As the gap between housing costs and local incomes widens, working households are increasingly being priced out of communities. On Vancouver’s North Shore, residents face significant challenges in finding suitable and affordable housing, despite relatively high incomes. As a result, working individuals often take on longer commutes or look for jobs elsewhere in Metro Vancouver.
The Balanced housing Lab seeks to gain a deeper understanding of the housing needs of middle-income earners and generate effective solutions. It will bring together a diverse array of partners and stakeholders, including individuals with lived experience. Working collaboratively, they will identify the housing needs of working individuals and generate innovative workforce housing solutions for middle-income earners.
3 Key Goals
Bring together all levels of government, including First Nations, through an innovative governance model.
Gain a deeper understanding of the housing needs of middle-income earners.
Find innovative ways to increase housing options close to work, transportation and transit and other supports and services.
Project scope and expected outcomes
Creating inclusive communities
Rents and homeownership costs are outpacing incomes. The significant burden of housing and transportation costs means working households may have limited income left for other expenses. This negatively affects their economic and social inclusion and overall wellbeing, and it increases the environmental impact of their commute. It also impacts the ability of local businesses to attract and retain employees.
The Lab explores solutions that contribute to the social, economic and environmental sustainability and resilience of communities. This includes ways of increasing housing options that are close to work, transportation and transit and other supports and services. The goal is to create inclusive communities for people of all incomes, ages and abilities.
A partnership approach
The Lab is built on a partnership approach, including a Steering Committee with representation from all levels of government. Participants, including working individuals with lived experience, will be recruited through partner networks and the project website. Interested people will then be selected by the Lab’s Staff Working Group to ensure balanced representation among participants.
The Lab will occur over 6 phases. The first 3 have already been completed.
- The Definition Phase established a collective understanding of the scope, expectations, resources and constraints of the project. Communications and engagement strategies were created and a problem statement and work plan were drafted. Lab participants were recruited, with extra effort made to seek individuals with lived experience.
- The Discovery Phase provided knowledge on the current state of workforce housing on Vancouver’s North Shore. It included a needs assessment and gap analysis report, an asset mapping workshop and a challenge mapping forum. Visual maps were created based on these activities for use in the next phases of the Lab.
- The Development Phase involved participants working together to imagine, refine and develop new prototypes for workforce housing. Through a series of workshops, they co-developed ideas and solutions. Sub-groups worked to validate prototypes that addressed different parts of the problem statement.
- The Prototype Phase will test and refine prototypes from the Development Phase. An industry working group will test the prototypes to provide proof of concept. This group will also perform risk and financial analyses, and suggest refinements based on current market conditions.
- The Roadmap Phase will set clear priorities and timeframes for implementing the solutions from the Prototype Phase. This implementation strategy will identify who is involved, how and when, as well as how initiatives could be funded. A user-friendly roadmap will also be produced and shared through the project website.
- The Reconvene Phase will see partners and stakeholders meet in a progress workshop held 6 months after the previous phase. This will give them the opportunity to extend partnerships, realize opportunities and sustain momentum built during the Lab.
Sharing knowledge and influencing future policy-making
The knowledge gained and lessons learned during the Lab will be shared with the public through the Lab’s website. Lab partners and stakeholders also will share information through their social media activities and through webinars and conferences.
The Lab will develop infographics and short social media pieces about market realities, housing needs and workforce housing prototypes. These will be shared with North Shore residents and local chambers of commerce, Business Improvement Areas and business-serving organizations. Lab findings will also be shared with the regional Metro Vancouver government to influence future policy-making.
Project Team: Corporation of the City of North Vancouver
Location: North Vancouver, B.C.
- District of West Vancouver
- Squamish Nation
- BC Housing
- Bowin Ma (Member of the Legislative Assembly for BC)
- Jonathan Wilkinson (Member of Parliament)
- University of British Columbia Housing Research Collaborative (UBC HRC)
- Jill Andres, Urban Matters CCC
Get More Information:
Email email@example.com or visit our website to learn more about the initiatives under the National Housing Strategy.