Small Lot,
Citywide, Conditional

In Vancouver’s ‘RS’ zoned single family neighbourhoods we need to make it harder to do McMansions,
but make it easier to do projects that benefit the community, including:

  • Character and heritage home preservation / restoration

  • Ground oriented multi-family housing (triplexes and fourplexes)

  • Non-market affordable housing, and temporary modular housing

  • Low-carbon buildings including passive house and net-zero projects.

‘RS’ zoned areas are shown in yellow.

‘RS’ zoned areas are shown in yellow.

Why ‘Small Lot’?

  • Small frontage development allows a community to evolve incrementally without being radically transformed

  • The fine grained character of our neighbourhoods would be retained, with each small lot development having a unique appearance

  • Development projects on a single lot don’t have to be sold and assembled by a developer, allowing existing owners to act as the developer

  • Projects that are less than 3.5 storey and 4 or fewer units can be built under the simpler ‘Part 9’ of the building code

Why ‘Citywide’?

  • Distributes development impacts across the whole city, including wealthier neighbourhoods that have lost population in recent years

  • Diffuses speculative pressure so that we don’t see an increase in property values based on scarcity

  • Allows existing homeowners in all neighbourhoods to take advantage of the ability to redevelop their own property

Why ‘Conditional’?

  • The value of land in the city is largely determined by zoning rules so it’s important that the community should be able to capture most of the benefit from changes to zoning

  • When zoning is changed to allow more density then the value of that land can increase substantially
    (and existing homeowners will typically pocket these windfall profits). To avoid this we need pre-defined community contributions that can be incorporated into the value of existing single family lots.

  • Conditional zoning allows new types of development to happen, but only if it meets certain conditions

  • In the past the city would often use conditional zoning to manage the appearance of a project, but we can use this tool to also improve affordability and environmental performance.

What kind of ‘Up-zone’?

What we’re proposing: a tiered zoning structure that makes room for ‘small lot’ multifamily housing projects of different sizes.
Larger projects would have to provide a community benefit, either by providing low-carbon affordable housing, or by paying a Community Amenity Contribution (CAC).

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What might this look like?

Prototypes courtesy of Lanefab Design/Build:

33’ Lot with a Triplex. 1.2 FSR

33’ Lot with a Triplex. 1.2 FSR

50’ Lot subdivided into two 25’ lots

50’ Lot subdivided into two 25’ lots

Lanefab 33ft lot passive 4 plex v2.jpg
Lanefab 33ft lot passive 4 plex 2 lots.jpg
Two 33’ lots consolidated, then divided into 3x 22’ lots

Two 33’ lots consolidated, then divided into 3x 22’ lots