Gentle densification through the expanded development of multiplex residential structures will now be permitted across much of Vancouver’s single-family neighbourhoods city-wide. During Thursday’s public hearing, Vancouver City Council unanimously approved City of Vancouver staff’s multiplex framework of “Adding Missing Middle Housing and Simplifying Regulations” — a policy direction that originated from a member motion from the previous makeup of City Council.
This will enable homeowners and builders to construct a strata ownership multiplex of up to four units on a standard single-family lot, up to five units on a mid-size single-family lot, and up to six units on a larger single-family lot. The general idea is that these homes will be relatively more affordable than single-family detached houses. For larger strata multiplexes with a floor area ratio (FAR) density in excess of a floor area that is 0.7 times larger than the size of the lot, the project would be subject to paying the municipal government a fixed-rate density bonus contribution fee or allocating one unit for below-market ownership at a 50% discount of market price for middle-income households. Up to eight units would be permitted on a single-family lot if all units are used for secured purpose-built market rental housing.
In all scenarios, the maximum density is 1.0 FAR for the assortment of configurations, which can reach no more than 37.7 ft in height with three storeys. The policy will also shrink the maximum building floor area size of a single-family detached house on a lot by 14% in relation to the lot size, with the density transferred to the laneway house by increasing the maximum building floor area by as much as 56%. There were some concerns over the potential impacts this could have on multigenerational households who prefer to live in the same primary residence. For example, in real terms, for a standard single-family lot size of 33 ft wide (street frontage) and 122 ft long (deep), the house structure’s maximum floor area would drop from the current limitation of 2,800 sq ft to 2,400 sq ft.
In addition to the densification, the policy overhauls Vancouver’s single-family zoning districts by consolidating nine different zoning districts into just one.