VANCOUVER – Vancouver City Council is hoping to fast-track rental developments in more areas of the city with a series of changes.
The measures include rental-only zoning, allowing up to six storeys in commercial zones, a new family-friendly housing pilot program for four to six storey buildings close to schools, parks and shops, as well as policies for increased affordability and a partnership with CleanBC that will enable reinvestment in existing buildings while keeping tenants in place.
“Vancouver residents told us loud and clear to take action on the housing crisis so that’s exactly what we’ve done,” said Mayor Kennedy Stewart in a press release. “Together, these policies could help build upwards of 8,000 new rental homes over the next seven years, including nearly 5,000 homes geared to middle-income households, helping more of our friends and neighbours stay in Vancouver.”
For the first time in its history, Vancouver officials will begin allowing rental only zoning which will make way for six-storey rental buildings in commercial districts not already covered by community plans. Additionally, rental development in these areas will no longer be required to go through a rezoning process, so it will create a more streamlined and predictable process for developers and communities.
Rental-only zoning will also be used as part of a pilot in areas off main arterial roads that are close to schools, shops, and parks. While these projects will still need to go through a rezoning process, they will use a standardized template for buildings, which will shave six months off the rezoning time.
Energy Retrofit Reinvestment pilot program
Council also moved ahead with an Energy Retrofit Reinvestment pilot program, which is a $3 million partnership with the Province’s CleanBC program, Landlord BC and others. This pilot is designed to support landlords in existing rental housing with significant high-cost structural and green building upgrades while keeping tenants in place. The pilot will document best practices for proactive reinvestment without disrupting renters.
Below-Market Rental Housing Policy
A new Below-Market Rental Housing Policy for rezonings will weigh modest increases in height and density to encourage lower unit rental prices, focusing on areas already identified for growth in previous planning processes.
“These policies are designed to generate more rental homes in neighbourhoods across the city and make the process to develop new buildings faster and more predictable,” said Gil Kelley, General manager of planning, urban design and sustainability. “Creating housing solutions for our residents is one of the building blocks of the Planning Vancouver Together process, and City staff will work collaboratively to ensure that policy updates and community feedback on our housing policy informs the long-term Vancouver Plan – and vice versa.”