New policy aims to densify Vancouver's single-family neighbourhoods

Jun 21 2018, 8:17 pm

A new policy endorsed by Vancouver City Council yesterday will literally make room for new housing across low-density neighbourhoods in the city.

‘Making Room’ will pack in 10,000 homes within the city’s single-family housing neighbourhoods, with the unit mix targeted at 1,000 coach houses, 5,000 townhouses, and 4,000 laneway houses. These developments are intended to be light infill opportunities; no large redevelopments are intended under this policy direction.

This policy strives to fill the gap left by the so-called “missing middle” between single-family homes and higher density homes, providing more housing choice for families, downsizing seniors, and other households. Greater densities will still be encouraged for sites near a major arterial route.

“Council approved several quick start actions, including adding duplex as a new housing option in single family areas across the city,” said Paula Huber, Senior Planner for the city. “Secondary suites, laneway houses and character infill opportunities already exist as housing options in single-family neighbourhoods, and the duplex option would offer another ‘menu’ choice for property owners.”

Over the coming year, city staff will conduct mapping work in neighbourhoods to examine areas that have good proximity to transit, shopping, schools, parks, and amenities. This evaluation will identify the greatest opportunities for increasing housing density while providing the lease impact.

They will also develop principles and criteria to identify locations for densification and engage residents. A report detailing findings and recommendations will be sent to City Council in June 2019.

Additionally, staff have been asked to offer options on triplex, quadplexes, and multi-unit buildings in areas zoned with RS and RT designations and to provide incentives for rental, co-ops, land trusts, and co-housing in low-density neighbourhoods.

There will be a report on details for referral of the plan to a public hearing on July 24. As well, there will be a staff proposal next month to make changes to the Laneway Housing Program so that the process to build laneway homes can perform easier and simpler.

This is all part of the city’s strategy of enabling the catalysts required to build 72,000 new homes over the next decade to combat the housing affordability and supply crisis.

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