Letter to City of Victoria Mayor and Council: Residential Rental Tenure Zoning

Below is a letter LandlordBC CEO David Hutniak sent to City of Victoria Mayor and Council on July 3, 2019 regarding a staff report entitled Residential Rental Tenure Zoning scheduled for consideration by the City of Victoria Committee of the Whole on July 4, 2019.

Mayor Helps and Council
City of Victoria

Sent via email:  [email protected]

Subject:  Residential Rental Tenure Zoning

Dear Mayor Helps and Council,

LandlordBC is the province-wide voice for rental housing providers in BC.  As you will no doubt know many of our 3300 members are located in the City of Victoria, and a significant cohort of these members are owners of purpose-built rental buildings.  Together, they have been providing secure rental housing for individuals and families in the community for many decades, with a collective commitment to continue doing so long into the future.  I am writing you today on behalf of our members to express our strong concern regarding June 20, 2019 staff report entitled Residential Rental Tenure Zoning scheduled for consideration by the City of Victoria Committee of the Whole on July 4, 2019.

LandlordBC is on public record for supporting the Province’s decision to extend Residential Rental Tenure Zoning powers to municipalities, and we are on public record for supporting the City of Victoria’s desire to preserve and expand affordable rental housing in the community.  It is our view that Residential Rental Tenure Zoning is an innovative tool when implemented properly.

Upon reviewing the report it has become increasingly concerning to us, on behalf of our members, that this Council envisions using this tool to downzone existing purpose-built rental buildings, which would be contrary to the legislation enacted by the Province, and categorically unfair to the owners of these buildings.  As such, we respectfully request that Council reject any notion of proceeding with Residential Rental Tenure Zoning of existing purpose-built rental buildings until such time as staff undertakes an in-depth and direct consultation with all the individual property owners potentially impacted to explore all the solutions with them, and then only proceed after securing their consent.  This would constitute the fair and equitable treatment of these critically important rental housing providers in the community.

The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Honourable Selina Robinson, was explicit when her government enacted the Residential Rental Tenure Zoning power for municipalities.  She stated at the time: “A guiding principle in drafting the amendments was to ensure that there was as little intrusion as possible into the property rights of individuals.”  It is our view that the Residential Rental Tenure Rezoning envisioned in this staff report and by Council is in direct contradiction of this guiding principle.

Let there be no doubt that there are unintended consequences should you elect to apply Residential Rental Tenure Zoning to existing buildings without consent of the owners.  The downzoning will have immediate negative financial impacts on these owners and will go well-beyond their freezing all but the most basic investment in the existing rental stock.  Furthermore, you must understand that the application of Residential Rental Tenure Zoning will also freeze new supply as rental developers and their lenders will no longer view Victoria as a desirable jurisdiction within which to create new, secure, purpose-built rental housing.  These two outcomes, in combination, would represent a significant loss for the community at large, and obviously do huge harm to both current and future renters in the community.

Arbitrarily devaluing land by governments is simply wrong.  We need to have a stable regulatory framework for the operation and construction of rental housing in Victoria and across the province.  As such, LandlordBC respectfully requests that Mayor and Council take the opportunity to hit pause on any further consideration of Residential Rental Tenure Zoning in the City of Victoria, engage in truly meaningful discussion with the impacted property owners to explore all the solutions, and then seek their consent to move forward.


David Hutniak
Chief Executive Officer