Vancouver is seeing a rental housing proposal surge, just months after policy approval

Jun 9 2022, 11:52 pm

A policy approved by Vancouver City Council just six months ago has triggered a new rental housing proposal wave for the type of low- and mid-rise building developments it permits.

As of today, over the past few weeks, a total of 11 separate rezoning applications for new rental housing have been filed under the City’s new Secured Rental Policy (SRP), which was approved by City Council in December 2021.

This was the current city council’s most significant and only new housing policy creation.

Under the SRP, mid-rise rental housing buildings up to six storeys can be built along arterial streets across much of the city. Rental housing buildings reaching six storeys must have at least 20% of the residential floor area dedicated for below-market rental housing (with the 80% remainder as market rental housing) or 100% social housing. These six-storey buildings must also be designed to a Passive House green building standard or comply with other green building policies.

Such buildings on arterial roads within retail areas must also dedicate their ground level for retail and restaurant uses, with six-storey buildings at these locations also required to size at least 35% of their units for families (at least two bedrooms).

Rental housing buildings up to five buildings along arterial streets can accommodate 100% market rental housing.

Furthermore, added 100% rental density of up to four storeys is permitted to face local streets immediately off either side of the arterial streets.

vancouver secure rental housing policy

Map of zoning districts along and near arterial routes under the Secured Rental Policy, outside of community plans. (City of Vancouver)

vancouver secure rental housing policy

Secured Rental Policy: Example commercial district rental building on a shopping street. (City of Vancouver)

vancouver secure rental housing policy

Secured Rental Policy: Example rental buildings options on an arterial (top) and example rental buildings options on a local street (bottom). (City of Vancouver)

As well, the new Secured Rental Policy provides simplified design requirements and streamlines the process. City staff previously stated the SRP will speed up the development permitting process for such projects by up to 2.5 years.

These are the rezoning applications that have been received under the new SRP to date, with most of these projects located within the Vancouver Westside:

  • Vancouver Westside
    1. 2126 West 34th Avenue, 5025 Arbutus Street, 2105-2129 West 35th Avenue & 5055-5095 Arbutus Street (near Arbutus St & 34th Ave): up to five storeys by Intracorp Homes
    2. 5995-6015 Dunbar Street (near Dunbar St & Marine Dr): up to five storeys by Strand Developments
    3. 3803-3823 West 10th Avenue (near 10th Ave & Alma St): up to six storeys by Sightline Properties
    4. 2325-2377 West 49th Avenue (near 49th Ave & Vine St): up to five storeys by Intracorp Homes
    5. 1977 West 41st Avenue & 5688 Maple Street (near 41st Ave & Maple St): up to six storeys by Sightline Properties
    6. 1522 West 45th Avenue & 6137 Granville Street (near 45th Ave & Granville St): up to five storeys by Intracorp Homes
    7. 5828-5850 Granville Street (near 41st Ave & Granville St): up to five storeys by Strand Developments
  • Vancouver Eastside
    1. 657-685 East 18th Avenue (near 18th Ave & Fraser St): up to four storeys by Orrmoniz Projects
    2. 1749-1769 East 33rd Avenue (near 33rd Ave & Commercial St): up to five storeys by Intracorp Homes
    3. 5504-5536 Victoria Drive (near Victoria Dr & 39th Ave): up to six storeys by JTA Development
    4. 807-847 East 33rd Ave (near 33rd Ave & Fraser St): up to five storeys by Alabaster (E33) Master Limited Partnership

As all SRP applications essentially follow cookie-cutter templates, limited building details and architectural visuals are required during the unique rezoning application process for this building type. In the development permit application process, after the current rezoning step is complete, the proponents will provide the drawings of their design, the number of units and unit size mix for their project, and the details on vehicle and bike parking, and loading spaces.

But based on the relatively small lot frontage widths under SRP, the range of rental homes that can be expected in each proposal will be in the very general ballpark of 30 and 70 units.

The SRP is a form of gentle densification. The City forecasts the SRP could help catalyze 4,700 secured purpose-built rental housing units over the policy’s first 10 years — an average of 470 rental homes annually.

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