When Councillors consider this report on November 26 – Rental Incentives Review Phase II – “to create new zoning districts for residential rental tenure, for use in ‘off-the-shelf’ rezonings for RS and RT zoned sites in low density transition areas that are on and near arterial roads and close to parks, schools and shopping areas”, they will:

(1) Instruct staff “to prepare the amending by-law.”

(2) Refer it to the City-wide Planning process.

(3) Other.


Sun reporter Dan Fumano reports:

Another change would allow four-storey rental apartment or townhouse buildings in “low-density transition areas” — defined as residential blocks within 150 metres from an arterial street. Some Vancouver neighbourhoods, such as Kitsilano and Mount Pleasant, already include many such buildings off of arterial streets. But the proposed change would open up many more parts of Vancouver to these buildings, including much of the less-dense southern half of the city, on both the east and west sides.

Asked if he expects some homeowners and neighbourhood associations might object to apartment buildings on side streets, Stewart said: “I think it’s something to digest. But all of us on council say we’re in the middle of a housing crisis, and if you’re in a crisis, you have to do something new.”




  1. It is indeed a brave move. I often look at mid-rise buildings and think they appeal but i don’t want to live on a noisy and polluted arterial. Families deserve that choice.

    But four storeys is still pretty massive and would block a lot of sunlight. Why does the rendering show 5 storeys?

    The city should focus more attention and then potential and appeal of smaller, higher density units. In Cambridge Mass. I lived in a wonderful purpose-built triplex – three flats with three bedrooms each, stacked on top of each other, with eyes on the street and small garden. They had a smaller footprint than the lavish and ill fitting monster houses that are being built in Point Grey and elsewhere

    1. Indeed more townhouses / rowhousing as we see in UK, or stacked townhouses, would be a good idea in many areas, not just 4-6 story apartment buildings.

  2. My hope is that Council votes for (1) above (“prepare the amending by-law” now). We are ready to move forward on the basis that the work done for the Rental Housing Review report cited gives us a better understanding of the various benefits and impacts. Specifically, and with congratulations to city planners, I would draw attention a map in the report in APPENDIX B: Rental Incentive Programs Bulletin; Page 9 of 9; Figure 3: General Location of Blocks…. for Rezoning in Low Density Transition Areas.

    This city-wide map now identifies those blocks which apparently meet relevant planning and urban design criteria by which rental housing, including affordable rental, could, subject to detailed review, be effectively and sensitively inserted into lower density neighbourhoods that are well served by public transit, thereby reducing car dependency.

    The location criteria cited – 150m from an arterial & within 400m of a park or school and shopping area(s)- informs Vancouver residents and clarifies for right-minded, principled developers qualifying sites for rental housing while discouraging the quick-buck land speculators and property flippers who, having abused the intent of present policies, contributed to our housing affordability crisis.

    1. Have UNintended consequences been considered in this rather hasty by-law amendment ?

      – condo developers will build elsewhere, further away from transit corridors, with new rental restrictions, forcing even more cars onto Vancouver’s clogged streets ?

      – fewer condos built in these desirable transit areas thus forcing condo supply shortage in a few years thus far higher prices again ?

      – less rental construction if land prices do not budge ?

      – unwilling sellers if they cannot get significant land lift ie keep “as is” asset in place for far FAR longer ?

  3. number 3 above
    The majority of households in Vancouver are renters (53%), the median income of renter households is $50,250 (from the report). Students, persons entering the workforce, single parent households, and seniors are all large, low income groups seeking housing. The question we need to ask ourselves is how to proceed in a manner that is helpful all around. To answer this question, we need to go beyond the usual planning concepts in order to formulate a proper response.

    As we all know, we live in a climate crisis, a climate emergency which in Vancouver is compounded by an affordability crisis in the housing market, a decades long trend. Given these circumstances we need to consider the best possible design response, one that is a zero carbon response, an immediate incentivised response for a situation which may or may not last a long time depending……. This is the design brief. Therefore, the scoping for a project if it is to be architectural must consider possible constructible responses to the programmatic issues.

    We can make these issues disappear when we consider the possibility of modular housing where the city licences use and sets terms and conditions. Simple. Easy to do. Not disruptive. Not carbon intensive. Factory constructed with controlled materials sourcing. This housing delivery system is capable of controlling downstream carbon emissions from suppliers to the end of the chain. It is the kind of technical control we need to reduce emissions in the housing sector. This is something that we can do for the benefit of all. It is an exportable idea.

    Conditional use across all zones is the only legislative requirement needed in order that land owners themselves can solve the affordability problem, not big business building big buildings and pouring yet more carbon into the atmosphere. People are willing to be real about climate change responsibility given a structure in which change can be accomplished, where buffers can be created for changing circumstances through life. This is the kind of space that we need today.

    1. Fully agree with the need to go GREEN with new construction which Vancouver is pursuing under Greenest City Action Plan under which Planning Urban Design & SUSTAINABILITY department pursues zero emissions buildings through development applications. I would argue that the thesis you describe should not be instead of (1) but rather as an addition to be added as motion (4).

      1. The usual planning concepts do not apply during our current climate crisis. They contribute to the problem. Yes, the city is pursuing SUSTAINABILITY as you put it. However, as scientists observe: carbon emissions continue to rise. The current construction industry with its mechanized approach is a gasoline-diesel driven heavy industry of factories on wheels and tracks roaming across the city followed by thousands of little gas powered wheel things carrying products and supplies, tradespeople, civil workers from everywhere to everywhere with no down stream accountability. This is an obsolete housing delivery model that produces much waste and big carbon emissions.

        We should be able to go into a factory showroom, much as we do when shopping for a new car, we should be able to find in a showroom a living module to suit our needs that is fully self contained, move in ready, generates its own power and is constructed of advanced materials. Something like that with sex appeal. Nice kitchen, nice bath. We should be able to say how much? how does the financing work? can you deliver it to my backyard tomorrow? yes? luxury accommodation with outdoor space on a ground lease. Let’s say for the price of a car?

        The city should encourage this type of factory production and industrial design approach in order to meet housing demand by low income renters; students, single parents, seniors with design competitions and public engagement programs. The city should enact enabling legislation.

        1. Yes, true in theory. But if it were that simple it would be done all over the place but it is not. Why is that ?

          One is regulation.

          The real one is it is NOT that much cheaper actually to pre-build elsewhere, then ship and install, and then correcting all the crack and errors during shipment. It works OK for uniform, basic hotel like small units only but not for a mix of 1, 2 and 3BRs. Like this new hotel in Oliver, BC http://www.horizonnorth.ca/news-and-knowledge-centre/projects/coast-oliver-hotel/

          btw: in time we will get short haul eTrucks, eBuses and even eShips .. for cleaner city air as diesel fumes are indeed disgusting.

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