service,” said Bligh.

Council instead voted to approve $750,000 to continue the Renter Services Grants program for 2023 with funding from the EHT, and to provide space for TRAC to have a walk-in office as a subtenant in the city-owned building at 900 Howe Street.

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

News Source link

Check Also

London Knights improve to 2-0 at 2024 Memorial Cup with win over Moose Jaw Warriors

Sam O’Reilly scored once and added an assist as the London Knights edged the Moose …