5 ways to boost housing affordability in Vancouver

Dec 19 2017, 6:52 pm

There are many reasons why Vancouver’s housing market is expensive, but here are five ideas that could help boost the supply and bring down the prices: 

Build more townhomes

Building more in-demand townhomes (and triplexes and even quadraplexes – four homes on one lot) could add to our supply of existing family homes by offering two or more homes instead of just one on the same size lot. Considering changing existing zoning to allow for additional townhouse offerings to create a more affordable and diverse array of housing for families.

Architectural details of modern apartment building.

Photo: Townhouse (Getty Images)

Townhomes with basement suites

While we’re at it, encouraging more townhomes and single-family homes to be built with lock-off/basement suites would further increase the amount of affordable housing.

Basement Suite

Photo: Via Getty Images

Build more microsuites

Additional microsuites could offer much-needed, self-contained apartments to renters and owners who want to live in central locations, but can’t afford the high rents/mortgage payments. This may mean reviewing the minimum unit size permitted.

Microlofts Vancouver

Photo via Reliance Properties

Build more laneway homes

Laneway homes increase density by allowing another smaller home to be built on the traditional single-family property as a rental unit. If bylaws were changed to allow some of these homes to be sold, there could be more opportunities for affordable home ownership.

Screen Shot 2014-06-08 at 11.13.27 AM

Photos via Smallworks

Decrease lot size

Building smaller homes on smaller lots – to allow for homes 1,200 to 1,500 square feet on 25 foot lots – would mean thousands more single family homes could be built on a relatively small footprint.

Without rezoning approvals and the resulting increase in new construction, the current situation won’t change (less supply + high demand = higher prices).

Vancouver Houses

Photo via Smallworks


The Urban Development Institute is the premier voice of the BC real estate development industry, representing over 650 corporate members, and thousands of individuals involved in all facets of land development and planning. The real estate development industry in BC supports 220,000 jobs, and is responsible for a total output of $35 billion to the provincial economy.


Feature image: Construction via Shutterstock 

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