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Coquitlam Housing Forum Fosters Partnerships and SolutionsCity of Coquitlam
COQUITLAM – Over 100 housing stakeholders from government, the non-profit sector and the development community gathered in Coquitlam last week for a Housing Forum.
The Forum, hosted by the City of Coquitlam, offered a day of education, building partnerships, exploring funding mechanisms and sharing best practices. It was focused on action to connect housing providers, developers and government authorities in order to build capacity and ultimately increase the supply of affordable housing in Coquitlam.
Like most Metro Vancouver municipalities, affordable housing remains a key challenge in Coquitlam. However, the municipal mandate and resources to address the challenge are limited – which is why success relies on bringing a variety of partners together to address the issue.
About the Forum
Following opening remarks from Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart and a keynote address from Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Selina Robinson, the morning focused on education with breakout sessions including:
- Vancity Community Foundation – models and examples of impactful and creative mixed-use social purpose real estate projects and the real estate development process / roadmap; and
- City of Coquitlam – housing affordability strategy, rental incentives, and best practices.
Following a networking lunch, attendees participated in a question and answer panel with four leading non-profit housing developers including Catalyst, Community Land Trust, New Commons and Terra Housing. This was followed by a final round of breakout sessions focused on partnerships and funding including:
- CMHC and BC Housing – Community Housing Fund and National Housing Co-Investment Fund; and
- BC Housing – The HousingHub.
- Tangible Outcomes
One of the key outcomes from the day was the cross-pollination of ideas and building of relationships between the non-profit housing providers and the development community, along with all levels of government.
Sessions were designed so that attendees had the opportunity to hear from speakers that they might not normally, giving them a different perspective on the issue of affordable housing and stimulating the discussion of new ideas.
The strong theme throughout the day was that, with land values as high as they are in Metro Vancouver, land owners – whether developers, non-profits, faith-based organizations or government – must bring all parties together to make projects feasible.
Coquitlam’s Housing Affordability Strategy and Partnership Opportunities
Coquitlam’s Housing Affordability Strategy (HAS) was adopted in December 2015 to broaden the variety of housing types, sizes, prices and tenures in the city.
A cornerstone of the Strategy is the Affordable Housing Reserve Fund, which acts as the key funding mechanism for affordable housing projects by leveraging a portion of density bonus contributions from development towards potential affordable housing options. Information about the AHRF including qualification criteria is available at www.coquitlam.ca/housing.
Housing Affordability Strategy Success
Since the HAS was adopted, more than 3,200 new rental units are being planned or built in Coquitlam with close to 1,000 of those being designated as below-market or affordable rental. In the decade prior, fewer than 200 market and below-market rental units were developed in Coquitlam.
Additionally, all ten of the top ten high-priority action items identified in the HAS have been completed, as well as 46 of the 54 action items identified in the plan now complete.
For more information on Coquitlam’s Housing Affordability Strategy, visit www.coquitlam.ca/housing.
Manager, Community Planning