A row of houses in a residential area with cars parked on the street.

Vancouver reforms single family neighbourhoods

September 15 2023 –

Vancouver is evolving its low-density zoning by opening up neighbourhoods across the city to allow for the development of multiplexes that will create homes for families and help more people to build a future in Vancouver.

Last night’s unanimous Council vote will allow up to six strata units, or up to eight secured rental units on larger lots, on lots that were previously reserved for single-family homes or duplexes only, providing more residents the opportunity to call these neighbourhoods home.

“We are taking bold action on the housing crisis. Today’s motion marks a significant milestone in our ongoing efforts to enable missing middle housing,” says Mayor Ken Sim. “That’s attainable housing for families who are being priced out of our city. That’s why, we are not only making policy changes, we’re forging a path towards a real solution. We understand the urgency of those who call this city home, and yet are struggling to afford just to live here. We are fully committed to exploring every avenue so Vancouver remains a place where people from all walks of life can find the homes they need."

New homes in these areas will also be easier and faster to build than ever, thanks to Council also approving significant simplifications to the regulations and the consolidation of nine separate zones into one. 

“We are in a housing crisis, and having half the city’s land base inaccessible to the majority of residents just doesn’t make sense,” said Theresa O’Donnell, Director of Planning. “We want to open doors for families, young professionals, seniors, and any residents wanting more housing choices, in more neighbourhoods, and this proposal does that.”  

As part of the motion, Council also directed staff to explore options that will improve accessibility in multiplexes and incentivize retention of character homes while increasing density in neighbourhoods. Staff will report back in spring 2024 with their findings.  

These changes directly align with Vancouver Plan  direction, including the goal of creating more complete and connected neighbourhoods with more housing choice. They also align with the Province’s Homes for People plan, which encourages construction of small-scale, multi-unit homes through zoning changes, more housing for middle-income households, and streamlined permitting processes.

Key benefits of the approved changes include:

  • More complete neighbourhoods with more missing middle housing
  • New housing options that cost less so more people can imagine a future here
  • Supporting diverse household sizes and types, including families with children
  • Improved livability and sustainability and reduced access barriers
  • Making it easier to build new housing with simple rules and processes, supporting Council’s 3-3-3-1 Permit Approval Framework

The City hopes to begin accepting applications for multiplexes in December 2023, and will provide more information in the coming months. To find out more, and stay up to date on our progress, sign up to receive notifications by e-mailing multiplexes@vancouver.ca