Dynamic Zoning For Affordable Infill

To be efficient and inclusive, cities must be dynamic: they must response to changing demands. Most cities are full of buildings that change uses: former gas stations that are now restaurants, houses that become stores, and office buildings converted into housing.

Current development policies lack this essential flexibility. Zoning codes are generally static, unresponsive to changing community needs. In attractive and successful neighbourhoods, efficiency and fairness require dynamic zoning codes that allow more affordable infill. For example, as households decline in size, dynamic zoning codes allow larger houses to be subdivided, and if the number of people who prefer apartments increases, zoning codes should allow more to be built.

Currently, more than half of Victoria’s developable land base is classified as “Traditional Residential,” which is limited to ground-oriented buildings up to two storeys, and multi-unit buildings up to three storeys, including attached residential and apartments on arterial and secondary arterial roads. This must change if Victoria is to become more affordable.

There are incremental ways to accommodate affordable infill. A good approach is to allow higher densities on corner and larger lots, to minimize impacts on neighbours. For example, Traditional Neighbourhoods that currently only allow two story homes should allow three stories on corner lots, plus one additional story for each 1,000 square meters (approximately a quarter acre), so a 1,000 square meter corner lot may be up to four stories, and a 2,000 square meter corner lot may be up to five stories. Similarly, parking requirements should be reduced or eliminated in walkable neighborhoods so residents are not forced to pay for spaces they do not need.

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