This week we're approaching candidates in the upcoming Vancouver municipal election to get their feedback on the city's approach to Community Amenity Contributions (CACs). The Evoke team undertook a case study and research project in this area, and believes these could be better approached. Candidate responses will be posted on this site, meanwhile, here's some background on our perspective.
The City of Vancouver has a Community Amenity Contribution (CAC) policy, officially established in 2004 with their Financing Growth strategy, where all new development and rezoning applications contribute, financially or in-kind, to community amenities. The CACs are extracted from new development and spent upon Council approval in a number of valuable areas such as: affordable housing, child care, amenities, green spaces, community infrastructure and other public goods.
Our research focuses on a key dimension related to CACs; although they are derived from value created within a neighbourhood or community, there is a disconnect from that value generated, the benefits that a community will receive, and how that is decided.
Why should citizens be involved?CACs are extracted from large development rezonings, and are more valuable for very dense projects. The extra density is given as compensation for amenities that should become available for the city/neighbourhood.
The precise method of density given to contribution derived is often neither clear, certainly not to the public, nor transparent. Citizens may feel greater value and more willingness to have dense developments if they are more in control of what and how amenities comes into their neighbourhood.
Evoke BC recommends that the city adopts a participatory budgeting approach to allocating CAC's within Vancouver neighbourhoods. With the upcoming election, we encourage you to ask local candidates where they stand on decision-making in this area!