Changes to the City's Density

Changes to the City's Density

September 15th, 2023:  Vancouver’s city council gave their approval to a comprehensive zoning amendment with far-reaching implications. This amendment opens the door for the construction of up to 8 homes on single-family lots within all RS (Single Family) zoning areas. This novel zoning category, known as R1, presents a significant opportunity to address the housing needs of the “missing middle” family homes, who seek relatively affordable housing options, both for ownership and rental, throughout our city.

Under this new zoning, 33×122 lots will accommodate up to 4 homes, whereas the larger lots will permit 6 strata (for sale) ownership homes. There is also an opportunity to construct up to 8 homes on larger lots, provided they are designated as market rental units. This transformative change is poised to reshape our city, with some viewing it as a positive development while others express concerns, particularly among existing homeowners in quiet single-family neighborhoods. 

These newly termed “multiplexes” will boast a 1.0 FSR (Floor Space Ratio), equivalent to 100% of the lot size in buildable square footage. For example, a typical 33×122 lot should yield four homes, each being approximately 1000 square feet. These homes are likely to include a mix of 2 and 3-bedrooms. On the other hand, larger lots will accommodate up to 6 homes, predominantly designed as 3-bedroom townhouses to cater to families. There is also going to be additional density bonuses for Net Zero built houses with an emphasis on green construction and energy efficiency.  Keep in mind - Net Zero builds are more costly and this will be reflected on purchase prices.  

With that said, this new R1 zoning isn’t all about increases in density. The city has also implemented a 10% reduction in density for the allowable size of single-family homes, going from 70% FSR down to 60% FSR, likely to encourage the higher density developments.  It's hard to comment on why the city feels decreasing the FSR density for single-family homes accomplishes anything.  

Despite the general increases in density and relaxations through rentals and expensive "green" construction, there remain numerous uncertainties surrounding these initiatives, including issues the cost of building, parking provisions and the associated city fees for project development. Undoubtedly, this new zoning will bring about profound changes to our cityscape, marking a shift away from the traditional single-family home, which was considered a luxury.  However creating a positive change for those families who would love to move into a neighbourhood that was not attainable previously.  

If you seek more information about how these changes will impact your property and neighborhood, please reach out.

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