VANCOUVER – In addition to Canada’s National Housing Strategy, the City of Vancouver has released its own plan to tackle the growing problem of affordable homes.
According to the city, census data released this year showed a decline in overall population and children in neighbourhoods like Dunbar, Kerrisdale and Arbutus Ridge. The city intends to remedy this by providing more housing options.
Officials have set a goal of 10,000 new ground-level homes like townhouses and rowhouses to be developed in single-family neighbourhoods across Vancouver over the next 10 years as part of an overall goal of 72,000 new homes in Vancouver over the next 10 years.
“We’ve heard loud and clear that Vancouverites expect us to address the fact that vast areas of low-density neighbourhoods are unaffordable for all but the very wealthy — with many of them seeing a decline in families and kids,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson in a press release.
“With the new Housing Vancouver strategy, we can transform our low-density, single-family neighbourhoods with more duplexes and triplexes, more townhouses and rowhouses, and more low-rise apartments.”
In addition to providing more options for young families, the city also intends to try and reduce real estate speculation with the Empty Homes Tax, regulating short-term rentals, and continued advocacy for a provincial speculation tax.
A special team will be put in charge of reviewing the city’s regulations and zoning to encourage more density.
To explore more housing options in low-density areas, the city is launching a competition to design new structures that can adhere to the limit of three units on a single-family lot. A laneway design competition will launch in early 2018 and conclude in the fall.
The competition will explore innovative, creative designs and affordability for new infill housing to help meet the city’s targets of 5,000 new laneway and coach homes over the next 10 years.
To increase housing in single-family areas, the city also plans to identify areas close to parks, schools, public amenities and main streets for new townhomes and low-rise apartment developments.
Officials also want to expand more affordable housing options in communities by initiating planning around shopping areas and neighbourhood centres.
The city touted the Cambie Corridor Phase 3 as an example of adding more options to a single-family neighbourhood. Phase 3, which focuses on the low-density residential areas off Cambie Street, is anticipated to add 10,000 new homes by 2041, including a significant amount of rental housing and townhomes.
The city is already facing criticism from the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods which represents a group of 27 local resident associations.
In a letter to the city, the coalition argued that increasing supply through rezoning would just increase land inflation and not create more affordable housing.
The group also noted the character and fit of certain neighbourhoods would not mesh well with large developments. They instead suggested focusing on existing rental stock.
“Retaining character houses by encouraging secondary suites that can provide additional rental housing and mortgage helper income will have less impact on land inflation than demolition and new larger developments,” reads the letter. “Making it easier for renovations and more secondary suites is a faster, more effective approach to affordability, yet is less of a priority in this plan than more expensive new development.”
The group added the city’s plans were posted only two business days before it would go to council, giving almost no time for it to be reviewed by the public.