Plan to transform neighbourhoods squeezing out single-family homes?
The City of Vancouver is considering new rules that would make it easier to build duplexes in parts of the city that are currently reserved for single-family homes.
One-family, or RS zoning districts, account for about 65,000 lots across Vancouver. The "Making Room for Housing Program," which was brought before city council on Tuesday, suggests that Vancouverites need more types of housing available to them.
"The goal of the Making Room program is to provide more housing choice within neighbourhoods for families, downsizing seniors and other households seeking housing that sits in this 'missing middle' between single-family homes and higher-density homes," the report said.
"The opportunity to live within a neighbourhood…is generally now limited to those who can afford $2 million or more to purchase a house or those who are willing to rent and able to find rental accommodation."
The report recommended a series of regulatory changes that would make most properties south of 16th Avenue eligible for duplexes.
Proponents of the new plan say those lower-density parts of the city could use some new life.
"We've seen losses in school population in those districts, so there's a role those neighbourhoods can play in revitalization," said Gil Kelley, the city's chief planner.
The new plan will likely come as good news for homeowners in RS zones who could turn a profit by converting their properties into two-family residences.
But the Making Room plan does put Vancouver's character homes at risk of being torn down for the very same reason.
"When they are not heritage buildings, we have no power to disallow a demolition," Kelley said.
The report also calls for the city to ease minimum side yard requirements that make it difficult for properties in neighbourhoods such as Kitsilano to be approved for infill even though they are in zones where duplexes are already allowed.
"The Making Room housing program will advance essential change in neighbourhoods across Vancouver to address the housing crisis and provide more housing choice," the report read.
If approved, Phase 2 of the plan could get underway as early as next month. The next step involves community consultations and in-depth research into issues such as reduced parking that come with the densification plan.
A separate report presented on Tuesday also called for new rules that would make it easier to build laneway houses in the city.
"Expanding the supply of rental housing is a key priority of the Housing Vancouver Strategy, which includes a target of 4,000 new rental laneway homes to be built over the next ten years, 50 per cent of which are expected to be two- and three-bedroom units suitable for families," the document read.
The city introduced the Laneway House Program in 2009 in a bid to improve rental options in residential neighbourhoods. More than 3,000 permits have been issued since.
"Vancouverites want new housing to be affordable to people who live and work in the city and are open to considering a diverse range of housing options to achieve this," the report said.
Councillors will consider the Making Room for Housing Program on Wednesday. If approved, it will be brought back before council again next month.
With files from CTV Vancouver's St. John Alexander