The City of Vancouver is attempting to tackle the persistent issue of Vancouver’s vacant homes by developing an online registry that can be matched up to BC Hydro data, according to a memo by the chief housing officer.
In an email to the Mayor and Council dated April 20, chief housing officer Mukhtar Latif pointed out that there has been a dearth of information on the extent of vacant homes in the city.
He wrote, “We have had difficulty in identifying data sources that can provide exact numbers of vacant single-family homes, length of time properties are being left vacant and reasons for why they are vacant.”
Latif told the council that his office is working with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation on tackling the issue. “The CHMC are also in a similar position and we are in discussions on how best we can work together to understand the issue,” he wrote.
He said the team is developing a website on which Vancouver residents could report homes in their neighbourhood that seem to be vacant, which then could be matched up against BC Hydro data to determine the energy use in the property over long periods of time.
"We have identified BC Hydro data as a potential source of information for single-family homes that are vacant," wrote Latif. "We are also working with City of Vancouver … and with community groups to develop a digital site where the public can report vacant homes in a coherent fashion, thus allowing us to potentially match it up with BC Hydro data."
Councillor Kerry Jang told media outlets on Sunday, "We’ve all heard people asking why Vancouver is so expensive and telling us to look at all these empty houses. It’s a persistent question, so let’s get to the bottom of it and find out."
Jang added that if vacant homes are found to be driving up prices and limiting rental supply, the municipal government would work with provincial and federal governments to find a solution.
Latif added in the memo that the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency has issued a request for proposals from qualified consultants to help collect the data.
The RFP closes May 12 and the successful consultant is expected to start work “immediately following the decision to award the contract.”