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Real estate developers will have to change the way they do business, Vancouver’s new mayor warns

By Jen St. Denis for The Star Vancouver

Sitting down at a Yaletown coffee shop on Tuesday, the former NDP MP told StarMetro how he plans to make it all work, including getting started on an ambitious housing plan and securing funding to extend a planned subway extension all the way to UBC. He added he’s already had a short but “pleasant” talk with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that touched on housing and transit. The two plan to meet in Vancouver in November. Rental developers say high land costs, onerous permitting, stricter rent control and pushback against new buildings with high rents are making them reconsider whether to start projects. In response, Stewart said developers are just going to have to “restructure what they’re pitching.”

“I think all these places are starting points for negotiation,” Stewart said. “Of course you’re going to start with your strongest pitch at the beginning.

“I have had through the election a number of conversations with smaller and medium-sized developers who have actually restructured their entire business to deliver the market rental that we need and are quite excited about it … I think they’re realizing too this luxury condo business is probably past and now they need to focus on the next round.”

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Stewart reiterated his intention to cut down on building permit wait times — something previous councils have struggled to make headway on — and said housing construction workers in temporary on-site units could be one way to cut down on costs.

“Say you’re building the new (St. Paul’s) hospital (or new housing planned for False Creek); do we use some temporary housing for workers?” he said. “That may be a way to go, and we could set up permitting in advance and infrastructure hookups.”

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