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.
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
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
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).
What might this look like?
Prototypes courtesy of Lanefab Design/Build: