Vancouver council approves ‘missing middle’ motion allowing up to 8 homes per lot

Click to play video: 'New rules target denser homebuilding in Vancouver'
New rules target denser homebuilding in Vancouver
Vancouver City Council has unanimously passed a motion to allow multiplex builds on lots as well to add units to existing character homes. The Thurs. Sept. 15, 2023 zoning changes approval comes as the city's housing prices continue to sizzle, while the vacancy rate stays low. – Sep 15, 2023

Vancouver city council unanimously passed a motion for lower-density neighbourhoods to allow up to eight homes on a single lot.

The new zoning changes all for multiplex homes as an option for new builds along with an amendment to allow for character homes to add units to the existing dwelling.

In addition, this motion also carries a reduction in the size of single-detached homes but increases the size of new laneway houses.

Standard-size lots can now carry up to four units with larger lots able to hold up to eight.

With respect to zoning changes, the motion consolidates nine low-density residential zones into a single new residential inclusive zone with a goal of simplifying regulations.

With the motion passed on Thursday, the nine RS residential zones have been combined into a new R1-1 Residential Inclusive zone. City of Vancouver

FSR or floor space ratio was another key issue for many speakers at the meeting Thursday night.

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This number dictates the size in square feet of a property that is allowed to be built in relation to the size of the whole lot.

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For some public speakers, reduction in housing size is a negative for those who want a single-family home or to keep neighbourhoods low-density.

Others see the change as beneficial, ensuring more units can be placed on a single lot for multi-family arrangements or a mix of short- and long-term rentals.

This comes one day after the city approved an increase to the short-term rental fee from $109 to $1,000 annually.

This slide shows the proposed changes in blue to encourage developers to move toward multiplex homes in lower-density neighbourhoods. City of Vancouver

ABC Coun. Peter Meiszner says the concept of middle-density housing has wide public support after years of consultation but is not a magic bullet to fix the housing crisis.

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“We did hear that there was about 500 applications in the queue waiting for this decision. So we should see those move forward,” Meiszner told Global News.

“Staff are predicting a few hundred applications per year. So, this is not by any means a solution to the housing crisis, but it’s one step that gets us closer to delivering housing in Vancouver easier and more housing supply.”

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While still in favour, Green Party Coun. Pete Fry says these changes are welcome but need to go further and allow for more apartment-style homes, such as in the Strathcona neighbourhood.

“I live in Strathcona and we actually have this sort of ‘missing middle’ vernacular everywhere,” Fry said during the meeting.

“That’s what the neighbourhood is. It’s we’ve got lots of infill, we’ve got dense smaller lots. We have zero lot line buildings, we have single-loaded corridors outside. We have the point access block stairways. We have that apartment vernacular and I guess that’s what I find is missing in this ‘missing middle’ definition is the apartments.”

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However, Meiszner says more zoning changes will be making their way through council in the coming months.

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