Vancouver’s mayor, Ken Sim, committed to zoning reforms as the beginning of the city’s broader strategy to combat its housing crisis. The move seeks to bridge the housing gap between detached homes and apartments.
- Rezoning: The city council unanimously agreed to modify zoning and development regulations to encourage “missing middle” housing.
- Specifications: Strata multiplex builders can now create up to four units on standard lots, six on larger lots, and rental builders can aim for eight units.
- Streamlining: The motion merges nine low-density residential zones into one, aiming for more straightforward regulatory navigation.
Mayor’s Insight: “We are speeding up the permitting process and focusing on transit hubs. Many projects are underway citywide, and this is just a part of our solution,” shared Mayor Sim.
- Expected Limited Impact: City officials admitted the change might only produce a few hundred new homes annually.
- Criticisms: Andy Yan of Simon Fraser University’s City Program labelled the move underwhelming, likening it to a “one-wheel tricycle with a flat tire.” He also fears about potential losses of family-sized secondary rental suites.
- Zoning Concerns: Yan noted the city’s general rezoning could weaken its influence on specific development areas, especially around amenities like schools and transit.
Voices from the Council: Vancouver Green Party Coun. Pete Fry sees the plan as insufficient, missing key housing types—meanwhile, Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung emphasized the move’s importance in diversifying housing and retaining families in the city.
Broader Context: This city action precedes new provincial legislation expected to mandate similar housing conditions throughout British Columbia this fall.
The bottom line: While the zoning changes are a fantastic first step and mark a move toward more diverse housing in Vancouver, experts and some council members believe much more must be done to address the city’s housing challenges effectively.