The city council must decide on 6-story rental buildings along Vancouver’s major streets

The Vancouver City Council is on the verge of deciding on one of its most consistent housing policies to date, potentially catalyzing up to about 4,700 new custom-built secured rental homes in low- and medium-sized buildings across the city over the next decade.

At a public meeting next week, after conducting public consultation earlier in their term, the city council will consider changes to commercial zoning along major streets to allow for new six-story rental buildings without the cumbersome redevelopment process. Such projects will follow the same process as a new four-story condominium building on these grounds.

As these buildings are within commercial districts, they must be mixed-use buildings with upper-floor housing and the land surface dedicated to retail and restaurant use to improve and ensure the continuity of the retail strips. Furthermore, six-storey buildings in commercial districts must have at least 35% of the units dimensioned for families (two or more bedrooms), and the structures must be designed to a passive house-green building standard or comply with other green building policies.

Under this policy, rental buildings up to six storeys would also be allowed in the low-density subdivision of dwellings along arterial streets, provided that at least 20% of the dwelling floor area is dedicated to rental dwellings below the market. Alternatively, the policy allows for 100% social housing construction.

Furthermore, an added 100% rental density of up to four floors will be allowed to face local streets immediately off both sides of arterial streets.

vancouver secure rental housing policy

Example of renting a business district on a shopping street. (Vancouver by)

vancouver secure rental housing policy

Example of rental buildings on and near a main street. (Vancouver by)

vancouver secure rental housing policy

Examples of rental building options on an arterial (top) and: examples of rental buildings on a local street (bottom). (Vancouver by)

Places near SkyTrain stations and frequent bus stops such as RapidBus / B-Line will be considered for reduced vehicle parking quotas.

“On the proposed construction scales, secured market rental apartments are financially marginal to build. To minimize construction costs, increase building efficiency and limit future maintenance and operating costs, the new rental zones envisage simple, efficient building designs with limited articulation and little or no backsliding of the upper floors, ”reads a report from city staff.

“Simple building types also improve energy performance and provide units that are highly habitable, including larger family-size units. They would have a compact footprint to limit the impact on adjacent sites and allow for children’s playground and shared outdoor facilities on site. Architectural elements such as balconies, ground-level entrances, facade composition and exterior finishes would create visual interest when viewed from the street. “

These secure rental homes along and near arterial roads will not be adopted in areas under their own community plans, including the Cambie Corridor Plan, Marpole Community Plan, Grandview-Woodland Plan, downtown Vancouver Peninsula and the upcoming Broadway Plan.

vancouver secure rental housing policy

Map of zoning districts along and near arterial routes under Secure Rental Policy, outside community plans. (Vancouver by)

The establishment of a new classification of rental zone districts would also streamline such proposals in these areas, which would be the first time the City of Vancouver used the new rental zone subdivision tool approved in 2018 by the provincial government for use by municipal authorities.

It will also help to ensure that new buildings during these changes will be permanently used as rental housing, in addition to the housing agreement for each project that secures it as rent.

“As a quick start to the Vancouver plan, these changes will help create more complete neighborhoods that include a number of ‘lacks between’ secure markets and rental housing below the market, strengthen and grow local shopping streets and reduce carbon pollution by allowing more people to live. close to shopping, transit and daily needs, ”reads a report from city staff.

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