Following is a presentation to the Committee of the Whole (COW), 19 Sep. 2016, regarding a Nelson Commons Housing Agreement Bylaw between the City and Nelson Commons (NC). Clarifying thoughts have been added for those only vaguely aware of its origin and purpose.
Eyes-wide-shut - the City now is a part-time, unpaid contractor for a commercial, privately owned real-estate development, to act as NC's real-estate agent for 3 condos over the next 25 years. The proof is in the doing - while the City's 26-page bylaw! - fashioned just for this purpose! - warns itself of the very same realtor-thing! Oh, City Hall!
Doing: to the tune of even paying $1 and $10 respectively for the privilege. As far as can be ascertained by outsiders - the City's participation is of no benefit whatsoever to it - even less Nelsonites in general - but certainly of time- and money-saving convenience to NC.
These 11 bucks may seem insignificant - but the principle and amount of tax-payered work by the City are not insignificant at all. Time and energy more appropriately applied to community-issues.
The 3 condos as focus of City Hall's inappropriate work for NC - now routinely referred to as "affordable housing" - whatever that means - even "starter homes" - are a long and winding road from the Vancouver City Savings Credit Union (Vancity) originally making its financial participation in this condo-venture contingent on 3 condos sold as SOCIAL HOUSING - period! NC was quick to give this a tree-hugging Co-op spin. And it worked: City Hall got itself hooked to appear socially conscious - with NC promptly changing tack as soon as Council had agreed to work all this.
Over time nobody at City Hall ever asking - publicly anyway: How did we get to be their gofer?
With the City ostensibly keeper of the keys - NC sold 2 of the 3 condos on terms originally put forward by itself - approved over a year ago by Council: without them doing much homework on this at the time.
More recently realizing the advantages of homework after all, thus finally, belatedly putting this bylaw together - with a lot of to-and-fro to definitively lock-in resale terms 'til kingdom come - has resulted in an untidy structure: 2 condos on these terms and 1 condo on whatever. The latter still dithered over until "... brought back to Council in October 2016."
In the future one set of terms conceivably becoming more advantageous over the other shows a remarkable lack of foresight and social consciousness. Very untidy indeed: fairness and all that! But simply remedied by applying the same terms to all 3 condos. Now!
No matter what/how - all coming/still to come from much additional tax-payered work for ever more people at City Hall - of benefit only to NC.
Not addressed in this bylaw: what - if anything - is to follow if the income of buyers rises - on/under the table - to above the stipulated income-ceiling? Surely to be expected, what with people usually striving to improve their finances.
The City's Request for Decision does state - under Benefits, without definition - that buyers may "... potentially move up the continuum as their circumstances improve." Regardless of the possible nature/volume of this continuum - seemingly moving up in their cheap condos!
What a deal!
And who's to know? Will City Hall surf bank/tax-statements - and if it does find out: What?
Also left unaddressed for these condos - openly at least - are their surely significant strata-fees. Will the owners pay no, partial or full fees? Thus not at all, somewhat exactly or completely responsible to the whole?
But City Hall will be instrumental in foreclosures! More odious yet - I quote the bylaw: The owner (here NC) acknowledges that a breach of the occupancy restriction ... may be a breach of the City's Zoning Bylaw which is punishable by fine and imprisonment under the Offence Act.
City Hall has no business in any of this now and in the future, when without fail more issues will present themselves - rather be presented. Tax-payers ought to voice strong opinions on the City allowing getting sucked into this nonsense on their dime - literally and figuratively.
Would the City be involved at all if NC didn't have the umbilical Co-op connection?
Bottom-line: NC - a curiously unfinished-looking, chaotically unattractive condo-development, in the heart - poor heart! - of the city yet - is an incorporated company ostensibly separate from the Co-op. Yet over time the Co-op's tree-hugging halo has been tightened more and more around the City's decision-making consciousness.
And every squeeze more successful, starting with the previous Council.
The most recent example being adoption of this bylaw over dinner.
Pierre et Gilles