Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Infill redevelopment, a solution to providing more affordable housing in Metro Vancouver

Affordable housing is a top of mind issue in our region, and is one of the major issues during this provincial election. Providing affordable housing for all people in our region will require a variety of approaches depending on the type of housing required; from emergency shelters to subsidized housing to market housing including ownership.

Non-market housing, such as co-op housing, requires funding and support from the provincial and federal governments to build and operate. Local governments’ role is to provide the zoning to support non-market housing.

When it comes to market housing, zoning plays an important role in affordability too. Local governments can support the creation of a variety of housing types by creating zoning that encourages apartments, row-houses, laneway housing, secondary suite, and different sizes of detached homes.

All things being equal, a community with only traditional single-family zoning will be less affordable than a community with zoning that supports a variety of housing types.

The Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association (GVHBA) recently released a new report. One of the solutions that they propose to create more affordable housing in our region is to build more infill development projects in single-family zoned areas. This doesn’t mean replacing single-family housing with apartments and row-houses according to this report, but replacing or reusing existing housing to create duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, secondary suites, laneway homes and coach houses.

The following is an example of what adding “gentle density” in traditional single-family zoned areas looks like from the GVHBA report.

My House Design Build Team, Vancouver. Single-family house converted to three units with stratified duplex and a coach house. Select image to enlarge.

As you can see in the following map, there is a large amount of single-family housing areas in our region where infill development could occur. On an interesting note, Langley City is a leader when it comes to building row-housing and apartments.

Map of residential land-use in Metro Vancouver. Select map to enlarge.

Percentage of residential zoned areas by land-use designation. Select table to enlarge.

The time it takes to approve a development project, and the cost required for that approval, are also factors in getting more infill housing built. The report looks at the costs and timing by each municipality in our region to build infill housing projects.

For more information, please check out the full report: Housing Approval Study, 2017 – Infill Housing.

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