Many families cannot afford a single-detached house in the Lower Mainland.
With a benchmark price of $1.6 million as of July this year in areas covered by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, this type of property is beyond reach for a lot of people wanting to buy a home.
Townhouses are generally more affordable. However, there aren’t many of these around.
According to a recent City of Vancouver staff report, townhouses currently compose only three percent of the residential stock in the city.
To increase supply, the report, written by Susan Haid, recommends the mass rezoning of a number of properties to enable the development of new townhouses.
The proposal covers a total of 279 single-family and two-dwelling lots in different areas in the Cambie corridor and the Grandview-Woodland neighbourhood.
“This provides capacity for 1,656 units in both neighbourhoods,” writes Haid, assistant planning director for Vancouver-South.
According to Haid, the results will be “monitored and, if successful”, the new townhouse zoning “may be used elsewhere in the city to provide this much needed ground-oriented housing form”.
Most of the 167 properties facing wholesale rezoning in the Cambie corridor are located between West 24th Avenue and West 30th Avenue, on the blocks west of Cambie Street.
This will be the first city-initiated rezoning in the corridor, which is centred along Cambie Street from West 16th Avenue in the north to the Fraser River in the south, and from Oak Street in the west to Ontario Street in the east.
There will be more to come. According to Haid, the long-term plan for the corridor has identified “over 1,100 single-family lots for townhouses, thereby creating opportunity for up to 8,200 units of this much needed ground-oriented housing type”.
In Grandview-Woodland, many of the 112 properties to be rezoned are located on East Pender Street and East 8th Avenue.
In 2016, city council approved a new community plan for this neighbourhood bounded by East 12th Avenue in the south, Burrard Inlet in the north, and Clark Drive and Nanaimo Street in the west and east, respectively.
The new mass rezoning in Grandview-Woodland follows two previous zoning initiatives by the city to create more housing choices in this East Vancouver neighbourhood.
If approved by council, the new townhouse districts are expected to produce a mix of home sizes, 45 percent of which would be mandated to be between 900 square feet and 1,200 square feet.
“This new unit size requirement will result in the introduction of more modestly sized townhouse units with the purpose of providing new family housing options at a greater variety of price points,” Haid writes.
A public hearing on the proposed townhouse districts in the Cambie corridor and Grandview-Woodland will be held on Wednesday (September 5).