News / Vancouver

Vancouver targets more density in single-family neighbourhoods

City of Vancouver announces plans for the 'transformation of single-family neighbourhoods' with more townhouses, rowhomes and infill housing.

Single family homes, Mar. 2, 2017.

Jennifer Gauthier/Metro

Single family homes, Mar. 2, 2017.

Vancouver’s single-family neighbourhoods could be in for a radical transformation if the city has its way.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson introduced the Housing Vancouver strategy Thursday, which included sweeping zoning changes next year to allow for 10,000 new homes in single-family neighbourhoods like Dunbar, Kerrisdale and Arbutus Ridge.

The city hopes that housing will come in the form of denser, ground-level homes like townhouses, rowhouses and infills.

“We’ve heard loud and clear that Vancouverites expect us to address the fact that vast areas of low-density neighbourhoods are unaffordable for all but the very wealthy – with many of them seeing a decline in families and kids,” Robertson said in a statement. “With the new Housing Vancouver strategy, we can transform our low-density, singe-family neighbourhoods with more duplexes and triplexes, more townhouses and rowhouses and more low-rise apartments.”

A new task force has also been set up as part of the strategy to review city-wide regulations and implement zoning changes to allow for the building of multiple homes on lots that currently allow for just single houses.

The city wants to hone in on areas close to parks, schools, public amenities and main streets for new townhomes and low-rise apartments.

Making single-family neighbourhoods more dense has long been a sensitive issue for the city.

The City of Vancouver started the public hearing process for two changes planning staff hope will help bring people back to the single family neighbourhoods this summer. The city proposed allowing homeowners to build stratified laneway homes that they can sell off — not just rent, as the current rules allow — if they retain the original character home.

The city decided not to go ahead with a previous proposal to limit the size of a new home in an attempt to limit teardowns of older homes. That spurred a letter writing campaign to council from residents concerned about the loss of character homes. In advance of the public hearing, council received 72 letters from people asking for the original proposal to be restored.

Experts, like data analyst Jens von Bergmann, have told Metro that increasing housing supply in traditionally single-family neighbourhoods is vital to address housing unaffordability in the city.

"Excluding so many other Vancouverites from the vast majority of residential land is something that I think needs to change,” von Bergmann said in September.

His research shows an income of at least $170,000 is required to even start thinking of buying a single-family home in the city; a far cry for Vancouver’s median income of $72,662 in 2016.

-with files from Jen St. Denis

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