Vancouver’s new Making Room Strategy includes policy reforms to allow more affordable infill development in walkable urban neighborhoods. It will allow townhouses, duplexes and low-rise apartments in neighborhoods currently zoned for single family housing, more and bigger laneway homes, and explore more affordable home ownership options.
The Making Room housing program was created to address a key objective of the Housing Vancouver Strategy—shifting towards the “right supply” of housing which meets the needs of people who live and work in Vancouver. It includes specific targets for increasing the supply of various affordable housing types, including townhouses, purpose built rentals, condominiums, laneway and coach housing, and supportive social housing. The largest categories of new housing are moderate-priced purposed-built rental housing and condominiums, with $1,250 to $3,750 monthly rents or mortgages, reflecting the needs of middle-income families.
The Making Room program’s overall objective is to enable greater housing choices in existing low-density neighbourhoods, which include approximately 65,000 lots. It represents a transition away from neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood planning to a comprehensive, city-wide approach. The program includes all neighbourhoods outside of the City Core area (Downtown and Broadway Corridor), and will establish principles and a consistent decision-making approach to identifying housing options in each neighbourhood.
According to Dan Garrison, Vancouver’s housing policy assistant director,“Our ability to sustain the city going forward into the future and the kinds of diversity that we have in it is going to depend on a certain amount of change. Retaining the amount of low density, single, detached forms of housing, it’s going to be a real struggle to deliver the kinds of affordability and housing options we need.”
The same changes are needed in Victoria to increase affordable housing options. Currently, more than half of the City’s developable land base is limited to single-family homes (see map below), which now average $860,000. By allowing more compact housing types in residential neighborhoods, these policies will more affordable housing development, both market and subsidized units.
Compact infill allows affordable housing to be built in walkable urban neighborhoods where transportation costs are low, providing true affordability.
Thank you, Vancouver, for showing the way to more affordable infill!