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Affordable Housing Ideas for Vancouver by Michael Geller

DH Vancouver Staff Jan 29, 2015 1:34 pm

Vancouver will always be an expensive place to live. However, with innovative planning and financing ideas, we can create more affordable housing choices throughout the region.

On February 2, 2015, Michael Geller will examine housing designs and financing programs from around the world that should have a place in Metro Vancouver. It will be of interest to municipal politicians and planners, architects, developers, and the general public.

Image: Michael Geller

Image: Michael Geller

Michael Geller is an architect, planner, real estate consultant and property developer with four decades’ experience in the public, private and institutional sectors. He serves on the Adjunct Faculty of the SFU Centre for Sustainable Community Development and writes a weekly civic affairs column in the Vancouver Courier. A past-president of the Urban Development Institute, he travels extensively and writes passionately about urbanity and architecture.

During my travels I have seen many modern new buildings successfully added onto or built beside heritage structures, including some literally on top of the old, and others cantilevered out over the old.
Michael Geller

According to Geller, he suggests some viable notions that could reduce housing costs and improve affordability.

  • More affordable houses on smaller lots.
    In some neighbourhood, the city should allow 50-foot wide lots to be subdivided into two 25-foot lots. Secondary suites could be permitted on these skinny lots, but not laneway houses.
  • Basement suites
    Often thought of being the city’s most affordable housing. However, they are usually not permitted in duplexes or row houses. The city should also allow a second basement suite in larger single family houses if there is no laneway house.
  • Laneway housing
    Create more affordable ground-oriented ownership housing, the city should allow some laneway houses to be sold, starting with those on corner lots 50 feet or wider.
  • Semi-detached and Terraced Rowhouses
    Made popular in England, semi-detached and terraced rowhouses are among the most affordable housing forms. But not so in Vancouver. Neighbourhood plans should be revised to encourage these forms of housing across the city.
  • Accessible suites on ground level
    Small, low-rise walk-up buildings provide Vancouver’s most affordable rental apartments. However they are no longer built since building codes require elevators and two sets of stairs from each floor. We should revise codes to again encourage small, affordable apartment buildings. Accessible suites could be on the ground floor.
  • Revise visitor parking requirements
    This point is not as obvious as the previous points.  The cost of underground parking can be significant, especially for smaller suites. Given societal concerns over traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, the city should reconsider having minimum parking requirements. Instead it should establish maximum resident parking requirements. To address neighbourhood concerns, visitor parking requirements should be increased beyond what they are today.

Hear more about the affordable housing ideas through talks with Michael Geller.
SFU Continuing Studies -The City Program presents 12 Affordable Housing Ideas for Vancouver, a lecture by Michael Geller examining housing designs and financing programs from around the world that should have a place in Metro Vancouver.

Image: SFU Community

Image: SFU Community


Admission: Free, but reservations are required. RSVP here!
Venue: Room 1400, SFU Harbour Centre, 515 W Hastings St, Vancouver
Monday, February 2, 2015
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Featured Image via Michael Geller’s Blog

DH Vancouver Staff
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