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Vancouver looks to densify city with proposed 'Making Room' strategy

Last Updated Jun 13, 2018 at 6:44 pm PDT

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Summary

Proposed Making Room program would make it easier to build laneway homes, townhomes, apartments in low density areas

City will present first Housing Vancouver strategy annual report to council

City consolidating $2 billion worth of housing assets into new Vancouver Affordable Housing Endowment Fund

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Vancouver neighbourhoods may be getting a little bit busier as the city mulls a new strategy to increase density and affordability.

The proposed Making Room program includes making it easier to build more and bigger laneway homes, rezoning many single plots to allow for things like townhouses, duplexes and low-rise apartments, and explore more affordable home ownership strategies and incentives.

“Our ability to sustain the city going forward into the future and the kinds of diversity that we have in it is going to depend on a certain amount of change,” City of Vancouver housing policy assistant director Dan Garrison said. “Retaining the amount of low density, single, detached forms of housing, it’s going to be a real struggle to deliver the kinds of affordability and housing options we need.”

The plan is part of the city’s $5 billion goal to build 72,000 new homes by 2027, including 20,000 rental units and 12,000 for social and supportive housing (up from the initial 8,000). These units are part of the 114,000 non-market housing units the provincial government promised last year.

The first actions city workers want to do is introduce duplex zoning in Single Family zoning districts, and streamline zoning regulations to make it easier and faster for property owners to build laneway homes. The plan also wants to update parking bylaws to improve affordability and accessibility, including incentivising underground parking.

City planners say residents they consulted with are sympathetic to making room for the next generation to live.

The strategy will look at the entire city at once, rather than work neighbourhood by neighbourhood.

“The city has way too much land area locked up in low density zoning and that needs to change in order to make room,” Garrison said, adding he has also heard concerns about preserving heritage homes and neighbourhood character. “What we really need to do going forward as we do the work is balance those concerns.”

The plans will be presented to city councillors at Tuesday’s meeting.

City officials will also update council on the current state of the Housing Vancouver strategy, in its first annual report. The City says it approved more than 7,100 units in 2017, which is 99 per cent of its 7,200 annual target.

Last year was a record year for social and supportive housing, with 1,702 units approved, 142 per cent of the annual target. The city also surpassed its condo and laneway house approvals and number of homes suitable for families, but only met 40 per cent of its target for approving purpose-built market rental (822 units).

Council will also be presented with a plan to consolidate more than 200 city-owned assets, representing $2 billion, into a single Vancouver Affordable Housing Endowment Fund. The fund will also include revenue from Community Amenity Contributions, the Empty Homes Tax and money from the City’s Capital Plan.

The fund will be the new method by which the city funds housing projects, and will streamline access, according to city workers.