Vancouver mayor makes pitch to allow up to 6 affordable homes on a single-family lot

Oct 20 2021, 7:05 pm

A new proposal by Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart aims to create up to 10,000 new, more affordable homes for middle-class households in single-detached neighbourhoods across the city.

It would permit up to six ground-oriented units on a single-family lot. Property owners would be given the option to convert or redevelop their large, single-detached houses into multiple stratified homes. This initiative, named “Making Home,” would start with 2,000 lots.

It carries the same name as Stewart’s previously proposed Making Home strategy, rejected by city council in September 2020. The previously axed strategy called for a pilot project on 100 lots and up to four sellable units on each lot. At the time, a majority of the city council rejected Making Home 1.0 for reasons that include no public consultation, and a lack of any guarantee that these homes, while adding to supply, would be affordable for middle-class households.

Making Home 2.0, however, addresses some of those concerns with key differences. Under the rebooted and revised proposal, affordability could be guaranteed through mechanisms such as a covenant on title through the Land Title Act, and placing a second mortgage on title facilitated by BC Housing through their Housing HUB program of catalyzing housing for middle-class families.

Additionally, speculation could be limited; when owners sell the property, their profit would be capped, with a portion of the land lift going towards public benefits. Using land value capture could generate hundreds of millions of dollars towards the municipal government’s programs of building affordable rental homes, infrastructure, and new childcare, and covering the municipality’s cost of the $500-million Climate Emergency Action Plan.

In addition to providing more affordable home options for households making between $80,000 and $120,000 annually, it is suggested Making Home 2.0 could allow families to downsize.

“Making Home is a housing, economic, and climate change plan that works for all of us,” said Stewart in a statement. “It allows thousands of young, middle-class or new Canadian families to buy their first home while investing in rental homes for working people and those without a home at all.”

 

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With the average price of a detached home in East Vancouver hovering at $1.4 million, a detached home is only within reach of the top 2.5% of incomes. But under the changes, ownership in single-family neighbourhoods would be within reach of 50% of residents.

Making Home 2.0 offers the possibility of gentle densification in single-family neighbourhoods, in a city with 68,000 single-family lots, with 57% of Vancouver’s land zoned for single-detached homes.

Existing policies permit up to three units on a single-family lot — a main residence, one basement suite, and a laneway house.

This proposal is being pushed ahead of the October 2022 civic election.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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