Well, this does get serious attention, and not many are laughing.
Glen Korstrom in Business In Vancouver takes on the topic of re-zoning in Vancouver’s notoriously exclusionary single-family districts, and elsewhere in the Metro region.   He quotes Anne McMullin, CEO of the Urban Development Institute Pacific Region and Tsur Sommerville, director of the UBC Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate.

Metro Vancouver municipalities’ failure to convert single-family zoned neighbourhoods into areas where developers can build multi-family homes is being criticized by the development industry’s association, the Urban Development Institute Pacific Region (UDI). . .
A new plan that provides for a loosening of single-family restrictions across the region would be good for consumers and developers, [McMullin] added.
“Right now, [municipalities are] trickling out the available land, so the land becomes expensive for the developer and we’re not creating any competition for the buyer,” she said. “It’s being done one building at a time.”
Tsur Sommerville . . .  agreed with McMullin that rezoning wide swathes of single-family-zoned land across Metro Vancouver is a good idea but he does not believe that it will happen in the short term. . . .
If there were to be a broad based change to single-family zoning across the region, Sommerville thinks it will most likely occur because the initiative has the support and pressure from higher levels of government.
That would disperse the political wrath against the municipalities which have to enact the change, he said.
“From a housing supply, housing affordability perspective, [rezoning single-family neighbourhoods to allow for more density] is what has to happen,” said Sommerville.



  1. I’d hardly consider UDI an unbiased source for advice.
    Andy Yan has some very good advice in this article examining why Richmond is losing so many school age children:
    “..Yan said empty nesters are one factor that is making family-friendly housing unavailable. Another factor is speculation, and in Richmond there are just over 4,000 empty housing units.
    Yan’s past data analyses have shown the region’s housing has become highly sought after by global speculators, particularly from China. On a per capita basis, Richmond is the region’s primary target for foreign money entering housing and shutting out local income earners hoping to enter the market.
    Yan says building family-friendly housing is necessary but he also suggests housing demand needs to be addressed if Richmond is going to curb its livability problems.
    “How do you influence global capital?”
    “Who you are trying to house and who you are trying to nurture?”..

  2. I was thinking about this last week, as the same “affordability” question is part of daily North Shore dialog. What keeps coming back to me is that every discussion of affordability revolves around people buying a house or strata unit.
    Last time I checked something like 30+% of residents in the Lower Mainland rented their homes. If you’re serious about making our neighborhoods affordable to average working families you really need to be creating at least as many rental as owned homes. Arguably rental accommodation is where all of those people who can’t afford a half million dollar mortgage wind up.
    I’m assuming that for developers rental isn’t a serious consideration – there’s surely a lot more immediate profit from building and selling – or pre-selling – condos than there is in operating a tower full of rental units. This almost certainly is one of the places where governments at the provincial and federal level need to step up and start investing.

    1. A density bonus for rental units added to market( owner occupied ) condo developments would eliminate the land cost of those rental units which could be sold with (restrictive covenants) to investors

      1. An excellent idea that’s been floating around Vancouver for at least a decade, when the housing prices really started taking off and infill on large lots became a topic of discussion. The UDI didn’t invent it.

  3. I don’t understand the tone of your post, Ken. Are you saying, ‘ha ha no kidding we have to seriously think about rezoning’ or ‘ha ha of course UDI would say we have to rezone, they represent developers’.
    Because both are of course true. Just because a group’s statement is self-serving doesn’t mean it can’t also be true. The city seriously needs to reduce how much single family detached housing it mandates. Whether this statement is made by UDI or a 4th grader has no bearing on its truth.

  4. Most lots in Metro Vancouver are 50 to 60 feet wide. Large enough to hold 2 single detached houses. Just sub dividing these lots in half would make a big difference, but even that doesn’t happen, let alone doing multi family.

    1. Um, no. Most lots are 10 m (33 ft). You do find a lot of 15-18 m lots in parts of the west side, and in 60s subdivisions in the suburbs, but in Vancouver the standard 10 m lot evolved from the original CPR land platting.
      That’s not to say they cannot or should not be subdivided into at least half lots.

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